Favorite Songs 2012

From @rangelifercrds #FavSongs12 posts on Twitter:

Gold Panda “Mountain”, MP3 link: Lower Frequencies
Pangea “River”, MP3 link: Ad Hoc
Evian Christ “Fuck It None Of Ya’ll Don’t Rap”, MP3 link: Ad Hoc Soundcloud
Teen Daze “Brooklyn Sunburn (Lushlife Remix)”, MP3 link: Cause Equals Time
Mungolian Jet Set “Tocatta”, MP3 link: Pitchfork
Mount Eerie “Distorted Cymbals”, MP3 link: Captain Obvious
Gold Panda “4”, MP3 link: Stereogum
Yalls “Dim Touch”, Stream link: Ad Hoc
Cloud Dog “Drift”, MP3 link: Soundcloud
Mister Lies “Dionysian”, MP3 link: Pitchfork
Porcelain Raft “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”, MP3 link: Chromewaves
Coke Weed X “Ryback”, MP3 link: Range Life
Coke Weed X “Ryback (Say My Name Remix)”, MP3 link: Range Life
And, via @RichardPrichard, Karriem Riggins “Double Trouble”, Video link: YouTube
Advertisements
Favorite Songs 2012

Favorite Songs 2011

A super-belated shout-out to my favs from 2011. Grab these tracks!!!
I Break Horses “Hearts”, MP3 link: Stereogum
Raleigh Moncrief “Lament for Morning”, MP3 link: Altered Zones
Okkervil River “Your Past Life as a Blast”, MP3 link: Stereogum
Scntfc “Below the White Bluffs”, MP3 link: Altered Zones
Shlohmo “Places”, MP3 link: Soundcloud
Fleet Foxes “Grown Ocean”, MP3 link: Pitchfork
Casually Here “Settle”, MP3 link: Altered Zones
Mo Kolours “Biddies”, MP3 link: Altered Zones
Cold Cave “The Great Pan Is Dead”, MP3 link: Pitchfork
Frank Ocean “Novacane”, Video link: Vimeo
Cass Mccombs “County Line”, Stream link: Soundcloud
Favorite Songs 2011

Louis Malle’s “Calcutta”

In 1968, French New Wave director Louis Malle went to India with a two-man crew and no agenda but to “follow the camera” – to go where his eyes led him. They stayed 4 months and shot 30 hours of beautiful, color-saturated footage, the bulk of which became Malle’s masterpiece, “Phantom India”. “Calcutta” was made from the rushes of “Phantom India”, a 105 minute microscope to the 378 minute macroscope.

Watching “Calcutta” is like dreaming through a kaleidoscope. Scenes shift, but at any given time are perfect – in how they’re framed, how they’re lit, how they’re situated, what they capture. Like India, where “acceptance” reigns, “Calcutta” exists in it’s own orbit where all incongruities are in harmony and any of the struggles of filming are transcended by the recurrence of momentary bliss. The footage is utterly transporting.

And it’s beautiful – especially now, in HD 2010. The richness of the film, the paint-like pigment of the colors feels like a treasure, like an ancient tapestry glittering in a museum. Through that lens we see the sweep of Indian culture in the late 60’s, from the gorgeous aristocrats like exotic Jackie O’s out at the races, to some serious OG “Slumdog Millionaire” shit. But the majority is in-between, great gatherings caught up in some cultural imperative: Parades of effigies lit by torchlight until they’re thrown in the river at dawn; swarms of Indian men filling the city parks with emphatic drum circles and chanting; protesting women marching by Parliament and straight into waiting Police buses…

Other fragments: a man on a city sidewalk getting a face massage while staring down the camera; riders on the tops of the trains ducking under the overpass; the red-painted feet of a woman being cremated by her family; the repetitive perfection of a clay tea cup maker shaping the lip; hogs in the slums with their snouts deep in shit-water; and the stares, endless stares, as though the camera had no casing, just the exposed prism of glass lens and reflective mirror.

It goes on and on, the turning kaleidoscope. A lot of it is charming, plenty of it intense. But the spirit of it, the effect is casual magnificence, effortless magic. It pulses and reverberates with the extraordinariness of a place and time, as spellbinding now as it so evidently was to the filmmakers.

Timeless.

Louis Malle’s “Calcutta”

Favorite Songs of 2009, #12

(This is our second annual “Favorite Songs”series. It’s a chance for Range Life fans, friends and family to shout-out and share some of the songs that made 2009 better, dancier, more deeply felt, more memorable and enjoyable. Songs are presented in no particular order. Submissions are welcome! Send a song link and whatever you want to write to zach@rangeliferecords.com.)

