shortcircles – remember me EP

My sister recently asked me if I considered myself ahead of the curve when it comes to finding music to listen to. It made me quiet for a moment and I told her it was kind of difficult these days to be truly ahead of the curve with music, what with social media and the easiness of sharing songs. As a rule, I try not to think about those kinds of things because it makes for a more narrow-minded music listener. Even three years ago I would have labeled myself as a music elitist – the moment anyone listened to an artist who had been around for ages I’d be quick to call them out on it and say, “I listened to this way before you knew who they were.”

In the last couple of years, though, I’ve made a concerted effort to listen to, literally, all types of music. Even the genres and artists that I usually can’t stand, I will give every song a chance. I’ve noticed that with my most music obsessed friends, only two or three of them have overcome the dismissing-music-genres phase and have instead worked to listen to everything. It’s a hard move to make, but I think that’s what has made me a better music listener. Now I don’t care about being ahead of the curve – at the end of the day it’s about the songs themselves, amirite?

That being said, I still feel so much joy when I find an artist or song very few people have listened to – how can I not? All of us get that giddy feeling over finding gems.

This ties in perfectly to my love for the Oakland producer, shortcircles, who is a master at genre blending. He released a brand new EP just under a week ago called Remember Me.

FIRST LISTEN

1. Remember Me (feat. Miss Kia from Parentz)

It opens with a trip into space and distorted vocals repeating “remember me” with Miss Kia adding her actual lyrics. The initial vibes of the song reminded me of Rimar and an overall nostalgic element to it. The best songs are the ones which are most familiar to you, and this was an instant pleaser. There are some truly dirty synths on this track creating a very rich sound.

2. Take Flight (feat. Tiana Vallan) 

At first the song reminds me of an elevator, well, a very sexy elevator. The drum lines and bass are sensual beyond belief. This is a perfect late summer jam – makes me want to DJ so badly. It’s not dancey by any means, but for those who have DJ’d before, you’d understand what kind of gig this would be perfect for.

No, it is not lounge, stop saying that.

3. Find You (feat. Tiana Vallan)

This has some serious Asian vibes to it. The opening guitar and subsequent strings make me feel like I’m in a salon in old Kyoto. Gorgeous. Vallan’s vocals pair so well with the instrumental and makes it a stand out track.

4. Love My Man (feat. Miss Kia from Parentz)

From the get go, this feels the most like a traditional shortcircles track with the bassline and drums. It’s got a glitchier feel to it mixed with his penchant for melodic buildups. This was easily my favorite track off the EP because of it’s quieter, humbling elements to it. I love nighttime, and this was the first song that made me want it to be dark out. It’s got a similar Asian feel to it tying it well into the previous track. There’s a definite flow to the EP as a whole which makes me love this song even more.

5. Searching for a Reason (Glenn Jackson remix)

HOLY CRAP. In the first twenty seconds I fell for this song, hard. It’s sexy, glitchy, and has undertones of a darker melody. It’s a perfect late-August, summer drive kind of song. Damn. This is going on repeat for awhile.

SAS

Like I mentioned before, “Searching for a Reason” is still going strong on repeat. After putting the EP on shuffle, I noticed that “Remember Me” reminds me of the LASERS song, “3027” (this is a different LASERS than the one I blogged about before). In general, I have to say that all of these songs can stand on their own and work well in context. In most EPs and albums, that I’ve noticed at least, it’s hard to get every song to work cohesively and still be okay on their own. shortcircles once again proves himself as a competent and diversified producer. Keep this guy on your radars, please.

-jo.

empty pockets

I’ve always wondered what kind of criteria someone has to have to become a crayon/ice cream flavor namer. It’s a job I’ve always coveted because equating colors and flavors to unlikely material is one of my favorite past times. Clearly I have too much time on my hands, but in any case, it would be a bomb job to add to my LinkedIn account.

Some of these people, I think, are on the song-naming circuit. Sometimes song names make zero sense when you listen to a song, kind of like a good portion of modern art. Dance music, especially, can piss me off with names. Making the repetitive vocal track as the name of a song is really clever, you know? It never gets old.

That got slightly side tracked, my bad. Back to the main point of this post which is highlighting one half of the beloved James & Evander dyanmic duo, Adam Myatt, also known as Empty Pockets. He branches off from his usual dream pop production pair to create a melancholic downtempo medley of delicious songs. Gosh, nothing makes me happier than downtrodden, depressing beats.

