(compiled May 4, 2011)
Spotify playlist (not all tracks show up…see full list below):
Seventeen Years– Ratatat
Numb– The Airborne Toxic Event
Don’t Slow Down– Matt & Kim
Young Blood– The Naked and Famous
Kyrian Bee Bop– Bassnectar
Tape Song– The Kills
Me and the Moonlight Matters Remix– The Drums
Boy– Ra Ra Riot
Punching in a Dream– The Naked and Famous
Run the Heart– Sleigh Bells
Black Sheep– Metric
Why I Love You– Prefuse 73
Music is My Hot Sex– CSS
I Came Running (Lance Herbstrong remix)- Ancient Astronauts
Dramamine– Modest Mouse
*All songs available on my Dropbox and Spotify account!
‘Seventeen Years’ is Ratatat’s first release as a band. I really dig the brief intro from which the song takes its name: “I’ve been rapping for about seventeen years, okay? I don’t write my stuff anymore, I just kick it from my head, y’know what I’m sayin’, I can do that. No disrespect, but that’s how I am.” (I feel like that’s how any good master should be at their craft). What’s even cooler is the unexpected burst of aggressive beats that immediately rush in after this lil’ intro. I love the steady rhythm of techno, rock, and hip-hip elements blended together throughout the song…and it amazes me that these crafty melodies only require a synthesizer and electric guitar.
Ratatat is a New York City electronic music duo consisting of Mike Stroud (guitar) and producer Evan Mast (bass, synthesizers). I found out about them a year ago from my buddy, Colby James, who’s drummer background give me good reason to trust his judgment about sick beats/rhythms. Ratatat has recently (2010) been on tour with Vampire Weekend (another one of my favorite groups), and has also collaborated with MGMT for a song (Pursuit of Happiness) on Kid Cudi’s new Man on the Moon album.
‘Wildcat’ is another Ratatat song that I put on this playlist because I love its rawness, and its uncanny ability to unleash a primal, untamed beast in its listeners. There is just something very extremely thrilling and provocative about the growl that cuts through his song….Makes us wish we all had some sort of Wildcat element. I really dig the jam sesh that starts around 2 min into the song.
‘Loud Pipes’ and ‘Mirando’ are two other Ratatat favorites that I’ve put on previous playlists. Both are AWESOME. I’m SO STOKED to see Ratatat at Bonnaroo this year! Aside from the incredible music performances, I heard that they create amazing light shows and crazy psychedelic visuals!
‘Numb’ is a song off Airborne Toxic Event’s new album, All At Once. As with most Airborne Toxic Event songs, you can expect the overall tone to be pretty dark: “I can’t sleep at night, I can’t breathe. But if I drink tonight, I’ll get you off my mind…I just wanna be NUMB.” I feel we can all relate to these lyrics, and although it’s a sad song, you can’t help but be drawn in. ‘Numb’ is on the same album as ‘Changing,’ the theme song on one of my recent playlists (called “Changing”). I love this band and I cannot wait to see them in Sacramento on June 16th!
‘Bizness‘ was a song that I found out about through my friend, Andy (Field) Aiken. It’s a single from tUnE-yArD’s whokill album, released in April 2011. The engineering efforts behind this song were actually done at a studio in Oakland, California…Not too far away! When I first listened to this song, I was BLOWN AWAY. I could not get over all of the juxtaposing sounds and the unexpected layers of beats vs. vocals. I am by no means exaggerating when I say that I had to listen to this song at least 5 times in a row before I even bridged the surface of being able to fully appreciate it. It’s kinda like watching those movies where you aren’t even able to pick out on some of the most creative elements of the storyline and cinematography until the third or fourth time watching. Good example of this…INCEPTION. All I know is, I had to consciously restrain myself from shouting out “What’s the business, yeah?!! Don’t take my life away, don’t take my life away…I’m addicted, YEAAAAAAH!” (Oh, I’m definitely addicted) 😉
Another tUnE-yArDs song that I was immediately drawn to was ‘Hatari‘, especially because of the tribal vibe that it exudes. Although the first few seconds of looping suggests that this song might be rather annoying, DON’T be fooled. This song is awesomely creative and thrilling, and will probably jumpstart your adrenaline a bit (not too unexpected for a song whose title means “danger” in Swahili). I really dig the little ditty at the end that comes out of nowhere: “There is a natural sound that wild things make when they’re bound. It rumbles in the ground, gurrah gurrah, we all fall down.” Definitely an intriguing way to end the song; I mean, I thought I was confused in the beginning…but the end??…
*You should also check out the Hatari (the small is beautiful remix). Le SIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK.
tUnE-yArDs is the music project of New England native Merrill Garbus. When performing live, Garbus creates drum loops on the spot, and layers these with ukulele, voice, and electric bass. She is ridiculously spectacular…so unconventional and raw. LOVE IT. I also love that she toured with Dirty Projectors, another one of my recommended bands whose unique style of songs definitely makes them stand out amongst many other groups.
