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Kid Francescoli – I Don’t Know How


Certaines rencontres se distinguent des autres. Je me souviens de cette matinée avec Ashley autour d’un café et de french toast à parler musique avec autant d’enthousiasme. Si ma mémoire est bonne, la première chose qu’elle m’ait faite découvrir était Marijuana de Chrome Sparks, et à chaque fois que je l’écoute, mes souvenirs retournent à New York.

Afin de remercier Ashley et toute l’équipe de me donner aujourd’hui l’opportunité de participer à l’aventure EMPT, j’ai choisi un morceau du nouvel album de Kid Francescoli : With Julia. Ce marseillais ayant collaboré avec Julia Minkin, New Yorkaise, est pour moi une façon symbolique de lier la France à New York pour mon premier article.

Cet opus est synonyme de rencontre et d’échange, derrière chaque morceau se retrouve la complicité des deux artistes. Surpris par Blow Up il y a un an par sa trame, son rythme mais aussi son clip, l’album est une parfaite suite à cette introduction. Agréable à écouter, les pistes s’enchainent, pleines de paresse et de romance s’accordant facilement aux beaux jours que nous promet le mois de mai, le retour de l’été!

Le titre « I don’t know how » m’accompagne dans l’écriture de ce post, une grande première pour moi. Essayer de ne pas tomber dans le cliché n’est finalement pas tâche facile mais je me laisse guider par ces intrus mêlant folk pop et electro et l’agréable voix de cette Julia. Cet album va indéniablement me suivre durant les prochains mois estivaux par son envie de raconter une histoire, comme celles qui s’écrivent chaque été. Le mois de juillet et d’août sont toujours différents et singuliers d’une année à l’autre. Ils sont l’aboutissement d’une année de travail, remplis de festivités et de retrouvailles ; la pression retombe et c’est tout à fait ce à quoi m’amène l’écoute de cet album, avec la pointe de nostalgie d’une année écoulée. Il sonne parfois comme une fin, parfois comme un début, une transition parfaite.

Kid Francescoli – I Don’t Know How

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Jagwar Ma – Come Save Me

Some days it seems like the world is going to shit. I think people have always felt this way, but damn. Power plays for “strategic” locations (see: Crimea, Senkaku), unceasing government sponsored murder, institutionalized racism (as bad as it gets in the USA, it’s worse oversees)…not to mention the 5th IPCC report detailing the true scope and threat of global climate change.

These crises don’t feel as immediate as when my father’s grade school teacher said goodbye to her class during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But, in some ways, they are more onerous and frightening than ever, a constant presence on screens reminding you that all is not well in the globalized world we share.

All global citizens should feel pressure to “make the world a better place.” Whether that’s through donating international aid money, advocating for local issues, or helping out a friend in need, the action is what counts.

In times like these, the most valuable services can seem trivial and trifling. What’s another song from another band when compared to the death rattle of yet another rhinoceros, cruelly slaughtered so some guy thousands of miles away can feel better about his hard on?

Art is a saving grace. No matter the destruction or extinction, artistic production will prevail as a beacon of individualism and emotion. Isn’t history just a long stream of artistic accomplishments, reminding us that no matter how bad it got, we, humans, always prevailed, and with a glimmer in our eyes to boot.

Jagwar Ma’s “Come Save Me” (the band’s first ever song) is that resilient glimmer embodied: The lyrics aren’t groundbreaking, the instrumentation is repetitive, but it expresses unbounded emotion in a moment when the audience needs it. “I don’t want a love like this,” sings Gabriel Winterfield, “come and save me.” No, Jagwar, you save us. Save us with your collaborative mentality (the band met through an open music and art collective that called itself a “band with no members”) and your sweet summer croonage.

It’s too simple to avert our eyes from the tragic. But if we come to understand that the tragic is an eternal partner to the comic, perhaps we can find some solace aboard our tiny bobbing boats that balance atop the crashing breakers of time. 