1. Can’t Decide

Like the bandcamp page described, the murky vocals and slithering acoustic guitar is a perfect blend of sunny rain. Not the annoying kind with rainbows and crap, but a constant transition between the two. This had an Iron & Wine feel to it (probably with the vocal bending) but not in a twangy way that can annoy me about the band. This song is riddled with nostalgia and coffee, making for a well balanced early morning tune.

 

2. Jan. 25th, 1982

Sad song. While there’s no clear indication of what the date means to Myatt, there’s clearly an overwhelmingly melancholic quality to the song. It wasn’t as big of a stand out to me as far as the EP goes, but it does make for a song I enjoy thinking to.

Screw grammatical errors.

3. Shipwrecked Shell

The first thing I thought when listening to this track is a Postal Service esque feel to the rhythm and timing of the song. It brought me back to middle school and listening to their music on bus rides home. Maybe I was one of those typical angsty teenagers, but it did bring an onslaught of memories one late night while listening to this song. It’s got this gritty feel to the synths and drums which, not only makes you depressed, but also angry. It’s an interesting composition with the perfect name to go with it. It makes you feel empty and lost just like a shipwrecked soul.

 

 

Listening to all of this James & Evander music, as well as shortcircles and other Oakland based producers makes me want to move out to that city. Who knows – it may join the list of prospective cities I move to after Vancouver and Tokyo.

You can download the free Empty Pockets EP off Myatt’s bandcamp page which is linked to the photo above. Go have fun and stuff.

 

-jo.

hoodcats – hoodcats EP

You will quickly come to realize that by following this blog, I will be posting on James & Evander and shortcircles. A lot. It’s inevitable, seeing as they’re a couple of my new, favorite producers. I go through phases, but over the last six months I’ve consistently loved everything both have released.

You can only imagine my excitement when I found out about Hoodcats which is a collaboration between the two. Every track on its own, and as an overall EP, is absolutely perfection. Ugh. I twitch every time one of the songs comes on – it’s impossible to skip a Hoodcats track. It’s also a good sign if I continue to play an EP on most playlists, at parties, and any lengthy drive for five straight months. A sign from the heavens, actually.

Even better is all the vocal samples from the 90s. Brandy or Christina Aguilera, anyone?

1. Streed Fung

The opening track starts us off with a catchy drum beat going, with layering vocals of various “hey’s” and “boy” going along. When I listen to this I always want to drive around LA, on side streets, and groove. That’s the overall sentiment with this whole EP. Initially, this song wasn’t as strong to me as “One Pacifico Swing” or “Jeans Colliding,” but in the overall flow, it makes sense. It’s definitely a favorite of mine now, though no one Hoodcats song stands out over the other for  me. Each one is sexy in its own right.

2. One Pacifico Swing

Juuuuuke. God. These drums. The vocals. The friggin’ horn samples. How can you not fall in love to this song? It’s so sexy with lyrics like, “even though you know I’d die for you/ yes I’d die,” and then glitched up to make for such a charming song. This is that absolutely perfect summer jam to surprise friends with. And for more surprises, read below for “Jeans Colliding” where I will nerd out for quite awhile.

3. Jeans Colliding

It’s a really slow buildup. Pianos, synths, and snippets of vocals. It’s a “comfort” track because of how recognizable everything is in the makeup of the song. From the get go, I was entranced by the sounds. It’s a six minute song and, honestly, I wouldn’t have it at any other length. The first time through listening I did the standard head bobbing along while practicing kanji. Then, you have the break. Oh my god, what a surprise! You hear the vocal samples for the first time and instantly think, MY 90s CHILDHOOD! Come on, who else couldn’t resist turning up the volume when you caught the “Genie in a Bottle” vocal sampling? Hm? HM?

The accelerated pace of the song, with jukin’ drums, and an absolute sex-dominated beat makes me drool. I’m also looking up photos of cupcakes so that doesn’t really help the situation. This song is on my Top 10 Songs of 2012 and we’re only halfway through. It’s that good.

James & Evander and shortcircles released their EP for free off their bandcamp page. If this doesn’t make you a fan of the producers I don’t know what will.

Always remember, dear readers, to never toss a dwarf.
-jo.

james & evander

Starting this blog off on a West Coast foot. Based out of Oakland, CA we have the producer pair James & Evander making a stronger footing in the downtempo/electronic/synth pop field(s). I’ve been downloading their music in a frenzied fashion and have yet to be disappointed. After sifting through their archives on their bandcamp page, their two EP releases, Constellating and Let’s Go, made waves in mixes I’ve made. I’ll talk about their latest album, Bummer Pop, in a later post, I promise.

