Monthly Archives: January 2011

Lay Bac – Stay Out Tonight

Maybe you head home, or take off, or hit the road, or perhaps you just sneak out back because the thought of finding everyone to say goodbye is too daunting, but inevitably, the hour will approach when you decide to shut it down for the night. Even if you’re not tired, even if there’s no reason to be up before noon, it’s time to call it an evening because you need to go for some reason. There’s an amazing feeling that comes with enjoying an evening to it’s full potential, especially right after a break-up, or a crappy day, when home is the last place you want to be. Nothing’s at home but cereal, and laundry, and ants, and no milk, so why the rush to get there? Lay Bac doesn’t subscribe to such arbitrary logic, and he’d like to compel you to take advantage of every last moment of darkness, and commit yourself to a prolonged inebriation.

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Lay Bac – Stay Out Tonight

Joseph Calamusa once called himself De Rol Le, but his new moniker, Lay Bac, better conveys the ultra-relaxed demeanor of a track like ‘Stay Out Tonight.’ It’s not a demand, or an order, but more of a gentle suggestion, that you wander the surface streets, until sunglasses are needed.

“Chillwave” has yet to take on a concrete set of parameters, but Washed Out and Toro Y Moi have been loosely correlated with the ambiguous genre, and Lay Bac shares more than a few stylistic similarities, the most obvious being the semi-lucid state of his music.

‘Stay Out Tonight’ slips in and out of consciousness, as you tend to do during the hours between last call and sunrise, and every so often someone in the back seat rattles a cow bell to keep you from fully passing out. This also gives a vaguely Caribbean feel to the percussion, coupled with sporadic use of what sound like conga and batá drums. Both the distortion and fidelity of Lay Bac’s synths are in constant fluctuation, disappearing and suddenly blaring out as yet another way of preventing you from completely nodding off. There’s no build, or closing, just three identical minutes suitable for loosing track of time, as you wait to experience the satisfaction of eating your breakfast before bed.

Like a soggy suspension rolling down Wilshire, the gigantic, bouncy bass line sluggishly tries to keep up, but is inconsistent, and fades in and out of earshot, in a parabolic pattern. As you think hard to try and figure out what could possibly be open at this point, a choir of moaning voices fight their way through to slowly echo out the song’s title, in a haunting attempt to lure you further from home.

‘Stay Out Tonight’ ensures you remain fixated on the bleeding neon around you by using a prominent, lulling vibration as an insulator against any disruptive city sounds. Drones are a constant, and not surprising considering the advancements made by Lay Bac’s peers in turning perpetual background hums and mummers into something soothingly beautiful.

Lay Bac is more than generous with his music, so it’s not difficult to locate free downloads of his older material, because the native Texan gives a ton of it away. On Trembleface/Sanddagger Records, the ‘Stay Out Tonight’ single also features the darker, and more experimental B-side single ‘Shibuya.’ Lay Bac’s work seems to be receiving universally positive feed back, so there’s reason to have high expectations for future EP or LP releases.

Blue Hawaii – Blue Gowns

Blue Hawaii is actually not Hawaiian – It’s a Canadian duo who creates tropical, warm weather tunes. They released their first album, Blooming Summer, via Arbutus Records. Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alex Cowan (referred to as Raph and Agor on the Arbutus site) use all kinds of stuff to transport you to a tiny deserted island paradise; synths, drums, guitars and various music class instruments combine to form a magical vacation getaway. The duo is actually dating and refer to the album as their “love project” (sounds like a recurring fantasy I have). Raph is also a member of the Canadian band Braids who just released their first full length EP Native Speaker on the 18th. Clearly we have a very talented couple on our hands.

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Blue Hawaii – Blue Gowns

The track ‘Blue Gowns’ has an especially intriguing intro with subtle electronic synths, xylophone keys and sporadic clicking that melt into quite a nice rhythmic melody. The more I write posts the more I notice I have a very distinct style I gravitate towards. If you’re not a frequent Binary reader my posts go like this: sweet, beautiful, lulling vocals + a multi-faceted, up tempo (usually) beat = killer in my book and ‘Blue Gowns’ is a pretty prime example. As I listen to Raph’s singing I take a roller coaster on the soprano vocal range. I love how the vocals hit four different notes in one word; it creates an ease and flow to the pensive lyrics. After the first verse the guitar breathes a whole new life into the song adding energy to the pulsing kick drums and making the already emotional words even more compelling.