Jagwar Ma – Come Save Me

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ALX — Beautiful Criminal

The Beautiful Criminal

They met in Gotham, him on a layover from Smallville, her on one from Metropolis—both en route to destiny. A love story of some sort forms, but before long they can’t stand to be around one another. Their lives are so different. He returns to Gotham, the place of their first meeting to fall in love with all of the things that he had missed where he had once been blinded by beauty and distracted by love.’

At first listen to “Beautiful Criminal” by ALX, these are the images that the entire song helped formulate in my mind. Of course, in my mind it all had way more detail, but who here has two hours to read about JUST what she was wearing when they first met?

It’s a sunny day out, it’s beautiful and the skies are gorgeous even with the broken overcast lingering, so I’ll make this one very short.

Beautiful Criminal is good. It’s a song that evokes deep emotion. It is a song that one can reflect on love to. It is a song that makes me feel as if I’m listening to a something that I already know; or maybe it’s a song that I may have lived through the emotions of myself. Emotions as deep as you will hear in ALX’s masterpiece you could only hear in the Michael Jacksons, Frank Oceans, or Jai Pauls of the world. He manages to maintain various elements from one, if not all of these artists. (That depens on how much you allow yourself to hear.) I hear Frank Ocean and Jai Paul-esque vocals in several pockets of his performance throughout the song, Michael Jackson-esque executions of the word, criminal, in all of its hooks, and a StarGate-esque bottom end that takes me through a journey of beautiful landscapes with it, where the thumping only quits once the singing has ceased. (think Ne-Yo‘s “Sexy Love“.)

hiding from this world in this candle light,
been a long time since I went outside.” —ALX, Beautiful Criminal

Not much detail on ALX other than a The Weeknd type of obscurity behind his self-marketing. There’s also an accompanying visual to this song that reeks of The Weeknd.

“Beautiful Criminal” is a beautiful piece of unrequited love, stolen hearts, and discarded souls captured in our most guilty pleasures of percussions, airy melancholic vocals, and above all else: music.

In other words, the guilty pleasure that all us here love to indulge in, so indulge.

ALX — Beautiful Criminal

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Cat Power – Cherokee (Nicolas Jaar Mix)

A few weeks ago, I touched on the subject of improbable artist collaborations that play up the strengths of both parties. At the time, it was Sky Ferreira and Unknown Mortal Orchestra teaming up.

I’ve been fascinated by these modern super groups. Nominally, the term “super group” denotes a band made up of relatively recognizable members of other bands that records as a unit. Now, it can often mean collaboration through organized remixing, that is, the remixer is paid by the original artist and the track is sold digitally.

Today’s example is from 2012, but has the sound of a modern sensation. Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) is not a huge name, but she’s definitely making a career of it and has a strong core fan base. Nicolas Jaar may seem like a big name to EMPT readers, but he’s a total unknown to most people.

“Cherokee (Nicolas Jaar Mix)” melds Marshall’s smoky desert croon with Jaar’s forward thinking beat music, and the effect is spellbinding. Isn’t this exactly what Lana Del Rey wishes she could be? Jaar employs a bouncing counterpoint that sounds as if played on the ribcage of a giant whale by a giant.

It doesn’t seem like either artist has plans for future collaboration, but we can dream, right? I’ll be turning my attention to a real, old-fashioned super group: Royksopp and Robyn, the Swedish dream team. They’ll be releasing an album and touring the world. Don’t sleep on this one, folks. Both acts have cult followings across the world, and don’t discount Robyn’s viral video factor.

If you have any suggestions to add to the “improbable super group” discussion, please comment below! It’s changing the face of music in subtle yet impactful ways, and is worth tracking.

Cat Power – Cherokee (Nicolas Jaar Mix)

 

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Delicate Steve – Flyin’ High

More often than not, we find ourselves in situations where we end up taking our bodies for granted. Our minds tell us to take in as much as we can — whether it’s food, work, art, exercise, sex, social media, alcohol or any of the other hundreds of things we interact with. And I’m definitely guilty of that, too from time to time. But I think as conscious individuals, we deserve the right to be conscious of not only our minds, but our own bodies and what their limits are.

