Ivy Lab – 20 Questions

South African dance music has a certain depth of sound. It’s hollow. Spacious. Fleet of foot. And when it’s accompanied by the chatter of drum and base, it’s infectious on a dance floor.

Years ago WalterCronkTight and I would cruise down Long Street, SA listening for rattling speakers, hoping to discover a DJ or even just a song that hadn’t made the transcontinental journey to Europe or North America.

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When these jewels surfaced, we’d write down lyrics or maybe turn to someone flexing in the crowd, “yo, you know what this is?” 

Some nights, WalterCronkTight, more ballsy than me, would approach the DJ, drink in hand, feet still moving to the base. The DJ would pull one ear from his headphones and lean in.

“I can’t hear you, mate…” he’d mouth.

In the spirit of musical adventure, test your ears on 20 questions by Ivy Lab. (Not South African) but undeniably influenced by the crisp SMACK of o.g. drum n’ base.

HNNY – Nothing (Original Mix)

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As the Chainsmokers and other teeny-boppin’ trap has become painfully sweet, lo-fi house and it’s blissfully underwhelming sound has started to creep into the musical zeitgeist.

Unlike it’s counterpart, lo-fi house is quiet and unassuming. At first glance you may mischaracterize it as elevator music – background beats to pass the time between floors.

Careful.

Good lo-fi house is infectious. It’s elemental. The sum of simple parts coming together to unlock a primordial foot tap and the overwhelming urge to shimmy and shake. Probably best characterized by the viral YouTube sensation: Russian kid dancing at club can’t be bothered.

HNNY’s Nothing (Original Mix) invokes a similar reaction. Your joints loosen, instantly feeling less mechanical, less bound at the knees. Dip. Hop. Snap. Then, your arms unhinge. You start to make wild gestures. Fingers wave, hands twirl. And when the beat drops, you realize that you and the rest of the blurry dancefloor are grooving to a new frequency.

The War on Drugs – Thinking of a Place

According to David Bevan’s article on Pitchfork, at one point Adam Granduciel was so anxious that after he cut the basic tracks for “Red Eyes” in Hoboken. NJ, he worried about never witnessing its release.

Oh man, I hope I don’t die before this record comes out, because I want people to hear that song.

It’s impossible to listen to The War on Drugs without feeling some sort of malaise. Their 2014 album, Lost in a Dream, has track names like, “Red Eyes”, “Suffering”, “Under Pressure” and “Disappearing.” When you read David Bevan’s article you understand the severity of Granduciel’s depressive state (“today is just going to be another long, shitty fucking day”). But there was a turning point – a moment when Granduciel started to understand that making music was for him a powerful and cathartic process.

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The War on Drug’s newest release, Thinking of a Place, rings with the same melancholic wandering, but you can hear a turning point personified at 5:50. Where most songs fade to meet their natural end, Adam Granduciel hesitates, and for a moment hangs on this precipitous ledge, as if weighing his options. Then, Granduciel relights his heaving, undulating guitar to dive back in.

I’m moving through the dark

Of a long black night

And I’m looking at the moon

And the light it shines

Classixx + Night Drive = A Radioactive Dance Tune

There are songs that you show your friends. And then there are songs that you keep to yourself. Classixx’s “Hanging Gardens” is the latter.

It’s a mental roller coaster of epic proportions. So much so, it’s better suited for private moments of inspiration. It’s too introspective for a room. Or at least too full of cosmic potential to be in the background at a party.

Classixx just remixed a new release from Night Drive, a duo from Texas, who sings “Drones“, a fast-paced rock song from the future that has gained a small cult following here on the AFTMTH and on streaming sites.

I don’t know if I’ll we’ll be ok, croons the duo from Austin, Texas on “Drones.” It’s a cautionary tale of a violent existence ruled by hovering death machines. Yet, the listener is propelled forward – inspired to go on.

So, a remix promises a rare combination of Classixx’s intimate production with Night Drive’s raw, futuristic energy, leaving us with a radioactive dance tune. Click at your own risk.

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Dirtbag Demarco

I remember first being introduced to the term ‘dirtbag’ by my older brother.

The term had long detached itself from its Merriam-Webster routes as “unpleasant and unkept,” and had become a sort lifestyle that could be found in the pages of Thrasher Magazine or your local skate park.

Rebellious, disconnected and care-free might be fitting descriptions for a true ‘dirtbag’; one who throws themselves into a situation with little knowledge or care for the consequence.

Mac Demarco shows up to interviews with big name magazines wearing ripped vans, unwashed jeans, and a five-panel hat. He usually tucks a Viceroy cigarette tightly behind his right ear. The Canadian guitar player is the gold-standard of ‘dirtbags’.

One interviewer asks what Demarco’s “rider” (what an artist requests his playing venue to have ready on a table when they arrive) looks like. “A bottle of Jameson, a flat of beer, and a map showing all the nearest pinball machines in the area,” he answers.

His showtime antics have become legendary. He’s been arrested on stage after stripping all his clothes for the final song of the night, and he’s climbed to the top of light towers to belly-flop into the crowd, wearing nothing but an orange life-vest, “to stay afloat.” At the end of his last EP, he gave out the address to his new apartment in L.A., promising to make coffee for anyone that showed up at his door.

What’s great about Demarco, is he’s genuine. I read through countless interviews where journalists try and get some explanation for his reckless lifestyle; they fiend for details over his cigarette addiction and his reasoning for never washing his pants. He fends of these attempts with clever coolness, all these quirky habits are just part of who he is.

“What’s your favorite part about living and making music in America?” someone asks him, seeking a blast of patriotism.

With little hesitation, he gives his gap-tooth smile and responds:

“Beer is cheap, god bless.”

h/t @tmanchuck