Posts by Eric
On the first Tuesday of
every month most months, Arjun (pictured above) graces us with a free mixtape of songs he collects from all corners of the Internet. He calls it Tape Tuesday, because alliterations are tight. Anyway, along with the music Arjun includes original artwork and words that inspire, make us laugh, and sometimes—on rare occasions—words so beautiful that they make us cry (or at least that’s what I hear). Last month he wrote about how he feels he doesn’t do enough with the ideas he has. I think we can all relate to that. It’s so easy to brush aside ideas and come up with excuses as to why our lives are just too busy to follow through on creative pursuits. I mean, there are eight seasons of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on Netflix to get through. That screenplay you always wanted to write can wait until tomorrow. Or next month. You’ll get to it sometime, right?
After reading through that post, I was driving to work and had an idea: What if I put together a mixtape called “TAPE WEDNESDAY” the day after he posted his monthly “TAPE TUESDAY” mixtape? I’d put his face on the cover and post it here without him knowing about it first, so he’d discover it on his own along with the rest of you. Basically, the whole purpose of the post would be for that singular moment when he randomly checks the site and sees his face staring back at him from the cover of a mixtape. It would be a weird way of using a very public platform for what is essentially a stupid joke between two people. It just seemed like a funny, simple moment and I wanted to make it happen. Plus, you guys would get two full mixtapes of awesome music within 24 hours of each other.
Then the more I thought about it, the whole thing started to feel like a pretentious meta art project that the corny philosophical guy who makes my coffee every morning would come up with. The little voice in my head that keeps me from turning ideas to reality was speaking up again: “This is dumb. You’ll look stupid. Don’t do it.” I was ready to scrap the idea.
Then I realized this was turning into another one of the hundreds of ideas I have every week that I never actually end up executing. Or even attempting to execute. As horrible/uncomfortable/awkward as this turned out to be, it feels good to see an idea materialize. Arjun was right. Now I won’t regret not doing this, which is the worst kind of regret there is.
Here’s some music.
Astronomyy finished 2013 with a perfect record. After following up his phenomenal debut track “Don’t Need U” with two singles that only improved on his lush guitar-heavy r&b style, he was 3 for 3. We couldn’t wait to see what he had planned for 2014 — only to see him disappear for the next nine months. I mean, he kept posting really pretty pictures on his instagram account and let us know he was recording an EP at legendary Abbey Road Studios, but his Soundcloud page stayed frustratingly silent. Until now.
Is it safe to say he’s 4 for 4?
It’s no secret that we’re completely obsessed with Chance The Rapper here at Sunset. His phenomenal sophomore mixtape, Acid Rap, came out a year ago today, and most of us still listen to it religiously. At the time, we even spent 30 minutes of our not-so-valuable time blabbering in front of our laptops about how amazing we thought it was. Then we named it our second favorite album of the year (even though it technically wasn’t even an album).
So yeah, we’re fans.
Anyway, on Monday Chance posted a tweet about a new song that had been recently uploaded to Soundcloud. Blinded by the excitement of a new Chance The Rapper track, most people (including myself) clicked the link without carefully reading the full tweet. We were greeted by a breezy summer-ready song that would have fit in very nicely on Acid Rap — except Chance sounded a little different than usual. His singing voice was a little lower and his flow had changed. Personally, I kind of enjoyed the changes. Judging by the Soundcloud comments that said things like, “great new song, Chance!” I wasn’t the only one.
Then I looked up and saw that the song had been uploaded to an account called, “Taylor Bennett Tunes”. Whoa! Chance’s little brother! I had checked out some of his songs around a year ago — and they were good — but this was on a whole other level. Of course, the biggest knock on Taylor will be that he sounds very similar to Chance, but this is a promising step toward individual success. He has our attention to say the least. Taylor’s technical skills and ability to craft a thoroughly enjoyable song are obviously already there. With time, he’ll likely develop his own style and the Bennett’s will take over the world.
I mean, they’re already on a first-name-basis with the Obamas (thanks to their father’s Chicago political connections). In the meantime, enjoy the new King Louie-assisted song below. Then soak in a legendary photo of the Bennett’s with Barack Obama in the White House and stream another single, “Ballin” from Bennett’s upcoming Mainstream Music mixtape, out May 4.
