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Crystal Fighters – Champion Sound


Transitioning from summer into fall is a slow time of the year. The days get shorter, darkness arrives before you know it. Hours tick by, half a blur but half a stairway with no end in sight.

Music’s role in life changes with the season. It plays a supporting role during the summer, but is quickly cast as a co-lead when the slowdown hits. Stow away that song ADD, and release the full album listen-throughs and endless mood playlists. Not to mention the high quality of KCRWs Eclectic 24 music feed. Talk about curation!

I’ve been going HAM on Spotify, turning over new stones, finding salamanders and getting those gems in rotation. Who would have thought that someday Burl Ives would share a playlist with Aphex Twin (quick note: if you haven’t listened to “Syro” yet…absolutely one of the best albums of any genre this year). One of my juiciest finds has been the debut album from Crystal Fighters, “Star of Love,” released by the London outfit in 2010. Not only is the music highly innovative and entrancing, but the band has one of the most fascinating back stories I’ve come across in some time.

Formed in 2008, the band is a musical project based on and named for an unfinished opera written by one of the members’ certifiably insane grandfather. After finding the opera randomly which cleaning out the ancient house, located in the Basque region of Spain, the band dedicated their intellectual and musical energies towards creating an album centered on the opera’s insights and traditional Basque music. I forgive you if you didn’t draw that exact conclusion from listening to their music, but there is no denying that the resulting sound is original and new (also now is a good time to drop a pic of this band…they are beautiful.)

Mixing traditional Basque instruments – including a beautiful pipe whistle – with manic, housey synths isn’t easy to do. Vocals at times mimic traditional chanting, always fluid and rapidly delivered.Their new album, Cave Rave continues the mission, but feels overwrought and sugary to me. Not to say it isn’t worth a listen! The story doesn’t get any more normal, but I’ll leave that to curious readers.

As we approach the harvest season, what do we never do? That’s right, drink “harvest” featured beers from your favorite secretly-corporate-owned “craft” brewer. What do we do? Dive into the stacks, get reacquainted with old friends and reflect on another year end approaching and a troubled world laid bare. Pained by a death across the world and one just next door, it can be hard to see many moments of light in the smoggy sky. Rally, my friends! You have enough, you do enough, you are enough. Be you to the ever present soundtrack.


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Francoise Hardy – Le Temps de l’Amour

I’ve been watching a lot of Nora Ephron movies lately. It started off as research for a Michael Mina restaurant in St. Petersburg that I’m curating and then turned into a official love affair with Nora’s story telling, views on life, friendship, love and of course her delightful taste in music. Hollywood and the entertainment business in general is full of so much phoniness, so many people looking for fame and playing the power games. There are so few valuing love, the many layers of life and all it has to offer that it’s a breath of fresh air to indulge in Nora’s wonderful world.

I know it sounds weird, the Space Age Bachelor Pad guy talking about how much he was touched by how romantic Paris looks in Julie & Julia or the airport scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks see’s Meg Ryan for the first time and “A Wink And A Smile” plays. It’s weird if you think Space Age Bachelor means wanna be Don Draper or Hugh Hefner but that’s not the case. Space Age is meant to represent the evolved man, one who has all the qualities of an alpha male but fully embraces all layers of being a cultured, emotionally developed, traveled and tasteful person far beyond any stereotypical expectations. No one, man or women should be limited in what they can express or appreciate because of what society has deemed appropriate for them, that’s what Space Age means.

Le temps de l’amour isn’t from a Nora Ehpron movie but it’s one of my old time favorites and the message is right in line with the beautiful feelings and sounds of that world.

C’est le temps de l’amour,
le temps des copains et de l’aventure.
Quand le temps va et vient,
on ne pense a rien malgre ses blessures.
Car le temps de l’amour
c’est long et c’est court,
ca dure toujours, on s’en souvient

It is time for love and despite anything happening in the world that’s where my focus is and will be. I think that’s why the warm, loving feelings captured in these films resonate with me. It’s super cliche but the saying is true – life is what you make it. Despite what you say to people, vibe and energy are everything, it’s the one thing you can’t fake. When you ingest dark things and think negatively on your own and then go around people trying show love it’s not going to work, your vibe will expose you. So for..

Those who pose lyrical but really ain’t true I feel – 
There times limited, hard rock too…” – O.C. (Time’s Up)

I’m past fear and insecurity, what I want to manifest in the world now is love. When I walk into a room I want it to feel like a damn cool spring breeze just glided by your face, Grace Jones’ La Vie En Rose is playing in the background, kids are playing outside, it smells like flowers and life is nothing but beautiful, anything else is uncivilized. Enjoy.

