Steady yourself (playlist)

You know that feeling you get inside when someone you care about gives you a long hug on a chilly day?  The kind that’s warm and comfortable, that you don’t want to end, and it feels like time is slowing down, just for you?  Well, turns out taking a long hot bath at the end of a long day is that feeling x10.  Maybe that someone you care about made it for you at the end of that long day.  But you know what’s even better?  All of that plus the perfect playlist – steamy and soulful all at once, perfect for you to melt in the water, relax into the rest of your evening.

I read this article that talked about how sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself (if you can) is take a sick day when you’re only mildly sick, when all you want to do is curl in bed but you’re not too incapacitated that you’re miserable, and when you huddle under that comforter you can reflect on your life.  Some of the best reflections come out of times when you’re just sitting around or walking around with no goal in mind or destination in place.

Okay, but you can do that while soaking in an endless bear hug of warmth – best.

So here’s the setting.  Hope you get that chance to float away.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

MAGNETIZING

gryffin-borns

I have no words.  I can’t describe it – the emotion, the intensity, the pull.  It’s an addiction and it’s about addiction.  Gryffin keeps you hanging onto BØRNS sultry voice and it’s just raw desire – electricity.

Light the fire, go

Electric love.  Feeling high.

P.S. Gryffin is pure magic.  I’m saving a post dedicated to his work and will likely just overwhelm you with all his sets and songs – but please do yourself a favor and jump the gun by checking his music out now.

Fresh and refreshing

SunRai+02+websize+w+black+edges

I put on Sun Rai’s Rose! recently during a long drive and my friend laughed, “I feel like I’m in the 70s!”

My friend wasn’t born in the 70s, which brings up an interesting point: what does it mean when a song reminds you of the 70s, a decade which I’m guessing our readership has not experienced firsthand (except maybe… hi mom)? We all have our impressions of music from “before our time” – does that mean those impressions are what we think of as classics?

When we think about oldies and classics, we (my generation) think 80s, 70s, 60s. 90s music is still 90s music. Early 2000s music is affectionately dubbed “music from middle school” or talked about as “back when I was an angsty teenager” or whatever else (am I dating myself here?).

So when my friend’s mind goes to the 70s when he hears this song, maybe that just means this song has that classic vibe to it — and it does.

It’s got a soft rock touch to it that we’ve been missing these days. Some classic piano, some simple bass guitar, some light percussion – and a fantastic melody.

It’s fresh and refreshing: perfect for driving with the top down, wind sweeping through your hair, on a cool and sunny San Francisco day.

Electric feels

illenium

I’ve been thinking a little bit about loss these days – about losing things and the people who are important to you.

When is it good to take a loss?  Maybe when it prevents others from getting hurt, when it benefits them in some way.  I know some people would say, well, why would you do that?  We’ve got one life to live and we should make sure to take care and look out for ourselves.  Sure, but looking out for others, caring about others, making that choice to help them – that’s what makes us human.  That’s what gives us soul.  That’s what makes humanity.

Some would say that selflessness may not exist, because “feeling good” about helping someone defeats the idea that the act is selfless.  But selflessness is on a spectrum, and you can be relatively selfless – you can feel good about it but look, you helped someone out, and that means something.  So when is selflessness pure?  For one, at least, it’s most obvious when you hurt yourself on someone else’s behalf.  It feels terrible, but it’s sometimes necessary. We all question some of our actions – good and bad – and perhaps being selfless helps us define ourselves and who we want to be.

Okay.  I’ll admit, maybe I’m just trying to look at the bright side here, trying to build some strength to justify certain aspects of our lives. This is the right thing to do, I’m doing a good thing, etc.

But you know what?  Maybe instead of thinking about this, I’ll just soak in some Illenium and forget about everything.  Escapism at its best.

Illenium released Afterlife, featuring Echos, and it’s all at once symphonic, melodic, and mesmerizing.

It starts melancholic, with Echos’ vocals reminiscent of Evanescence, and combined with the keyboard and strings, feels ethereal.

She repeats, “In the afterlife, tell me we’ll be fine.”  It’s yearning, hopeful, desperate.

And then there’s a pause, a shift, and the electronic kicks in, a pulsing in the background, and the contrast is incredible.  Electric.  And though at first it feels unexpected, it’s just what you need.

It makes you feel sad, but alive.

===

P.S. Echos’ voice just fills you up.  Check out this cover of All I Want.

Hit reset

lake-mcdonald-sunrise

Let’s start the new year warm and fresh.

A little reflection,

A little nostalgia.

We’ve got William French today for some ambiance.

The way I think about it:

You’re standing out on the deck of a cabin.

It snowed last week, and the shores of the lake are blanketed in white.  Tonight the skies are clear, though, and there are stars.

There’s a silence that thickens the air, the kind in which your voice stops in front of you.  Heavy.

But the stars are still there.

And it’s like time has stopped.

[0:00]

It’s like time has stopped, but life hasn’t –

And that’s where this song begins.

It’s a heart beating, speeding, skipping.

It’s the waves lapping.

It’s the fresh air—

A cool breeze.

It’s gazing up and out, taking a deep breath, and—

[3:18]

There’s a light in the distance.

The lake shimmers silver.

And in the quiet, a warm hand.

===

Then the sun rises.

Pink inks across the pale blue sky.  The sun bursts.

Hit reset—

It’s a new day

And we’ve got William French’s kalimba keeping it bright and beautiful.

Take it in – it’s going to be a whirlwind.

Pace yourself

Foggy-Road

Let me wax philosophical today.

In life we’re always trying to balance rationality and irrationality, logic and emotion, our head and our heart.  There’s that constant struggle, fighting ourselves to do what we know is right, against the pull of our feelings, knowing that sometimes we’re seeking instant gratification and still hoping for long term happiness.