In the middle of all the craziness surrounding the bizarre (but brilliant) collaboration between Skrillex and Chance The Rapper earlier tonight, Chance posted a subtle tweet:
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) March 11, 2014
Um, what? A remix of one of the biggest surprise blog hits of 2013 (“Don’t Wait”) by everyone’s favorite newcomer (Chano)? Yes, please. Over Magnus Lidehall’s excellent production, Chance drops a deceptively complex verse based on a strained long-distance relationship that takes detours to sprinkle in biblical metaphors and a Chicago violence reference — all while mixing melody and rhyme as well as he ever did on Acid Rap. Basically, my anticipation for his next solo project is reaching unhealthy levels. I even caught myself humming the Bieber part of “Confident” the other day. It’s getting bad, you guys. Anyway, follow my lead and replay this short remix over and over while you wait.
A few months ago I watched a TED Talk about the importance of play. This old guy named Dr. Stuart Brown talked about how play, humor, games, flirtation, etc are important for the development of humans and have deeper ties to intelligence than most people realize. He also made the point that “fun” isn’t just for kids, which obviously isn’t a totally mind-blowing revelation, but is an important reminder for the extremely stressed-out among us. Anyway, the mind-blowing part starts at around the 1:35 point when Dr. Brown shows a photo slideshow of a female husky in the Hudson Bay who greets the threatening predatory gaze of a giant polar bear by playfully bowing and wagging her tail. Instead of getting eaten alive, the husky joins the polar bear in an amazing playful dance that breaks every known rule of predatory relationships. It’s phenomenal. Stop reading and go watch it right now.
This got me thinking about “fun”. As most of us enter our 20s and suddenly become adults (whatever that means), we’re encouraged to get serious about life and become responsible. Unfortunately, “fun” is usually sacrificed to accomplish this. Sure, we’re allowed to go out once or twice a week and drink with friends, but most other forms of play are suddenly seen as immature and childish — which seems totally crazy to me. What’s the point of life if it isn’t to have and share fun? Working yourself so hard that you don’t have time to do what you actually love in order to achieve future success? Even if you get lucky and actually reach what you’re working so hard for, will you have enough energy left to enjoy it? Even then, will you finally be allowed to have fun? Or will you be pressured to maintain that “success” and work even harder? Nothing against hard work or anything, but taking everything a little less seriously and allowing yourself to play more throughout life seems like a better bet than saving all the fun for an uncertain future.
At this point in the conversation (that I was having with myself) I got annoyingly philosophical and started thinking about how children and animals play more than anyone else and seem to be happier than the rest of us as well (I bet you’ve never seen a chronically depressed puppy). They also happen to be the only ones who haven’t heard the “you better grow up and get responsible” talk yet. They haven’t bought into the idea that happiness is gained through working towards a big bank account, a nice house, and an impressive car that will hopefully materialize in the future. Without even thinking about it, they realize happiness comes through having fun. It seems so obvious that I actually feel kind of dumb writing it all out. Before we started thinking too hard about the future and stopped playing, we were all a lot happier, weren’t we? Then, right as I realized this might all just be an elaborate excuse for me being a year and a half out of college without a “real job” yet, I listened to the debut song from UK artist AUGUST+US and heard the opening line, “What are we living for if it’s not to have fun?” I immediately had one of those rare “OMG someone else gets me!!!” moments. Maybe you’ll have a similar experience. Listen below. Have fun.
Continuing his transition from blog buzz to legitimate mainstream success, Chance The Rapper made his late night television debut last night on The Arsenio Hall Show. He chose to perform Acid Rap highlight “Chain Smoker” with a live band in front of Arsenio’s studio audience. Well, he kinda performed it anyway. The television platform obviously didn’t allow for the song’s colorful language and by the end of the song he looked more excited to dance along to the backing vocal track than actually sing it himself. He got the job done, though. I’m sure a whole new group of people went to their laptops after the show and were introduced to the greatness that is Acid Rap.
The highlight of the appearance was Chance’s brief sit-down with Arsenio. Watch below as he discusses the violence in Chicago and specifically urges those at Grand Crossing Park to take it easy in the coming year.
Less than a week after I wrote about how I hoped Tyler, The Creator would direct a music video for Lorde, this video by an anonymous artist directed by his “Wolf Haley” alter-ego has surfaced. Featuring the same bright colors and whimsical tones that have become staples of his own videos, this clip takes on slightly heavier and mature themes than we’re used to seeing from Tyler.
