Built to Break

Built To Break

(compiled October 24, 2011)

Spotify playlist (not all tracks show up…see full list below):


Houseboat babies– Reptar

To the Water– Colly Strings

Starfall– Michal Menert & Pretty Lights

We are the People– Empire of the Sun

Runaway– The Kooks (new album, Junk of the Heart)

O Valencia– The Decemberists

Changed– Faded Paper Figures

Built to Break– Colly Strings  (or acoustic version)

Into the Morning– Michal Menert

Blue Blood– Foals

Sunday– The View

Right with you– Rogue Wave

Pressure– Apparat

On the Bus Mall– The Decemberists

Stuck in My Id– Reptar

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Paul Simon Cover)- Melodica, Melody, & Me

Good Morning– Rogue Wave

*all the songs are available for download in my dropbox folder (and also linked on my Spotify account!)


Built to Break” definitely earned the spot as my playlist title. I could not get enough of this song’s energy and message. It became more and more therapeutic the more I felt like I was being tested, and somehow the urge to shout out “We’re all BUILT TO BREAK…” made the frustration fade away.

Aside from Colly StringsReptar was my new favorite discovery on this playlist. From the Athens-Atlanta-Asheville (Georgia) area, Reptar has been compared to The Talking Heads, Animal Collective, Prince, Marky Mark, Lake, Air, and the Jackson 5. The band is made up of Andrew McFarland, a Brazilian native, classically trained snare drummer, and sophomore at UGA, Ryan Engleberger, who currently attends Dartmouth College majoring in Jaco Pastorius’ fretless bass, Graham Ulicny, an African Soukous guitarist and AstroBio/ElectroPhysics student at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, and William Kennedy, a sophomore at UGA.

I saw Reptar when they opened up for Phantogram at Harlow’s in Sacramento (11/1/11) and they were AWESOME. I enjoyed them just as much as I enjoyed Phantogram (whom I had been following for quite a bit longer). They started off with some of their more mediocre songs, and then waited to the very end to play my two favorite songs BACK-TO-BACK: ‘Houseboat Babies’ and ‘Stuck in my Id’ (…the build-up to these le sweet songs was def worth it.)  Thanks to Hillary Davis and Vanessa Crouse for being such awesome company. Hillary had a 24-hr hospital shift in the next 5 hours but she still made it. Now that’s a ROCK STAR.

I love the beginning of ‘Houseboat babies’ with the “OH…I” sounds…Makes me smile every time. I also love the “Can you feel it? (Yes I can feel it)” chorus @~1:20 and the bubbly guitar part that sets it up. Such an overall FEEL-GOOD song that makes you all dis-oriented and silly. (Yes, that BOBBLE HEAD in the front up against the stage at the Reptar show was ME.)

Stuck in my id’ is my other Reptar favorite, and it was such a rush to sing along with the chorus (“And when I wake up in the morning…”) @1:20. SUCH A GREAT SHOW. I would definitely recommend seeing Reptar any chance you can. They remind me of a MGMT/Vampire Weekend/Foster the People medley that must not be overlooked! (see pics below…and more on ‘siiiiick snapshots-2‘ tab)

Reptar at Harlows in Sacramento, CA (11/1/11)

Reptar at Harlows in Sacramento, CA (11/1/11)

Reptar at Harlows in Sacramento, CA (11/1/11)

Reptar at Harlows in Sacramento, CA (11/1/11)

Reptar was at Austin Cit Limits (ACL) music fest this year (2011), and I can only imagine that they’re gonna be turning up at other music fests (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Sasquatch, Outside Lands, etc.) in the next few years. When I asked the singer of Reptar what the meaning behind their name was, he said that “Reptar was the name of his dead cat.” I replied that I had expected something a little more interesting, and he replied: The truth hurts.”  (a solemn end to such an uplifting show…)


Colly Strings (formed in March 2010) is an alternative indie/rock band that I discovered when following Kowalski, another indie band from the same region (Bangor, Northern Ireland). With clever, rhythmic verses and deep hard-hitting choruses, their music has been compared to the likes of Biffy Clyro and Two Door Cinema Club. “Colly Strings fuse catchy guitar riffs and soaring vocal hooks which fall hand in hand with the pulsating bass and beat of the drums to form songs that are guaranteed to stick in the mind from the very first listen.” I REALLY like them…and so does my buddy Raudel Hinojosa, who wanted to hear more of their songs after listening to ‘To the Water’ and ‘Built to Break.’