Heartache. Not the best song to jam out to in your car, even though I did yell “I LOVE THIS SONG” out loud in my car last week, because heartache is all that comes to my mind if I focus on the lyrics (which aren’t hard to miss). The sweet, floating vocals create nostalgia for a lost love or a relationship that could never be.

I ask myself how stupid can I get
mighty dreams go through
I think about you thrusting into her
and I ask myself how stupid can you get…

I ask myself how foolish did we get
mighty dreams go through
I now no longer think of her
and I ask myself how stupid did we get…

Everything about these words make me feel uncomfortable – I hurt just listening to the story. The story of a girl who loved a boy and that boy loved somebody else. Or in this case maybe there wasn’t any love just “thrusting” – If that word doesn’t stand out to you then you can’t be listening… that simple word comes through with so much more pain than the rest. Not really a rare scenario though, I know I have looked back and felt like a complete idiot and I would be shocked if anyone claimed they didn’t feel the same in a past relationship or two. I like to think that we learn from all of our tragic relationships, that we grow and take something away from each yell, cry and tear. This way when that prefect person does come along… we’ll be ready for them.

The vocal and instrumental layering makes for a lush, tropical tune. I need 17 more verses to feel satisfied though, 3:19 is simply not enough! I also really enjoy ‘Lilac’ – a mellow, simple song for tanning, driving with the windows down or doing a little yoga to. Can’t wait to see what this lovely couple will be working on next. No matter what Blue Hawaii has has mastered a unique, textured pop that I can’t get out of my mind.

Christoph Andersson – Metropol

If I were 16 years old I would have the biggest crush on Christoph Andersson. Forget Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers (are they even relevant anymore?), the Glee people, or whoever else gets the teenyboppers’ palms sweating; I would be gaga over Christoph. First there’s the name. He’s from New Orleans but has a name straight out of Europe, which is inherently dreamy for any American teen girl. Then—100 times more importantly—there’s the music. Sexy, catchy, danceable, happy, cool, poppy, marketable, just-a-step-away-from-genius: all adjectives I’d use to describe it. Finally there’s the age; he’s only 19. In a perfect world Andersson would be the next multi-platinum teen heartthrob.

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Christoph Andersson – Metropol

I’m usually adverse to regard age as a factor when determining my general perspective of a musician or his work, but with Andersson I feel very much inclined. At only nineteen years old Andersson is the quintessential enfant terrible. What were you doing when you were nineteen? I was in my freshman year of college and getting into far too much trouble. Andersson, on the other hand, is busy making some of the most fantastic new nu-disco and electronic music of the day. But enough about the man, let me tell you about the music, as it’s as equally formidable as the force behind it.

Andersson and his team have quite the interesting marketing strategy. Instead of releasing all of his work in one large bundle or LP, they’ve been spreading the release of each of his completed songs/singles once a month over a four-month period. On the one hand this is great because it ensures a steady stream of Andersson treats; on the other hand it has me impatiently itching for more in the time between releases. Thus far he has released his ‘Tuxedo’, ‘Capital’, and ‘Metropol’ tracks respectively, with a final ‘Getaway’ due in February. Each one is a star in its own right, and I couldn’t pick a best’ because they all spring from such different places I question if they should even be compared. In an interview with our friends at GottaDanceDirty, Christoph gave some considerable insight into his music style, citing everything from Tears for Fears to pop to New Orleans Jazz as influences. This range is reflected in his music, which is a satisfying mixture of disco house tendencies and thinking outside the box. He calls it “Neo Disco.”

