Soak in some sun

wear-sunscreen

Oddly good.  That’s how I first described this song to a friend.  You’ll understand.

Mau Kilauea’s remix of Wear Sunscreen starts off with some guy telling you to wear sunscreen.  If you’re old enough, this will probably sound vaguely familiar – not as advice from your mom, but as part of a song by Baz Luhrmann in 1998 called, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).”  Luhrmann had swiped the lyrics from a journalist named Mary Schmich, who had published a piece in the Chicago Tribune, intending to provide advice as if it were a commencement speech to graduating students.  The song is simply spoken word – with Schmich’s entire column as the lyrics – set to a beat.

But what a beat!

This song draws you in.  It’s at first strange, because it doesn’t seem like a song – the guy is just speaking rhythmically.  But what he says is mesmerizing.  We absorb it.  We subconsciously try to internalize it.  We want to live the way Schmich advises us to live.  So we keep listening.

The sound the piece is set to, meanwhile, is uplifting and makes you want to dance in your living room (surprise!  Also one of the life advice offered).  It’s got Kygo’s or Thomas Jack’s tropical feel and reality’s grounding essence (the guy is talking to you, telling you, that you need to hold on to the compliments, let go of the insults, be kind to others, be kind to yourself).

It’s captivatingly funny and captivatingly real.  It’s addicting.  Take a listen and let Luhrmann’s words sink in — if you can.

Dripping like honey (free download)

One year ago, we posted about Yuna’s “Lullabies,” remixed by Adventure Club. Recently, Adventure Club’s “Gold,” which features Yuna, came up on our radar. And this beautiful Malaysian vocalist is still as magical as ever.

For “Gold,” let’s visualize.

Imagine you’re holding a ball of light, bright rays radiating through your fingertips, pulsing. Imagine it’s sunshine, and feel the warmth seeping out into your palms, then sweeping out around you.

Now listen to this.

Yuna’s voice is that warmth, crescendoing, resonating, through your body; Adventure Club’s keyboard and rising percussions accentuate each of Yuna’s words.

She’s telling you to shake it off when someone hurts you, to stay strong – and then she helps you get there. She emphasizes, energizes, and echoes. Her voice is honey in tea, swirling, melting; it embodies this sweet warmth, brings you clarity. It’s haunting. It’s beautiful. It’s empowering.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent tweaked “Gold” to ease you into your chair and watch the ocean crash below you.

With less of the electronic keyboard and escalating beats that Adventure Club employs, and more of the classical keyboard’s tones and a slower pace, Clark Kent carefully paints the sun, bursting over the horizon, dawn’s colors spreading across the sky. It’s more peaceful than the original, and yet this Superman still retains Adventure Club’s ability to emphasize the rise and fall of Yuna’s melodic voice and words, to ground you down and lift you up.

Yuna says to “stay gold.” When we are with her, it’s hard not to.

Tug on every silver thread

It never ceases to amaze me how it can just takes the first three seconds of a song for someone to identify it, decide to skip it, or fall helplessly into its embrace.

PHOX’s single “Slow Motion” captivated me as soon as it began. At first, I thought that maybe there was too much going on in the song – too many instruments, too many arpeggios, just too much. But there was something so magical about this “too much” that I couldn’t help but keep coming back.

Music can be so meditative. When too much in life is going on, the right song can help you focus and refocus, breathe and let go, ground you. That’s how “Slow Motion” wraps you around its finger. Listen to its layers. Look for one thread – one instrument – and follow it to the end of the song. Now repeat with another thread. And another and another.  You simply focus and enjoy.

PHOX, made up of six friends in Wisconsin, is a mix of a little bit of Vampire Weekend and Foxygen and definitely a lot of their own soul. Throw in different types of guitars, a xylophone, violin, trumpet, piano, whistling – and it becomes a great melange that keeps you hanging on, wondering what might come next, and knowing it’s just going to be wonderful.

With this group, there’s just so much character everywhere you look and everywhere you listen.

Slow Motion is a preview of PHOX’s album, due for release in June. After hearing just these five minutes, I can’t wait for the rest of their album to come out.

Dream of what used to be (free download)

Passenger’s Circles resonates of nostalgia. With its minor cadence patterns and an acoustic guitar melody, you would almost expect to find someone strumming in the middle of a quaint but bustling village bazaar in the early 1900s somewhere in Europe. It’s almost melancholy, as if Passenger is trying to hold on to the past.

With Elkoe’s remix, Circles becomes less nostalgic and more reflective, filled with a little bit of wondering and a lot of daydreaming. It eases into the music with a gradual crescendo and then picks up the pace, echoing Passenger’s words, creating both a sense of longing and wistfulness. And at the same time, Passenger jams in Elkoe’s remix. He no longer has his violin at hand, which added to the folky style of the original song, but in the remix, Elkoe adds something electric, as Passenger sings about carving memories into monuments, running carefree, flying kites, and seeing those days go by.

