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Clean Bandit – Rather Be (Feat. Jess Glynne)

A song becomes more powerful when you can relate to it on multiple levels. The first time I heard this song, I was in my new office, at my new desk, 5,000 miles away from where I was living a week earlier. Thankfully this office is now in England which is where the group Clean Bandit came to be formed. And this is where I heard this song for the first time.

The first time I heard this, aside from just freezing as any song which opens with a stringy instrument  playing already has my heart, I thought this song was about just being with the one you love. I recently read an interesting statistic that 70% of all songs created are love songs.

But then the song grew legs. Like my own personal anthem. Being exactly where you need to be. Not just about love, but about the place. Or more accurate even serendipity, or “fortuitous happenstance”. Which until now I thought meant more along the lines of right-place-right-time, but really means an accidental encounter with something you were not searching for. One of my favourite words in the dictionary.

I guess the two often go hand in hand. Many of our sayings we say go along the lines of “whatever will be will be”  or “if its meant to happen it will” or I guess more abstractly “a watched pot never boils” – which could be taken as meaning change doesn’t come when you are looking for it. We are told these things just happen. But I think serendipity is another thing all together. It is accidental but you wanted it all along. You didn’t know what you were missing until you had it and realised you cannot live without it. Whether the song is about a place or a person or a the feeling of being right where you belong, this song is meant to be an anthem. Something to be sung. Something to be danced to.

Clean Bandit has put a lot of love in to this, undoubtably, summer banger for us all. So hopefully you will happen upon this little treasure and it can remind you you are just where you are supposed to be. They are sure to have a few more treats for us on the expected May 2014 release of their album from Atlantic Records. For now, live in this moment and play this tune.

Clean Bandit – Rather Be (Feat. Jess Glynne)

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tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain

This song. Is. ALIVE.

I am physically charged, up to my max every time I play this song. Since yesterday, I haven’t been able to stop. I have so many thoughts and feelings about Merrill Garbus, her music, her beauty, the sounds that she and her band mates are capable of creating. So many thoughts. But I can’t really formulate them at the moment because I can’t stop swaying and shaking my head, thrashing my hair in every direction, and above all else, smiling.

I hate to say that I called this, but I did. If you remember, in 2011 I wrote a post (as a writer, I’m allowed to be critical of my work and I’m going to be critical when I say, that post was so excited about everything that I may have used the word “amazing” one too many times. I regret nothing.) about seeing tUnE-yArDs live on the Hudson Pier. There was a full moon and the air was thick with New York City summer, but I remember thinking, “These guys are going to be huge.” And secretly, I didn’t want to think that. I didn’t want them to get huge. I had a selfish moment, and even considered not writing about them, even though I said I would. I wanted to keep them in my pocket, a secret dance and hop-scotch band inspired by sounds from all over the world.

So here’s my attempt. tUnE-yArDs comes to us after a near freezing season of cold hearts and grayness, here in New York, and this track is a beating heart that lives on outside of its body. Notice how bright and full of life the music is in this song (and most of the group’s songs in general). And then there’s this duality in the wordplay and lyrics. Two different messages going on at once, hoping to provoke not only mindless movement but analysis and attention to detail.

So listen to the words I say, baby
Say give me your head
I’ll barely going round and round and round
Now I’m in your bed
How did I get ahead?
Whoop!
Your, your finger through my hair
Finger through my hair
Give me your chest
Give me oppress
I’ll give a thing to caress
Wouldya wouldya wouldya listen to the words I say?

Over a Diwali Riddim beat, this song demands your attention because of how summertime-playing-double-dutch-in-the-park happy and full of bounce it is. It shields the subject matter darkness of violence with a mask of color and flavor. This is a song you can taste. Bubble-gum, kiwis, mangoes, a clementine that you share with your best friend on the stoop outside your house in the middle of a hot day in July. It’s waking up numb after a night of giggles and bubbles, not speaking, and breaking out into a dance party at noon when you have a never ending list of work to do. It’s honest and uninhibited movement that you can’t explain; your brain takes a backseat and you just move.

Tactile.

Feel it in your bones and hit repeat, unashamed.

tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain

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Airbird & Napolian – In The Zone

Has the world ever really made sense? It sure doesn’t now.

A $300 million plane goes missing in the satellite era. A large chunk of a modern country gets annexed by force, and no one declares war. Scientists claim they’ve found the physical representation of a moment FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME. If you believe in science, you now believe that we humans can literally see the imprint of the beginning of the universe.

