Wednesday, September 24

Lincoln Jesser

I'm madly in love with Lincoln Jesser. Part singer-songwriter, part electro-pop, part shoe-gazer, part indie-dance, it adds up to create an act that instantly catches your ear with gleaming melodies and impassioned lyrics.

On Sunday I was lucky enough to catch him play the Roxy at the Sunset Strip Music Festival and it was exceptional:



Compelling indie-dance with emotional undertones that are instantly familiar - love, struggling to make it work, lust, growing up different. The lyrics are catchy and clear; they elevate him from being just another dance-pop guy to being an artist providing his audience an experience to listen, feel and dance it out.

He's young but not inexperienced. With a couple of EPs to his name and a few collaborations, he's poised to take on even more. I look forward to seeing what's next for him.

Catch him live at Los Globos in Los Angeles on October 3rd.

In the meantime, check him out on Soundcloud (here) or Spotify (below)

Brand new album Modern Color available for purchase on iTunes, or listen on Spotify:


Monday, September 22

Lunchbox - 9.22.14

Great new music this week of all tempos. The more ambient, folksy Daniel and the Lion is stealing my heart right now, and Peaches gives a nice chill-wave vibe.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from Mikky Ekko - great voice and songwriter with a bittersweet pop vibe.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16

Term Alert: PBR&B

A friend recently used a new term: "PBR&B" - a situation that exists when PBR-drinking hipsters clamor for modern R&B music.

But to call it a genre is a misnomer. How is PBR&B any different than non-brewed-R&B? Many of the acts now called "PBR&B" have no characteristics that set them apart from even modern R&B: Frank Ocean, How To Dress Well, Miguel, the Weeknd and (one of my personal favorites) Jhene Aiko. No one would call any of these acts anything other than R&B.

So what is PBR&B and can you use it in a sentence?

Eirik Lande (credited with coining the phrase in 2011) writes in Pitchfork, “It’s one of those genres that describes an imagined fanbase.” It's basically a marketing term, a classification of how to package an artist or their music to appeal to the PBR&B crowd - hipster and indie-music fans of all colors who love small venues, honest artists, soulful storytelling and marijuana-friendly/chill-wave rhythms. “In more modern terms, it’s music rooted in African-American traditions that… might sell to young white people for whom other types of more rhythm-focused or bluesy modern R&B might not," Lande writes. 

To me, PBR&B is the definition of the audience: the crew of people that would gather in the Gobi Tent at Sahara to catch Jhene Aiko on a Coachella afternoon. One could make a PBR&B playlist for a relaxing afternoon on the beach. Or I might utter something like, 'well, it'll be a PBR&B crowd so I'll wear my skinny jeans.'

For an auditory journey, here's a Spotify Playlist for your perusal:


Tuesday, August 19

LunchBox 8.19.14

Great new tracks this week! I'm loving the ambient anthemic nature of Show Me Love. Also, Young Rising Songs are, well, rising, with their fabulous track Red & Gold. If you're listening to Heavy Hands by Alex Clare and thinking it sounds familiar, it's because Mr. Clare is best known for his blockbuster single of 2011: Too Close.

Listen and be refreshed!

Wednesday, August 6

Mary Lambert does pop music beautifully

Unless you've been under a rock for the past two years, you've heard Mary Lambert. Her voice took Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to the top of pop music with her soulful "She keeps me warm" chorus for Same Love, a song that will ultimately come to define a generational turning point about same-sex relationships.

But her stardom is no accident; she's talented, collaborative, gorgeous and continuing to produce great music. A few singles are all we get for now, but already she's got a chart-ready, catchy, off-pop jam in the song Secrets, a song about empowerment, love and living life honestly:



I look forward to more!

Friday, August 1

Mixers - 8.1.14

It's August already! Time for the summer weekend parties we dream of all year. Seven new off-pop tracks to help the party pop-off. Festive tracks stacked on top of a whole playlist (try "Shuffle"!) to let the party go till late... or early... (if that's the case, check out some end-of-the night HOUSE or some deeper, minimalistic DIVE DEEP).

Wednesday, July 16

Bleachers release album Strange Desire - stream it or buy it here!

One of my favorite albums of the year just hit iTunes:

Bleachers - Strange Desire (support the blog and buy it on iTunes here!)

For more about Bleachers, see my previous post. Or just listen to his album in all its more-fun-than-fun glory:

Tuesday, July 15

LunchBox 7.15.14

Great new tracks from How To Dress Well, Sia and Bleachers, and new loves Sleeper Agent and MisterWives! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1

Jetta

Originally found via her second year at South by Southwest, I am madly and deeply in love with Jetta. Soulful, lyrical verses meet sentimental choruses for instantly catchy emotional journeys. Each song could be the soundtrack to a dozen moments of my life (or maybe this is already your soundtrack?).