Whatever the genre may be, the important thing is that his music is very, very good. His production skills and ear for a hook match often outshine many other musicians who are decades his senior. His songs are melodic and warm, yet can hold their own as dance numbers. They all tend to incorporate short and repetitive vocal lines. My only complaint would be that there aren’t enough vocals; I wish he would include full phrases rather than mere samples, as the snippets he chooses are so lush they leave me craving more. What is most notable in Andersson’s production is his attention to subtle detail; it’s this that places him in a class of his own, and will propel him above his young contemporaries. This is most evident is his sly manipulation of patterns. While ‘good’ producers tend to rely on repetition of their song’s one great musical phrase, Andersson distinguishes himself as ‘great’ by breaking his patterns ever so slightly. For example, the descending scale at 1:23 in ‘Tuxedo, ‘the quick inversion at 1:38 in ‘Capital, ’ and the addition of the 7th to the scale at 3:28 in ‘Capital.’  All represent slight diversions in his musical patterning, and their subtlety serves to entice the listener while holding true to the established formula.  Here we see Andersson musicianship at full force, as apparently he is concerned with the musical integrity of his songs rather than merely ‘making stuff that sounds cool.’

Today we give you my personal favorite Andersson piece, ‘Tuxedo,’ as well as his latest single ‘Metropol’. Tuxedo is a chopped-vocal lead, bass driven disco masterpiece. It was his first release and most dancefloor-ready song. ‘Metropol’ is his latest single, featuring organs and the direction to “keep holding on.” Electronic bleeps decorate the tune and serve to highlight the symbiotic relationship Andersson seems to have established between his attention to traditional music styling and the technological nature of his work. Indeed, Andersson has a knack for making the type of electronic music that feels like it could hold its own against those traditional, instrument-wielding purists. Both songs are so upbeat and jovial in mood that you can’t help but smile as they roll out before you. As a first taste of the production and compositional capabilities of Andersson, they are nothing short of remarkable. If these infectious and beautiful releases are any indication, at nineteen, Andersson has the world before him.

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Christoph Andersson – Tuxedo

The Hood Internet – It Was A Rainy Day (Ice Cube vs CFCF)

The Hood Internet’s Trillwave mix tape was designed for “the party after the afterparty,” and track ‘It Was A Rainy Day’ was made for floating down Crenshaw atop a cloud of bubbles fitted with hydraulics. It’s become a daily ritual to check and see if any new tracks have been posted by the Chicago based duo, who are responsible for bringing hip-hop back into my life, even if it’s been significantly modified. Probably the most talented of the mash-up DJs, ABX and STV SLV love contradictions, like Ice Cube barking the lyrics to ‘It Was A Good Day’ while being doused with glitter.

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The Hood Internet – It Was A Rainy Day (Ice Cube vs CFCF)

When tomorrow isn’t promised, today should be spent shooting dice and indulging in endless amounts of food, weed, booze, and women. A day spent enjoying the best South Central Los Angeles has to offer is glamorized, and wrapped in a manic haze by The Hood Internet, who’ve gone with instrumentals from CFCF’s ‘Racing Patterns.’ The result is something hallucinatory, that calms any of Cube’s concerns about gang violence or unfortunate LAPD encounters, and leaves you wishing you could make you car’s ass drop too.

Contient is an album that I really can’t say enough about. Michael Silver’s first record as CFCF is an unbelievably versatile collection with something captivating for any activity, at any hour. At night, the record takes on a more lurking personality, perfect for stealthily escorting you through the city. My insomnia is usually dealt with by blasting ‘You Hear Colors’ or ‘Invitation to Love’ while having my way with the empty freeway. The obscenely danceable, calypso rendering of Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘Big Love,’ and the more intense driving song ‘Monolith,’ still have a hypnotic effect that makes whatever it is you’re doing at that moment something to saviour.

‘Racing Patterns’ is maybe my fourth or fifth favorite because it seems like an overture to get you in the right frame of mind to properly experience the Buckingham cover. I love the way the song, and the record, begins with a simple kick – a snare beat that sounds like Silver is kick-starting his album to life, and firing up a massive synthetic drone, as if he’s using the track to let his equipment get warm. What sounds like distorted harps, chimes and oil-can drums balance the drone by being effervescent and distracting, and at over seven minutes in length, ‘Racing Patterns’ takes it’s damn time finishing. There’s something very foreboding about those ice-cold drones, as if something ominous is on the horizon, but is being ignored for the moment, as I guess was the idea behind ‘It Was A Rainy Day.’