My head is spinning.

Here’s what I know: no matter how much we rely on technology, chaos, in the strictly technical sense, will always win out. Scratch that; chaos, in every sense of the word. Model and predict all you want, you’ll never know what the guy in the car next to you is going to do next. He may drive straight ahead into the night. Or he may swing wildly into your lane, pushing your car over the guardrail and into oblivion.

It’s all well and good to get excited over a ripple in gravity. Einstein was right, yay. Guess what? No one is ever right. Because right is defined subjectively, is contextual to a time and a place and a person. The world hatched from a giant egg, or was vomited up by a fifty-armed demon. And it’s being held up in space by a really strong guy. People were as right about those ideas as we are about anything now.

You want to talk about gravity and ripples and nipples and chaos? Pregame with a listen to “In The Zone,” this 2013 single from Airbird and Napolian, a producer collaboration on the Cascine (Jensen Sportag, Chad Valley, Keep Shelly In Athens) label that appears to have only two tracks out in cyberspace (an LP was supposed to come out winter 2013, but is nowhere to be found). This is art at its most whimsical and confusing. There’s a melody, for a moment, but then there’s a smash of white noise and, wait, is that a human voice? Were these guys wasted drunk? Or is this the height of perfected craft, each note carefully sculpted in the image of the master’s touch?

I’m not a religious person, but I like to think of the monotheistic god that way. To my understanding, billions of people believe that a being, who looked for some reason like a male human, pointed this way and that and then earth and humans etc existed. Melody, white noise, and a human voice. The haphazard scribbles of a drunk, the smooth edges of a skilled mason.

Until you embrace the chaos inherent to life, you are stuck in a false notion of reality. That’s healthy to a point. But eventually the strain of ascribing order to what amounts to a tiny speck of dust in an infinitely large warehouse builds up and snaps your psyche. Don’t go there, bro! Take it as it comes, and embrace meaninglessness.

Airbird & Napolian – In The Zone

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Le Miel du Mois by Steph Lund: Fevrier 2014

I know I know, it’s the middle of March and we’re just releasing LMDM Fevrier, we’re naughty bloggers but I promise these delays will stop! We have a great team of writers but I personally work on LMDM so if I don’t get around to it, it just doesn’t happen. On top of that my life for the last two years has been a high speed race man, I haven’t had much help so it’s taking a while to figure out how to be freakishly productive while maintaining some resemblance of a life.

As many of you know I went from being a producer & blogger to the Creative Director of The Playlist Generation and it’s been no walk in the park. From selecting the music that plays at all The Standards, PF Changs, Intermix stores, Baccarat to brag about a few, the kid barely has time for much else. Part of the reason why I haven’t handed off LMDM is because it’s one of the few times when I can turn off and escape from being the curator and dive into someone else’s world. Sure I could go listen to some name brand DJ mix the same tracks everybody and their grandma is playing in sets but I like that boutique, custom made, one of one high touch type shit. You know that Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, Steph Lund type shit.

Like all the beloved tapes that have come before it, LMDM Fevrier is an adventure. This one is particularly beautiful and romantic, strictly for the space age lovers. The tape speaks to selectivity which in this age of over saturated everything is more important than ever. It’s so interesting how Steph manages to tell such unique stories every time, I know I’m preaching to the choir but this shit is fresh, don’t sleep folks. I won’t even pretend like I can rationalize the selections but just know that all things are considered a blend of styles and genres only Steph can mastermind.

I’ve had this one since the end of February  but with SXSW and a ton of work I just haven’t gotten around to it. Besides that I wanted to make it using a new toy HP sent me a couple of months back, the ol’ Split X2. So yesteraday I went to a coffee shop, learned some new software and mixed the tape on a touchscreen, welcome to the space age. You know you’re doing something right when you get the cool young folks at corporations hitting you up about collaborations. Hopefully we can do more along these lines to build up this operation and offer you guys even more. Anyhow, press play on this beautiful thing and get that Monday feeling right, enjoy.

Tracklist:

  1. Metronomy – I’m Aquarius (Panic Bomber Is a Taurus Bootleg Remix)
  2. Pixel Fix – Rosa
  3. Cashmere Cat – Mirror Maru
  4. We Have Band – Someone
  5. Ben Pearce – What i Might Do – Club Mix
  6. HNNY – No
  7. Bronze Whale – Say It (Baile remix)
  8. Cyril Hahn – Perfect Form
  9. Cat Power- Ruin (Etcha edit)
  10. Wise Blood – Alarm (the drum version)
  11. Blood Orange – Chosen

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Temples – Shelter Song

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It seems like the next big British rock band comes around every day. Newsflash: Temples are the real deal. Their self-produced debut album “Sun Structures” is an instant classic in the same psychedelic vein as Tame Impala’s “Innerspeaker.”

