Lana Del Rey - Cola
Second Chance Week

In 2012 as I traveled around Europe I was met everywhere with Lana. Her dead stare haunted me from every billboard in every train station. I saw her become a meme with her horrid dance turn and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. Then “The Great Gatsby” soundtrack happened and I was tricked into liking one of her songs. That led to her discography (via a “private session” on Spotify) and then I just kind of fell in love with her music, specifically Born to Die - Paradise Edition (which was just putting her first two albums together and relabeling it. Genius!)

All of her videos and songs focus on this idealized Americana badass lifestyle of not giving a shit and riding motorcycles and falling in love with rough men. My description alone makes me cringe, yet when I listen to her songs and lyrics there is no recoil, I just really enjoy the sound. At this point I’m no longer private session and I even sing along to “Girls” in the car. I had to go with Cola just because of the concept of the song. Her Scottish boyfriend at the time likened the “taste” of all American girls to Pepsi Cola as if it was something exotic. Lana thought it was funny so she unabashedly made a song about it. Some say it’s for shock value, I just think it’s a great way to show that there doesn’t have to be a filter on being a pop artist.

-Zach

(Source: Spotify)

Hozier - Someone New (Live from Spotify London)

There are a few versions of this song floating around but I think this particular one adds just the right amount of emotional depth while still retaining a faint air of catchiness. The concept of the song is what speaks to me the most whether that “Someone New” is the same person or a different person, whether it’s to fall in love with strangers or to grow apart from loved ones you can take so many meanings from some simple words.

To me though, the track foremost captures the optimism of being part of the human race. As much as I claim to hate people, the world would be a bit boring without them, the good ones, the bad ones and even the ugly ones (how else are you supposed to feel better about yourself?) Going forward I think I’m going to try to be a little more open and extroverted at least until I get knifed (and there’s my jaded world view leaking back through already). 

-Zach

(Source: Spotify)

DJ Cassidy - Calling All Hearts (feat. Robin Thicke and Jessie J)

You’re on a journey through the land of the disc jockeys. Your main quest? Find the one true DJ. There will be many trials and tribulations along the way. Be warned EDM land is filled with exciting attractions and special effects but it’s just to distract you from a glorified DJ, a false prophet. As you journey through mash-up jungle mountain you start to realize that “In Da Club” does not actually go with every song (okay, maybe it does). Before your journey ends you have to cross a deadly river where DJs live remix 8bit Styx classics and video game soundtracks. If you’ve made it through that with eardrums then you’ve finally made it to the pink and green throne and the golden microphone of DJ Cassidy: The One True DJ.

What makes him so special? Well, I just saw him at Made in America and he had me dancing like a fool in broad daylight before I had even finished my first beer. Maybe “The One True DJ” is a little over the top but this man had some of the best transitions I’d ever heard in my lifetime and every track was a certified banger. If my opinion of him wasn’t enough, you should probably know that he was also the official DJ for Obama’s 50th birthday, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s wedding and plenty of other celebrity events. Above is one of the two singles released off his forthcoming album, Paradise Royale, that is still forthcoming for an indeterminate amount of time as it was supposed to forthcome this past spring. I forgive him though because with featured artists in the pipeline like Passion Pit, Cee Lo, Chromeo, John Legend, Mary J. Blige etc. etc. etc, I’ll still be first in line to hop on that soul train and ride it all the way Paradise Royale.

-Zach

Beat Connection - Silver Screen (Dreamtrak Diamond Sound)

A lot of BC’s tracks are hit or miss for me but when that blow lands you’re bound to be bruised for a while. Beat Connection has two songs in particular that I felt the need to share. My first choice is the one above but the other recommendation has to be Palace Garden, 4 Am.

The thing I’d like you to pick up on in “Silver Screen” is how well paced everything is. There’s no pressure to the song it just chugs along building layers over a constant rhythm. There’s a moment around the halfway point where after going through most of the motions the song realizes where it can take all of its directions at once. As the ride tempers down at towards the end I’m always ready to start back at the beginning. Palace Garden is a bit different in that it’s more of a driving song where words are picked up along the beat. I haven’t been able to get into many of their other tracks but If anyone has recommendations of Beat Connection songs I should check, I’d be willing to give them a second chance.

-Zach

The Ceremonies - Land of Gathering

The three dapper chaps up top are the Cook Brothers and you’re about to hear a sampling of their exciting blend of ’80s new wave and alt rock. They are currently working on their debut album but until then they’ve already released a fantastic EP with each song better than the last. Family bands seem to harbor the best harmonies and the brother’s similar vibratos really influence that truism (the matching vibratos are very evident in the drum-driven “Ballroom Bones”). 

All three are painters but it obviously extends past the brush as the songs are crafted with fantastic artistry. If you want to learn more about them head on over to their website which also links to their Tumblr (which is a bit of an art lover’s paradise). “Land of Gathering” was the first single and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.

-Zach

B.o.B. - Headband ft. 2 Chainz (Coucheron Remix)

Today feels like the end of summer which honestly is my favorite part of the season. That being said, I’m sure there are some oppressive days left in this year’s temperature reservoir so for them I’m prescribing this song, my last song of the summer (even though it’s a 2013 release). I love the pop sensibilities Coucheron imparts on this otherwise sparse whistle-driven DJ Mustard production. While I prefer the remix to the original (worth a watch just for the leg wipe transitions), both of them have the same really bad jokes that made me love it in the first place. 

Sure it’s not B.o.B.’s best work but sometimes songs are about when you hear them. Well I guess you have to hear all songs don’t you? Uhhh, Illuminati. Out.

-Zach

Porter Robinson - Flicker

I’m not sure if I’m growing more prone to EDM or if it’s just getting better (you’d hope that’s the case, right?). I mean I still like to call out the new Skrillex remixes whenever a police car zooms past with sirens blaring but it takes an artist like Porter Robinson to make me actually appreciate what you can do with a seemingly overgrown genre of builds and drops.

"Flicker" is Porter’s fourth and last single release before he’s dropping the full album Worlds on August 12th. The song features a chopped up text-to-speech voice reciting “Watashi wa choudo nani ga jyuuyou ka mitsukeyou to shiteiru” which translates to “I’m trying to find just what’s really important to me”. That sounds like a mission statement to me as Robinson has been quoted saying he just wants to write music that he thinks is cool without compromise. My excitement for the album is getting to see what other worlds he’s created in sound. You’re bound to get hyped as well if you check out his particular fusion of Portal, Netsky, Sonic, and, yes, even some of those build and drops we all seem to love.

This is EDM for the house not house music for the club.

-Zach

P.S. I live for that laugh.

Wild Cub - Thunder Clatter

Here tonight with a little bit of that infectious indie pop. Wild Cub feel so very standard fare indie with their use of “80s-inspired synth” and plenty of great guitar hooks, builds and beats. The lyrics are catchy and well-written but the vocals while not falling flat are like another instrument with limited range. It’s the same way The National can only sing in melancholy; that kind of mix works perfectly for Wild Cub because you really appreciate how well the instrumentals are crafted and how well the voice ebbs in and out of the driving tracks.

All in all their current/reissued album Youth is a full album I’d like to recommend. It’s certainly been helping me through the grind. Thunder Clatter has been their most successful track to date but my other favorites are Colour and WIld Light. I also have a feeling Max would dig the Phil Collins vibe of Wishing Well.

-Zach