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Idriss Chebak & Yoann Feynman – Fallin’

I’m so fascinated by the obsession we seem to have with escaping from wherever we are. When I first heard this song, I was not only taken by its slow build and beautiful melodies, but by the amount of songs I’ve heard with this title. “Fallin’” to me is ever present and consistently something that I think about. I’m not sure why, but I’m even more fascinated by the club culture that breeds chaos in a controlled setting. Yes, I’m talking about orchestrated chaos. But I’ve talked about that idea far too much — what I’m interested in is the desire to fall out of sync with the present. To escape the moment. I’m completely taken by the cliche that we sometimes give the idea of remaining present and how it’s almost cool to escape; to fall into another world. We see this every single day: our constant living for the weekend mentality, our overworked brains, our need to obliterate our bodies with alcohol and drug consumption.

I thought about this especially tonight as I attended a show by myself, and found myself judging the people in front of me for being completely drunk. I don’t typically judge people for their drinking behaviors, but what I was more fascinated by was how throughout the entirety of the show, each person had managed to buy at least one drink for another person — nobody had bought their own drinks all night. It was kind of beautiful, but then it got me thinking: is it our mission to get everybody on the same level as us, in a situation like that? If that’s the case, alcohol does seem like the easiest way to get there.

This isn’t to say that I don’t take part in my fair share of escapism. We all do, I think, because it’s part of our nature. Because we understand the banalities of everyday life and sometimes, that makes us sad. But why not embrace that sadness for a moment and let it get into your soul — not your brain. Let it fuel you.

This isn’t about discouraging you from traveling to other lands. It’s not an attempt to dampen your exploring heart. It’s about embracing whatever it is you decide and allowing yourself to stand still in whatever transition you make. If you choose to fall, let it be at your own discretion. And if you need a song to listen to while falling, let it be this one.

Idris Chebak & Yoann Feynman – Fallin’

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Haim – My Song 5

I’ll be up, going through crazy shit I did for you
In my mind, in my head, seeing all the words unsaid

After all the words are said, when everything dies down — the calm after the storm — what are we left with? Our thoughts are just left to fester. We’ve all been there, sitting, replaying in our minds what could have been said; the perfect composition is too often belated. Regardless, the best thing to do after a bad situation is to be proactive. Perhaps write a badass song about it! That’s what the Haim sisters did, and the outcome is glorious. The lyrics of “My Song 5″ suggest heartbreak over lies and mistrust, and when sung, offer a strong, retaliative message of independence.

“My Song 5″ is an enigmatic outlier amongst the array of energetic tracks on Haim’s “Days Are Gone”. I’m immediately entrapped by the sharp, somber beats, strong female vocals, and yet there’s something else. Maybe it’s the deep tuba that’s really got me absorbed. The trio work extremely well togheter, especially on stage. What really sparked my devotion to their music was seeing them live. Twice wasn’t enough; both performances merely left me yearning for more. I was left speechless and shaking my head in disbelief of their talent. If you have the chance to see them, for goodness sake, take it!! These sisters are doing something right. With influences by Fleetwood Mac, Motown, and 90′s R&B, their unique sound will have you hooked.

I’ve been lied to.
So what’s the truth?

I’m going to tell you the truth.. Haim is a band you won’t regret making time for. They’re on tour now, so go get your ticket! Bring a friend or go alone, but you’ll probably be so engrossed in their essence it’ll feel like only you four in the room.

Haim – My Song 5

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The Who – Sparks

Tommy Effect: noun  (with reference to psychoacoustics) the phenomenon whereby a single and/or multiple sounds within a complex moment or system can have immense effects which remain ubiquitous for the remainder of a lifetime.

The conversation you have with someone about the moment they fell in love with music is passionate. It feels like one of the easiest ways to get personal with someone. There are seldom stories of, “Yeah, I don’t really know. I guess I just always liked them.” Often a conversation had in a foggy room or crowded bar or end of a second date.

Mine, mine was perfect. I remember listening to Elvis Presley on a tape sitting in back of my family’s steel grey minivan on a trip across the country when we moved to America. I listened to it until it broke in my yellow Sony Walkman. I listened to it front and back, a few hundred times or until the black tape started to unravel. It was the only music I cared to know at first. I am sure it was not my mum’s intention when she threw her tape back to me that she would never again see it again, or that it would have such repercussions on me. I loved his voice. I was 8 and that is when I remember first experiencing the Tommy Effect.

Recently, I had a conversation with my boss in London who was talking about how he wanted to start collecting vinyl. For one reason or another, he craved it in his life. He was telling me about his first records he had as a kid and he lit up. Recalling the moment he fell in love with music. “The best relationship you have in your life.” It was like you could see the dusky old room he was clearly back to in his mind littered with classic records strewn about and a fervent boy rushing to put on one after the other eagerly awaiting the next track to fall in love with.

The Tommy Effect, may be a term I created just then, but recognise that everyone reading this or interested in this site has felt it. The literal reference is to Almost Famous. The moment when William gets his sister’s record collection and puts on The Who‘s album, Tommy, and finds a note in it. That’s when you hear that strumming guitar coming in, approximately 20 seconds before you get goose bumps from your reaction to the music. That scene is so personal and accurate, it makes that character instantly become you or your best friend. It’s like watching the perfect first kiss, the perfect beginning to the best relationship we can ever have.

To experience this effect once more, I will quote one of the best music movies of our time and leave you with this.

“Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future.” –Penny Lane

The Who – Sparks

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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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