To the Water’ is just such an awesome, high-energy song with an infectious chorus (“Run to the river, run. Run, swim swim swim. Let’s change this place from night to day”). I also really dig the guitar jam sesh at @3:00 min. Very cool.

I don’t know why exactly, but ‘Built to Break’ gets me emotional every time I listen to it. It’s got this strange way of stirring up my emotions (not in a bad way), and LOVE IT. The lyrics, song structure, vocals…everything. Aside from the epic chorus (“We’re Built To Break yeah, we’re all Built To Break…We’re Built To Break we are, we are), my favorite verse is:

She’s speaks slowly, oh be honest will you swim this with me, it’s getting old. The truth it’s only she doesn’t know what’s taking over her body. She’s fighting more than water, she’s fighting more than me.” (I also just really like the singer’s voice.)

I MUST see them if they ever some to the states! I’m thinking they’ll maybe be at SXSW or ACL next year.


I love the beginning of ‘Starfall‘- makes me feel like I’m entering a different dimension. I love all the layering of sounds (chimes, saxophone?, etc.) and I can’t help but let myself “fall” into it.

Into the Morning’ is such a cool compilation of sounds (especially the strings) strung together with an catchy beat and a clever introduction:

We as performers, share with YOU, our listeners, the creative best in our lives. You saw the performers in your own mind. You are not restricted by the boundary, but instead, painted your own biggest live version of each moment with that loving creative brush we call IMAGINATION. Just in case you’re out of practie, here’s a little test to demonstrate the power of your imagination.”

Michal Menert was born in Kielce, Poland while the country was under communist rule. Coming from a musical background of playing guitar, keyboards, and dabbling in a variety of other instruments gave Michal a unique approach to composing his own musical style. He grew up in Colorado with Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights, and together they played in several bands and challenged and inspired each other as they developed their own unique production styles. He co-produced the debut Pretty Lights album, Taking Up Your Precious Time and has collaborated with Derek Vincent Smith on a handful of tracks since then. His solo album, entitled Dreaming of A Bigger Life was released on Pretty Lights Music in the spring of 2010. His sound combines obscure vintage samples from both Eastern European and Western vinyl with rich analog synthesis and organic hard hitting beats.

He is going to be at the Independent in SF in early December. Not sure I will be able to swing it during the week, but we’ll see!


We are the People’ is a song that liked the first time I was sifting through Empire of the Sun’s singles. My favorite part in the song is when the chorus kicks in:

“We are the people that rule the world.

A force running in every boy and girl.

All rejoicing in the world.

Take me now – We can try.”

Empire of the Sun is an Australian electronic music duo that formed in 2008. The duo is composed of Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of Pnau. Their album, Walking On A Dream, features a groundbreaking compilation of electronic beats, pop melodies and psychedelic overtones.


Runaway’ is one of my favorite songs on the Kook’s new abum, Junk of the Heart. I love the mix of wailing guitars, clanging percussion, and smooth vocals that make this song such a treat to listen to.  I also really dig the chorus: “You make me runaway, you make me run away.” (Fugative style…yup.)


O’ Valencia’ is a catchy lil’ love song that has an interesting story behind it if you listen closely to the lyrics. Another awesome Decemberist’s song that has a pretty cool story built-in is ‘On the Bus Mall.’ I always get chills at the beginning of this song, and I’m not sure why. Some of my favorite verses are:

“From stairway to station, We made a sensation

With the gadabout crowd.

And oh, what a bargain, We’re two easy targets

For the old men at the off-tracks”


“We reigned at the pool hall, With one iron cue ball

And we never let the bastards get us down.

And we laughed off the quick tricks–

The old men with limp dicks–   (oh boy…)

On the colonnades of the waterfront park.

As 4 in the morning came on, cold and boring,

We huddled close, In the bus stop enclosure enfolding.

Our hands tightly holding.”

I’m a lil’ upset that I didn’t see The Decemberists at Outside Lands this year. I’ll definitely be sure to see them the next time they make their way through Norcal.