‘Don’t slow down’ is song of Matt & Kim’s 2009 album, Grand. I really like the high-energy of this fast paced song…not surprising for a duo from NYC, where you’ve gotta be on the fast track just to fit in. After all, it’s the “city that never sleeps.” This is definitely a song to be played on one of your better days when you’re on a roll and you feel like nothing can get in your way. (When you’re already on a wave, you GOTTA continue to keep riding it…COME ON!)
Two other songs (also on my older playlists) from Grand that I LOVE are ‘Daylight’ and ‘Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare,’ both of which I heard Matt & Kim perform live at Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival. UNREAL on so many levels! Matt & Kim are a dance punk, indie rock duo based out of Brooklyn, New York. The group was formed in 2004 and is composed of Matt Johnson (vocals/keyboards) and Kim Schifino (drums/vocals). I look forward to hearing them perform the songs from their newer 2010 album, Sidewalks, at Bonnaroo.
‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching in a Dream’ are two songs by a New Zealand alternative rock/electropop band (Naked and Famous) that I recently saw open up for a Foals and Freelance Whales show in San Francisco. Their single ‘Young Blood‘ debuted on the New Zealand chart at number one in 2010—the first New Zealand artist in three years to do so. I find myself unable to resist shouting “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!” every time during the chorus of this song…just too darn catchy! Although Young Blood has gotten the most hype, I actually take more of a liking to ‘Punching in a Dream.’ I really like the way the song starts off, with the light electrobob beats in the beginning soon becoming dampened by the loud, aggressive guitar intro…VERY COOL. Also, the chick’s vocals are really showcased in this song, especially with the “Way-yay-yay-yay-yay, I don’t ever wanna be here…Like punching in a dream breathing life into my nightmare” verse (whose meaning I don’t intuitively understand but probably better that way…Everyone loves a lil’ mystery.) Both Young Blood and Punching in a dream are song on their first studio album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, released in September 2010. Other songs that I really from this album are ‘Eyes,’ ‘No Way,’ and ‘The Sun.’
‘Pumped up Kicks’ by Foster the People is a song that was recommended to me by my buddy, Raudel Hinojosa. I really dig the base component in the beginning, and also really like the unique sound of the singer’s voice and the trailing whistle ditty in the background. Foster the People is an alternative/indie rock band from Los Angeles, California consisting of Mark Foster on keyboards, guitars, and vocals; Mark Pontius on drums; and Cubbie Fink on bass and backing vocals. They have recently performed at South by Southwest (SXSW) and Coachella this past year.
‘Kyrian Bee Bop‘ quickly became one of my favorite of all the Bassnector songs when going through his albums. When I first heard the clapping in the beginning of this song, I instantly thought of the beginning of “We are the Champions’ by Queen. But then the “wobble” base took over almost instantly, followed by a cool keyboard ditty.
Bassnectar is (real name Lorin Ashton) is a freeform electronic music artist, DJ, and producer based in Santa Cruz, California (not far away!). He is known for his eclectic electronic mixes that combine mainstream music with underground dubs and the common “wobble” bass used by many dubstep musicians. Many songs contain multiple techniques of composition, such as: a sudden shift from double to triple meter, a sudden drop into half-timings, multiple layers of synthesized arpeggios, rappers, singers, vocal samples pitch-shifted and time-stretched. The most utilized characteristic is focus on various tempos. He uses the broad spectrum of speeds in electronic genres to create what he calls, “omni-tempo maximalism,” and describes it as, “an amalgamation of every sound I’ve ever heard, mixed with ultra wicked basslines.” I look forward to seeing him at Bonnaroo!
