The 2 Bears – The Night is Young

Multi-tasking is no easy task. I’m trying to do five things at once right now and I feel like I’m stuck in a bubble going up a hill. It takes patience, know-how, confidence, and of course, time. Sometimes, it feel easier to just give up on them all and rip my bong. At other times, I try to do all five at once. Neither strategy works.

So artists with two successful and innovative projects amaze me. The ability to create diverse musical sounds with diverse amounts of people is a skill I imagine you’re born with. It’s not easy being Clark Kent one minute and throwing on the cape a minute later.

And by day, Joe Goddard is best known for his efforts in Hot Chip. By night, Joe Goddard is half of The 2 Bears. The dude has skills.

Goddard’s day job (of which I’m minimally acquainted) comes with more critical acclaim and renown, but it’s the latter project’s time to shine. And with all due respect to Hot ChipThe 2 Bears’ sound offers far more intrigue and range, at least for me.

If you’re into genres, you can describe The 2 Bears sound as “Comfort House” to your friends. At its core, Goddard and partner Raf Rundell deliver relaxing house music–“house” with a knowing soul and a kind backbone. It’s a sound that’s increasingly difficult to find when discussing “electronic dance music” or as we once called it: House.

Two weeks ago, they released The Night is Young, and it doesn’t seem like enough people have noticed the stellar follow-up to Be Strong (also very nice). That’s probably because like the men behind the album, The Night is Young features a ton of exciting artists you won’t see on billboards and likely have never heard of.

It also probably definitely lacks a hardcore, major ($$$) marketing campaign from a mainstream label, as it’s out on the independent but always stellar Southern Fried Records.

But as noted earlier, this album has got what a lot of today’s electronic music lacks: roots and passion. Goddard and Rundell will take you to the wild jungle one song, the tranquil train station the next, and then to an enclaved beach party.

The iTunes description for the album notes African roots, and it’s obvious these guys draw from a wide variety of influences, from the tribal to the funky to the all-out housey.

And that’s fitting for a duo that formed as an homage to the godfathers of house.

Despite the “Bears” image portrayed, both Goddard and Rundell are heterosexual. The name honors house music’s gay roots, of which “Bear” is an associated term.

With an effort like this, you have to think the house lords like Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles (both openly gay) are smiling down upon this effort as they bop their heads in heaven.

I’m kind of amazing the title track doesn’t have more plays. Pure balearic melody and musical melatonin, it deserves your attention and more of the internet’s:

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This modern reggae interpretation may be the coolest track on the album:

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“Not This Time” is the catchiest tune on the album and perhaps the oddest music video you’ll see all year.


Oliver – Light Years Away


My music taste lately has been skewing old. Lot’s of New Orleans blues, 60’s live rock recordings, and of course Cambodian surf rock from the Vietnam era. Friends and family, who constantly ask me for new music, have been disappointed of late when I weakly shrug.

So thank goodness for my favorite radio DJs spinning late night on KCRW. Friday nights with Travis Holcombe are a crash course in the newest bangers from across electronic genres, and after attending an intimate Chris Smither concert, I needed a dose of upbeat happy.

Mr. Holcombe obliged. I’d heard of Oliver before, but hadn’t delved into the duo’s discography. They are leading electro away from nu-disco and into a post-nu-disco era (only half facetious…) I compare them to Fake Blood, but able to reach the pop sound that he never did (or never wanted to), and group them with producers like Breakbot and Aeroplane. However, their latest EP, “Light Years Away,” throws in a hefty dose of Gestaffelstein for good measure, bringing a much-needed grit to the often sugary nu-disco formula.

And who can say no to a diva vocal disco bridge?!

“Light Years Away,” the song, is an all-timer at first listen. It is tonally dark, while maintaining an uplifting twinkle in its eye. The grimy snap bass tears a wormhole in the space time continuum, the sparkling diva break exposes us to the ecstatic gamma rays within. Both a militant, industrial shredder and a funky shoulderroller, this track will undoubtably worm its way into your rotation, and boom over dance floors around the world this holiday season.

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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)


Music Remixes

Ghost Beach – Been There Before (Shook Remix)

Changing, changing

Shook’s remix of “Been There Before” takes the original, strips it substantially of its lyrics and focuses on beat-tastic piano and disco bass. The bongos make me feel like i’m sitting by a beach-side cabana, the beat makes me want to shake my booty. The piano has a Chilly Gonzales-esque sound to it; the in-your-face-can’t-leave-your-mind kind of piano. Shook is notorious for his prevalent use of the bass, radically transforming pop and indie songs into nu-age disco.

