I don’t know about you, but I like to ease into my Mondays nice and slow. And that’s why London-born, Vienna-based S O H N is currently on repeat over here. His passionate and exquisitely textured electro-soul jam “Bloodflows” sails in smooth and gentle before snapping into a beautiful, stuttering synth-cloaked groove. But this isn’t just a track to make Monday not suck, this is a jam to fall head over heels in love with. And if he doesn’t get you with “Bloodflows” then the crisp, clattering “The Wheel” is sure to capture your heart (presuming you have a soul that is).
On Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel proves himself to be a more than capable vocalist. From start to finish, his croon is consistently warm, smooth, and evocative. It’s also true (and it’s been often noted) that the production on Kaleidoscope Dream is a thing of beauty: slick, punchy, and clean. But what really strikes me is how Kaleidoscope Dream convincingly establishes that Miguel’s real power, not unlike Frank Ocean, comes from his strength as a songwriter. Without question, his compositions are constantly engaging. His arrangements are intriguing. And the music here would receive mountains of accolades even if it were entirely instrumental. In other words, Kaleidoscope Dream marries all of the usual elements of a successful pop album: capable vocals, solid production, and tight songwriting. Unlike most contemporary pop albums though, Kaleidoscope Dream manages to be sweet without being overly saccharine.
And even in the context of the increasingly revitalized world of r&b, Miguel manages to stand out for his maturity. With the exception of Ocean, few other members of the new r&b crop manage to be simultaneously edgy without being sleazy and sexist. In fact, despite it’s lascivious title/coda even the track “P***y Is Mine” proves to be a surprisingly sincere tune in which the songwriter grapples with feelings of inadequacy. The line proves to be, contrary to what you might expect from the title, Miguel pleading to a powerful lover for reassurance that he is special to her. The sole track that stands as an exception to that maturity is “How Many Drinks?” which, although slightly amusing and relatively playful, also proves to be the album’s least successful track both musically, creatively, and lyrically. It’s the sole tune in which Miguel sounds entirely insincere.
And while the music is completely in tune with contemporary r&b such as The-Dream, The Weeknd, or Frank Ocean, it also finds its roots in the classics. For example, it’s pretty much impossible to not hear the nod to Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” flowing beneath the heavy, percolating drum and bass of “Adorn.” Similarly, “Where Is The Fun In Forever” pays homage to the many ghosts of Motown with its underlying soft piano melody and those little pops of backup vocals shouting “Celebrate” to punctuate Miguel’s soulful vocals.
Kasey’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans and Cream Cheese Frosting, like Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream, are so sweet and delicious that you know they must be bad for you. They’ll also left me quoting Miguel: “I’m overwhelmed by tasty thoughts of you.” And the album has more than enough warmth and upbeat energy to get you moving in the morning, making it a fine soundtrack to a sweet weekend breakfast. Just don’t blame us if this particular musical pairing inspires you to crawl back into bed.
Chet Faker‘s Thinking In Textures EP has been a common weeknight listen in our home for the past few months. I originally stumbled upon it because of Faker’s sexy “No Diggity” cover which I featured in our Blackstreet Served Three Ways post. It turned out to be a great find as the tune served as our gateway to the rest of the album. Since then Thinking In Textures has steadily grown into a comfortable groove that Kase and I can regularly turn to when we’re looking for some chill downtempo vibes to fill the home.
In case you’re wondering, Chet Faker is an alias. The Melbourne, Australia songwriter prefers the mystery that his relative anonymity provides. He’s been described as hailing from Melbourne’s “tight-knit disco scene” and he lists a wide-range of influences on his Facebook page that includes Thom Yorke, Four Tet, Jai Paul, Flying Lotus, Nicholas Jaar, Gold Panda, Burial, Star Slinger and Motown Records. Although not nearly as trail-blazing and experimentation-prone as his influences, you can hear the mark of most of those artists on Thinking In Textures. It’s sparse, electronica-steeped indie r&b that can be as comfortable as a warm blanket on a cold night. Indeed, the worst I can say of Thinking In Textures is that I’d like to see Faker explore the boundaries of his songwriting to experiment with even more textures and challenging structures. At its best it’s sexy and soothing. At it’s worst it’s easy to ignore.