It isn’t hyperbole to say that the guitars on the album’s opener, “Shelter Song,” sound straight off the Beatles “Feel Fine.” And the band is obviously well versed in their hereditary history, pulling from contemporaries like The Fratellis and Mystery Jets as well as forbearers like Led Zeppelin and The Smiths. For psychedelic rock fans, this album is a big deal. The genre has been drifting of late, getting niched-off into metal corners, or floating into a territory so washed out it ceases to be enjoyable. Temples to the rescue!

While “Shelter Song” is pretty straightforward, tracks like “Sand Dance” show the band veering into the hazy, involved solos that mark psyches best examples (check out “Sand Dance” on EMPT LA’s Spotify playlist!). These songs are best on record, every hiss and pop lending to the heady vibe. But “Sun Structures” is also an excellent audiophile record, perfect for high-end headphones. Getting lost in the throwback textures and restrained treated vocals is a treat that you can look forward to.

Because of course you’re going to buy the album RIGHT AWAY. The bandwagon’s about to fill up, ladies and gents. Get on before it’s too late.

Temples – Shelter Song

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Frank Ocean + Mick Jones + Paul Simonon + Diplo – HERO

December 7th, 2008, I was 24 years old living at 1 River Place with my friend Nick, steps from the Hudson river in Manhattan. At the time I was producing a lot of music, in fact that’s all I was doing. That Sunday morning my mind was racing a million miles a minute as usual and the topic of the day was all the great music I was hearing while partying in Brooklyn or with a girl in the West Village or just all the scenes I was in and out of at the moment. I would go to my friends Uptown and they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, I would go to my friends Downtown and they were no more savvy. Mind you this before streaming music services and all the discovery tools that are common place now. To give you perspective Spotify was announced exactly 3 months earlier on October 7th but it would be a long time before anyone actually started using it. This is before clubs uptown played Dance music etc.

Anyways, I get riled up over things like that man. There were people out there experiencing great things while other weren’t, that shit hit me like a rock. It was an injustice in my mind and I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to level the playing field and so later that day I said fuck it, I’ll start a website to share all the things I get to see in my lucky ass life. I’m big on freedom man, I’m sure all of you have noticed the youthful, rebellious and libertarian undertones of our writing and that’s no coincidence, those values are built-in. “My flag is American…”

The name – Et Musique Pour Tous (And Music For All) is a play on the the last four words of the Pledge of Allegiance – “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Musical justice for all, that’s our goddam DNA. Space Age Bachelor Pad Music represents our futuristic interpretation of the world and our rebellion against the matrix but never get it twisted, we’re modernist with deep roots in timeless values.

I turned 30 last week man, wow. I was in Austin for it, cruising up and down Lake Austin with some heavy folks you never heard of. As we rode by the Lakefront mansions sipping champagne and puffing paper planes I had the same feeling in my gut I had that Sunday morning, the need to create something bigger than myself. EMPT continues to be awesome but to be honest it should be more at this point. A person like me needs the right teammates, I need ideas executed while I focus on the big picture. My mind races, that’s just who I am and while I can do a lot, I can’t do it all. Elon Musk thought up the plans for Hyper Loop and because he’s so busy changing the world with Testla & Space X asked others to realize them. I want to have ideas that big, I have ideas that big but I need help. To be honest I haven’t played it right, I haven’t put the right leaders in place and because of that I haven’t been the best leader. You spend too much time around the wrong people, around phonies that don’t run and you start to doubt yourself. At some point you realize you have to be Lebron, go where you can get real help, not just where they want you. That’s a crucial difference for those on the path.

Here I am though, 30. I’m hard on myself because I’m swinging for the fences but I have a lot to be proud of man. I started this thing with nothing! I mean nothing man and nobody helped me till way after it was going. I’m a hard man to please though and I haven’t been happy as of late, that’s just being real with you. Sometimes people see folks like us and want us contained, a piece of art in their private collection, keep us in a controlled environment, in mental cuffs but I’m not a damn lawyer, like all the models say I ain’t no wifey! You know what I am?