I thought about this today as I listened to this song that I haven’t been able to stop listening to since last weekend. I saw these fine gentlemen perform at a festive-Easter show last Sunday in Brooklyn, and haven’t been able to cut myself off from their music. They performed after Dustin Wong of Ponytail and I couldn’t think of a more serendipitous marriage of musical individuals on one roster. The only thing more perfect than that night is the collaboration of these two musicians on this track.

There are so many layers to this one song. It builds and builds until your heart can’t take it anymore, and then they drop you off at the top of a mountain, letting you take in the view of the vast and breathtaking surroundings. There’s nothing for you to interact with for hundreds of miles. You are alone with that which came before you — mountains, earth, snowy peaks, ethereal tree tops — that’s existed for longer than your brain can realistically comprehend.

That wall of sound is monstrous.

I never ever feel like I’m taking in too much music. I think that’s what makes us at EMPT a special kind of human. We’re not afraid to over indulge in this particular indulgence. Never do I find myself saying, “Man, I need to take it easy on the music intake this week.” Think about that for a minute — this is the only true thing that exists on our planet that doesn’t kill us if we take in too much. I mean, maybe, if you really break it down and get all analytical, yeah. Going to too many shows and not wearing earplugs, and drinking too much, may potentially harm your ears and body in a long lasting way. But I mean music alone — without all the other stuff that is situational. You could sit in your house and listen to music all day long, every single day, and your only crime would be perhaps playing it too loudly if you start to really feel it.

I like to think of how this song plays in my head, the brain activity that’s going on right now as I listen to it for the hundredth time. If you were to take a CAT scan of my brain right now, you’d see vibrant reds, oranges, greens, blues, violets, and a steady dancing interaction between all of the colors. They’re trying to imitate sound waves. The reds are in the front of my brain for a moment, and then they jump to the back as if they’re a part of a West African dance routine. And isn’t that exactly what dance and physical body movement is? A visceral reaction to the activity going on inside our minds?

Life’s pretty spectacular. Take a moment to allow yourself at least this one indulgence that runs you no risk besides supreme pleasure. Happy Sunday, and thank you so much to both Delicate Steve and Dustin Wong for the magical birth of this track.

Delicate Steve – Flyin’ High

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The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

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Rock music has seen a decline in relevance over the past few decades. This was partially inevitable, because public tastes move in cycles and no one was quite living up to the examples set by The Who, The Doors and, kings of kings, Led Zeppelin. Not only were those bands pushing records and selling out arenas, they were also totally insane and badass. Their exploits are lore, as the advent of omniscient tabloids had yet to dawn.

Of course, some of the greatest rockers of all time succeeded and were contemporary to those early legends: Hendrix, Prince, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, not to mention Guns & Roses, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and more. But it’s safe to say that the culture of rock has receded as a mainstream force, especially as metal has fractured into too many sub genres to count and become a relatively niche pursuit (don’t know any metal, huh? Kylesa and Mastadon are accessible to newcomers).

Arcade Fire’s “upset” Album of the Year Grammy win in 2011 was painted as a triumphant return for rock, but perhaps it augured in the other direction: that indie had been culturally appropriated by the masses. That narrative argues that the win wasn’t an upset at all, but actually the recognition that independent bands were no longer necessarily at a disadvantage to those with label deals, largely due to streaming, sharing and novel e-commerce and distribution strategies. Saying a band is “indie” no longer seems to refer to a contract status, and rather to an image (born from a mélange of art students, hipsters, rich kids and style bloggers).

It’s hard to rank rock bands today. The Who are still touring. Is Beck eligible? What do we do with country? I’m not going to try.

Here’s what I know: The War On Drugs is one of the best rock bands around, and they aren’t getting their due. Since 2008, the band has released three album and two EPs, all of them filled with recognizable sonic elements. Frontman Adam Granduciel ambles like Dylan, and surges like Springsteen. Their discography, while diverse (and including some excellent ambient/drone tracks), often evokes the emotive, noisey rock of The Cure and Arcade Fire, or the pseudo-ballad of Smashing Pumpkins.

“Red Eyes,” the lead single off the just-released “Lost In A Dream,” is an exercise in real rock. Not hard, not soft; lush yet restrained; and featuring ripping guitars. The mastering is expert (supposedly it took Granuciel much longer to master the song than to write and record it) and neither the poetic lyrics nor their earnest tone have a hint of pretention.