Kasey’s recipe for Weeknight Noodle, Vegetable and Shrimp Soup is an excellent pairing for the EP. It is warm, soothing and a little sexy. It’s a little fiery (especially if you get happy with the Sriracha) and almost tastes too yummy to possibly be as good for you as it actually is.
Sean Hayes isn’t a new face in the music industry. His latest release, Before We Turn To Dust, will be his sixth full length. Indeed, Hayes has been a beloved staple of the local music scene in San Francisco for many years now. He’s worked with a who’s who of other local musicians and he’s been a highlight for many festival goers at two separate Outside Lands Festivals including the most recent one. And despite having arguably reached veteran status as a musician, it also feels as it Hayes is just getting started. Indeed, Before We Turn To Dust is almost certain to bring Hayes a host of new fans.
Hayes blends smooth r&b melodies with shuffling folk instrumentation supporting his woodsy, vibrato-accented vocals. As you’d imagine from that combination, there is a little sexiness to the grooves, yet there is nothing prurient about Hayes’ lyrics. For example, on opening track “Before We Turn To Dust” Hayes crows: “You may spend all of your money before you turn to dust / you’ll never spend all your love” and then “My little boy’s smilin’ / soon he’ll be sitting up / holding his own weight / grabbin’ for ya.”
Indeed, much of Before We Turn To Dust hinges on sentiments of mortality, fatherhood, and love. If that all sounds a little, well, boring… it isn’t. Hayes clearly writes personal lyrics inspired from his own life and experiences, and yet they are universal enough to offer broad appeal. For example, the album’s second track “Miss Her When I’m Gone” is an ode to the loneliness and struggle of a career spent on the road, away from the people you love, working hard to support those same loved ones. Even if you aren’t a touring musician, if you’re a working stiff you probably relate to the sense of working hard, sometimes struggling, to support the people you love.
Yet, it should be noted that Before We Turn To Dust isn’t all death, fatherhood, and work. The album’s third track “Bam Bam” for example features a loose, piano-led groove to accompany Hayes’ croon: “Damn, the way you walk that thing / all locked in a pocket make a grown man sing.” But, unlike a lot of contemporary r&b, Hayes can be sexy without being lacivious: “I want to do you… right. I want to be with you.”
Before We Turn To Dust makes a great soundtrack for the recipe Kasey is featuring in the Kitchen today: Soba Bowls with Tea-Poached Salmon. The recipe is exotic, yet surprisingly straight forward. It’s flavorful and unique. And so smooth and crowd pleasing.
Some of my mixes come together quickly and some are harder to piece together. For whatever reason, the July 2012 Mix was one of the harder mixes to piece together. Nonetheless, in the end I think it came out quite nicely and I think you’ll agree. We’ve got blazing hot new music from Frank Ocean, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Tame Impala, Sean Blackthorn, Lord Huron, and Flying Lotus (feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler no less). There are also jams by newcomers including Leif, Young Hunting, Seatraffic, Yuna, The People’s Temple (who we were introduced to by our newest contributor Robert), and Arc In The Round (who we were introduced to by our friend Bruce). There are some interesting covers and some engaging remixes. There is indie rock, indie r&b, a little electronica, and some hip hop. Yup, the July 2012 Mix might just have it all. And now you do too.
Also, you may have noticed that we’ve had a few changes around here recently. For example, you may find the Turntable Kitchen Market of particular interest. At the moment we’re selling a few items including a pair of specially designed TK shirts. We’ve only had a limited number of the shirts made and they are selling pretty quickly. Order before the end of the week and we’ll throw in a few goodies leftover from our previous Pairings Boxes.
Maybe it’s the summer weather, but we’ve been feeling slow, relaxed jams recently. So it’s no surprise that we’ve quickly fallen in love with the chilled out and sexy vibes of Los Angeles-based producer Danny Choi who records music under the name Ghost Loft. And let me tell you, these jams were lifesavers in Sicily. The sun was swelteringly hot and the air bone dry as we wandered small baroque towns and waded in the Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian Seas. In climates like that, this pair of grooves are like crisp and cooling sea breezes welcomingly wafting in to chill things out. I just wish my headphones and iPod were waterproof so I could have floated on my back in the sea, staring up at the sky, while listening to ‘em.
