IMG_1801-3

A Letter From BP

Last week my grandfather mailed me a letter. It arrived right on time.

I was packing for a weekend excursion to Mammoth to ski and visit some new friends. The drive was going to be long and monotonous but it looked like El Nino was about to dump all over the Sierras.

I opened BopPop’s letter and a printed note and newspaper clipping fluttered out. It was a New York Times article by Roger Cohen, “Ways To Be Free.”

“When you grew up in an unmapped, unwired world and find yourself in this one – observing panic when GPS fails or the extent of online status anxiety – you can’t help wondering if somewhere along the way freedom got lost.

As I read I could picture BopPop huddled over a pair of scissors cutting an outline around the article, tucking the newspaper clipping into an envelope. Then he shuffled to the front door to clip the envelope to his mailbox, sending it off to California.

I liked “Ways to Be Free.” It was the philosophical stuff that got me going. Freedom. Technology. Happiness. What’s the relationship there? It got my brain clicking. It also referenced Barbarian Days (one of my favorite books) and praised the author, William Finnegan, as a genuine Kerouac – a true disciple of “suck-cess.”

I tucked the newspaper clipping into by bag, loaded up on coffee and sour patch kids and hit the road.

In Mammoth I found myself bouncing around in the backseat of a Dodge Durango nicknamed “Bruce.” Our merry crew cruised along frozen back roads, dipping into potholes, hydroplaning through massive puddles. We turned right at a dilapidated, blue church and pulled into a parking lot, just as the sun began to lower herself below the horizon.

I don’t know if the world is freer than a half-century ago. On paper it is. Yet minds feel more crimped, fear more pervasive, possibility more limited, adventure more choreographed, politics more stale, escape more elusive.

I turned off my phone and stored it out of sight, deep in a backpack pocket.

We left the car and walked onto a path of wooden planks, embarking into the darkness. My senses lurched awake – my boots crunched on the frozen ground, a cold wind stung my bare knees, I clutched a wine bottle.

We arrived at our destination and began stripping off our winter coats and wool socks, crawling into the hot spring. The water was warm and smelled like sulfur. I tried to picture the magma chambers bubbling deep beneath the surface, boiling molten rock.

We stayed for two hours – passing around the red wine, shooting the shit underneath a cloudy night sky and when the bottles were light and apparently empty and our fingers had turned to raisins, we plotted a mad dash across the frozen tundra to get back to the Dodge Durango to crank the heat.

It was slow going and we fumbled to dry off and put clothes on our sticky, wet bodies. “Come on!” someone yelled as they jogged ahead, eager to be warm again. I lagged behind. Not because I wanted to be left alone but because it was dark and I was tipsy – sopping wet on the frozen tundra. I

It felt good to be alone in the cold, bare-skinned and grinning. Really good. I relished the moment, stopping to stare at the mountains, my mind soaring – unrestrained and wild.

“Freedom is still out there. We all have our idea of it, the deferred dream. Your psyche builds layers of protection around your most vulnerable traits, which may be closely linked to that precious essence in which freedom resides. Freedom is inseparable from risk.”

With my wool socks tucked into my jacket pocket, I walked towards the Durango. Suddenly it dawned on me that I’d left my bathing suit back at the hot spring.

“Be right back!” I yelled, turning around, sneaky happy to be back on the dark trail.

Animal-Collective

Animal Collective – Girls

It is scientifically proven that salted caramel chocolates are delicious. I mean it – researchers have actually determined that sweet tastes sweeter when paired with salt. Well, like salt on a chocolate caramel, Animal Collective’s Girls makes a good day better.

Awkward analogies aside, there’s something about this classic tune that violently slaps the tired off me.

zoe keating

Zöe Keating

The drugs have worn off, the glitter has faded. This took years, but yes, it finally happened; I exhausted myself on EDM. My musical senses are over-synth’ed, out-based. I’ve taken too many drags with the Chainsmokers, the sun has set on my island of tropical house. I’ll be back someday, no doubt. But for now, it’s time to refuel.

Zöe Keating is a extraordinarily talented cellist and composer from Ontario. I most enjoy her solo performances. Here is a glimpse at how she samples, layers and loops to create symphonic originality.

Zöe doesn’t get along with YouTube, but has made the entirety of her 2010 album Into the Trees available on soundcloud. One day, I hope to have her compose the soundtrack to my debut film.

ST.GERMAIN_00_LudovicNavarre_01Cs

St Germain – Sure Thing

2016 is already abuzz with album announcements, surprising collaborations and rumors about upcoming festivals. Most notably, Coachella’s 2016 lineup drew a lot of attention after LCD Soundsystem announced a sudden comeback.

And it feels like a lot of older acts have made similar announcements early in 2016. Eclectic Philly producer RJD2 announced in January that he’ll be releasing a new album Dame Fortune. Two days ago Massive Attack unveiled that they’ll be releasing their first album in six years.

My point? The old-timers are back with a vengeance. It’s possible that every new year causes an annual resurgence, encouraging former stars to think, this is the year of the comeback. Or the sudden resurgence is reminiscent of something else – a nostalgic whirlwind, an irrepressible auditory craving for something authentic and real. sounds that break free from the tired rise and drop-formula and reinvigorate electronic music’s saturated landscape.