‘Tape song‘ is one of my favorite Kills’ song, aside from ‘Future Starts Slow’ (“Starring” playlist) and some others. From the way the songs starts, you have no idea that it’s going to actually going to be quite an aggressive song. I really dig the percussion beat in the beginning and the way the guitar is mimicking the vocals throughout the song. The lyrics are also pretty sweet:
“Tape ain’t gonna fix it honey
It ain’t gonna stick
Tape ain’t gonna fix it honey
It ain’t gonna stick to you
Six kinds of glue
Won’t hold you
Won’t hold you
Oh my oh, oh my
You’ve got to
You got to…”
Especially at 1 min and 50 secs in, when the guitar is mimicking the chick as she sings (in her aggressively sexy voice):
You got to go steal ahead
You got to
You got to go steal ahead
You got to
“Time ain’t gonna cure you honey
Time don’t give a shit.
Time ain’t gonna cure you honey
Time’s just gonna hit on you
I said time ain’t gonna cure you honey
Time don’t give a shit
Time ain’t gonna cure you honey
Time’s just gonna hit on you
You got to…”
The Kills is a rock band formed by American singer Alison Mosshart (“VV”) and British guitarist Jamie Hince (“Hotel”). Their first three albums, Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, and Midnight Boom have gathered much critical praise. Blood Pressures, their fourth and most recent studio album, was released on April 4, 2011 worldwide and April 5, 2011 in the United States. They are currently on tour in the United States and Canada until May 14, 2011. From there they are touring the United Kingdom and other countries throughout the Summer and Fall, and will return to the United States for Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 5-7th.
‘Me and the moonlight matters remix’ is an awesome remake of the original song by The Drums. It is alot more interesting (in my opinion) than the original song because of the additional layers of sounds. I actually don’t like the vocal (as minimal as they are)…I think it ruins the song. My favorite of all the sounds is the keyboard (I think?!) that is producing the high-pitched almost organ-like component in the background. The Drums are an American indie pop band from Brooklyn, New York, with members Jonathan Pierce, Jacob Graham, and Connor Hanwick. They played as a support band for Florence and The Machine‘s 2010 Cosmic Love tour and for Kings of Leon in June 2010. Florence, ahhh…LOVE HER!
Although there are MANY Ra Ra Riot songs (‘Can You Tell,’ ‘Dying is Fine,’ ‘Too Dramatic,’ ‘Each year,’ ‘Oh La,’ ‘Too too fast,’ etc.) of which I am a fan, I especially like the song, ‘Boy’ (yes, and boys in general). I love the aggressive picking of the standing bass in the beginning, accompanied by the interesting element of the violin. I find this particular verse to be very refreshing: “When I have once or twice, thought I lived my life…I wake up, in a thousand years.” I connect most with these lyrics when I’ve had a sudden epiphany about something and realize there more doors open somewhere than originally anticipated. And since “anticipation is the most natural aphrodisiac,” you can’t help but feel those ENERGY LEGS getting recharged!
Ra Ra Riot is an American indie rock band from Syracuse, New York, consisting of vocalist Wes Miles, bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci, cellist Alexandra Lawn, violinist Rebecca Zeller, and drummer Gabriel Duquette. They made their first appearance at South by Southwest in 2007, and later signed to major label V2 Records, followed by Barsuk Records. Their debut album The Rhumb Line was released in 2008, followed by their second album, The Orchard, in 2010. The Orchard was produced by Ra Ra Riot and Andrew Maury, and 9 of the ten tracks were mixed by Death Cab For Cutie‘s Chris Walla, and one mixed by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. Just this past February, some of my friends and I saw Ra Ra Riot at Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma, CA (see pics below). The atmosphere was so chill and relaxed that Ra Ra Riot not only set up their own equipment, but they were just hanging out in the crowd with fans while the opening bands were playing. I ended finding a spot right up against the stage for the entire show, hence being so close to Wes that I could probably have touched his keyboard. UNREAL.
Just recently, I saw that Ra Ra Riot had joined with with Freelance Whales to make a remix of the Freelance Whales, song Hannah” (one of my favorites!)…This Hannah (Ra Ra Riot remix) just might be on my next playlist!
‘Run the Heart’ was the first Sleigh Bells song that I really liked when quickly listening to the tracks from thir first debut album, Treats (released on May 11, 2010). I especially love the accumulation of sounds at 1 min and 50 secs into the song, with the heavy guitar rift aggressively trailing the vocals.