This one kills me every time: Feels Like Coming Home (acoustic, in order to highlight the voice & lyrics):



If the song sounds familiar, Google used it in their Zeitgeist 2013 video of notable events of that year.

Her voice is incomparable - she sings in emotion rather than notes. Here's another stripped down example of how powerful voice compels her lyrics deep into my soul:




Her big, soaring, high energy jam is not to be messed with either - Start A Riot is intended to do exactly what it says it will. Already used on movie soundtracks, undoubtedly coming soon to more (TV? Commercials? Trailers?), this song is undeniably exciting and catchy. Perfect for summer afternoon troublemaking:




Buy her album from iTunes, and her next one will be released in the US soon, which includes the song Crescendo, which is my new favorite jam:




Here's her album on Spotify:




Monday, June 30

Tuesday, June 17

Music Moves People: The Legacy of Smalltown Boy

30 years ago in 1984 I was born. But more pertinent is that a band called Bronski Beat released a simple song: Smalltown Boy. Listening to it on the first pass you'd never know exactly how much this song meant to the world. A simple synth-pop jam with a repetitive chorus of a falsetto voice painfully chanting "run away, turn away" can distract from lyrics that summarize a man's childhood of bullying, facing homophobia and accepting oneself as gay. Today, this is the thesis of half of Lady Gaga's music, and there are countless other songs on the radio touting messages self-acceptance.

But this was 1984; three years before Reagan said "AIDS" for the first time, only six years after Harvey Milk was murdered, and the UK had just elected the first member of parliament to come out of the closet.

And into this fray comes this song with a narrative that gave voice to those facing intense fear, rejection, bullying and loneliness:

     On a sad and lonely face
     Mother will never understand
     Why you had to leave
     For the love that you need

in fact, this whole chart-topping album is sung from a rare-at-that-time gay man's perspective, and the album was named after the included sleeve that gave the age of consent for homosexual intercourse around the world. Music wasn't just an emotional experience, but a political one as well, just like the lives of gay men at the time. The official video tells the story well:



Then, in 2006 the iconic and catchy tune was given a fresh life by Supermode - the very underrated combination of Steve Angello and Axwell before their Swedish House Mafia days - who overlaid the best hooks of the song along with vocals from another Bronski Beat track "Why?" If you heard Axwell  or Steve Angello play any sets since 2006, very likely you heard a bit of this song:




Now, to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the song, Jimmy Somerville re-recorded a beautifully soulful acoustic version:



And for good measure, here's the Spotify playlist of the entire Bronski Beat album "Age of Consent". 30 years later this timeless album of early gay synth-pop is still being emulated by young gay musicians worldwide:



UPDATE: Extra bonus video of Jimmy Somerville stumbling into a duet with an unsuspecting busker singing Smalltown Boy:

Wednesday, June 4

Lunchbox - 5.6.14

I guess I haven't had one in awhile - I have 14 new tracks for you. 14!!! Click, listen, be refreshed as you work this warm, pre-summer week!

Friday, May 23

Mixers - 5.23.14

Eight fresh, upbeat and dance-worthy tracks to mix with your Memorial Day festivities!

Still jonesing for more tunes this weekend? Check out Cherub's sultry new album (currently only streaming on Spotify), Crystal Fighters' lively sounds (a year old but always fresh) and the whole new album by Todd Terje, appropriately called It's Album Time.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21

Milky Chance

Always one for soulful vocals over upbeat, breezy electronica, I fell in love with Milky Chance the moment I heard their gleaming, reggaetronic track Down By The River:


These Germans haven't released much so far (basically one album in Germany, and an EP here in the US - buy it on iTunes!), but what they have is beautiful. Their first single Stolen Dance shot to #1 in many countries in Europe:



I can't wait for more from them!

Tuesday, May 13

Neighbors Soundtrack

Over the weekend I saw Neighbors - a movie that had no business being as funny as it is. Raunchy and ridiculous, it's a dual between a frat boy dealing with graduating into the real world and a brand new mom & dad struggling with feeling like their party days are behind them.

Beyond the LOLs, there's an astute, party-focused soundtrack that captures the essence of the movie - classic college-party booty-shaking jams from the past decade that summarize both the adults' and the kids' musical vernacular. It could stand on its own as an upbeat cocktail mix or early-in-the-night dance party album. No surprise, Tom Wolfe & Manish Raval were the Music Supervisors for this movie (their other credentials include Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, as well as countless other movies as well as TV shows like Girls and Community).

