Sports

A funky foursome from a dorm room in Ohio, Sports are the hot ticket in dream pop.

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Catching fire since the release of Naked All the Time in 2015, this crew has emerged as a quiet contender for titles in punk, pop, and funk.

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Surf Pop – Jadu Heart, Mike Edge and Ralphswrld

Leave behind the more refined areas of San Francisco, havens for food bloggers and Instagram influencers, and you find Ocean Beach, a gritty slab of sand with graffiti-stained concrete. Located at the Western-most part of San Francisco, the drive is fifteen miles from the Fillmore McDonalds, and despite endless stop signs, it’s a joy to watch the city shed its formal, tech-centric self, for a more gritty visage. There are colorful houses, rundown cinemas, cheap Bun-Mi sandwiches and vintage stores like Gus’ Discount Fishing Tackle.

Even at the crack of dawn there are usually a handful of cars parked at Ocean Beach. A dusty Camaro, a rundown hybrid, and a gutted van sit with t-shirts strung up to the windows concealing something shuffling inside. Out in the water, a riptide hums, edging unsuspecting surfers towards tankers heading for Japan.

The community around Ocean Beach is strong. Cafe owners call you by name and Bob Wise, a feature in William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, is eager to talk while he stacks boxes of five millimeter booties. Fishermen set up at the water’s edge, waders hiked up to their chest and a cooler of bait waiting patiently. Their translucent lines disappear into the surf, tugging at invisible fish.

OB is my anecdote to a long work week, or another news story about nuclear war and hell-fire. And for any drive you need a playlist. Some might expect Bangers and Mash (if coffee was a playlist, here’s how it would sound…), but with the windows down and a runway of stop signs, I don’t want fist pumping. I need guitar drenched in sun – apathetic surf tune-age that boils and pops, invoking the psychedelic and the free-wheeling.

Cautious Clay & Bonobo

To focus is to settle. To arrange experience into molecular parts, packable, like boxes arranged in a closet. To focus is to let go. To release arbitrary details and clip onto a steady perch, in tune with the unshakeable light at the end of an unbreakable tunnel.

Unsure what the hell I’m talking about? Let music be your guide. Listen to Cautious Clay, who deftly points out that it’s, “matter over mind if we’re being honest.”

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And of course there’s Bonobo, whose new remix personifies the hair raising moment of awareness, the tactile sensation of zeroing in on a target.

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Burial – Archangel

William Emmanuel Bevan grew up in the UK, properly. As he tells it, he’s never been to a festival, warehouse, or illegal party. Instead, he experienced the jungle and garage scene through the stories and records of his older brother.

But as the scene shifted toward a pump-up, happy-go-lucky, often cheesy sound, William was fixated on a darker tone: “like finding a body in a lift shaft” [Wire Interview]. By the time William had become Burial, hardly anyone was listening to that type of music anymore.

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Today, Burial seems to be an unspoken yet widely known name. That would be surprising, considering he’s not much of a self-promoter and stayed anonymous for much of his career.

Instead, he’s driven by a deeply passionate fan base. At odd corners of the internet and deep sections of Reddit, you might find ornate anthologies discussing his music, story, and incredibly low-tech production setup.

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I started to get Burial while traveling Europe alone in the rainy winter (I know). In between adventures, a short-lived love, train crises, and overdue reunions, I recall walking dark European towns and clubs with the crushing weight of self-indulgent existential feelings. The setting was perfect. But really, I was just lonely.

Sad music, dark music, is hard for most to connect to and easy to roll your eyes at. Why intentionally impose a negative emotion on yourself? I’ll say this: take Burial’s music, save it in a playlist named “Dark Days,” and listen to it when you need to.

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Glass Animals – Cane Suga

The last four seats in The Greek were to the far left of the stage, fifty yards up past the pit. After a quick-spot, we climbed the amphitheater stairs, shuffled past a couple dressed in all-black, and staked our claim. Below, a seething crowd suddenly came to life, incensed by the feral, weaving drumbeat of Glass Animals’ opener, Life Itself.

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We quickly established good community relations with our neighbors, offering what little supplies we had – a green tea bottle with clear tequila, two limes and a pinch of the devil’s lettuce. In return we received cigarettes and more space, a rare commodity that night.

All of us were eager for a familiar groove that would validate our ticket expense, a reenactment of countless private interactions. But that night the unexpected ruled, most notably, Cane Suga, an outburst of boot-stomping trap that liquefied body parts and set in motion a series of amphitheater antics.

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