The single’s a-side, “Seconds,” is a sensual and slow-burning r&b-influenced electro jam built upon a sparse hip-hop rhythm. Ambient synths blow like chilly cooling winds through the steamy atmosphere making this a perfect jam for warm weather kicks. Meanwhile, Choi softly exhales soothing love whispers like soft caresses to his distant lover: “No one will ever know. No one will have to know.” Its sultry ambiance shares the same spacious, echo-y DNA that gave life to the music of artists like The XX and Rhye. Nonetheless, there is no question that Choi’s hit upon his own spot in the music scene.
The single’s b-side, “Morning,” was completed by Ghost Loft exclusively for debut on this Pairings Box single. Like the single’s a-side this jam is sexy and grooving. But while the a-side is 100% smooth seduction, the b-side is the contented but uncertain ode to the morning after. Swirling samples float up like bright effervescence refracted in light spilling across the bedroom floor. The rhythm is slower and steadier than “Second” and there is a hint of melancholy in the melody and accompanying lyrics: “In the morning I’m wasted lying next to you – wondering what to do.” It’s really, really good stuff.
Copies are going lightening fast so sign up for the Pairings Box before the weekend to guarantee a copy. As always, you’ll receive three original recipes, an exclusive digital mixtape, the single and a premium ingredient used in making one of the recipes. This month we’ve partnered with Just Cook for this month’s premium ingredient.
We’re selective about the folks we align ourselves with here at TK. And, frankly, we don’t typically align ourselves with established brands. We prefer to champion our favorite small producers. That’s not going to change. However, once in awhile a more established brand approaches us with a cool partnership opportunity that we can support.
That was the case with the Häagen-Dazs 50 Summer Moments program. Basically, Häagen-Dazs has asked me to act as their music curator for a program collecting my favorite summer moments shared by others, and also to share a few of my favorite summer moments on our site, Twitter, and Instagram. They’ll then compile the moments I and a few other bloggers select into an ebook of their 50 Top Summer Moments.
The program is tied to a good cause. As part of the program, Häagen-Dazs is donating $25,000 to honey bee research at the University of California Davis. Every time you or I choose to share a summer moment and include the #HDmoment hashtag on Twitter or Instagram they’ll donate another $5 to the research up to an additional $50,000. Why is this important? Honey bee colonies are responsible for one third of the world’s food supply and they are dying at an alarming rate. This decline poses a serious risk to our natural food supply. So, like I said before, this is tied to a pretty darn good cause.
Finally, in case you are wondering, they aren’t directly paying me. However, they are providing me with some “incentives” to help me with my summer moments, These haven’t been selected yet, but basically they may pay for my tickets to a concert; for a new record for my collection; etc. Oh, and after I agreed to the program they told me they were sending me some free ice cream. So there is also that. With no further ado, here is my first summer moment couched within one of our typical Single Servings.
Kasey and I are pretty active during the summer. We travel a lot. We bicycle a lot. We hike a lot. We go for long walks to the Mission District. We stroll through Golden Gate Park to Green Apple Books in the Inner Richmond. But as much as I love doing all of those things, what I enjoy most is getting home afterwards, tired and sun-drenched, where I can kick back with a beer or glass of wine while listening to some chill grooves. And if you are looking for some new smooth, smooth grooves for kicking back, you’ll want to check out the debut EP by soul duo Roane Namuh & Reva DeVito.
I got hooked on their EP Cloudshine after briefly playing the first seconds of the opening track “Should Have Known.” The jam features a slinky and laidback bassline-led groove accented by some 70’s-soul inspired flair. Although it’s not complicated or ground-breaking stuff, the charm lays in it’s straight-forwardness. It’s a great jam for just kicking it. It’s followed by the Digable Planets’ sampling jam “Frozen” which sports a shuffling rhythm and a smokey groove. The tracks set the very chill vibe for the rest of the EP which is packed full of yummy summer-evening tracks. Give ’em a listen.
