Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - "Harold’s"

As our beloved Andrew noted in his last post, the end of August draws nigh, and that means end of the year favorites lists are becoming a very real threat. Er, thing. That being said, were it not for Kool A.D.’s Word O.K., Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Piñata would surely be in the number one spot for top hip hop album of 2014. For now they both sit tied for first place; Gibbs’ signature hard as concrete flow and Madlib’s superb production holding their own against Victor V.’s silly yet ingenious rhymes. I guess we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to see who edges who out of the top spot.

- Callie

(Source: Spotify)

The Very Best - "Mfumu"

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter M for “Mfumu”, Malawi, and… uh, music, of course! Naturally. Comprised of British DJ Radioclit and singer Esau Mwamwaya (another M!) of Lilongwe, The Very Best does an amazing job of producing some of the most warm and colorful music I’ve heard in years. Sometimes I kind of forget how nice it is to listen to songs in other languages, but then I’ll hear some Edith Piaf or find a song like this that just radiates pure joy and I’m instantly reminded that music is really more about feeling than understanding, you know? It really is the very best.

- Callie

(Source: Spotify)

Kazumi Totaka - "Nintendo Wii Main Menu"

Nothing beats a videogame with an impeccable score (The Sims, anyone? Right?), but there’s something special about the music we associate with the consoles themselves, even if it’s just a tiny, sublime soundbite. Japanese composer and voice actor Kazumi Totaka did a superb job writing the music for the default Wii channels in 2006, and judging by some of his other composing credits (Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion, to name two of dozens) I really expected no less. When I close my eyes and listen to this it’s like I can physically feel the stress evaporating from my body. Great for maintaining a somewhat-neutral emotional equilibrium while trying to keep your cool as you write that final paper. 

- Callie

Miami Horror - "Holidays"

Well it’s my last week studying here in Jolly Olde England, something I have wildly mixed feelings about (Having my own apartment again! Seeing my cat!) (Leaving Europe until who knows when! Parting with all my new friends!), and whether by coincidence or not I’ve been listening to a lot of dark songs that sound happy and vice versa. This song has been my favorite find — though Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” almost stole its spot — so I thought I’d share it with you guys on this lovely Wednesday evening.

Apart from being an altogether awesome song, the cheery music mixed with the rather somber lyrics really captures the bittersweetness I’ve been feeling about heading home after two months abroad. But hey, y’know, I’m about to embark on the great journey that is my senior year of college, so really the adventure’s just beginning, isn’t it? As one quest ends, another other begins, et cetera; even though these good times are coming to a close, there’s still so much to look forward to.

Callie

FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

What the h*ck? FKA Twigs (née Tahliah Barnett) has been making music since 2012 and I haven’t heard any of it prior to a week ago? I’m grounding myself, no dessert for a month, because this is unacceptable; no one should be deprived of Tahliah’s celestial songs, regardless of whether it’s due to their own unintended ignorance or not.

What really grips me about FKA Twigs as an artist is her want to create astounding visual accompaniments for each of her tracks, a tendency that brought her into the spotlight with her evocative video for “Hide”. When asked about her propensity for striking graphics by Dazed, she stated, “I hope to do a visual for every single thing, even if it’s as small as a gif or as big as a whole dance music film.” Now that’s a trend I would love to see take root. Here’s hoping.

- Callie

Doprah - Stranger People

Yes, yes, yes. This song is by far my favorite thing to come out of New Zealand, well… at least since Peter Jackson. A glittering addition to the cloud rap brand, a genre that’s been piquing my interests lately thanks to Antwon and Kitty Pryde’s recent collaboration with Chrome Sparks, Doprah’s Indira Force and the dreamy languor she induces will leave you hypnotized. I, uh, am not a huge fan of the video for this song, but it more than holds its own when presented by itself. Check out their debut EP on bandcamp; hopefully it’ll keep you sated until their full-length album drops.

Callie

Shangri-Las - “I Can Never Go Home Anymore”

“Verklempt” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Tonight I was fortunate enough to see The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, a completely immersive “promenade theatre” production that spans five separate “studios” and over 200,000 square feet in the heart of London as 35 actors breathe life into two parallel narratives. Put on by Punchdrunk, an acclaimed UK-based theatre company known for their immersive “choose your own adventure” style shows, The Drowned Man revolves around two separate couples and their struggles with infidelity, one based in the dark Old Hollywood “Temple Pictures” studio and the other in what feels like an ominous Midwest ghost town, complete with an entire floor of desert landscape covered in sand and even a functioning saloon. The audience is led in little by little and instructed to wear masks, an ingenious choice on the behalf of the directors that truly makes you feel as if you’re totally disembodied and invisible to the actors, who fully live through their characters for the entire three hour duration.

As you move through each floor, following the actor or actress of your choosing from room to room to forest to snow embankment, a soundtrack comprised of everything from Johnny Cash to Gold Frapp to Hans Zimmer’s Hannibal score perfectly accentuates every pitch and dip in the story, giving what already feels like a nearly all-encapsulating show the last bit of vitality it needs to thoroughly consume you. If you’re anything like me, by the time the show’s ultra-climactic final scene hits tears will be gushing down your face in torrents, brought on as much by the sheer stunning spectacle as the genuine emotion you feel towards all of the characters.

It was difficult to pick just one song when there were so many wonderful tracks to choose from, but I decided on this Shangri-Las tune as I distinctly remember having the realization that I was watching people do exactly what I’ve always dreamed of as it started playing. If you’re in the London area from now until July 6th The Drowned Man’s final show date, even if you aren’t a “theatre person”, do yourself a favor and go see this production. I can guarantee you you’ll never see anything like it, and with a showing this painstakingly expansive, there’s absolutely something there for everyone.

-Callie

Lily Allen - LDN

Oh, how close this song hits to home. Two Fridays ago I flew into Gatwick Airport, ready to spend two months of my summer studying theatre in England. Not 24 hours later I found myself spending all of my time intermittently between the bed and the toilet battling the world’s most heinous case of gastrointeritis for a full week (don’t eat the airplane ravioli). But even though I was dehydrated and delirious in a somewhat foreign country, distraught about my continually deteriorating condition, the knowledge that I was even here made me feel somewhat better; I mean, if I’m gonna feel like garbage, I might as well do it in one of the most interesting cities on the planet, right?

Fortunately, I’m feeling a million times better now, and I’ve actually been able to experience a ton of what this wonderful city has to offer, including the food, sights, shows, and people. Because no matter how awful I feel, the sun is in the sky, oh why, oh why would I wanna be anywhere else?

-Callie