I encourage you to seek out live studio video, especially the set featured on KCRW radio’s Morning Becomes Eclectic show. The War On Drugs are at home in the studio, with perfect sound and an informal atmosphere. But I can imagine they’ll blow the roof off many a venue this summer and beyond.

The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

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Kidnap Kid – Like You Used To

Friday! Finally! I hope you have a fun weekend planned ahead of you. Maybe as you’re driving/biking/walking home this afternoon, you can leave with a smile listening to this track by Kidnap Kid…

If you’ve ever put needle to vinyl, you’ll recognize the first sounds emitting from Kidnap Kid’s “Like You Used To.” It begins with a soft crackle, followed by a soft electric guitar and raspy female vocals. If you don’t typically like “electronic” or “dance” music, you might want to open your ears up to this track and take a listen. Subtlety is key.

This song is definitely something you’ll be singing along to after a few plays; or at least tapping your toes to. Maybe it’s the harmonies that have me hooked. Perhaps her soothing voice or the mellow piano, all interspersed with atypical house beats.

If you focus on her voice you’ll hear her anguish. Is she alright? I can’t help but feel that the singer isn’t ok, but faking it. She’s obviously hurt and yearning for her ex-lover, yet her words say the opposite. Whatever her true feelings, you’ll likely enjoy the way she’s expressing herself.

Kidnap Kid is an English electronic dance music DJ and producer. “Like You Used To” was featured on his single, “Stronger” released this year. A lot of his other work features more electronic, quintessential electronic sounds, but I have an affinity for this track because of the soulful vocals; everything blends together really well.

Kidnap Kid – Like You Used To

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Jungle – Busy Earnin’

Jungle’s bittersweet 70′s inspired jam is my new theme song but what it represents is a lifestyle I’ve been at for a long time.

So you come a long way
But you never had things for a normal life, it’s hard
Too busy earnin’…

Everything I do I love. I don’t mean that in a cliche kind of way either. My job is my passion. I live in the abstract where I make money from curating music. Let me tell you something about money and music, they don’t go together. All those rappers you see are an illusion, 90% of your favorite bands are struggling. What I do is rare and I’m lucky. It’s a gift because I’m doing what I love, it’s a curse because it never turns off. You know how some people go home after work and leave their job behind, I don’t know that…

And I get it always
But I bet I won’t change, no
Just busy earring’
You can’t get enough.

Earning. I know what you’re thinking, money but it’s not a monetary thing, it’s about living and appreciation. There’s not a day in my life where I’m not extremely grateful for being a human being on planet earth, in the United States. I have this intrinsic need and desire to return the favor, to not just consume during my time on earth but to greatly contribute. While at Coachella I did a lot of thinking about the future and had an epiphany that the best way to contribute is to disrupt. You have to see the world beyond what already exist and create from that point of view. One day in the not so distant future the iPhone will be looked at like a fax machine, what and how we consume information, music and life in general will be completely different. By creating from that perspective you not only solve the problems of the present but you create something new at the same time.

My mother knows me by now but she still wonders why I check out from time to time. I’m just trying to give back man, just trying to earn my keep in this gift called life, I’m..

Just busy earnin’, Can’t get enough.

Press play and let these epic horns bring out the creator in you, let them inspire your day. Some of us have been at this for a long time and have no intention to stop but rather to figure out how to keep going at full speed, it’s what we’re meant to do and everyday we’re understanding the intricacies of that purpose more and more, here’s to those folks. Get busy people, we’re just getting started.

Jungle – Busy Earnin’

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Portugal. The Man – Purple Yellow Red Blue (Rambo Hollywood Remix)

“All I”  can imagine is that we have all had the same big realisations. The big “aha” we feel at various times in life. When you realise you need to get a job to eat. When you realise the amount of time someone was putting in to a project was nothing compared to what you were. Or the amount you were putting into a relationship was nothing compared to the person you oft forget to give the time of day. The bits in the middle can feel unique, but the big staples are just as common as us turning 18, feeling remorse, or identifying the difference between want and need for the first or hundredth time. Arguably, those are the staples, touch points, all humans will feel to a varying degree. 

