Music is why we do this. Weekends are often the only time we have to recover from the grind. One of our favorite things to help unwind is playing some feel-good jams. Playing some fun, head-bopping music always gets us in a great mood.
Electronic-pop music has been my choice for this week. Even though the genre may be a bit formulaic, I find comfort in the familiarity. The sweet vocals, the seductive build-up, addictive melodies, and satisfying drops are often great ways to get the dopamine flowing.
Louis The Child - Better Not (with Wafia)
“Better Not” explores the idea of the opportunity to break the pattern of bad relationships and gives a call for self-reflection. Not letting past experiences stop oneself from ruining something special now. Lyrics carry rather emotional weight. For example, the line “don’t overthink it, let it go and try to adjust the feeling.” shares the insight of positive self-talk and learning to break the pattern. So often, we get lost in our anxieties. It is easy to fall into our habits. Still, we can change and let go by being self-aware and reminding ourselves of what is right. I appreciate the juxtaposition of emotionally sober lyrics with a playful and carefree beat. I enjoy this track because it gives me an introspective vibe. The song is a powerful reminder that we can write our story. The beat drop is catchy and punchy. You will nod as the spacious, dynamic synths and impactful bass line puts one into a lighthearted vibe. When going through a challenging week, this track allows me to be introspective but puts me at ease as a vibe along with a fun, bouncy beat. Music like this helps me let go of the slight anxieties that still might have a grasp. I remind myself to just “vibe” and be better and in the moment.
The next song is a bit of a classic Louis The Child, a banger from the peak "sound cloud" days. It never fails me to hype myself up. The track hits me with nostalgia. It takes me back to my college fraternity-DJ days. Fun fact, ½ of Louis The Child, Robby Hauldren, was in the same fraternity organization as me. The song starts with an incredibly catchy melody followed by a rather simplistic but engaging drum line. As Evalyn's sweet vocals compliment the inviting build-up, one can't help but be easily engaged and follow as the song hypes you up. Although formulaic, the song just effortlessly captures your attention while giving you an incredibly satisfying drop. The beats will make you headbang and dance through it all. The drop hits you deep and grabs you with its catchy melody. The song is straightforward but effective in hyping me up and making me feel good. The track is like simple carbs; it may not always be the best or the most nutritious, but it makes you feel good and gives me a jolt of energy.
ODESZA - Sun Models (feat. Madelyn Grant)
ODESZA's Sun Models was one of the first tracks I heard from the Washington duo and still one of my favorites. One of the first vinyl records I purchased was ODESZA's "In Return". With its ominous but gorgeous covert art and excellent track list, the album gives a fantastic atmosphere and just a fun EDM vibe. I love just playing it in the background when I have company over. Sun models encompass the spirit of the album. The track is sweet, playful, and blissful. It opens up with a classic record dust crackle, then captures you with light, tinny, and kaleidoscopic beats. Then the song seduces you with the sweet vocal manipulations of Madelyn Grant and then hits you with a cool and addicting bass line. The words are nearly unrecognizable but honest and familiar. The addictive melodies can't help but be danceable but incredibly chill. This track can be put on repeat and not be fatiguing at all. The song takes me into a new space where I can just breathe and resonate with the vibe.
Billie Eilish – bellyache (Marian Hill Remix)
The last song I want to mention is one of my favorite remixes of the famous Billie Eilish. The track is incredibly simple and clean but chilling. The song is a bop. It is fun and danceable yet so dark. The bass line takes center stage. Marian Hill completely reworked the beat, and the vocals have been slowed down. My favorite element is the bass. The beat is deep, thunderous, and snappy; it dances in a distinct but delightful way with Billie's gorgeous, ethereal voice. Marian Hill shows off their style with vocal manipulations, modulations, and incredible blending. The song always puts me in a good mood. The song can be played in a club but still carry a ton of emotional intricacy. This shows that music often doesn't need to be bright or "happy" to be a vibe. The song can be dark and have depth but still convey an engaging vibe.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson is someone I discovered years ago via J Dilla, but more impactfully, Flying Lotus. I let YouTube do its thing one day after wanting to see the music video for Never Catch Me. I don’t remember what I was doing at the time, but I do remember being stopped in my tracks when a live performance of Drips/Take Notice came on. It’s a blend of the Cosmogramma track and J Dilla’s Take Notice. The full cast of musicians (as credited on the Bandcamp page) is Flying Lotus (laptop 🤣), Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (violin, arrangement), Evan Francis (flute), Dontae Winslow (trumpet), Joey Dosik (alto sax), Kamasi Washington (tenor sax), Garrett Smith (trombone), Rebekah Raff (harp), Marcel Camargo (guitar), Brandon Coleman (keys), Stephen 'Thundercat' Bruner (bass), Chris 'Daddy' Dave (drums), and Nikki Campbell (percussion).
This performance builds. Then it builds some more. Then it explodes. The woodwinds bring us in. It’s light, airy, and utterly engaging. The strings float in, then percussion. Chris Dave on drums and Thundercat on bass take it away. You have to watch the video to get the full effect. You really do. The way everyone plays off each other. The approving nods from Miguel. The energy is amazing from beginning to end. I was so swept up that before I knew it Flying Lotus was in full swing, and we were transitioning to Take Notice. The atmospheric elements he weaves in elevate the session. Everyone present is intimately familiar with their instruments. The rifts Miguel pulls off on the violin are unlike anything I have heard before. I truly wish I was there in person for this experience, but my Sennheiser HD 800 S and SonnyGaku did an excellent job getting close.
Terrace Martin’s fingerprints are all over music. He produces, composes, sings, raps, and plays a bevy of instruments. There are some who have far more fame with less than 4% of his talent. Martin’s talents are passed down from his parents, a theme we’ve covered twice now. A hall of fame drummer for a father, and a mother who sings. The man was born to do this.
Martin is intrinsically linked to Kendrick Lamar, so I must bring the jazzy jam session that is Mortal Man to your attention. It has a very orchestral opening, then does a reset a little over a minute in. Terrace Martin uses the Arp Odyssey in combination with the alto saxophone to absolutely cover the track in a velvety vibe. His life, family, friends, and fruitful career are all abundant here with nothing more than abstract vocals. The track has a selfless nature to it, giving all credit to music itself. The session transitions back to its beginnings, fading into a classical piano solo that is the very definition of finality.
That is how you bring a weekend to a close. Recharged. Refreshed. Ready to take on the world once more. Whether it is dopamine inducing drops or smooth, velvety vibes, music gives us a chance to connect with the world and its people via sound waves instead of suits and ties.