Finally, Elkoe throws in a little Emancipator to close it out – and in the reminiscence, the sun sets.

Here’s to what we remember, what we hoped for, and what we don’t want to let go.

Passenger’s music seems to have great success both as originals and as foundations for remixes. Here’s a mix by Peer Kusiv that blew up before Let Her Go made it to our radio stations.

Looking up (free download)

It’s been a bit dreary these past couple of days where I am – grey skies, dark clouds, rain.

I’ve posted on M83 previously, and I’ve even mentioned their song “Wait” already. It’s admittedly gloomy, but beautiful and just wonderful to let it wash over you, especially when you hear it live!

Meanwhile, Kygo has never failed to deliver an upbeat, bouncy song, with tropical rhythms and instruments that simply make everything look up. So it was a bit of a surprise to see Kygo remix a sad song that yearns. But what Kygo does with this song is brighten up its grey. In Wait, M83 mourns that there is “no time,” repeatedly (this description is a little more depressing than the original song is, I promise), but in that moody chorus, Kygo adds in a rhythm, melody, and beat to make you dance and embrace the fleeting moment.  He takes those stormy clouds and pushes them apart, letting the sun glow then shine through, lighting up the sky.

Behind every raincloud are blue skies.

And for just some sun and only sun:

Sunshinin’ (free download)

Everyone ultimately seeks a path to happiness.  It seems harder than it is.  But what would you do if you only had ten minutes left?  When do you pause to look up and around and simply wonder?  At what point do you decide to stop and smell the roses?  Why not try and start now?

Portugal. The Man’s words are true.  All you need is something to believe in and everything falls in place, just like that.  At the very least, believe just that: things will fall into place.  Or, if anything, believe in the joy of Muneshine’s remix of this song.

Now get up and dance.  What are you waiting for?

This post is dedicated to the managing editor of MuMaMe, someone who appreciates every moment and seeks to make somebody, anybody, everybody, happy – every single day.  He inspires people every day.  Happy birthday!

Breathe in, breathe out, release.

m83-performing-live-11

The upcoming movie Divergent is built on an interesting concept.  Everybody in this world is given a role in the community, and those who don’t fit anywhere have to pretend to or risk death.  It looks thrilling.  But at the heart of it – and you only get a glimpse of this aspect of the story in the trailers – the divergent community still needs unity.  They still need each other.  They still need somebody.  M83 captured this perfectly in Track 8 of the Divergent soundtrack, “I Need You.”

M83’s soundtracks capture emotion.  They always have.  Consider the entire Oblivion soundtrack.

They have made themselves a name by using amazing sounds in their tracks (think Midnight City’s opening), and hearing M83 live is just stunningly captivating.  Being surrounded by their music just makes you love absolutely everything in the world.

“I Need You” is a beautiful exhale.  It makes you let everything go when you hear it and sink deeper and deeper into its warmth.

It starts slow, relaxing, and builds up in anticipation.  It gives you a space to breathe, only to reel you back in with a crescendo of trumpeting that makes you feel like you are in the presence of something truly majestic.

Sit back with surround sound high quality headphones and just let M83 wash over you.

And their track that blew me away during their concert in Central Park in 2011:

Stay focused. (free download)

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We Are Twin is fantastic!  We went to Oakland last week to see specifically them, an opener for the band Foxes.  We Are Twin is so new they weren’t even listed on the event description, but they blew us out of the water.  Everything we wanted and more.  I am not afraid to declare that I think they will make it – though whatever “make it” means, I’m not quite sure… Coachella 2014!?!?  Dream big.

Throw ‘em up. (free download)

Gramatik

The past few weeks I feel like I’ve been caught up in a mechanical routine that I usually try very hard to avoid.  I’ve been “productive,” but I haven’t been doing too much of what I love.  I’ve been working hard, but my brain is more anxious and weary than pleased and fulfilled.  Steve Jobs once said something along the lines of, “Every day I wake up, and look in the mirror, and ask myself if I am excited to do what I’m planning to do that day.  When the answer is ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  I never forget that.  You’ll always have stretches where you’re doing things you don’t want to do, because you simply HAVE to, but you can’t let those stretches last forever.  Every day, move up and to the right.  Towards whatever is your biggest, baddest dream.

Sometimes a song wakes me up from the dazed monotony that a dreaded Monday can bring.  Today a song did that, and holy cow did it make me want to dance.  Check it out.  In fact, check it out THRICE.  I’ll start with the original, and then a mashup with Kanye, and then a mashup with Jay Z.  Yes, it’s THAT good.  I’m in love.