Keep traveling. Have an open mind. Make sacrifices. All of these choices lead up to the big one. To what we feel is best for us. I’m still at a young enough age where I am my number one fan and enemy, and old enough to know I don’t have to feel guilty about it yet. That is the place I reside. 

Reading up on this song and the meaning paired with this remix feels like that in a way: musical ecstasy. There is something almost comforting about a remix with familiar sounds of an ’80s ballad played seamlessly under the clever, dark words of Portugal. the Man. That Spandau Ballet sort of sound gives the feeling of being lethargic and complacent. Although I can’t be a music hog, I would recommend the following to best enjoy this one: shut your eyes and put this song on and sway side to side, making your own little space. A place in your head or within rocking distance of yourself. I love this place. I used to look at girls dancing in dance halls and near empty bar floors and it took me a long time to realise their appeal was based on their proximity to this space. A confident, fluid place of freedom. 

Another EMPT writer noted that the people who read this are cult-like. The music buffs. Then there are the music hogs — the ones you cringe at when they command the music control. However good their taste, they will dictate the playlist. But I have a different theory; the lovers are here. The lovers of life. The style of it all. The music that somehow fits on those playlists you want to to be heard. The ones you put on when you have the perfect group pf people around and all have a drink or are sitting in that moment that requires just the addition of the perfect track. That is the complacency, the feeling you want from music. It is a lovely way to escalate an already perfect moment — and the sounds of this song drip with it. Pour it out and douse the floor with it.

This song is for the lovers of the hopeless itch. The life itch. Itchy feet yearning to move. The need to find the next track to release to.

“All I
Wanna do is
Live in ecstasy
I know what’s best for me
I can’t help it
It’s this hopeless itch
I just wanna feel (wanna feel)
Purple yellow red and blue”

Portugal. The Man – Purple Yellow Red Blue (Remix)

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The 2 Bears – Be Strong

Some people tell you what to listen to,
Spend the whole time saying this and that is cool,
You got to follow your own mind and ears,
And find a sound that stays inside your head for years.

So sings Raf Rundell, lead singer of British duo The 2 Bears (his partner in crime is Joe Goddard of Hot Chip), on “Be Strong,” from their debut album of the same name.

Posting this song is tricky, because what is a music blog doing if not telling you what to listen to? And isn’t it implied that all of the songs we post are cool? Why is it okay for a blog, but not for that friend who always commandeers the auxiliary cable?

Music snobs hate that person. If the offending individual begins pumping top-40, the snob can smirk and give his or herself a self-satisfactory pat on the back. But if instead Boards of Canada or Shuggie Otis flows forth, the snob will experience a crisis of identity and jealousy: “If I was as big of a douche I could have taken over the music and played something even more obscure and cool. But I’m not a douche, so I’ll let it go and give myself a pat on the back anyway.”

Casual music listeners also hate that person. They don’t want a music education. They don’t want to confront challenging art, and often don’t know how. Lightning Bolt? Is that, like, Katy Perry‘s new single?

Yet music snobs and causal listeners alike devour music blogs. People, and especially “millennials” desire curation as a way to cut through the noise and find value without spending time. Its much easier for people to shed their snobbery or “basic” tastes in private, where cool is no longer dictated by their crowd and rather by their personal preferences. Even the hippest hipster has guilty pleasure bands, and even the most radio-brained have some Miles Davis in their libraries.

By posting “Be Strong,” I, and therefore Et Musique Pour Tous as a structure, am saying “listen to this song, it is good, it is cool.” My/our opinion. We hope you love it, and that it “stays inside your head for years.” But if you hate it, that’s healthy too. “Following your own mind and ears” is hard to do in the era of curated cool, but I believe in you! By discovering your personal aesthetic preferences without worry about other peoples’, you build self confidence and take a step away from ever needing a self-aggrandizing pat on the back. Freedom from groupthink is a laudable goal, but so too is the reduction of snobbery. 

The 2 Bears – Be Strong

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