Françoise Hardy – Le Temps de l’Amour

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Kidnap Kid – Animaux

Kidnap Kid’s “Animaux” is one of the two tracks on his EP, “So Close,” released last year. With very simple and deliberate bass and electronic beats, the song will have you bumping. The rhythm is so sporadic, and his use of accented up-beats and minimal lyrics rubs me the right way.

Can I be the one?

Although it isn’t fast-paced or your quintessential dance anthem, the bouncy layers work so well together it makes me want to get out of my seat. It is also unpredictable! Which is probably why I’m hooked. I love listening to a song over time, but hearing differing prominent elements based off my mood. I’m really into the minimalistic electronic sounds at the moment, including artists like Flume and Flight Facilities. It’s simplistic in a way that makes me want more; I’m not being blasted by harsh sounds like in house music.

If you want to check out Kidnap Kid’s latest stuff, his newest EP is called “Stronger,” out earlier this year. Happy listening!

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JJ Hodari — Break Our Bones

Some of the lowest levels of energies that we feel, aka the lows, in our lives happen immediately after our most highest levels of energy, aka the highs. If yesterday turned out to be one of the greatest days of your entire life, then it is highly likely that today will feel lower than usual, even if it is a normal everyday day for you. Obviously today doesn’t even know that it is competing with yesterday, but with the way that we have been wired throughout centuries of habit and patterns followed, that is precisely what is happening. Yesterday we reached the top of Mount Everest and today, even if we are at the top, the world seems less exciting and less lovable.

Is this what we do when we are in love?

If later today I conquer something I’ve desired intensely since yesterday, will it become less exciting tomorrow? And what about after tomorrow? Is this what happens once the thrill of the hunt is gone?

I try to live my life with these things in mind and sometimes I may break a few hearts in the process, and other times my own gets broken, but I think that is the beauty of this life: to know that after every extremely low, low, there can only be another unimaginably beautiful high in the horizon.

That’s what this tune makes me feel. It makes me feel that as low as I have or can ever feel, there is always the thrill of the hunt for another high. That just around the bend ahead lies the highest high I have ever experienced to date. That no matter how amazing the last thrill in our life seemed, there still exists more thrilling moments that can be had. And so, the older and wiser I become as a resident of this construct that you and I seem to be in, the more I recognize that the power to find higher highs is in my hands, and that if you are worth it then I will do whatever it takes to make sure that my highest highs become yours.

This is how I see love now—true love that is.


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ODESZA – Say My Name (Max Liese Remix)

When was the last time you cheated? Have you ever?

It is such a taboo to talk about, even in the closest circles it is the whispers in the hall. But it has come up a lot more lately. People are listening to the other side, the voice in the corner. Whether deliberate or intentional, I think most people have become empathetic or all too familiar with the other person. Perhaps it is evolution in relationships, that we no longer have the same idea that we will meet the one and never feel that for another after that.

Even in the best relationships we face temptation. The lust for the beginning rush. The taste of someone new. A friend recently broke up with “the one” as he didn’t realise how you could love more than one person. How you could want to have more than one in your life? Is this a conversation you should have when things start to get serious, like “where do you want to end up” or “do you plan to have kids”? Do you think you can love two people at once? Do you think you can just stay with one person, satisfied, for your life?

It is hard when the fights begin to get heated with your significant other and they always end with, “why don’t you leave then” rather than “let’s figure it out”. And even in that moment you leave the relationship, the love for a moment. “Leave!” You think, what if.

So when does cheating count then? Is it thinking about someone else? You have emotionally let in someone else. Is that right? Or it is it physical. And where is that line? Does it not really matter until you get married or is it when you move in?

These are more questions than a resolution and there is really no wrong or right. Writing from the fence and looking at both sides. Temptation and love and empathy and unsatisfied. Where do you go from here?

“I wanna go
So what’d you say
When you gonna let me know
If you give a dam* about me

‘Cause you got my hands tied
In my defense
I always fall for confidence
And your compliments look good on me

Cause nobody knows it better
than the girl in the corner with the scarlet letter
And while you’re watching you may think that she doesn’t matter
But no one knows you better”

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The L.O.X. – Recognize

And it ain’t a dream, things ain’t always what it seem…” – Notorious B.I.G.

The world didn’t start yesterday yet we’re such an ego driven species that we fail to acknowledge the immense history and progress that has come before us and led to this very moment. It’s a blatant disrespect for the journey that could very well lead to the very things we escaped if we don’t start taking a minute to stop and smell the flowers.