Song: “From the Hips” by Cursive

Song Link: Saddle Creek

It would not surprise me to hear Casey Kasem’s voice on the radio say “And now, holding down the #1 spot on our Countdown for the 47th week in a row, it’s Omaha’s finest, Cursive, and their paean to primal urges, ‘From the Hips’!” Isn’t this the kind of music people want?

For a song about the inadequacy of language, it’s bafflingly well written. From the first time I heard it, I felt like it was my own angst being articulated and Tim Kasher just happened to be singing it. I imagine others felt the same way. Our lives are all tension and release – between thought and action, instinct and civility, between who we are to ourselves and how we’re perceived by others. The two opening stanzas of “From the Hips” hit like a crack in the void, with the light of the collective flames in our belly’s piercing through.

And then the band kicks in like a herd of horses, shattering the rest of the void into dust, letting all the tension we just felt run free until we’re circling the sun in some sort of triumph of the miracle of life. It might be the tea talking, but I feel like that’s a pretty measured, honest account.

When it slows down again, it’s so the personal can become political. “We’re at our worst when it’s from our lips/From our lips we caused a rift/And the World is falling in/From Babel to barroom brawls/Our words have formed a death sentence”. What? Team America! What? Bin Laden! What? Socialism! What? Church! There’s so much craven code we’re inundated with, such a bananas power struggle, that the sentiment is earned: “I wish that we had never talked/Our hips said it all!”

And then the Limoges shop of all our words, our platitudes, our cliches, our pleasantries, our promises, our la-la-lies gets gloriously demolished by the aluminum baseball bats of an expert band unleashing.

At least that’s how it feels.

And it feels pretty fucking good.

– Zaguar

Favorite Songs of 2009, #12

Favorite Songs of 2009, #10

(This is our second annual “Favorite Songs”series. It’s a chance for Range Life fans, friends and family to shout-out and share some of the songs that made 2009 better, dancier, more deeply felt, more memorable and enjoyable. Songs are presented in no particular order. Submissions are welcome! Send a song link and whatever you want to write to zach@rangeliferecords.com.)

Song: “Big Wave Rider” by Rainbow Bridge

Song Link: Pitchfork

Kinda crazy to have so many songs about surfing this year. Is there an Indie Rock “Collective Unconscious”?  It makes sense, I guess, with so many of us landlocked and gridlocked, stuck in silly jobs with all our creative energies sloshing around like the beer in our belly’s. Who wouldn’t want to be at the beach? Who doesn’t dream of the rush, the romance, of riding the Ocean whip?

Then again, what’s more hilarious than the idea of hung-over Indie Rock kids out face-planting on 4 foot waves while their friends hide under towels on the beach, fending off the glare from their phone screens? No, “surfing” in 2009 was really just a metaphor for “escaping”, a treasure chest of imagery we all plundered in our daydreams. Songs that were about actually surfing were the posers. Rainbow Bridge reminds us it’s the fantasy that counts.

“Big Wave Rider” is so cinematic, there’s no way it wasn’t inspired by a surf documentary. The lyrics are basically camera angles. The slow motion pan of gliding across the water. The mesmerizing flinch of a wipe-out. The close-up on the surfer’s smile as he shoots-the-curl and ducks out of it stoked. It wouldn’t be hard to make a video for this song – you just reapply the shots they’ve appropriated.

But that doesn’t get at the magic of “Big Wave Rider”; how the vicarious experience of “big wave riding” inspires a band to capture those feelings in a song which, when we blast it out of our speakers, fills us with those same feelings. It’s transference, a spell cast on the 0’s and 1’s causing waves to crest and crash through our apartments. And then after the set, ears drenched, a beguiling stillness. Something has happened, regardless of whether it’s “real”.

A friend sometimes reminds me that the greatest Yogi song is “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” – you know: “Gently down the stream/Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily/Life is but a dream.”  I need to share with him “Big Wave Rider” – the “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” of 2009 – where delusions of grandeur meet monumental challenges with a Buddha’s smile, otherworldly balance, and the full consciousness that this “World’s a drain/Wipe-outs insane”.

Yeah.

– Zaguar

Favorite Songs of 2009, #10

Favorite Songs of 2009, #8

(This is our second annual “Favorite Songs”series. It’s a chance for Range Life fans, friends and family to shout-out and share some of the songs that made 2009 better, dancier, more deeply felt, more memorable and enjoyable. Songs are presented in no particular order. Submissions are welcome! Send a song link and whatever you want to write to zach@rangeliferecords.com.)