I crushed hard on the Evy Janedebut EP back when I first heard it early this year. And after having lived with it for the better part of the year now, it’s safe to say that it may be my favorite new music discovery this year. So, as you can imagine, I was really excited to see what Evy Jane would recommend when I asked them to share one of their favorite new music discoveries. And Wow. I’m thinking I need to start asking musicians to contribute their favorite new tracks more often. I was impressed by the songwriting and vocals on these tracks. You will be too. ~Matthew
I really love my friend Zoey.
She is my kinda girl: hyper-intelligent, funny, weird, and of a kind & feral heart. She can do several magic tricks (They’re not tricks!! It’s real!!) that I’ve never known anyone else in the world to do. REAL witch. Not just another Tumblr witch!
Beyond this, she writes acoustic pop anthems like it’s no big deal. They’re all such well-written songs. She just gets it. You can hear some of them here: http://soundcloud.com/zoey-ockenden
She and I are just finishing editing a music video for a song we made together. It was my first time producing in Ableton, and both of our first times making a video. IT WAS SO FUN. I will post it on my twitter (@heavyevelyn) in a few days!
Right now I’m listening to John Talabot, Hijos Del Sol (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiWuTYaPtdI), Death Grips, DJ Physical Therapy, Miguel, and, as always, Leonard Cohen. I’m fond of this new band, Savages, as well. Oh, and I’ll probably get into the new Fiona Apple, too. I luv her. Jeremiah seems to be liking Actress.
This month’s featured artist, Australian-born vocalist and songwriter Oscar Key Sung (a.k.a. Oscar Vincente Slorach-Thorn of Oscar + Martin), is one of my favorite artists to place R&B’s sonic stereotypes on his “Kill List.” The single’s a-side, “All I Think About (Part 1),” is the glimmering, rainbow-tinged highlight of his excellent, sparse and slow grooving Tape Voice EP that debuted earlier this year. It opens with synth-chipped vocal harmonies that echo across a desolate soundstage forming the delicate foundation for Oscar’s warm, bright croon. In the background sharp clicks flicker through the air and synths bubble just beneath the surface. Later a steady rhythm is introduced alongside a nearly overwhelming cascading synth riff as he desperately sings: “Mystery girl, where did you get those Darth Vader powers? You’re all that I think about.” It’s a tremendous pop composition that’s as engaging as it is electrifying.
Meanwhile, the single’s b-side is a previously unreleased groove “Higher 5th Bounce.” It’s a slow, atmospheric tune that chirps and clicks along while playfully juxtaposing giggling vocal snippets beside swirling melodies and distant but soulful vocal harmonies. The engaging tune was created by the extremely talented producer Thomas William before Oscar did an edit and added his vocals. As it unfurls, Oscar tentatively sings: “You said it hurts when you don’t get it. I’m trying to give it, but you’re holding it back. I should hold it back too, but I can’t hold it back with you.” The vocals alone give me goosebumps. Get ready to fall in love!
Chicago’s Save The Clocktower have been on my radar ever since I first took a listen to their debut album last year. That album, Carousel, showed an exceptionally promising young band with a knack for crafting catchy and dreamy electro pop grooves. It was a very good album. Their follow up, Through The Glass, is an altogether fantastic album. Everything they did well on their debut, they do even better on Through The Glass. The hooks are catchier. The jams are more upbeat. And when they get dreamy, it’s more vivid than anything they’d done before. The album won’t be out for approximately a month, but in the meantime you can enjoy the album’s smooth and ebullient first single “Like That.” And believe it or not, this cool vibe has solid competition for being the album’s most upbeat and catchy jam. You’re going to like this one a lot.
Wow. Prepare to swoon when you hear Altanta-based Patrick Canaday’s debut single “Moons.” I did. The track has a dim, neon-tinted swing that’s roughed at the edges, flickering quietly with a subtle intensity. It’s sure to call to mind a few superlatives. It’s the first single released by No Recordings and it is limited to a mere 250 copies. Get it now or regret it later.
You can also watch the beautiful and hypnotic video for the track here.