The newer generations are way too forgiving.”

I read that on Cyrus Pavel’s twitter and it struck me as profound. If you think about it, anyone born in the United States was born with a huge inheritance. Not a necessarily a monetary inheritance but an inheritance of rights and freedoms that were fought long and hard for. Yes, there are still many seemingly insurmountable inequalities but that’s just an illusion, in America you make your way, it’s always been like that. All the handout thinking is new programming, it’s the illusion used to make us dependent on others – the trap. Our fathers were rebels like George Washington, activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and geniuses like Nikola Tesla. When we let people destroy what these guys did we’re essentially letting someone take away our inheritance. Our generation is too forgiving because what’s happening to us can only be explained in Style Wars lingo –

You can never make up for that
That’s never forgive action.”

So as much as our egos would like for us to believe that the world starts and ends with us and only us we need to respect our history, protect our inheritance, and recognize what has come before us. I was lucky to grow up in Harlem, I traveled half way around the world before I was 15, I shook hands with Mandela, sung on the White House lawn then went back home to the projects, I hopped the 1 train and flew with titans on private planes. I’m thankful for that vantage point because for all the luxuries I’ve had in my life, a lack of perspective has never been one. I understand and have an immense respect for everything and everyone that has come before us.

Don’t get it twisted ya’ll.”

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Alaska in Winter – Berlin


Calling Alaska in Winter, the musical project fronted by Brandon Bethancourt, elusive would be selling it short. I probably found “Berlin” when it bubbled to the top of early Hype Machine for a day. And though Bethancourt’s debut album, “Dance Party in the Balkans,” is a brilliant mélange of pop sensibility, anguish and bloggy-electo, the band seemingly dropped off the earth after 2008.

They didn’t, not really. Aside from a dissipated sophomore effort that same year, the rest of their releases have been either extremely limited issue or sold only in nu-vintage format ie. micro-cassette. I guess theirs an argument to be made that releasing your music in such an inaccessible format maintains a level of credibility and alliance to your true fans…oh wait, no there isn’t.

Music press has a strange obsession with forgotten acts or rare recordings. I get it, especially in the case of total unknown geniuses who recorded in third world countries decades ago. The rock music of pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, for instance, or the genius William Onyeabor, who was recording funk fusion in the vein Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem circa 1970s Nigeria. In other cases, (I’m thinking of Pitchfork’s recent love affair with Lewis) the narrative centers entirely on the fact that “you haven’t heard of this guy” rather than “this music will change your life.”

You’d hope that the press would take their (our?) soapbox seriously. I’d guess that any of you who’ve read this far are actually interested in what writers have to say about music, and that you can see through bullshit. Have I written some bullshit posts? Sure, and I honestly regret that. But when you’re writing for Pitchfork, you just can’t. I get that the corporations need their clicks and shares, and that writers need to pay the bills, but journalistic integrity does still mean something to many who ply the trade. If I were paid for these posts, there would be no bullshit, ever.

But artists don’t share that responsibility. Though there is no argument I can make in favor of restrictive releases, I say do art your way. If Alaska in Winter doesn’t want me to hear their music, so be it. At least I’ve got Berlin and the entire first album (which you should really listen to, it’s great autumn/winter music). And now you do too.

Alaska in Winter – Berlin

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Zella Day – Compass (Louis The Child Remix)

Sometimes it is hard to think of something inspiring, moving, worth reading each week. Today, I found myself wishing that I could write as I used to, a time filled with a string of bad decisions, destruction and floundering for air. But the poetry and short stories of that time, now years in my past, were the best, darkest, most articulate thoughts I had expressed. Was it the drugs? The weather? The boy? The girl? The fights? The place?

I thought that if I could find this place again I would be able to write like that again.

I was listening to a TED talk from Elizabeth Gilbert (Writer of Eat Pray Love – whatever haters,  she is a remarkable speaker) today where she was talking about creativity and how hard it is to find and pin it down. Creativity is also so closely associated with being linked to sadness. We see this sadness and ability to capture it as an artist or writer or speaker and hold it to such a high esteem in our society, like darkness and depression is where the best will source their work. The 27 club being a prime example, a group of young talent that were our creative gods. We worship their words, their work.

It is this same trend we see in so many songs and and the musicians putting them out now. That sadness we relate to, they articulate it so well. That hole we feel, they dig it and show us the picture. But is that what we are still promoting in our creative brethren?

I highly recommend listening to it as I assume many of the readers here are creators in some way or another, we all need inspiration to do what we do. This was such a revelation of thought to have, but it still begs the question, where do we find our inspiration? Does it need to be in the dark? Can’t we find something bigger in the light? In the happiness? How do you get inspired or do you feel like your best inspiration has come and gone?