Song: “No Hope Kids” by Wavves

Song Link: HERE

The problem with complete and utter immediacy is that the people who encounter it first feel like they’ve struck gold and won’t shut up about it, so by the time it hits the rest of us, it’s all wrapped up and ribboned in hype. Case in point: well… Wavves.

If you heard Wavves pre-hype, you probably thought: boy genius. If you heard Wavves post-hype, you probably thought: interminably spoiled brat.

But stepping back from the brouhaha and casually listening through mixes from the year, “No Hope Kids” is totally deserving of special attention. It’s a blast, as pure in ennui as it is in inspiration, a head-bobbing high from caffeine, pot, anxiety, decibel level, rebelliousness.

Like so much of this year’s Garage/Punk/Rock, “No Hope Kids” sounds like a thrift store vinyl collection slammed through the filter of modern sensibility. Early Beach Boys, Lou Christie, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones crash like waves into the jagged rocks of post-Bush America. Or is it the other way around? Detached, helpless, agitated, navel-gazing, restless, rambunctious post-Bush American youth sensibilities crash like waves against the last 50 years of Rock? Either way: Wavves.

And who can’t relate? Of all the things dude doesn’t have, in not having them he’s in good company. Hell, I don’t have a car. Much money. A “god”. Any time, whatsoever. But it’s satire, too. A send-up of disaffection by taking it to the extreme. And theater: aren’t we all suburban kids who start our adult lives not exactly living the dream? And tragedy, cause we live in a drugged-up, disconnected Corporate state which is going to “change” how, exactly? And Transcendent Act, since despite all the reasons not to, he’s managed to put together a song that, for two minutes, at least, frees us from the shackles and let’s the urgency of endorphins make us feel unstoppable.

Just in that fact, there’s hope, kids.

– Zaguar


Favorite Songs of 2009, #8

Favorite Songs of 2009, #7

(This is our second annual “Favorite Songs”series. It’s a chance for Range Life fans, friends and family to shout-out and share some of the songs that made 2009 better, dancier, more deeply felt, more memorable and enjoyable. Songs are presented in no particular order. Submissions are welcome! Send a song link and whatever you want to write to zach@rangeliferecords.com.)

Songs: “Quitters Raga” by Gold Panda and “Portofino” by Teengirl Fantasy

Song Links: “Quitters Raga” HERE. “Portofino” HERE. (Both Pitchfork).

“Quitters Raga” was my most-played song of 2009, followed hot on it’s heels by “Portofino”. That’s probably because I always listened to them together, in this order. Might seem kind of OCD but the combination of these two tracks never failed to please and if I ever did find myself listening to just one and not the other, I did so with the distinct feeling of missing something. They were excitement and calm, window and mirror, brilliance and ambience linked together by technological empowerment, software pushed into symphony.

“Quitters Raga” – fuck, man. It’s uncanny how much of a sense of the Modern World it captures. It’s a song about momentum, about action. About people, cars, subways, shutters, mouths, clouds moving. It’s HD video of city crowds translated into muli-colored soundwaves; a sonic tapestry of consciousness within the crowd – the window reflections, the shifts of space, our stop-action minds spliced with the meta-thrill of missing frames. I love it’s worldliness, the beautiful chaos of a bazaar; the way it’s voices communicate in tone and feeling what isn’t otherwise understood. If you haven’t navigated traffic with “Quitters Raga” blasting or walked to work with it on repeat in your headphones or bumped it at home, staring at your speakers, swearing they were folding into staccato origami, then your ’09’s due for an UPDATE.  This is the pulse of music right now, the World Map in a digital nutshell.

At 2 minutes, “Quitter’s Raga” steals your breath, like a dive in the pool after chilling in the jacuzzi. “Portofino” then is the sound of melting back into the tub. I can’t get over how luxurious Teengirl Fantasy’s sounds sound, like they’ve discovered sonic tones for cashmere, fleece, fur. In the Music Industry of some parallel universe, “Portofino” is the high-end shit, with the fortunate dropping fortunes to fill their ears.

Just listen to the layers in “Portofino”. Sounds are stacked. The opening loop’s like sun through the branches. The snare’s a jellyfish, tendrils spreading and clamping. Then a beat with tracers. The wash of the tide. An old organ calypso. Locusts in the trees. Chinchilla synths. The voices of statues pushed through digital prisms. A laser drawing neon arcs in the sky. When I first heard “Portofino” I blipped “This song’s kinda cool but the structure is puzzling…” It just has so much going on. Even after hundreds of listens, I’m amazed at how fresh it sounds, how complex and yet comforting it is, how much steam’s still rising…

Time to jump back in the pool?

– Zaguar

Favorite Songs of 2009, #7