I really like the soothing chimes at the beginning of ‘Changed,’ and the layering of sounds to follow are also pretty awesome. I really dig the opening verse, and the way it fits so perfectly with the beats:


I feel changed

all unwound changed



voices strange

Hear the sound strange


Feel the ground shake

Feel the ground shake

Feel the ground shake


Faded Paper Figures (abbreviated as FPF) is an American Indie Pop Electronica band from Los Angeles, California who I found out about from my buddy Andy Bluhm. FPF is known for their electro-organic sound sometimes compared to bands like WeevilThe Postal ServiceBelle and Sebastian, and Morrissey. The band consists of three members, R. John Williams (guitar and vocals) (brother of Becky Jean Williams, lead singer and lyricist for Late Night Alumni), Kael Alden (bass, guitar, drums, etc…), and Heather Alden (vocals). The band formed in February 2007 and released their debut album Dynamo in 2008. Their second album New Medium, was released on May 25, 2010. NPR described their first album as “a balance of upbeat and soothing electronics,” but their recent music has taken on a more energetic tone, with live drums sounds mixing with electro-beats.


Blue Blood exposes Foals for what they really are– geniuses at creating something powerful from simple repetition and melody. As the first song on the album it starts with a simple yet addictive tune exposing the lead singer Yannis’ fascinating voice. The soft vocals and melancholy lyrics then clash with the optimistic tune, keeping us in suspense for the first minute. The song then builds up by adding a drum beat to the mix and then crashes into an eruption of sound– a trademark of Foals. The climax of the song shows a return to simplicity again, a peaceful ending to this cleverly mastered composition from our math rock quintet”

–New Beats Media

I fully agree with the review of this song by New Beats Media. The opening to ‘Blue Blood’ is sort of weary and enigmatic, with tiny sparks flaring from the guitars, but it slowly gathers force (@1:34) from the drums and bass as your curiosity build and suspense heightens. I love the beginning verse:

You’ve got blue blood on your hands, I know it’s my own

You came at me in the midnight to show me my soul

Of all the people, I hope’d it’d be you

To come and free me, take me away

To show me my home

Where I was born

Where I belong.”

I also LOVE the part @2:52 (“Come with me accept it, affect it, protect it. Come with me accept it, so now you know“) and the jam sesh @3:15. Such a great song, and SUCH a GREAT BAND. I saw them last spring, and I’ll  continue to see them again and AGAIN.


Sunday’ is an awesome, high-energy song that always seems to put me in a feel good mood. I love the part @1:45 when he shouts “I’m not stealing hope from you.” SO GOOD.


Right with you’ and ‘Good Morning’ are two songs from a band I heard about through my friends Jensyn Hyman and Jocelyn BerryRogue Wave is an indie rock band from Oakland, California, (near our hood!), and headed by Zach Schwartz (a.k.a. Zach Rogue). Their first album was Out of the Shadow which was released privately in 2003 and re-released in 2004. In the fall of 2004 they went on a national tour of the United States. Their second album Descended Like Vultures was released in October 2005. The band’s third album, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate was released on September 18, 2007, though it was available one week earlier on iTunes. Permalight, Rogue Wave’s fourth full-length album, was released March 2, 2010 through Brushfire Records.

Right with you’ is a song that was drawn to initially because of change-up that occurs ~40 sec in. I think it’s cool how the beginning beats are interrupted by his verse, “Hold my head down again, bring back some more. Hold my head down again, just like before” and how there’s also a change up at ~1 min in.

Good Morning’ is really cool song that bursts in and immediately grabs your attention: “The Future isn’t what it used to be. I’m not surprised.” I love the intensity @0:35 and the verse @~1 min in: “Your love always is, always is, a sign to me.”

With Rougue Wave being from Oakland, I’m def going to keep my eyes peeled for local shows. Giddy up.


Pressure‘ is one of those Apparat songs that you can just can completely loose yourself in. I actually LIKE that the song has a repetitive “Chk Chk Chk” element lingering for 6 min throughout; it’s this redundancy that actually enables me to “think” (versus being distracted by new, interlacing beats and sounds). One morning I woke up from a dream in a severely pensive mood, and I swear my brain waves felt like they were moving to the beat of this song. No joke.


I really like this Paul Simon cover (‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’) by Melodica, Melody, & Me, and I adore the lovely guitar components decorated throughout. They are the star of the song in my opinion. My favorite verse from this song is:

“She was physically forgotten

And then she slipped into my pocket

With my car keys

She said you’ve taken me for granted

Because I please you

Wearing these diamonds.”

They Paul Simon version of ‘Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes’ is on the same album as ‘Under African Skies,’ one of my other favorite Paul Simon songs. I think Melodica, Melody and Me does an awesome job covering this song, and I look forward to more of their gems cause they’ve got a really nice, earthy sound that’s hard to come by these days. My friends Hillary Davis and Robin Cumming also mentioned to me how much they really liked this band’s sound when they heard on my CDs. LE SWEET.  🙂

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