With all kinds of jackers in his mirrors and dudes trying to blast him, Ice Cube’s anxiety never fully allows him to ignore his worries. The story has always been compelling, but that “electric chair mentality” is a bit of a downer, as if he could be enjoying his day a little more if his life wasn’t in constant jeopardy. CFCF blurs away these threats so the lyrics can take on an uninhibited, euphoric tone, that finally makes you think Cube is beginning to relax. Even, long after the Super Sonics have ceased to exist, his words have not grown tired, and there’s still a vicarious thrill in hearing about the sexual conquest that had been so many years in the making.

The Trillwave mix tape is a very strong collection, and features a great Jay Electronica and Toro Y Moi pairing that also stands out as a favorite. The majority of The Hood Internet’s music features contemporary hip-hop artists, so it was nice to rediscover an oldie like ‘It Was A Good Day,’ especially now that you can wear a smile during your head knock.

The Holidays

Today I want to talk about the holidays. 2011 is upon us, the sun is shining through the window on this fresh new LA morning. This year seems like a year of rebirth, doesn’t it? Over the new years week I feel like the only thing people were saying was how much better 2011 is going to be and how forgettable and unfortunate 2010 was. Personally I didn’t think 2010 was that bad, but I do have some high hopes for what lies ahead. The excitement is rising around Binary headquarters as we’ve got a string of projects coming down the pipeline, and not to mention how SXSW will be awesome this year. Since LA doesn’t have four seasons like I had growing up in Chicago, I now live in a three season world… the summer remains the same, then the holiday season starts around halloween and goes through, well, about now. And now it’s springtime…a time of new life, a trip to Texas in March, a trip to the Coachella Valley in April, and then it’s summertime. But for now, excitement is high.

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The Holidays – Golden Sky

So I wanted to share with you the music of the Australian band The Holidays, with some songs off of their record Post-Paradise, a record I’ve been listening to regularly for six months, and a record that reigns as my favorite of last year. Post-Paradise is a burst of sonic textures that weave a crisp landscape of sun-kissed palm trees, compressed jungle drums, and the enthusiasm of an endless suburban summer. The twang and howl of slightly crunched British garage-rock guitars blend with the pulses of synths in the Phoenix style, all on a bed of air-filled grooves that could have only come from the land down under. It’s not a perfect record, and there are shortcomings that are befitting a young band, but that won’t curb my excitement for what we can expect from them in the coming year.

One thing I love about this record is how much personality it has. ‘Golden Sky’ is probably the biggest song on the record, but that’s not to say it’s my favorite (though it might be), because there are so many other songs to relate to. However, ‘Golden Sky’ is the best representation of what this album has to offer. This song has the tropical drums and the timbalis, it’s got the twangy guitar stabs, the call of a brilliant vocal performance, and finally a climb to the bright shining moment of the song (of which this album has a few) with an arpeggiating powerup synth. And as the song fades out with an echoing guitar, the sound of birds chattering and a wandering and contemplative keyboard lets us know we’re not out of the jungle yet. That leads us into this…

A pretty interesting video for one of the ballad-ish songs on the record (of which there are a few). I particularly enjoy the flaming ice cream. Makes me hungry. Anyway, this song caught my attention from first listen, whereas other tracks took a few times through. I love the unstoppable heartbeat of the drum groove always moving forward, and the vacuum-cleaner drone of the bass synths. I’m not too sure what this song is meant to be about, but on one hand, I tend to not pay attention to that as much, and on the other hand, I like that this song could mean a lot of things. As for the other ballad-ish tracks on the record, some provide a message that is a bit clearer.

Those are a couple of my favorite hidden gems on the album, ‘Indian Summer Anniversary’ and Conga.’ My impression is that ‘Indian Summer Anniversary’ talks about a long-distance fling, short lived, but repeated for a few bittersweet moments each year. The song’s final moment (one of the great moments on this record) peaks with a harmonious blend of crooning vocals and a determined electric piano that carry the emotional weight of the “what if’s.” ‘Conga’ is a song about how nothing else matters when you’re in love, and nothing else exists, except the living daydream of a perfect moment. There is some solid emotional output in this song, all while chilling on a floatie in a lagoon, and in its simplicity it has become one of my favorites on the record.