Buy it on iTunes here, listen to my unofficial playlist on Spotify there:



(not all the songs are on Spotify, especially not the excellent Missy Elliott + Black Keys mashup that opens the album, and the unnecessarily catchy Flo Rida song Freaking Out, both included below for your listening pleasure!)



Wednesday, April 2

LunchBox: April 2nd, 2014


A handful of lower-energy, calming tunes to power through a week day.

Tip: Future Islands is just too good, and be sure to check out Jhene Aiko for some emotive R&B, or Stepdad for some indie-ambiance. (Check out the Spotify playlist below for one of my favorite tracks: Stepdad - It's You).




And here's the playlist on Spotify (Along with 15 tracks from previous LunchBoxes):

Friday, March 21

Soda Club - Champagne - Spring 2014

So excited about this playlist - here are 21 fantastic songs, each of which I love. SXSW brought a fresh crop of interesting new off-pop and almost-pop acts (see Max and the Moon, Highasakite, Rufus Du Sol, Future Islands, denitia and sene., amongst many more).

Roll down the windows, turn up the speakers, bring some friends to dance it out and have fun with this mix.

Buy tracks/albums via iTunes below (support this blog!!), or listen to it on Spotify & SoundCloud:



(Link to open in Spotify (web) - if in Spotify, just search for "Soda Club")





Buy tracks/albums on iTunes to support this blog:


Max and the Moon

Stumbled onto Max and the Moon on Tuesday and I'm in love. Similar to RAC (in fact, supporting RAC's tour!), they have a beautiful sound for the spring. The downside? They've only released four tracks. So just listen to these on repeat. More coming soon from them!

Buy on iTunes:

Listen on Spotify:

Rock out on SoundCloud:

Monday, March 17

The Soda Club: Lunchbox - 3.17.14

A handful of progressive, ethereal, catchy tunes. Perhaps good for a drive, or just keeping your head down to power through some hard work.

Tip: Tycho has a few albums that could help as well; and don't miss more about denitia and sene.


New feature: buy this playlist (or songs from it) on iTunes!


Saturday, March 15

denitia and sene.

On a more chill note, here are a pair for the ages: denitia and sene, out of Brooklyn, make some genre bending vibes that teeter on all the edges but walk the fine line leading to such profound bittersweet soul pop:




And their album is fine from start to finish, with glimpses into R&B, house, singer-songwriter and much more. Have a listen:



Support the blog and

Added bonus: they are in LA on Tuesday! Who wants to go?

Tuesday, March 11

The Soda Club: Lunchbox 3.11.2014

The Soda Club presents: Lunchbox, a handful of tracks delivered every Monday/Tuesday to add some sparkle to the weekdays.

Great songs to help keep the brain moving. The Spotify & SoundCloud lists are slightly different due to track availability.

Spotify playlist



SoundCloud Playlist


Friday, February 28

members of fun. are just as fun as fun.

Coachella a few years back brought me this silly band called fun. and their unbelievably catchy song Walking the Dog:

 

Their name doesn't lie. Coming from three different bands (notably Jack Antonoff was the lead of Steel Train) to create fun., they have made two full length albums that are both gorgeous (Aim & Ignite is profoundly underappreciated - see: Walking the Dog (above), Benson Hedges, All the Pretty Girls).

Of course, I don't have to tell you about We Are Young and Some Nights being standout, emotive, anthemic tracks that have solidified a place for fun. in the annals of music history.

While they plan to stay together, they have graduated to the level of collaborating with their new-found peers to create note-worthy side projects. Nate Reuss already ran off to do solo work with P!nk amongst others. Now, Jack Antonoff has revealed his project called Bleachers including a release of the first single from his album due this spring. Gleaming, indie-rocky and catchy, it's an anthem about choosing to overcome obstacles. Something that's hitting close to my heart right now.

Anyway, listen, buy it on iTunes and enjoy it:

 

Friday, February 21

Bright Light Bright Light shines with Elton John

First off, I swoon about Bright Light Bright Light (aka Rod Thomas). Gleaming, bittersweet and evocative, his lyrics are amplified in his desperate, breathy vocals:


His album Make Me Believe in Hope was a pulsating dance soundtrack complete with crying on the dance floor. And topped by his later release of the exact same album but stripped down to him and a piano. Heartbreak city. For example, here's that song above, but just him and a piano.

Well, for a positive spin on breaking up, enter recently-announced-Bonaroo-performer Elton John via a co-production with Bright Light Bright Light:


Turns out Elton was a fan of Make Me Believe in Hope, so one thing led to another and they are singing together. Everyone wins. I look forward to the full EP on April 7th.