Shook eliminates all words save one particular chunk. In this sole verse, there’s a heavy emphasis on changing. I like this topic. Life is change, change is life, yet we have such trouble accepting it! We take time to adjust to the new situation, and this is where the hardship sets in. As a military child being displaced every 2 years, by the time I left home I had the “uprooting” thing down. I grew to accept this feeling of discomfort- this “transitionary period” as I have since labeled it. It’s the period before your brain adapts to whatever situation you’ve put it through. Because of my inconsistent childhood, I’ve been a skeptic of the permanence of the present, and what I’ve grown to accept is the ephemerality of life. Whatever you feel now will pass in X amount of time. How quickly we adjust plays a large role in our happiness in such new situations.

Don’t fall into the trap of stagnation or you’ll get “Lost in a vision of where you are now,” as Ghost Beach puts it. Enjoy the moment, engross yourself in it, but don’t lament on it once it passes.

Ghost Beach – Been There Before (Shook Remix)



Tensnake – Love Sublime ft. Nile Rodgers and Fiora

For the past three week’s I’ve been living alone for the first time ever. Growing up, I was surrounded by family at home and friends at school. In college, alone time was rare, and frankly I didn’t seek it out. Between roommates and lovers, the apartment was rarely empty. And upon graduation, I moved in with my domestic partner. We’ve been living together ever since.

A month ago, I found out I’d be alone for three weeks as my partner traveled for work. I didn’t think much of it. I’d be at work during the day, and fill my evenings up with friends, reading, writing, anime binging etc. But that wasn’t the reality.

I found myself feeling bored and lonely, two emotions that I’m not used to. Boredom is easy to cure in the short term: just crack a good book, go for a bike ride. But by the end of the second week, I was spending far too much time lying on the floor of my apartment with my cat asleep on my chest, doing nothing.

Loneliness was the real trial. I have been exceedingly lucky in life to never experience strong loneliness, but as I progress deeper into adulthood, I’ve awoken to why it’s been such a pervasive theme in the human experience. No longer are my friends available on cue, no longer is my sister in her bedroom down the hall. Perhaps older adults erase that loneliness with families of their own, but I doubt it goes away completely.

Full disclosure: I’m a nerdy, awkward white guy. And when I dance, I do the dice roll and moves that vaguely resemble those practiced in the squarest 50s hootenannies. Over the last three weeks, I danced constantly.

You know those videos “History of Dance” (or something like that)? Seriously, get me on camera. I was busting out the Jacko spin, the Swabbage Patch, the Running Man, the Lasso (to my cat, of course) and the disco point. I’m used to dancing in crowds, and using crowd-dance moves, so my solo-party was a revelation. The ground you can cover with one sliiiide!

Are you feeling bored, tired, lonely, out of it? Try my prescription: One dose modern disco (ingredients: diva vocals, piano stabs, Nile Rodgers), one empty living space, and complete inhibition.

Push that grocery cart, dig that hole, thrust to the left, thrust to the right! Our society pays exorbitant fees for gyms and classes and seminars to achieve a sense of health and belonging, all well and good.

But all we really need is some time alone to dance.

Tensnake – Love Sublime ft. Nile Rodgers and Fiora


Moon Boots – Off My Mind



“I can’t get you off my mind, no matter what I do.”

So begins one of the funkiest tracks you’ll ever hear, Moon Boots’ “Off My Mind.” This gem came out over two years ago, and provides a nice into to what Moon Boots is all about.

“I don’t like the term nu disco,” the US-based producer said in an interview with Indieshuffle. He’s right. His music is more emotionally invested than disco, less about the party as about the sensual experience. It’s disco in the vein of “I Feel Love,” the right amount of house, a heavy dose of R&B, and a referential stability keeps us focused on the groove.

The French Express label, home to Moon Boots and contemporaries like Jonas Rathsman, Perseus and Isaac Tichauer, is the latest dance-centric crew riding a rising tide of popularity in their home niche. The artists have been steadily producing for a number of years, but fandom has just now reached critical mass, and these guys are hot. They’re booked to feature at Coachella’s highly regarded DoLab stage, and also rostered at Ultra (Miami) and Movement Electronic Festival (Detroit).

Take this track, for example: a snare-cymbol track lends it some bmore club-inspired grit, while an Aeroplaneesque lead synth purrs its way through a barrage of swirls and stabs. While some other French Express land closer to classic industrial house, Moon Boots stays comfortable in a pop mentality while paying respects to his influencers, who must include Lindstrom, Chic, and Utah Saints (the riff at 2:50 is pure “Something Good”).