Me, I’m a creator, thrill is to make it up
The rules I break got me a place up on the radar…”

That’s how I got on the damn map and that’s how I’m going to stay there. I’m 30 man so now we run harder than ever. Now I don’t listen anymore, now I trust my gut, I break rules and surround myself with unique thinkers. To all those who believe in me this is what I need from you -

I need you to be clever, Bean. I need you to think of solutions to problems we haven’t seen yet. I want you to try things that no one has ever tried because they’re absolutely stupid. – Enders Game

From now on I only follow fearless, beautiful expression. I create, I never have and will NEVER follow the set path, I’ll literally imagine it and make it up like I always have. Now we ditch the fakes, phonies & wannabes. All the kids that came to EMPT to run, here we go…

What you say?! You need a hero?!

Frank Ocean + Mick Jones + Paul Simonon + Diplo – HERO

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Broken Bells – Holding on for Life

Whoever had the idea for The Shins James Mercer and prolific producer Danger Mouse to get together…give that person a fucking medal. Broken Bells, their collaborative project, has released two fantastic albums, described by Rolling Stone as “left field pop” and by the guys as “experimental, but melodic too.”

“Holding on for Life,” off their new album “After the Disco” is the band’s best song yet. Mercer channels his inner Bee Gee’s, delivering one of his most powerful vocal performances of his illustrious career, while Danger Mouse harkens back to his Gorillaz production days, blending a pseudo-Asian synth line with a grunge guitar bridge straight out of nineties Seattle.

Both of these artists have made careers out of coaxing a positive feeling out of songs with troubling subject matter. At first listen, “Holding on for Life” feels like a fun LCD Soundsystem style dance-rock track, tugging at your marionette strings and getting your body jerking in that special indie way. But then you hear the minor notes, the noisy dissonance, the abstract exploration of loneliness. You almost feel bad for your initial happy reaction.

But not for long. The point of Broken Bells seems to be that it’s ok to smile when life isn’t going so well. It’s better to dance in front of your mirror than to mope in your room alone, even if you’re alone either way. Barry Gibbs and Elliott Smith can coexist. This song allows us feel the weight of the world without getting crushed. It encourages us to make eye contact with that beautiful stranger. To take the chance and worry later. Because if the world is falling to pieces around us, we may as well open our mouths to see how it tastes.

Broken Bells – Holding on for Life

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Major Lazer ft. Pharrell Williams – Aerosol Can

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Pharrell Williams is everywhere these days, following his smash guest appearance on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” production on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and solo chart-topper “Happy.” He’s a 40-year old who somehow looks EXACTLY THE SAME as he did at age 20. He is a vampire.

Mr. Williams has been churning out big hits since the late 1990s, both as a solo producer and as a member of The Neptunes and N*E*R*D. Oh, you knew that already? Take a gander at this partial list of productions: Wreckx N’ Effect – “Rump Shaker,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Got Your Money,” Ludacris– “Southern Hospitality,” Mystikal – “Shake Ya Ass,”  Britney Spears – “I’m A Slave 4 U,” Fabolous – “Holla Back,” Justin Timberlake – “Rock Your Body,” Nelly – “Hot in Herre,” Snoop Dogg – “Beautiful” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Jay-Z – “Change Clothes,” Gwen Stefani – “Hollaback Girl.”

Please read that list again. It’s insane, and a tiny fraction of a discography that includes a number of rock acts (The Hives, Scissor Sisters, Fall Out Boy) and two film scores (“Despicable Me”). Over the past 16 years, Pharrell has improbably defined the sound of a generation, and he is now bigger than ever. Is that a good thing?

For most of his career, Pharrell was a super-guest or unseen influence, lending a song just what it needed to get over the hump and onto the radio. His laconic raps exude worldly confidence that skip between the mean streets and Milan: “Up in Donatella’s crib, me and like ten hoes/call from the cell phone, give me that Enzo.” And his joyful singing (best exemplified on Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful”) allowed rap songs to be poolside anthems.

But with his immense rise in fame, Pharrell finds himself in a new role, one that longtime fans may find disconcerting. He’s the new Quincy Jones, the most in demand producer in the world with a following comprised of youth and old folks alike. Can he really dip his toes back into the world of cocaine rap?

Judging by this feature on Major Lazer’s recently released “Aerosol Can,” the answer is unequivocally yes. Diplo’s trendsetting continues with an aggressively simple beat that fits with his Major Lazer project’s dancehall leanings; tight, tuned up toms layered with a bubble-bass give Pharrell an avenue to show off his word wizardry in a way he hasn’t on his “pop” tracks.

