I am very late To this MADE IN HEIGHTS party Which is now over Abrupt, unexpected end Kelsey Bulkin gone solo All before my time All before I even knew That I should be sad Nevertheless, here we are Nevertheless, here it is Listen to these beats Hear these silky, sweet vocals Bring it all inside
This gigantically tall image was the only one sufficiently excessive to encompass the towering wall of sound pumped out by Bomba Estéreo. Their brand of club-banger cumbia is an all out assault: hot guitar licks, sick beats, razor-sharp vocals with a mix of traditional instruments and electro-magic that rises together into a whirling tornado of the absolute hottest fire.
Bomba Estéreo is no newcomer to the musical scene. You may (I did not, my shame is great) recognize them from their smash hit Soy Yo from their previous album, or the music video of said track which racked up a bananas view count on its way to becoming a cultural touchstone, but their story goes much further back to 2005 and Simón Mejía's interest in electronica-influenced takes on classic cumbian styles. A single track on the earliest Bomba Estéreo album featured vocalist/rapper Li Saumet, but you'll find her infectuous energy on every track since and it is truly a wonderful thing. Her rapid-fire Spanglish flow is absolutely top-shelf showcased on Money Money Money, but her melodic coverage on semi-balad Siembra is superb and you throw in the feels-laden delivery on Duele and the conclusion that we're dealing with a standout talent is unavoidable.
Though my forays into música reggaeton y cumbia y samba are small in the totality of hours I spend between two cans, stumbling into unreal albums like Ayo makes me think I should spend more time here. I'm certified addicted to this album right now. What if there's more of this out there? What if I'm missing it, you know?
Yo presento los dos, como es mi manera. Escúchalos a todos, no te arrepentirás.
(Yes I had to Google Translate to get that out. The memories of the parts of Spanish I would need in order to build that from scratch, like the imperative and conditional future tenses, have left me for good, I fear.)
It's likely you've heard about Maggie Rogers already. We all know that's not gonna stop me from doing my bit here according to my own particular idiom, but it is nevertheless a thing that needs to be acknowledged. Alaska is a certified Internet Event after her, and I'm quoting her directly here, "gif-able moment with Pharrell" and I linked Alaska down there like I damn well must because in addition to being a phenomenon it is a planet-killer payload of quality.
So what is Maggie Rogers doing here that is so magical? Pharrell went a little around the bend on exactly how unique this situation is (Wu Tang reference though, Liquid Swords!, recognize), I expect I am (as are you, dear reader, almost surely) steeped somewhat more significantly in the genre contemporaries than our boy there. I expect that any of you that have read the other posts around these parts might be thinking that you can hear some Sylvan Esso or VÉRITÉ or maybe just a little Ryn Weaver and I don't think you're wrong about that, but there is definitely a unique alchemy coming out of Maggie Rogers' lab.
It may surprise you to know (well, not if you watched all the videos up there, but you probably didn't) that Maggie Rogers used to make banjo music. Alright it's not exclusively banjo music, but it's certainly not this. Well, it's not ALL of this. When you listen to these folk/singer-songwriter songs, you can hear some threads that run up into this new EP and I think that may be where some of the magic is gestated. Her music is coming from this other place and it's passing through this filter, the disillusionment and her nature detour and the reinvigoration, and out the other side of that is this organically danceable, tightly arranged electro-pop with bumpy-bump synthetic bass lines and space-y reverbs and clean beats, but the singer-songwriter is still in there and it's the addition of her stellar vocal work that puts this over the top; just the right vibrato and a smooth falsetto and a sprinkle of echo...que belíssima.
Since Alaska is a given (and I will fight you if you disagree with that) I only had to pick one from this five song (well, four remaining) EP and while that should've been easy it really wasn't. I like On + Off a lot and I was pretty convinced it was the right choice, but when I really got down to it I loved the first pre-chorus at a 12/10 and the rest of the song at about an 8 and I had all of Dog Years at a 9 so here we are.
Go to one of the links down at the bottom there and get this EP. Pay the money, I want the LP, or more EPs, singles, literally whatever she does with all our sweet sweet Benjamins, I want it. You do this for me and we will forget about all the things I've done for you. I mean, also I need you to buy all the other things I've told you to buy, but right now, today? This one, buy this one right now.
TO: Lights, Canada, Action
FROM: Adam, Tucson, It's still hot here I swear
How are you? I am fine. I don't know how you keep doing it, but you are super good at music-ing. Even though you're a Canadian from America's hat, I'm glad you let us buy your music here in the USA. I went to Canada once, it was very cold but also very pretty. I was at a lake I can't pronounce. Anyway, please always make more music and I will listen to all of it.
Esq, DDS, LLC
I haven't mailed this. Yet.
Friends, I have heard the words of the great philosopher Robert Palmer and decided I might as well face it, I'm addicted to Lights. I love what she does. I have no reason to suspect I will not love everything she does going forward. She is my biggest fan.
Midnight Machines is a cut-down run at several tracks from Little Machines with some new content thrown in for good measure. In that way that Lights does, she has made magic and now here is that magic for you to listen to. If I haven't sold you on Lights by now, I think we're at the time in our program when you must ask yourself hard questions like:
- "Do I even like music?"
- "Can I actually hear sounds?"
- "Am I a robot who cannot feel?"
I hope the answers are not too disturbing, but that your personal revelations will make you a stronger and better person who understands that you actually do like Lights.
Here are the two. No more. No less.
VÉRITÉ (Kelsey Byrne) comes to us from the land of alt-pop indie-tronica (also New York, I guess) with a voice that I would follow right into a burning building. It's a textural toolbox; smoke, gravel, breathy falsetto, vibrato, she just pulls out the tools and goes to work. Also, and not in these tracks, but sometimes, just sometimes, she'll reach in there and pull out an f-bomb and just drop it right on you and I think we all know I love a good f-bomb.
If there's one thing that's frustrating to me as a member of the ancient Music-Comes-In-Albums people, she's fond of dropping singles and then collecting them up into EPs and, I assume at least, potentially gathering them together again into the traditional LP that I would normally direct you to, though this final form has yet to manifest. This makes it hard to know if I'm listening to the newest VÉRITÉ, and I often forget and must check the Spotify artist page again to see if there are more singles. It's really a point upon which I am genuinely torn. On the one hand I like the organization and demarkation of albums, even EPs, as often they're thematically organized and I can refer to the tracks found within as a grouping in some terms or other. On the other hand, I am genuinely chuffed as hell that we're living in a musical landscape that's conducive to an artist putting out a series of singles and being successful.
It's just another entry in a distinguished list of things that demonstrate my inherent aversion to change. Functional obsessive-compulsives of the world unite.
So here are a couple. I mean this when I say that she's just generally fantastic at this music thing and though I can't direct you to an LP for consumption, I'd head on over to the artist pages I've linked below and get to gettin'. "Underdressed" and "Strange Enough" and "Colors" and and and. You have much to do, reader. Much to listen to.