There are other songs I wish you could hear, but you’ll just have to fend for yourselves on that one. ‘2 Days’ is a guitar-driven pop rock song with a highly infectious syncopated bounce in the hook, and ‘Heavy Feathers,’ the album opener and one of my favorites, is another great example of what The Holidays are all about. Once again, the vocals prove to be a strength in this song, along with the fantastic songwriting and hook. ‘Heavy Feathers’ shows such a nice progressive buildup as the album opens and the expedition begins. Steel drums have yet to fail us in this millenium, and their use on this album opener is a message to the listener that the Holidays are about to take you on a mystical journey through the tedium of real life and to the fictions of your mind, to places both mysterious and familiar, an endless party and a lonesome paradise. At the end, the journey is all we have, and in the case of Post-Paradise, it’s all we really need.

If you’re in Australia, you can get the record and can hopefully get out and support the band, but for those of us in the states, Post-Paradise, in it’s full and complete glory isn’t available on iTunes, yet, at least. Hopefully that will change soon. Keep an eye out for these guys, as things will surely start to happen for them in 2011. And that’s why I’m excited…well, one of the reasons. In a season of rebirth, the optimistic sunshine of Post-Paradise is enough to leave all of us feeling good about the joys tomorrow brings. To send you on your way, here is a superb remix of ‘Broken Bones’ by our friend CFCF. The remix is worthy of a post itself, but I’ll let the song do the talking.

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The Holidays – Broken Bones (CFCF Remix)

Keep Shelly in Athens – Running Out of You

What can I tell you about the Grecian duo Keep Shelly in Athens? Well I hate to break it to you, but the band is going for that mysterious vibe. There is not much out there on the talented Athenians other than what I just mentioned (duo from Athens if you missed it). Their debut 6 track EP In Love with Dusk was released in December via Forest Family Records (the Gorilla vs. Bear label). Forest Family has released some fantastic material in its short life so far including The Cults and Sleep Over. I’m just hoping they will be able to give us a little more insight into the elusive KSiA.

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Keep Shelly in Athens – Running Out of You

The first time I listened to ‘Running Out of You’ I had an immediate love affair. Nothing gets me better than a song capable of extracting two utterly polar opposite emotions from my soul in 5 minutes or less. The track starts with magical yogi chimes which quickly disappear into heavy hitting (and almost creepy) halloween-esque strobes. When the flowing vocals come in I feel a rush of calm wash over me. I just wanna close my eyes, take a couple deep breathes and maybe do a little head swaying. ‘Running Out of You’ starts as a hauntingly gorgeous lullaby… that goes very, very wrong (in the absolute best way ever).

Welcome 2 minutes and 44 seconds. With little warning, the song changes like my split second moods. Blaring trumpets and “break it down” 90s hip hop samples slap you in the face and you’re quickly awoken from your dream state. The smooth and creamy vocals are still in there amongst the bumping new RnB beat, almost matching the tune’s new ‘tude. A song taking a complete 180 degree spin is an extreme sport, like bungee jumping or skydiving. It’s the thrill of endorphins running through your body and the adrenaline from fear and excitement pulsating under your skin. What is it about the dangerous unknown that can be so intoxicating?

All I can distinguish from the lyrics are “I’m running out of you, I’m running back to you again”. These words combined with the turbulent change of pace makes the song an emotional tug of war. It’s that draining relationship you can’t seem to break away from. You give and give and they take and take until you finally snap free. After fighting with yourself to stay or go you get the strength to walk away without looking back.

KSiA has been getting lots of blog love recently, and rightfully so as this track is a killer 2 for 1 – You have a soothing, relaxing song that also makes you wanna get up and pullout the throwback dance moves. The rest of the In Love with Dusk EP is much more down tempo; keeping a one track mind. ‘Cremona Memories’ is beautiful and has similar sampling, but ‘Running Out of You’ is definitely the best song from the EP.

MGMT – Siberian Breaks (Ed Banger All Stars Remix)

Off MGMT’s 2010 album Congratulations, ‘Siberian Breaks’ is an adventurous tune that conjures visions of foofy flower dresses and 70’s San Fran swagger. ‘Siberian Breaks’ got the Ed Banger All Stars (consisting of boss man Busy P, the always funky Breakbot, and So Me) remix treatment, and and the result is a funked up hippie track that fits any proper sunny day mix. Try not to float away to warm day dreams of a cheerful island paradise while listening to this.