It’s like you can pick either having a 1% chance of happiness in the short term but 99% chance of happiness in the long term or a 50% chance of happiness in the short term but 1% chance of happiness in the long term.  The numbers don’t add up, but impulsivity – that beast – still often pushes us towards the latter.

Over time, though, we lose the idealism from our youth, the romantic glow of the world and life and the fateful encounters that determine who surrounds us.  We look more towards the future.  We’re smarter, more careful.  Why settle now for a volatile short-term and an inevitable unhappiness in the long-term?

But maybe this is all self-conceited.  Maybe we are all overconfident, thinking we can get more, do better, etc. down the line. How far should we throw practicality into this?  How much should we give up?

Still, there’s so much courage in picking the rational route, the “right” choice, the one where you sacrifice a wishy-washy short term for the long term.  It’s character building, I guess.

But then apply it to other situations, risky ones, where the long term consequences could outweigh the short term ones, but we choose them anyway.  Skydiving, for example.  You could potentially die.  But what’s the point in worrying about the future so much when you can experience six seconds of life?  It’s not like there’s a point in anyone, any creature, anything’s existence in this universe.  But that’s just an existential crisis, for another time.

Anyway, we’ve all been in the situation where we do what we know is right, even if it brings us immediate grief.  And that brings me to the following set, which is filled with emotional devastation, a pull against the tide, and a yearning.  It’s the walking away and looking back, one last time; it’s the struggle out of the riptide; it’s a reluctance and a want to hope, against all odds.  OKAY-KAYA, Emma Louise, and the Japanese House.

The pace is slow here, but that’s welcome and trending, especially with Adele’s latest hello to the world.  So here you go:

  • OKAY-KAYA’s I’m Stupid (But I Love You)
  • Emma Louise’s Underflow
  • The Japanese House’s Sugar Pill

Look for OKAY-KAYA’s escalation of layers with the keyboard and guitar in the simple accompanying chord progressions.  Look for the dreamy echo that rings through as she sings.

Look for the evocative melodic humming behind Emma Louise’s vocals, the gradual build-ups into the chorus, the silence after.

Look for The Japanese House’s instrumentals set between an incredible vocoder effect reminiscent of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek.

Let these songs wash over you and pull you through those difficult moments.  Sink into it and breathe it in.

I’m in love with my life

PHASES

There is just way too much happy in this song not to share.

Eau Claire from DC threw a bounce into PHASES’ I’m In Love With My Life, and now it just makes me want to jump with joy.  It’s such a perfect combination of innocent and carefree lyrics and that electronic keyboard in the background – it just keeps you dancing!

Simple and sweet.

Feels like a dream tonight

young-galaxy

Can we revisit some indie dream-pop today?

Feels like a dream tonight / a little break in time – Young Galaxy, “New Summer”

We’re too lost in the rush of things.  We’re prescribed to a privileged, structured life: go to school, get a job, find a partner, start a family – and we’re always looking for what’s next.  

But then, we occasionally stop.  We all find one of those days at least once in our lives – one of those amazing days where we let go of everything that’s been on our minds and we become lost in the moment for the entire day and we feel like we have nothing to lose…

I’m always waiting for that feeling to fade, for me to look back on that day in my life and laugh it off, to carry on and get back into the swing of things — but it hasn’t, and I haven’t.  I keep getting drawn back to the emotional high of being fully present; I miss it.

Somehow this song reminds me of that day, one day of carefree ecstasy.  

This is sit-in-the-grass, stare-at-the-sky music.  It’s sentimental but grounding.  Bask in warmth of the people floating by you.  Make another day like that happen.  We are all in this together.

When the clouds roll in

KygoxStubberud_0568-med

Let’s get right to the music today, and keep this short and sweet, because – well – it’s Kygo, and when it comes to Kygo, we always recommend diving in headfirst.

Kygo is known for tropical house style productions, but lately he’s in a heavier mood — and there’s no way we can complain.

This first track still has the tropical edge injected in it, but it’s finger-snappingly paced, and the mood is low.  Will Heard’s melodic voice shakes you.  Let the song’s soul reverberate through you.

Aptly named, this second song is just Kygo jammin’ on the piano and a few light beats and strings.  It’s beautifully moving and wondrously heartwrenching.

It ebbs and flows.  Roll with the waves.

Dark vibes, dance vibes (free downloads)

Panda-Energy-moon-dust2

Oftentimes, mashups take two or more songs and integrate both vocals and instrumentals.  In White Panda’s most recent releases, these two friends set vocals from one song to the background instrumentals of another — and it works so well.  It’s obviously key to pick two complementary songs and somehow sync them together to create the right pace, emphases, and vibes.  Sound simple?  It’s not.  But White Panda does it seamlessly.

Check these two out.  The first, Try Madness, is a mashup of Muse’s Madness and Dej Loaf’s Try Me.  The second, Reflection Stone, is of Kygo’s Firestone and Misterwives’ Reflections.  In both, the former play the instrumentals; the latter, the vocals.

Try isolating the two from each other.  It’s unbelievable how effortlessly White Panda seems to make these combos work together.

Try Madness is darker, with Muse’s heavy bass vibrating in the background, but Dej Loaf adds a push and pull with her voice.  She hooks you and reels you in, almost teasingly.  It’s masterful; the mystery is real..

Reflection Stone is all tropical house and just makes you want to get up and move – and that’s not just because of Kygo.  Misterwives’ sings you into dancing.

Do you see how perfectly Try Me is integrated into Madness’s vibe?  Or how White Panda pulled out exactly the right sections of instrumentals from Firestone to serve as Reflections‘ foundation?

Man, I can’t get over this.  The talent emanates.