And in case you want to cry on the dance floor, this is the one. This was the first song of his that grabbed my ear:



Thursday, February 20

Zero to SIxty in the Passenger seat

Back in 2007 there was this amazing album by this random band named Passenger. I'm not even sure how I found it at first, but regardless, I bumped this album on repeat for a year. Even to this day I get these songs stuck in my head.

Example: Night Vision Binoculars (aka, one of my favorite stalker songs)




But after releasing Wicked Man's Rest, the lead singer Mike Rosenberg left the band and took the name Passenger with him as he busked around the world, collaborating with other folk artists, and discovering himself. And then in 2012 he released his album All The Little Lights including Let Her Go. A great song amongst many others; a song that built momentum through 2012 to a furious pitch in 2013 that landed him the recognition he deserves.

I am not the one to say he sold out. Indeed, his sound is very much his and it has maintained through. I'm not going to be all hipster and say that his new stuff isn't as good. But I am going to be forceful in saying that if you like folk-pop, you really need to go back and check out Wicked Man's Rest.

More Passenger love: here's track 12 from All The Little Lights being performed last year:



And for the deep house lovers, Passenger's gorgeous Feather on the Clyde being remixed by Stefan Biniak (free download!):


Wednesday, February 12

Erik Hassle, far from "Pathetic"

Erik Hassle is catchy Swedish goodness. His soulful voice along with emotive lyrics resonate so well. A new EP is out in March and here's one of those tracks. Can't wait!
 

Other Erik Hassle songs of note: Don't Bring Flowers:


One Last Ride (with John Dahlback, for the electronically minded):

Thursday, January 30

Wild about RÜFÜS

Currently swooning about RÜFÜS (aka Rufus Du Sol due to American licensing issues). It's in the vein of Bag RaidersEvermore, and a little bit of Cut Copy even (what's up with those Australians!), it's definitely music that you want to bust some moves to. I'm currently wildly in love with this one:

Not to mention this stellar, heavy beat driven gem:


It's in the vein of Bag Raiders, Evermore, and a little bit of Cut Copy even (what's up with those Australians!), it's definitely music that you want to bust some moves to.

They are playing SXSW and Winter Music Conference, two places with exceptional music curators, indicating they are up and coming. Potentially meteorically. They have three EPs out right now (two as RÜFÜS and one as Rufus Du Sol) and all of them are spectacular. 

Thursday, January 23

Disclosure - F for You, now with 100% more Mary J. Blige

I always say that Disclosure is receiving exactly as much attention and love as they deserve. Energetic live performances, catchy songs and a seamless house+pop music blend that can only be accomplished by someone coming onto the stage as young as they are. Everyone can love them, and so they do, and so they are deserving of their meteoric rise.

Mary J Blige gets in on the action now with a remix (as in, they mixed her vocals into the song) that adds more angst and texture to the chorus. Beautiful, seamless, catchy and energetic. If these kinds of collaborations are the future for Disclosure their next album is going to be epic.




Encore: Here is that collaboration LIVE from last week.

Monday, January 13

Holy Ghost! - Late review

Holy Ghost! mostly perplexes me, while simultaneously propelling my chair-dance-party. On one side they have catchy melodies and a driving tone that draws me in. Unfortunately, they don't deliver the same catchiness with lyrics on a regular basis, and this album seems to be far from the regular basis. A little of this may be blamed on this being their sophomore album so I have to give them that benefit of the doubt while also hoping they continue to develop as musicians.

Don't let my 'meh' review dissuade you from spending time with their new album. Dynamics was released last year and I just now found out about it (something that I'd rather not admit to), but as with the previous album it took awhile for their songs to fully resonate. The doorway to that album was Hold On, and now Okay is my doorway to their new album. Driving beats and crisp lyrics give a melancholy recognition of the context around a drunk phone call. 



Further listening:
https://soundcloud.com/nickraymondg/holy-ghost-hold-on-were-going

Friday, January 3

Song of the Day: Panama - Destroyer

In the middle of our winter, Australia picks up the slack with some summer disco grooves. But a good export is made for the destination, which is what Panama has shipped via their latest EP "Always". Hopeful house & disco grooves paired with melancholy lyrics beg to be turned up on a cold, sunny day like today.

I recommend: Panama - Destroyer (free download via Soundcloud!)


If you're thinking, like I did, "Panama... those voices... sound familiar?" then I'd point you to this track (Panama - Magic; free download!) from last year. I can't pinpoint exactly where I heard it - someone's set? radio? was it the original mix or one of the remixes? - but what matters is that it wasn't the last time I heard it. Worth a few more listens.

Wednesday, January 1

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