SAFE: A Documentary
This is a mini-documentary I’ve been working on in my hard to come by spare time in the last few months. It highlights the work of local concert promoters (and my friends) Safe Music. They bring underground dance acts to Miami and try to focus their bookings on “breaking” new artists that rarely make it to the states.
The original plan for this video was to film a promotional style piece with pretty images of an awesome party. The night before the shoot, I happened to catch the absolutely incredible LCD Soundsystem documentary ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits.’ Within the first 20 minutes I knew that I wanted to try my hand at telling a real story about music.
This is my first non-commercial documentary style piece. The absolute madness of the format is enthralling and I definitely want to try my hand at a longer piece next.
Thanks for reading and thanks for watching if you do!
Best Albums of 2012
As I’ve done pretty much every year since I’ve had this blog, I’m doing a list of albums I like. A little for posterity, a little to remind myself that I like to write about music and mostly because ritual is a powerful thing.
I usually do a list of best songs to compliment this list but this year I made quarterly mixes of music I like and you can find those at my soundcloud.
20. Beach House - Bloom:
Beach House don’t stray far from their trademark sound but god bless em because that sound is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Best track: Lazuli
19. Chairlift - Something:
Who knew? I thought Chairlift were destined to toil as one of the many bands to get a song in an Apple commercial and then fizzle into obscurity. Something is refreshingly unpredictable and a testament to the power of American pop inventiveness.
Best track: Sidewalk Safari
18. Maya Jane Coles - Easier To Hide EP:
Maya is the future of something as of yet to be determined. As a DJ she’s a punishing deep house wielder and dance floor melter but her own productions hide elegance and intelligence far too special for genre classification.
Best track: Easier to Hide
17. Todd Terje - It’s the Arps:
Some art is more important for what it isn’t than what it is. It’s the Arps is made entirely on an ARP2600 synthesizer and the restriction paints each production with unimaginable color and whimsy.
Best track: Inspector Norse
16. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Trouble:
A record that’s wildly derivative of Hot Chip but also one that carries the distinction of being better than most of Hot Chip’s long players (including this year’s uneven In Our Hearts.)
15. Wild Nothing - Nocturne:
The only “band that sounds like early Smashing Pumpkins” that actually sounds like something young Billy Corgan would have envied. Nocturne is delicate and beautifully constructed, quiet but cinematically powerful.
Best track: Shadow
14. Blondes - Blondes:
What’s the distinction between so called ‘hipster house’ and the Thievery Corporation lounge sound of the early 2000s? Blondes isn’t out of place in a hotel lobby but to say just that about it would betray the world of amorphous song structures and shimmering complexity beneath the surface.
Best track: Lover
13. Floating Points - Shadows EP:
Floating Points trades not in mood but emotion, the scattering drums don’t keep the rhythm as much as hold your hand. It’s not exactly ‘jazz’ but it embodies the purity of that term more than almost anything that directly references it.
Best track: Sais
12. Nicolas Jaar and Various Artists - Don’t Break My Love:
Originally released as an infuriating cube you were supposed to hook up to speaker, Jaar’s Don’t Break My Love collection finally saw a digital release this month. Depending on who you ask, Jaar and his collaborators are at the vanguard of a new zeitgeist. At its very best, the whispery vocals and hypnotic atmospherics elevate your everyday existence and invoke a type of feeling you immediately feel possessive of.
(Note: if I could’ve included Nicolas Jaar’s incredible live sets on this list, I would have)
Best track: Just Friends - Avalanche (SIDE NOTE - Vocals by Steven Spielberg’s daughter!)
11. Twin Shadow - Confess:
Credit where credit is due, Twin Shadow’s second album is so much more than his first album would indicate he was capable of. On Confess, Twin Shadow sounds like a contemporary Robert Smith, his lust and heartache permeating insanely catchy pop hooks with unavoidable urgency.
Best track: Run My Heart
10. Japandroids - Celebration Rock:
My punk sensibilities died out with my desire to buy Warped Tour tickets. I understood the energy and I understood the immediacy but its impact on me ended as soon as I left the room. Japandroids is energetic music that gets under your skin - sing-a-long chants and lyrics that can’t bear but to be screamed, it’s meant for drunk swaying with a friend on each arm. It doesn’t hurt that The House that Heaven Built is arguably the best rock song of the last five years.
Best track: The House that Heaven Built
9. Tame Impala - Lonerism:
Tame Impala’s modus operandi is based on a such a simple idea that you have to wonder how it hadn’t happened before: “What if the Beatles only ever made songs that sounded like Tomorrow Never Knows?” Apparently the answer to that question is a like a exploring endless river of hazy textures and desaturated images. Rare is the album with such an engaging aesthetic that the urge to deconstruct it is almost non-existent. Lonerism is an album for turning off your mind, relaxing and floating downstream.