Check out old-timer St. Germain, a Frenchman who specializes in nu jazz. Last year he released his first album in 15 years. And you guessed it, he’ll also be performing at Coachella this year.

Take a listen and get funky.

 

300x300

#tbt – Soul Rap

Anyone who’s met me knows that I’m a sucker for smooth rap jams. Yeah, I’ll bump Schoolboy Q, K-Dot, Future, A$AP, and my girl Dej Loaf, but old-school hip hop bounces and bumps at the same speed my footsteps hit the pavement.

I’m talking about slow, hazy beats designed for grooving and sliding down Divisadero Street in your high tops.

So slow down, sit back and relax. Here’s a few throwbacks to celebrate Thursday.

 

rufus-du-sol

Rufus – Say a Prayer for Me

They can’t be stopped! Yesterday, one of our favorites here at The Aftermath, Rufus/Rufus Du Sol, released the second single off their upcoming album, Bloom. As one of the earliest inspirations for Aftermath posts, we’ve got a lot invested in this one.

Judging by the first two releases, Innerbloom and now Say a Prayer for Me, I’ve got nothing but high hopes for the Australians. Their sound is punchy and upbeat – a true testament to their Disco chops. But at times they descend into a darker, slower, shoe-gazin’ vibe. Mix the two and you’ve got something no other band can compete with.

Rufus’ second album comes out on January 22. Mark those calendars. Samples below.

camel-power-club-lyrics

Camel Power Club – Ourson


Recently I was debating with a friend about the need to justify why a specific song is good or bad. She called my bullshit, saying, “If I like it, I like it. I don’t need a reason.”

And god dammit she’s right. Enough with the musical snobbery! If a song makes you move, forces you stop and turn up the speakers, halts all conversation in the car, turns up a drunken dance party to eleven, then fuck it, it’s a jam!

Case and point is Camel Power Club’s “Ourson.” I can’t pinpoint why I love it so much, but it’s jolly, upbeat and gets my toe tappin’.

1910089_23113300200_3160_n

DLong’s Top 50 Tracks of 2015

Our friends over at thatbeatjuice have cooked up something special to celebrate the New Year – the top 50 tracks of 2015.

50 songs. 50 write-ups. That’s an impressive accomplishment, folks. But leave it to DLong to grind it out over the holidays until he’s profiled the year in music.

Agree or disagree with his selections, you gotta love the hustle. And there’s a fantastic variety of musical heavy weights on there – Kendrick, Rufus, Tourist, Ben Khan, ODESZA, Jamie XX, Tame Impala, Major Lazer.

So, before you dive into 2016’s tunes, get all retrospective and recap the top songs of 2015 and see who got #1…

top 50 tracks of 2015

DCIM101GOPRO

One Fast Move or I’m Gone

Yesterday the financial machine groaned back to life. With squeaking gears and a collective sigh, America’s work force plopped both feet over the edge of the bed and headed back to work. After weeks of easy livin’ (Mom’s Christmas trifle, the thrill of gift giving, a drunk New Year’s smooch in Ricky’s Mexican cantina, lazy afternoons spent reading Kerouac’s Big Sur) getting back to business came quickly and rudely.

For me it was particularly difficult as I sat in the back of a crammed bus edging slowly towards the U.S. border on the way back from Mexico – sulking in the mistake of a poorly timed plan. But after several sweaty hours of minimal progress, a few arguments with the “officials” rushing us to the border, my passport was stamped and I was back on U.S. soil – sunburned, salty and thankful that my brother lived in San Diego.

Eight hours later I jogged into the office. My feet, cut up from navigating barnacle encrusted rocks, slipped back into soft boat shoes. My eyes quickly grew accustomed to a bright LCD screen. And as lunchtime rolled around, I felt an overwhelming wave of nostalgia for road-side tacos, morning spot checks and the hours spent in unfamiliar places with good people – Ma & Pa, bro-dawgs, my lady.

But the adventure-hangover doesn’t last long. I don’t allow it to. “One fast move or I’m gone” says Jack Kerouac in Big Sur. So I make a quick break for the positive and as I start listening to new songs queued up in Spotify, my nostalgic day dreams begin to groove as a highlight reel and I feel inspired. Inspired by my fellow adventurers who break free from the ordinary. Inspired by the soundtracks that frame the peaks and valleys of adventure.

Songs for Anticipation

A lot has happened since my last post. I graduated from college. I drove across the country. I spent 4 months rowing vacationers down the whitewater of the Snake River. I explored the West. I drove a ton of miles.

I look back on all those hours behind the wheel and I miss it. Not because I like driving, but because I was always heading towards something sweet  a Montana weekend for the books with flowebro, a fly fishing trip in Yellowstone, the red rock of Utah, or simply my daily commute to the whitewater – I was always driving to exciting experiences and strange adventures.

Now the newest Aftermath member to join the 9-5 world, I’m severely missing those drives of anticipation and getting in the zone to some jams. (Most often Thomas Jack Tropical House sets). We can all agree there is nothing better to put you in the mood to send it than music. So whether you’re on your way to the slopes, the surf, or South Africa, I hope this playlist gets you stoked for the destination ahead.

Head towards something sweet.