A brief tangent: What will it take for this music to be truly considered “mainstream”, not in the derogatory sense, but in the sense that it’s selling well and casual music listeners are away of its existence? Indie is obsessed with the 80s, rock is less and less rebellious, and pop is dominated by rinse-and-repeat throwaways. I don’t believe it will happen with French Express, but I do believe that, within the next decade, the shift to the internet will be complete enough that the notion of mainstream will no longer apply. Corporate dollars wills till push some artists to the top, but I forsee fewer and fewer long-running, BIG bands and more of the bubble-pop cycle of genre preference we’ve been seeing since electronic music went viral in the US.

This isn’t a rhetorical exercise…we at EMPT love to know what you think about music culture. Please share your thoughts in the comments, but not before pressing play.

For those who like Funk night, clubbing in Berlin, or just plain like to shake it in front of the mirror, Moon Boots is for you.

Moon Boots – Off My Mind


Twin Shadow – Old Love/New Love


Originality is the trait I value above all others in art. I may listen to an endless list of similar-sounding British rock outfits in the car and enjoy every minute of it, but I recognize that these bands aren’t pushing the envelope. I like when an artist takes their medium somewhere it hasn’t gone before.

Tom Scholz, the founder of Boston, invented an entire range of new guitar sounds. Donna Summer and Kraftwerk began the techno movement (from opposite ends of the spectrum, yet at the same time). Steely Dan approached popular music as classical arrangers, literally struggling to find people good enough to play their complex songs. And those are just some musical examples. Consider Raphael, Van Gogh, Hitchcock, Miyazaki, Calder, Hiroshige.

Twin Shadow isn’t on the level of these artists. Not even close. But his utilization of space (a la D’Angelo) in a disco/new wave medium is exciting. And how many songs in those genres have authentic gospel breakdowns?

“Old Love/New Love” is a versatile song. It fits during either commute, at a party, in headphones over work, at the beach. Funky!


What am I supposed to say?
An old love called me yesterday…
And she sounds so sweet.
Why, she sounds so…”

Twin Shadow – Old Love/New Love


Walter Sobcek – Milkshake d’Amour

Milkshake d'Amour

C’est vraiment le son classique de Paris.

I’ve often heard people say that some words are impossible to translate. Like Backpfeifengesicht. That’s German, and it means “a face that should be slapped.”


This principle holds true in music too. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, you can’t make a real hyphy track. If you aren’t from Korea, your K-Pop will never taste right. And if you aren’t a mustachioed, cigarette puffing Frenchman, you shouldn’t even try to produce French House (without a doubt the laziest genre designation in some time)

Walter Sobcek is two people. They are both French. Voila.

C’est tout.

Walter Sobcek – Milkshake d’Amour


Missy Elliot – Gossip Folk (Miles Felix Funk Remix)

Feeling this tune. Gimme that funky disco sound any day and I instantly get in the groove of the weekend. Strangely, I asked someone where Missy Elliot was the other day and serendipitously found this link coming fresh from producer Miles Felix, makes sounds from Brooklyn. The original Gossip Folk is such a great anthem with Missy doing what she does best with her raspy delivery and Ludacris making a much appreciate cameo. This is a perfect harmony of hip-hop and funk.

I appreciate when you put on a song and it gets into your head with its lyrics and sound, but this is not one of those songs. This is song that gets in to your body and makes you move when you listen to it. Freeing you from heavy thoughts and heavy shoulders. This is a tune exuding hip-hop and brought to life with disco flavor and a saxophone. The dance floor at your next house party will thank me.

Miles Felix – Gossip Funk (Gossip Folks Remix Missy Elliot)


EMPT Presents Indaba Music Weekly: Kalai – Flare

For some reason, it seems typical to me that software engineers would be avid creators of electronic. Something about the evolution of signal flow from oscillator to amplifier makes that sensical. But, what’s moor impressive to me is an engineer who’s influenced by the analog subtleties that have made Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories the go to electronic music tome of the summer.

Irish producer and software engineer Kalai has those influences in spades. His track “Flare” is a perfect amalgamation of the electronic and the analog. It, like Daft Punk’s most recent work, brings you back to a time where Disco was on the wane and House was on the rise. With strings, synths, and even an early hip-hop inspired bongo sample, “Flare” pushes an atmosphere of other timeliness.

Kalai – Flare

Check out Kalai’s other work on Indaba Music and Soundcloud