Sleigh Bells is an American noise pop music duo — Derek E. Miller (songwriter, guitarist, producer) and Alexis Krauss (vocals).– based in Brooklyn, New York. Their first debut album, Treats, was released on May 11, 2010 just prior to performing at the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2010, Primavera Sound Festival in May 2010, and the Pitchfork Music Festival in July 2010.
Aside from ‘Help, I’m Alive’ and ‘Gold, Guns, Girls’ (on older playlists), ‘Black Sheep‘ is one of my favorite Metric songs. It is a more recent Metric song, having been released in February 2010. Black Sheep is on the soundtrack for the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Metric is a Canadian Indie rock/New Wave band that was originally formed in Toronto, but has more recently been based out of many cities, including Montreal, London, New York City and Los Angeles. The band consists of vocalist Emily Haines (who also plays the synthesizer and guitar), guitarist James Shaw (who also plays the theremin), bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key. Haines and Shaw also perform with Broken Social Scene (another one of my favorit bands!), and Haines has been a guest on albums by Stars, KC Accidental, The Stills, Jason Collett and Tiësto.
Metric‘s first full-length album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, was released in 2003 and earned a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Live It Out was released on October 4, 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize for the Canadian Album of The Year and once again the Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their fourth studio album Fantasies (previously scheduled for an April 14 release) was released in Canada and the United States on April 7, 2009. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for Canadian Album of the Year, and won the Alternative Album of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards, as well as Group of the Year. Metric won multiple awards at the 2010 Juno Awards, winning Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year. The band has toured the world extensively for several years playing concerts in France, Germany, Iceland, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Holland, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, United States, Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan to promote Live it Out. They also performed at the 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California on April 27, 2008, and at the 2008 Ottawa Bluesfest in Ottawa on July 11, 2008 in addition to playing at the 2008 Pemberton Festival in Pemberton, British Columbia on July 25, 2008 and All Points West Festival in New Jersey on August 9, 2008.
‘Music is My Hot Sex’ is a song by CSS that I seriously CANNOT get enough of. Not only is the beat ridiculously catchy, but I could not agree MORE with the lyrics:
“From all the drugs the one I like more is music
From all the junks the one I need more is music
From all the boys the one I take home is music
From all the ladies the one I kiss is music (muah! )
Music is my boyfriend
Music is my girlfriend
Music is my dead end
Music is my imaginary friend
Music is my brother
Music is my great-grand-daughter
Music is my sister
Music is my favorite mistress
From all the shit the one I gotta buy is music
From all the jobs the one I choose is music
From all the drinks the one I get drunk of music
From all the bitches the one I wannabe is music
Music is my beach house
Music is my hometown
Music is my kingsize bed
Music is where I meet my friends
Music is my hot hot bath
Music is my hot hot sex
Music is my back rub
My music is where I’d like you to touch”
CSS is a Brazilian rock band from São Paulo that my friend Emilie Roncali recommended I check out. The band was labeled as part of the explosion of the New Rave scene, and their sound is often categorized as indie rock, new wave, electronic rock, electroclash, and new wave. Their songs are in both English and Portuguese. CSS is an abbreviation for Cansei de Ser Sexy, literally “got tired of being sexy” in Portuguese. In a recent interview, one of their band members stated that their third album “is not a themed album. It has influences from clubs, reggae and punk.” Looking forward to hearing it!
‘Why I love You’ is a song from the album One Word Extinguisher by Prefuse 73, an artist that was recommended to me a while back by my buddy, Justin McKay. I really like the choppiness that compliments the sexiness of this song, almost like a tease. Other songs that I really like from this album are ‘Choking You‘ (my favorite), ‘Styles that Fade Away With a Coll,’ and ‘Pentagram.’ Prefuse 73 is an alias for Guillermo Scott Herren, a music producer based out of Atlanta, Barcelona (he’s actually half Catalan!) and New York. Herren releases music under the aliases Prefuse 73, Delarosa & Asora and Piano Overlord, and is also part of the groups Savath y Savalas, Risil, and Diamond Watch Wrists. He began his career DJing at MJQ, a small night club in Atlanta, and then began working in commercial studios producing hip-hop tracks for Dirty South rappers. However, Herren wanted to create his own music and started collecting second-hand instruments and drum machines during this part of his career. He eventually moved to New York City to go to college; there he began recording his first major release, Sleep Method Suite, under the name of “Delarosa and Asora“. The album was released in 1997. Herren first released music under the name “Prefuse 73” with 2001’s commercially and critically successful Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives. A year later, a 4-track EP The ’92 Vs. ’02 Collection was released. In 2003, Herren released the full-length album One Word Extinguisher (SOOOOOO GOOD), one of his best known Prefuse 73 albums to date.