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MGMT – Siberian Breaks (Ed Banger All Stars Remix)

Leading in with a tremendous combo of soft piano & lute, the song is soon joined by smooth vocals and a bit of harmonica. The mellow start continues for a bit, patiently progressing into what eventually becomes a slo-mo disco groove when joined by a strong bassline and what I want to believe is the mystical sounds of xylophone. This more disco direction takes the song out of the flowing flower fields, and into a slow rolling convertible cruise down the PCH from San Fran to southern Cali. You can’t help feeling swept up by the uplifting and carefree emotions of this track. A final break at the end brings back in the enchanting strings that just make your heart ache… as if you’re nearing the end of your long journey, ready to land in a warmer land where the Pacific waves will splash triumphant rejuvenation across your face.

I’m always a big fan of dramatic breaks in a song. The way they can make your heart jump up and down is like riding a roller coaster. You get so caught up in one part of a song that’s been building and building, only to have it suddenly drop out and take a new direction, which the previous parts may or may not have warned you of. This remix is arguably one of my favorite uses of these super dramatic breaks. That feeling you get at the peek of a big drop at Disneyland? A well done break is in the same ballpark as that semi orgasmic sensation.

It sounds a bit like the Mama’s & Papa’s took a voyage over to Hawaii, where they ran into Pink Floyd & Lindstrøm somewhere on the beach. Eventually, they all hooked up, and a psychadellic folk baby smoothly slipped out 9 months later.

This also may be the best I’ve liked Andrew VanWyngardens’ vocals. The lyrics have been mixed & matched quite a bit by the All Stars, and what exactly the lyrics mean can probably interpreted a million different ways… so go ahead and find your own relevant meaning. Really a beautiful composition all together. A 6+ minute vacation outside the daily grind. Perfect for both a morning commute to work, or on the way home from a shitty day.

The original MGMT version of ‘Siberian Breaks’ is a never-ending 12 minute journey, and after the Ed Banger boys get their hands dirty, it’s compacted into 10 minutes that can be split into 3 main parts: the easy, ambient start; the subtle disco dance tune in the middle; and the final chaotic, electrified collection of progressively grimy beats. After Binary got ahold of it, it’s been shortened even more, to a 6 ½ minute joy ride that leaves out the unnecessary raver after-party. You are welcome.

Starsmith – We Leave Tonight

It’s been a hell of a year for Starsmith. Brilliantly remixing anything he can get his hands on, while building electro-pop queen Ellie Goulding’s incandescent castle, Starsmith’s signature energy has made him a highly coveted studio mind at the moment. I began paying attention after hearing his reworking of Twang’s ‘Barney Rubble,’ and his remix of N.E.R.D.’s ‘Hot N Fun’ is now a cherished souvenir from a memorable summer. His brief resume of excellent production work, and the sweeping theatrics of Ellie Goulding’s Lights, was more than enough to compel me to listen up as the solo material began to trickle out last August on Neon Gold. The label, in it’s relatively short history, has had some great success producing name-establishing singles for Goulding, as well as acts like Marina and the Diamonds, and Yes Giantess whose singles ‘Tuff N Stuff’ and ‘You Were Young’ set sales records for Neon Gold. So, Starsmith seems to be in a great place to expand his horizons as soloist.

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Starsmith – We Leave Tonight

While I’m still enchanted by the high energy ‘Knuckleduster’ and the lethal ‘Give Me A Break’ off his wonderful, but difficult to acquire, debut 12”, the classically trained producer from Bromley has decided to mix in an interlude. There’s a lot to be said for simplification when things get overwhelming, and the drifting instrumental ‘We Leave Tonight’ sounds like a cathartic exercise. Far removed from the uplifting, house dominated material debuted so far, Starsmith reveals a compelling three minute breather that lends itself to discreet exits and deserted freeways.