I would hope that that time would not have been my most fluid thought. The trick is to find things that continue to inspire you and embrace them. Like this track. I heard it last week and man, oh man. Zella Day is oft described as a “happier Lana del Ray” with punchy, youthful vocals ringing of amore and contentment. Thriving to be content should be the goal of expressing creativity, shouldn’t that be the sound of doing something well? We create as a release, to express, to arrive there is like ohm.

This mix from Louis the Child encompasses that Flume sounding drop and some well-placed kick drums making this track an inspiring Wednesday tune.

Zella Day – Compass (Louis the Child Remix)

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Portugal. The Man — Purple Yellow Red & Blue (Passion Pit Remix)

We fail to recognize our very own bad habits, or at least be aware of them, and this is exactly what is wrong with our world today. Take for instance the climate change march that just went down this past weekend in NYC. You have 400k+ people marching for mother nature and nearly half of them discarding their Starbucks coffee cups in places that they should have not. Awesome for the Earth, right? No.

We love to tell others about not walking ahead of people while you are smoking as to not blow unwelcome second-hand smoke in anyones faces, yet we sit there and take up the entire sidewalk whenever we are walking with our friends, oblivious to the fact that some people are in a rush to get to where they are going because like I just said before: ‘we just don’t care to recognize our very own bad habits‘, and yet we are the first to point them out in everyone else. Why do we do this? How come it is so hard to be honest with our own selves these days that when someone else does point out our own truths we manage to get pissed at them rather than be thankful?

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”

Passion Pit‘s Remix of Purple Yellow Red & Blue speeds up the original masterpiece by Portugal. The Man and adds some starry synths and widely-stacked transient claps while keeping the hypnotizing piano chords of the original. It’s a remix that manages to make you feel the lyrics a little more and quite possibly connect with them, without the need for a visual. Maybe it’s the fast-paced footing of the track that hurries your attention into what’s going on in the vocals, or maybe it’s the wobbly synth sounds that take place throughout the track and draw your attention to the more audible aspects in the higher spaces. Whatever it is, it is excellent and definitely a Tuesday tune to rock out with to at your desk before the trek home or your nearest pub for happy hour.

Enjoy, be courteous, and try to recognize your own bad habits if you can because life all around us, and music, are just better when we do.


Portugal. The Man — Purple Yellow Red & Blue (Passion Pit Remix)

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DJ Agent 86 – All About the Money

Ownership: being in total control. If you don’t have ownership over yourself, than is it possible to really be free at all?

As I venture onto my next unknown venture in life,  keep asking myself this question. Without ownership and without control, it feels impossible to truly create your own, desired path in life. Both figuratively and literally. If you’re not in total control of yourself–your emotions, your body, your desires–than you’ll likely end up unhappy. Without some sort of inner peace and an internal compass knowingly guiding us, we’re all lost. If you don’t know yourself and can’t control yourself, you won’t get far in life.

And then there’s the money. Most of us can’t be our own “bosses”. We work jobs because we have to make a living, and it’s expected of us. We do it for the money, and for the luxuries that whatever that money can afford us. But without being your figurative boss, you’ll never be a literal boss. Successful people’s success often stems from supreme, unquestioned confidence. You need that cockiness to run your own ship. And if you’re never your literal boss, it will be come increasingly harder, with age, to be the figurative boss of yourself. You will find yourself questioning your existence. You will find yourself waiting for that clock to hit 6 PM every day.

You will lose ambition and the desire to stretch your wings.

To choose the course of your life, you need to know your ultimate destination or at least the route you hope to take to get there. For me, that means starting my own “thing,” because if I don’t, I know I’ll look back in 30 years and what one of my many half-baked ideas could’ve turned into. Without trying, I’ll never know. And course, we all need money. At some point and time (preferably before you turn 30), you need to look yourself in a mirror and ask what you want. Is it a ritzy pent house on the Upper East side or a quiet cottage in upstate New York? It’s just to what degree we need that money. You can run your own hedge fund and accomplish the first, or you be a personal tutor (while writing a novel) and perhaps accomplish the second. But without that control and awareness of what you want, you’ll never be in control.

And for some of us, when you boil it down, sadly but truly, it can often be all about the money. If you don’t own a piece of some pie, you won’t ever have your own pie.

DJ Agent 86 – All About the Money (Instrumental Version)

DJ Agent 86 – All About the Money (DJ Butcher’s Maguire Edit)


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