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Music

Tom Misch & Carmody – We Used To Know

But we let it go, let it go, let it go…

Embrace your somber side by listening to Tom Misch & Carmody’s lovely track, “We Used To Know”. The pair has been working on an EP that will be released later this year. Both musicians are from South East London, and actually live down the road from each other!

There’s something about Tom’s music that is soothing to my soul. It’s not just this song that caught my attention. After hearing only a few of his songs, I knew he was an artist I should pursue. And I did! I downloaded his first album named “Beat Tape 1” earlier this week and have been thoroughly enjoying it. In “We Used To Know”, his use of barely-there guitar strums and minimalistic percussion alongside his sultry voice captures me straight away. Carmody’s voice only amplifies the melancholy atmosphere conjured up by this song. The track is about breaking apart and drifting away; about the empty feeling that ensues after a breakup. The song carries soul, and the pair work well together to evince those familiar feelings of loss.

Be careful! This song isn’t forgettable. I’ve been humming it all day! Maybe it’s my current mood; it’s been dreary out, and my mood has been negatively affected by the sudden cold. We can’t be happy all the time! Life has taught me that a bout of sadness is natural and shouldn’t be ruminated upon. So let the blue songs speak to you; appreciate your varied emotions!

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Categories
Music

La Roux – Let Me Down Gently

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It’s about damn time!

When I first heard a static-y leaked version of “Fascination” in ’08, I knew La Roux was going to be big.  Their arrival onto the scene coincided perfectly with the rise of blog and remix culture, and their sonic combination of pop, soul and forward-thinking synth music in fact prefaced the rise of today’s electro-pop craze.

“Going in for the Kill (Skream Remix)” led to Purity Ring; “Bulletproof” to CHVRCHES. And many of the unheralded tracks on La Roux’s eponymous 2009 debut, like “Armour Love” and “Cover My Eyes” set the stage for Lorde and similarly simmering female vocalists. La Roux contemporaries – Little Boots and Ladyhawke especially – haven’t gained anything near the popular acclaim and staying power.

What I’m trying to say is that, by my measure, Ellie Jackson is the co-queen (along with Robyn) of modern pop vocals. I was lucky enough to catch a La Roux live set last year (my second overall). Jackson’s stage presence is elite, and the audience clearly knew every song. The was also chock full of killer new material that fit into their canon without being repetitive, and I left feeling pumped for a new album. Then, nothing. The wait continued.

Now, finally, after 5 years, La Roux will release their second album, “Lost in Paradise,” stateside on July 8th. “Let Me Down Gently,” the lead single from the album, is an instant classic for La Roux fans, but surely will not be the lasting impression from the album. It’s a fine taste of a sound that’s been imitated over and over but not yet matched, delivered, despite the layoff, without missing a beat.

The tracklist has been released, and includes songs titled, “Sexotheque” and, “Tropical Chancer.” The band played the latter at the show I attended, and let me tell you, it will bring the house down when released. I’ve been singing it to myself for over a year, not knowing the title or lyrics…“t-t-t-tropical chancaaaaa.” I can’t wait.

La Roux hits the road in June, and will tour the US (both solo and as New Order’s opener) through July before heading back to England. If the swing passes through your town, don’t sleep. Pop mastery is rare, and strong live performance of their caliber even rarer.

Welcome back La Roux.

La Roux – Let Me Down Gently

Categories
Music

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

Categories
Music Remixes

Anna Kendrick – Cups (Jellosea Remix)

Newness. That’s what’s on my mind as write this post. I’m trying to think of all the things I’ve encountered recently that were one way, then suddenly, became new and different. Sometimes it’s a person that we used to know, or a place that we’ve revisited. The best thing about anything that we experience is that it can only exist one way in your memory, because any other time will be different and new. I guess that’s something that you guys have heard me ramble about a lot on EMPT, but I think it’s definitely something worth thinking about when we’re talking about remixes. How we allow ourselves to let go of those past emotions tied to a song, be it positive or negative, and open our ears and mind to a brand new experience. That’s how I approach every remix before hearing it — with an open mind. And you know what? I encounter a lot of disappointments. But with every disappointment, comes a just as important and memorable non-disappointment. A pleasure.

This remix of Cups is precisely that. A complete and full-blown pleasure. Jellosea drops the levels on the vocals, plays with repetition and in doing so, unearths a song that belongs in the bedroom. It’s sexy. Which, when you think about it, is kind of hilarious and brilliant especially in comparison to the original. A drastic and deserved 180 degree turn. Something about the repetition of the vocals give the lyrics a little bit more depth, demanding my attention and thought. And best of all, it’s new.

Let’s not forget about the fact that I’ve probably overplayed this song far too much in the past week, but I’m not sorry about that at all. It’s really perfect and lovely, so without further ado, enjoy.

Anna Kendrick – Cups (Jellosea Remix)

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Music

Major Lazer – Watch Out For This (Bumaye) feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green

No surprise here that the newest Major Lazer track is the embodiment of perfection. There’s a lot going on here and all of it is loveworthy. The work that Major Lazer is just as hard as their live shows — 100% with nothing to hold back. I remember the first time I saw them at one of the HARD shows in New York City. As soon as I arrived at Terminal 5, my phone was stolen. My sadness was fleeting and totally forgotten as soon as I stepped into the masses. The show was unforgettableLadders and ladies with barely any clothes on, a lot of humping the ground, fans on stage, fans off stage, scary faces, exciting light shows…it’s always really impressive to me when a musical act can channel exactly the same energy they give out in their music, on stage during a live show. It’s a whole other level of creativity that I can definitely appreciate. It’s like taking a painting and transforming into a piece of poetry.

Have you guys noticed that February is just the worst month? I used to feel pretty indifferent towards February, but this year it has been nothing but a nagging pain. And I know it’s the year of the snake and everything, so maybe it’s time to just take February for what it is — a month for realizations in the harshest way. Hopefully this track will not only make you want to dance, but lift your spirits as it has done for me. I especially like playing it at the gym when I’m trying to channel any sort of anger or sadness into my workout. It’s a really fun song to run to, with the beat being so intense, demanding attention and fervor. Enjoy!

Major Lazer – Watch Out For This (Bumaye) feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green