This would be a perfect song to soundtrack a closing montage to your day, with it’s warm and fluffy synths politely building to sort of help wrap things up, and a hypnotic piano working to lull you to a better a place. I love the hit-hat-clicks at about the 45 second mark, and how they seem so abrasive against the synths, while helping to add a bit structure. As you pull safely into your overnight halt, with his crescendos oozing out of your speakers and vibrating your mirrors, Starsmith begins to slowly deconstruct what feels like his most evocative piece of original music.

There’s an element of vulnerability in creating something so simple and straightforward, yet  Starsmith’s brilliance shines through even when things get relaxed. ‘We Leave Tonight’ really captures the drama surrounding a nocturnal rendezvous, and should be experienced as a tranquilizer en route to someplace less demanding, where you can spend the next 48 hours unaccounted for. I’ve been fascinated by everything Starsmith has done so far, and even with Neon Gold’s fondness for the 7”, a full-length is set to arrive next year, so keep a look out for what will surely be one of 2011’s most anticipated debuts.

Hemingway – Hemingway’s Slow Cruise Mix

James Harris has been close to Binary’s heart for what feels like years. From his earliest recordings as Hemingway, we’ve been a believer in his talent. Given enough time and hard work, we’ve always thought his potential as a producer was off the charts. When the opportunity came along a few months ago to help he and Bit Funk put together a West Coast tour, we jumped at the chance. Over the course of a week, we had some good time to spend with James and Steve (Bit Funk). Of particular surprise were Hemingway’s DJ sets. Classic funk tracks drizzled over downtempo disco and old school synth jams, they were a revelation to me. They say imitation is the finest form of flattery and I have to say that his set was the first that I’ve heard in a long time that made me want to change the way I DJ.

We asked James to do a mix for us to commemorate the tour and so that we could share how great his sets were. And so, without any more delay, here’s Hemingway’s Slow Cruise Mix.

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Hemingway’s Slow Cruise Mix (Tracklist Below)

This mix is the kind of music that populates the best dreams I have. Everything gets a bit hazy. Events don’t make sense. Time slows down. Everything seems obscured somehow, like I’m wearing multicolored glasses that make everything foggy and yet bright at the same time.

Listening to Hemingway play a set like this live is pretty funny. I watched rooms empty, and I’ve watched eyes pop while people focus their whole energy on paying attention. Regardless of whether or not you think this kind of stuff belongs on a dancefloor, you at least have to give him credit for doing something very different than everybody else. This is like listening to late night KCRW, but without any of the odd world music.

Listening to the mix is like drinking hot tea though. I can feel my body warming up. Its not unlike the feeling of taking a couple valium and putting on a record by your favorite artist. I’m not very familiar with most of the material on this mix, but when I listen to it, it feels like re-uniting with an old lover. The conversation is easy, the wine flows a bit heavier, and things just sort of feel dreamlike. You might not be in a different life, but its a taste of what things could be like.

To help balance out the Lil Wayne syrup vibes, here is Hemingway’s most recent remix, where he takes things in a much more energetic direction. Its not exactly new, but this Count Jackula remix just hasn’t gotten the coverage it deserves. Enjoy it.

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Count Jackula – Slow Burner (Hemingway’s Afterburner Remix)

Like a lot of James’ productions tend to do, this song seems to drip with summertime bliss. His lead lines playfully pop through the mix while a bouncy bassline never gives up its mission to get your head nodding. Unsurprisingly its Hemingway’s creative chord structures that stick out here, especially during the last buildup (around 4:30). A great natural sense of melody has always been Hemingway’s strongest attribute, and the sliding pads that drop in over the track paint a picture that whisks you away to a warmer place in a different time. The remix is just whats needed as Los Angeles is drenched with even more cold rain.

Special Bonus:

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Keenhouse – Ari-es (Hemingway’s Starlight Yacht Remix)

We may be a bit biased, but Hemingway’s crowning achievement to date has to be his syrupy remix of Keenhouse’s “Aries”, taken from our 2009 compilation record, LA Lights.

