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

One Fast Move or I’m Gone

“Duncan?” said a voice in the doorway.

I turned to see a young, Asian man wearing a black leather jacket. His hair was spiked like a mountaintop and his leather boots were worn and dusty. He moved into my room and introduced himself as, “the guy moving in.”

I welcomed him. Surprised he was here so early. My lease wasn’t up until the next day. But he set his motorcycle helmet on a dusty dresser and began surveying the room.

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There was a leaning tower of clothes, a stack of valuables (my passport, a knife wrapped in a stuff sack and a collection of birthday cards) and a pile of uncategorized stuff – dusty soccer cleats, an expired ID and an orange t-shirt with a rip through the chest.

The move was a chance to embrace minimalism. To enter a headspace where possessions were just material things, like empty beer bottles. But by grouping everything into piles, I’d magnified the emotional impact. I was no longer just throwing away a pennant flag but the entire 2004 Red Sox World Series.

“What’s the plan for the dings on the wall?” said the new guy, running a fingernail over one of the divots.

There were a network of scratches, mostly from tacks and nails jammed into the wall to support a string of prayer flags stretched across the room. I told him to take it up with the landlord. The larger dents in the wall weren’t mine though. I’d inherited them. The new guy snapped a few photos, muttering something about, “due diligence.”

He moved towards the window and eyed a reddish stain. I’d tried scrubbing it off but the wine must have set into the wood. Years ago, I’d kicked over a bottle of red while eating dinner with my girlfriend. I didn’t own any furniture at the time so we sat on the floor, legs crossed like Indian chiefs.

I offered some of the remaining furniture to the new guy. I’d found most of it on the sidewalk. But he shook his head and clasped his hands behind his back. He had blueprints for a new layout and as soon as I left, he was going to cover the walls with a fresh coat of grey paint.

The new guy motioned towards the leftover dresser and offered to help move it out to the street. So we took out the drawers and lifted, using the edges to maneuver through the front door, dropping the dresser by the trash.

“It’ll be gone in minutes,” I said. “Nothing lasts long in this neighborhood.”

It was true. Earlier I’d left thirty pound dumbbells by the curb to load into the car. Five minutes later they disappeared.

“How is the neighborhood around here?” the new guy asked, glancing at the apartments across the street.

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I told him it was ok and thought about the night someone threw a vodka bottle through our front window. The house had also survived two shootings – drive by’s that chopped up our front door with pockmarks. And most mornings the ground shimmered with broken glass from car windows getting beat to a pulp.

“Well, I have a scooter so I should be fine,” said the new guy. He must have seen me eyeing a shattered window.

The sun was getting low and I sensed that I only had a few more minutes, maybe seconds left. Cars sped up the hill, drivers squinting as they accelerated. Turk Street framed the setting sun, cradling it like a pearl.

I turned and jogged back inside to grab as much as I could from the three piles on the floor. I stuffed the Red Sox pennant and prayer flags into an empty guitar case. Out in the hall I could hear the new guy breathing steadily. He leaned on a squeaky floorboard and repeated something about a safety hazard. I heard the click of his camera.

He shook my hand as I walked out of the front door for the last time. A car pulled into the driveway next door. I leaned down to see if it was my pot smoking neighbor. He liked to sit out there rolling doobies. We usually exchanged head nods. My way of letting him know I wasn’t an asshole. Then, one day he rolled down his window as I climbed on my bike, and shouted something through a smoky haze.

“Hey cowboy! You riding off into the sunset?”