And make no mistake, this is coke rap at its most referential. Along with references to reggae legend Eek-A-Mouse, Mario Kart, Mulan and fancy cars, Pharrell drops lines like:

Look around, everybody on Sinatra
I ain’t talking bout this shit they call Coke and vodka
I’m talking bout this shit you short and go ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

You know, in case you weren’t sure.

This track is HYPE. Like, is it tonight yet? I’m tryna get out on the floor and dance up in someone’s grill, to get strobe-blind and make some mistakes. Songs like this are the drug.

Major Lazer ft. Pharrell Williams – Aerosol Can 

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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – All Wash Out (Löwenherz Bootleg Edit)

This is a good traveling song. We have fully entered a time of change for the year. Even London is sunny today. You can see all of the business people and walkers avoiding the common shadows for a stroll in the sun. Light hitting the ground of Liverpool Street. Spring has taken hold and thus has begun the yearly chance to retire the large coverups and start planning your big summer escape.

I had chosen to jump the ship earlier. This being a week of accomplishing one of my life goals I had written down on a tattered piece of paper in Florida at the ripe age of 11. I wanted to move to London. I also wanted to meet Bruce Willis, move to New York, move to Los Angeles, use a llama in a bartering system. Although, I still have yet to meet Bruce Willis or have a llama in my possession that I am free to trade as needed, I can finally tick off every place I had set out to live in landing in London on a 1-year stint. What I needed to really make the move was incentive. It is hard and expensive and feels impossible to make a move like that. Out of country. Out of arms reach of your family. Out of your comfort zone. You really have to just let it go. What would it take to drive you to make a change this big? What would it take you to make any change? What is on your list?

I wish I could give 11-year old me a high-five for making that list. I memorized it. I lived by it. I was in it for the long con. But I found my incentive 2 years ago to make a move like this. Love is a powerful drug. It makes you move mountains. Or in this case, countries. This has always been my dream, and it was harder than I thought. And took years longer. But now I know I can move mountains.  Make the list and start ticking things off.

After all is said, I think we need to invent a word that means “one is excited,scared, happy, sad, exhausted, and eager all at once”. Because that is what getting on the plane and the feeling after you decide to change your life feels like.

_

This mix comes from Löwenherz, a young producer based in Tübingen. This mix adds another layer of base following the whistles and versus of the original Edward Sharpe track. Playing along with the folky tone of the original, this remix creates a punchy baseline to a song that yearns to inspire change in ones life.

“A prayer and the sea
And twenty tons of me
Crying love, love is something to believe in.”

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – All Wash Out (Löwenherz Bootleg Edit)

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Movement – Us (Shmallen Remix)

Both Sydney-based trio Movement and East Coast bedroom producer Shmallen were total unknowns to me until recently. Movement is one of the smaller names on the Modular label (Tame Impala, Presets, Klaxons, Darkside, Robyn etc.), while Shmallen remains unsigned and grinding hard to make a name for himself in a crowded space.

Shamallen’s downtempo-house remix preserves the breathy falsetto vocals of the original, along with its melancholic plea: “Did you believe in us? Did you believe in trust?” But here, what was a fairly empty soundspace is activated with a light tough: reverbed highhats, a soft arppegiator and brief but effective piano stabs.

The idea that an artist could become “big” based solely on remixes is troubling to me. Someone poured themselves into writing those lyrics and crafting that song, and the final product was the way they, the artist, meant it to be. What gives some rando in a basement the right to completely alter that artistic vision in pursuit of personal enrichment and notoriety?

And yet, there is significant artistry involved in remixing (at least, in good remixing). Artistic appropriation is hailed in other mediums…why not in music? The key is in the degree of “remixing.” Adding a 4/4 beat to a slow song takes no thought or effort. Adding a DROP doesn’t either. But when cutting and pasting bits and pieces while adding your personal nuance leads to a fully realized, new piece of art, there is some commendation deserved.

In the case of “Us,” I vastly prefer the remix to the original, which I find extremely boring. That is not to say I discredit the artist, because that was his (their) vision and I respect it in that capacity. Putting your art out there is a big step, and you can’t care whether people like it or not.

But we at EMPT care about you, dear readers, and that’s why I’m posting the remix,  fraught with questions of artistic integrity, paradoxical reasoning and all the other philosophical junk I’ve piled on top of it. The track is hot, and these artists deserve a deeper dive.

Movement – Us (Shmallen Remix)

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