Hemingway’s Slow Cruise Mix Tracklist:

1. Sanibel Island – Calliope
2. Swimmin’ – Tornado Wallace
3. Dalston – Duff Disco
4. Alone – TWLM
5. Baby You’re Still The Same (Social Disco Club Mix) – Trujillo
6. Down To Love – Hot Toddy
7. Love On The Line (Hot Toddy Mix) – Crazy P
8. Jam Hot (Yo Thrill) – Jonny Oykor
9. The Hit – Crazy P/Syndromes
10. Get On Down – Mr. Scruff
11. Love In Cambodgia – Tiger & Woods
12. Sweet Cow (Cyclist Remix) – Chicken Lips

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Posted By: Josh (Binary)

Escort – Cocaine Blues

In honor of Binary’s grand resurgence (we’re bringing the blog back in a big way) I’m taking a moment to break from our typical ‘dreams, love, and starry nights’ discourse. For those of you who prefer their music a little more G-rated, skip this one. For the rest of you, a question: have you ever ridden the white horse? If you haven’t, don’t start now. If you have, here’s a song to blow you away. I’ve got cocaine running around my brain.

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Escort – Cocaine Blues

‘Cocaine Blues’ isn’t just a song—it’s a lifestyle. It’s running through your savings. It’s your morning ‘coketail’ of coffee with an extra kick to get you going. It’s breaking into a cold sweat when you see the airport’s new full-body x-ray scanners. It’s kissing someone in a dive bar and wondering who’s to blame for the metallic taste left behind, before realizing you both just returned from ‘trips to the bathroom’. It’s the knowledge that you should stop, but refusing to on account of all the fun you’re having.

Cocaine Blues are foremost a paradox: a struggle between the knowledge of ‘right’ versus the tangible reality of euphoric feeling. This euphoria and the desire it spawns, coupled with the gnawing back-of-head worries regarding the futility of your life and struggle, are captured perfectly in Escorts dizzy disco anti-ode to the Devil’s Powder.

Escort is a 19-piece disco revivalist orchestra from Brooklyn (yes, you read that correctly). They released their ‘Cocaine Blues’ EP back in October, with remixes from Ewan Pearson and Greg Wilson. The track is a combination of original material and covers/samples from several notable 70’s tunes. It takes the funk bass line of People’s Choice’s club hit, ‘Do It Anyway You Wanna,’ and lyrics from both Dillinger’s famous ‘Cocaine In My Brain’ and Hamilton Bohannon’s ‘Disco Stomp,’ melding them seamlessly with original orchestration and singer Adeline Michele’s anguished, descending sing-cries of “cocaineeeee!”

The result is a rousing modern disco masterpiece, which—considering the serious subject matter of the song—is significantly more fun than it has any right to be. But then again, so is coke. An upbeat song about addiction might seem strange, but if I was addicted to cocaine I’d be pretty upbeat too. Consequently, it’s fitting that this tune so perfectly embodies the human experience of succumbing to the drug’s temptation, and the ravenous hunger it leaves in its wake. After all, which genre could better tackle the subject of addiction than disco, which itself was born from the vice-embracing club scene of the 70s?

“A knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork, that’s the way we spell New York.”
“A chick in the car and the car won’t go, that’s how we spell Chicago.”

Like having silverware but no food, booze but no bottle opener, a willing girl but no means to get her home; ultimately cocaine is a futile device that fails to deliver anything more than continued want. It only supplies half the equation for fulfillment—coke will contribute the ‘happy’ factor, but it’s not going to get you the material or personal devices necessary for long-run success and satisfaction. The problem is in its capacity to grossly over-inflate one’s perceived state of euphoria, which consequently leads to a sort of self-imposed treachery as emotions begin to outweigh reason. As Adeline repeats the phrase “I don’t want to stop,” accompanied by playful doo-wopping, you get a sense of the absurdity of the addict’s struggle. Regardless of the occasional pitfall along the way, if cocaine addiction is so much fun, why would anyone ever want to stop?

Herein lies the addict’s dilemma, the answer to which is not addressed in the song. Instead, ‘Cocaine Blues’ serves to reinforce the justifications made in a life of debauchery and bad decisions, while simultaneously hinting at the possibility of freedom. I’m not suggesting that this post is a diatribe in favor of or against the drug, but if drug use feels as good as this song sounds, perhaps one can understand why it’s so hard to break free from a cycle of abuse. At least, that’s what I hope Escort is getting at.  It’s doubtful they want you to go out and spend the rest of your paycheck on smack.  Instead, spend it on records that capture the emotional response to drug use through song—like this one.