As footage of the horrors of the world play in the background, a young couple’s love blossoms as they explore the beauty around them. It highlights the power of love and human connection, serving as a reminder not to dwell on things out of our control — a mature and insightful realization from a guy who’s known for “offensive” rap lyrics. The whole thing reminds me of a quote from my all-time favorite minute of television. Also, look out for this anonymous band. Rumors are that it’s fronted by D.A. from Chester French, but we’ll see…
I’ve been listening to The Wyld‘s new Abstract EP on repeat since it came out on Tuesday. It’s been the soundtrack to everything I’ve done—including my daily “cute puppies” Google Image Search. At first I didn’t notice a connection between the two, but then I started picturing adorable puppies acting out the songs as they played through my headphones. I don’t know why. I think I was dehydrated or something.
Anyway, it was a magical experience that made an already incredible EP all the more exciting. It even sorta made me want to be a puppy (even though I’m totally happy being a human – thanks Mom!) That being said, continue reading for a track-by-track breakdown of how each song would make me feel if I was a puppy.
Historical Note: I’m pretty sure this is the first puppy-centric music review in the history of the world (and it’ll undoubtedly be the last). Enjoy.
Every Friday night after shooting IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, musician/comedian/actor/renaissance man Reggie Watts invites the show’s guest over to his keyboard. What follows is a sometimes awkward but always entertaining “make-up-the-words-as-we-go-along” jam session that’s more than worth your time. The whole thing highlights the impressive improvisational skills that musicians and comedians share. My biggest takeaway: Ed helms is really, really, ridiculously good at the banjo. Seriously.
Continue for a collection of my favorite sessions of the series.
It happened. Lorde made it. She’s famous. Now what?
Every day we write about emerging young artists who are “about to be the next big thing.” We hear something we like, we get excited, and can’t help but hype the artist as a future household name. Sometimes that actually happens and it’s really exciting. In reality though, a lot of these artists end up carving out modest careers for themselves but never quite crossover to big mainstream success. Of course, Lorde is a different story. Less than a year after quietly uploading “The Love Club” to Soundcloud, she finds herself with one of the biggest songs in the world and the newfound spotlight of a legitimate pop star. It’s the kind of overnight success that could really only happen in 2013.
So what’s next? Does she continue to improve and mature into a legend? Or will the fame get to her head, driving her career into the tailspin we’ve seen ruin so many child stars that came before? Obviously it’s too early to tell, but I’m rooting for Lorde. She’s always had a likeable down-to-earth demeanor that made her feel like “one of us”, and I hope she gets to take advantage of all this attention to do a bunch of cool stuff the rest of us can only dream about.
With that in mind, continue reading for 10 things I hope Lorde gets to do now that she’s famous… Continue reading “10 Things I Hope Lorde Gets To Do Now That She’s Famous” »
I’m at a busy downtown coffee shop right now, surrounded by a bunch of important looking stressed-out old people. I’ve been trying to fit in and pretend like I’m checking stocks and managing my mortgage portfolio (that’s a thing right?) but I’ve really just been refreshing Soundcloud hoping cool new music shows up. Well, I just came across this new song from As†ronomyy and I think my cover’s blown. Less than a minute in, his signature brand of electric guitar-infused atmospheric r&b took over my headphones and now I have the same expression on my face as the adorable owl in that one youtube video. This is so good. He’s 3 for 3.
It’s almost become a lazy cliché to throw around phrases like “this would’ve fit perfectly on the Drive soundtrack” when describing any new synth-based song with airy vocals. Sure, the soundtrack was awesome and it hit at a perfect time when music like this was becoming really popular, but that was two years ago and it’s time to finally move on. That being said, THIS NEW SONG FROM LOLAWOLF WOULD HAVE FIT PERFECTLY ON THE DRIVE SOUNDTRACK. Featuring airy vocals and driving synths, it makes me want to have one of those corny self-reflective moments you see in movies where the main character breaks down and goes on a long emotional drive by themselves to figure out where exactly everything went wrong with their lives. Am I wrong? I mean, the song is even called drive. You get the point.
Lolawolf is taking that whole “lets remain mysterious” approach that’s been working out for everyone lately, but I did a little
digging creepy Internet stalking and found out they’re from Brooklyn and their names are Zoe, James, Raviv and Jimmy. Rumor has it that Zoe is Zoë Kravitz — co-star of After Earth and daughter of Lenny Kravitz. More importantly, I also found a slightly older (but worthwhile) track on their bandcamp page called “Wanna Have Fun” that I’ve included below as well.