Best track: Why Won’t They Talk to Me
8. Burial - Kindred + Truant/Rough Sleeper EPs:
Burial laughs at your puny concepts of “songs” and “albums.” The 2012 model of Burial is so far evolved that almost nothing we know about how to appreciate music applies here. Rough Sleeper peaks in the third minute of its 13 minute running time, the entire second half of Ashtray Wasp is basically a cool down period so he can devastate you with an unexpected vocal sample you would only hear if you’re paying attention. Dynamics don’t apply to Burial and to be honest words don’t fare a whole lot better. Burial is challenging but very special, we are lucky to live in a time where someone like him regularly releases music.
Best track: Rough Sleeper
7. Chromatics - Kill For Love:
It’s hard to understate the cultural impact of the film Drive. Millennials didn’t know they wanted to listlessly drive into the city lights until Drive told us we did. Kill For Love is a treatise on that feeling, the quiet drive with nothing but the idea who we want to be to guide us home.
Best track: These Streets Will Never Look The Same
6. Four Tet - Pink:
As the underground catches up with Four Tet’s unique sound, Kieran Hebdan goes back to basics. More beholden to four on the floor than his contemporaries, Pink sees Four Tet achieve transcendence in simplicity. The exquisite construction of Locked and Pyramid are Four Tet’s most important achievements to date.
Best track: Pyramid
5. Grimes - Visions:
As good as Visions is, it’s impossible to think about Grimes without thinking of cute little Claire Boucher herself. She’s a crust punk manic pixie dream girl, prancing ungracefully about the stage like a forest nymph from the art forests of Canada. Grimes’ singular identity informs Visions with a point of view that that is as intimate as it is arena-sized. As a side note, I’m glad whoever booked Grimes in Miami realized her kind of music would always have a home in a city that still considers Debbie Deb an all time classic.
Best track: Genesis
4. John Talabot - Fin:
They say that John Talabot debuted So Will Be Now on the terrace of Panorama Bar in Berlin, right at sunrise. The understated beauty of the song and its emotional apex are the best example of what makes Talabot more interesting than his peers. If the resurgence of emotional, subtle dance music is what 2012 is remembered for, Talabot should take credit for album that demands nothing but potent emotional responses from his listeners.
Best track: So Will Be Now
3. Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes:
Even as a huge fan of Los Angeles and Cosmogramma, I can readily admit that Until the Quiet Comes is the first Flying Lotus record to feel like something greater than collection of good ideas. Like Merriwhether Post Pavillion found the strains of pop in Animal Collective, Until the Quiet Comes is the space age production sense of Flying Lotus in its most cohesive and focused form.
Best track: Getting There
2. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city:
To quote Andre 3000 in Stankonia’s Humble Mumble:
“She said she thought hip hop was only guns and alcohol.
I said oh hell naw/
but yet its that too”
Around my 10th listen to good kid, an observation dawned on me - gangster rap is, for better or worse, folk music. Not always a unifying cry of the people but still a message from generally disenfranchised people that need to be heard. For all intents and purposes, good kid is the first post-modern gangster rap album.
It’s an album that understands you have to respect a genre before credibly redefining what it means. And redefine he does, Kendrick tells a heart-wrenching story of growing up being something you know you aren’t supposed to be. Most like The Wire than other rap records, Kendrick raps as dozens of different characters with varying levels of awareness. He creates a multifaceted landscape painting of Compton that is as compelling as it is nonjudgmental.
Best track: Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
1. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange:
That Frank Ocean made a better record than Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city is almost praise enough. Channel Orange is Sign ‘O’ the Times and What’s Goin’ On, it’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
It’s the kind of statement only an artist with inconceivable talent at the peak of their career can make. Channel Orange is messy but almost perfect, impeccably sequenced and yet effortless, as if there were no other way it could be made. So much was made of Frank’s “coming out” that Channel Orange is sadly misconstrued as a record by someone seeking to define themselves. Frank Ocean doesn’t care what you think and he doesn’t really know who he is, he slips in and out of perspectives, trying his hand at childishness and morality, excess and sorrow, no one personality anywhere closer to his truth.
It doesn’t really matter what Frank Ocean releases next, fans will observe it through the prism of what Channel Orange means to them and dismiss anything lesser as simply context to better enjoy Frank’s opus.
Best track: Pyramids
Radiohead - The Butcher
King of Limbs era Radiohead at its finest.
Source: SoundCloud / ianbhoy
Richard Feynman getting very upset with someone for asking him a simplistic question.
You could interpret Feynman as losing his patience but to me it reflects someone who deeply respects what it means to understand something. That respect manifests itself in any discipline if you care about it enough - a hair stylist can’t simply give you a ‘good’ haircut, a sommelier can’t recommend the ‘best’ wine pairing and most importantly, an artist shouldn’t be able to tell you what their art ‘means.’
Pachanga Boys - Time
It technically came out last December but make no mistake, this song represents 2012 better than any other. As dance music goes pop, the underground responds with emotion - the sound of 2012 contrasts the emptiness of a beat drop with purity and patience. Just try not to feel something.
Source: SoundCloud / miltos p
Cafeteria Mix - Vol. 3
Here’s a continuous mix of music that inspired me in the last few months, it features: Isao Tomita, Blondes, Flying Lotus, Daphni, Jacques Green, Sasha, Omar S, and Sky Ferreira
Source: SoundCloud / Cafeteria