‘Dramamine‘ (the song, not the drug) was a recommendation from my friend, Andy (Field) Aiken. It’s an incredibly trippy song, and almost impossible not to get lost in. The steady, soothing rhythm of the base, interrupted by the shrieking from the electric guitar, makes me feel as if I’m in a semi-conscious state (like day dreaming or something). Maybe this was the artists’ intent, since Dramamine IS a drug (motion sickness medicine) that can alter your mood, and is particularly known to cause weird flashbacks to depressing or sad memories. When you overdose on Dramamine, your thoughts and conversations are useless because your mental functions go around in circles. Maybe this is why the lyrics go in circles (just like your thoughts do when you’ve taken Dramamine). My favorite lyrics from this songs are:
“But I still can’t focus on anything
We kiss on the mouth but still cough down our sleeves
Traveling, swallowing Dramamine
Look at your face like you’re killed in a dream.”
Modest Mouse is an American indie rock/noise pop band (singer/lyricist/guitarist Isaac Brock, drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy) based in Portland, Oregon. Since their 1996 debut album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, their lineup has centered around Brock, Green and Judy. Guitarist Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) joined the band in May 2006, along with percussionist Joe Plummer (formerly of the Black Heart Procession) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso, to work on the album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Guitarist Jim Fairchild joined the band in February 2009. Their name is derived from a passage from the Virginia Woolf story “The Mark on the Wall” which reads, “I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.” Modest mouse has toured with Cake (from Sacramento!), De La Soul, The Flaming Lips, The Hackensaw Boys and Kinky on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour. (I saw Kinky at Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival in October and they were pretty awesome.)
‘I came running‘ is a song by Ancient Astronauts, a down tempo/funk/hip-hop DJ due (Kabanjak and Dogu) hailing from Cologne, Germany. With cross-pollination and mash-up of ideas, sounds, styles, and a collaborative spirit being their modus operandi, these “Ancient Astronauts” surely support the phenomenon of “ancient astronauts, “a belief that extraterrestrial beings visited Earth in ancient times to mingle and trade ideas with early human civilizations.”
Already having remixed and collaborated with Fort Knox Five, Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets, Zion I, Imani and Bootie Brown of The Pharcyde, Issa Bagayogo, Vieux Farka Toure, Kid Loco, Zion Train, and Tippa Irie the Ancient Astronauts have linked up with a variety of new sonic collaborators for their kaleidoscopic sophomore album Into Bass and Time! “Into Bass and Time sees the Astronauts take their vintage-meets-future block party aesthetic and blast off to new frontiers. The Astronauts are not alone in their journey however, as they bring along a solid crew of MCs, vocalists, and turntablists for the intergalactic ride. Entropik adds lush strings while DJ Brace cuts it up with vinyl acrobatics. Akua Naru and Phat Old Mamas lend a haunting feminine vocal edge while MC’s Azeem, Raashan Ahmad, and Monsoon drop sonic bombs on the m-i-c. From hard driving hip-hop, to funky breakbeat, to righteous dancehall reggae, to late night smokers’ trip-hop, Into Bass and Time is a sonic rocket ship ride not to be missed!”-Ancient Astronauts
I really dig the Ancient Astronaut’s ‘I came running remix’ by Lance Herbstrong, a group (Kamal Soliman, Bill Sarver, Peter DiStefano, Frank Orrall and Ricky Gonzalez) from Austin, TX (lot of buddies here!) that is known for its interesting remix, Dub, Dancehall, Electro, and Downtempo vibe. They create unbelievable layers of sounds that propel insane, hypnotic rhythms. When I saw them at Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival in October, I was convinced that they put me under some kinda spell (no joke). I mean, they had a MOTORCYCLE up on stage so that they could incoporate the “Vrrrm vrrrm” sound of reving up the engine into some of their songs! UNREAL.
This song, in particular though, makes me feel as if I am on a heist and am fearfully being chased. It sounds kinda like something you’d hear in the fight scene of an action movie. Speaking of action movies, everyone should go treat themselves and go see the movie “Hanna.” It’s AWESOME, and the music is LE SIIIIIIIICK! (mad props to the Chemical Brothers!)