FIRST LISTEN

1. Constellating

It opens with a blend of piano lines setting the stage for a sentimental track but still poppy enough for a quiet late-evening summer drive. From the get go, with the layering vocals, it adds for a very introspective foundation for the lyrics. It’s a song of loss but the melody helps bring in a more “hopeful” feel to the track, making for a complex composition for the song. The track, is reminiscent of California pop-rock from the mid-2000’s. They vaguely remind me of the days when I’d listen to The Fictions on repeat and wish there was an oceanic beach around for me to bum around at.

2. Slap Bracelets

After a strong opening with “Constellating,” this has an almost throw-away quality to it. “Slap Bracelets” has this fantastic chorus though, with the a strong drum line, making you bob your head along to it. The EP continues to have this constant desire to drive around and be blasted from a convertible. In terms for a flow of an EP, the song makes sense, in context: without a track like this, there wouldn’t be a flow going for it. I’m all about the flow.

3. Really Real

We end the James & Evander only portion of the EP with an instrumental. Continuing with the evening-vibe already set in motion, they made a future-pop heavy track to create that disjointed, hyperactive head bopping they led into with “Slap Bracelets.” This is definitely the happiest song off the EP and it makes me want to run around outside. That is, if I actually liked the outdoors.

4. Constellating (Ander remix)

This was the first track that put me on the James & Evander wagon. On some random night of YouTube music hunting, I stumbled upon this remix to add to my glitch/downtempo playlist I had going. Addictive. So addictive. What makes this such a killer remix is when compared to the original, this is the vibe you’d expect the song to have based on lyrics alone. Ander did a beautiful rendition of the song with interesting breaks, a haunting melody, and much creepier vocals.

4. Slap Bracelets (shortcircles remix)

I’m a huge shortcircles fan. After I heard his “iwishthatyouwould (pleaseloveme) off some random mixtape a friend of Giraffage made, I loved all of his dreampop heavy tracks. Uwaa, I love drifting off to sleep to this song. He makes “Slap Bracelets” a lot sweeter of a song, where James & Evander actually created a more “piss-off” sentiment with their lyrics. Damn, whoever that girl is, she really dicked someone over.

SECOND AND SHUFFLE (or, SAS)

This is the part of listening to an album I love. Usually, the first time through, I’m doing something else when listening to a new EP, album, single, whathaveyou. Based on the amount of times I look up while going straight through said music piece, I judge that on how fluid of a production quality it is. After that, I listen to the entire thing again except on shuffle. That is where my full judgement lies.

So for this EP, “Constellating” continued to be a favorite of mine. Everything from the lyricism, to the melodies, and sub-melodies made me grin. “Slap Bracelets” was a pleasant surprise. I think it was the part where it goes, “And I read all your letters, but I never wrote you one back/ I knew you were doing better, with your Facebook facts(?)/ and now I’m glad that you know I was wrong, but this is not a love song.” I’m about 99% sure I botched those lyrics but that was the best part of “Slap Bracelets” for me. The vocals are so distorted that you have to struggle to make out what they’re saying. Always loved a mysterious man.

This EP I’m going to do a bit differently, mainly because I haven’t been able to pull  myself away from the title track. “Let’s Go” is one of the reasons I love electronic music to begin with. Being the music nerd that I am, the first five seconds of this song had me freaking out. Like, legitimately running around like a guillotined chicken.

Where did I get my excitement from? No, not from my mama, but instead from James & Evander’s keen sampling. They took the main melody from one of my favorite songs, “Sunshine Luv,” by Korean hip hop producer, The Quiett, and used it as the building block for this here track. They thought they could be tricksy, but HAH, I bested them (not really though, that’s not a thing).

They slowed down the main melody and added poppier drum lines, along with second and third melody lines for a much fuller sound than The Quiett originally gave us. James & Evander makes an effort to use their recordings of live instruments (like the drums and pianos) mixed with electronic production to make a less perfect-sounding track. Sometimes that gets on my nerves, despite how much of an electronic geek I am. Uwaa, love their stuff so hard so fresh so good so clean. Another huge perk – this EP is a free download. Who doesn’t love free shit?

If you enjoyed any of the tracks, the images link to their bandcamp pages for the EPs. They have a monsterload of free downloads so make sure to check them out.

Till next time,

-jo.