The theme of this week’s mix is decidedly grounded in a relaxed mindset. Most of you probably have a play list set up that you throw on when it’s time to unwind or put your mind at ease, and each of these songs were selected to fit right in. Ranging from abstract works of sampling genius to parodies of late night grooves, each serves the same purpose in a distinct fashion. While none of these picks are right off the presses, that doesn’t mean they’re any less successful at removing the cares of the day. So please give them a listen, and let us know if you agree.
“The Plug” by Bonobo
As the king of down tempo, Bonobo’s tracks are littered across countless compilations with words like “Lounge” and “Chill Out” in the title. Relaxed and heavily sampled, much of his work echo’s that of DJ Shadow which is a good thing in my book. The brief female soul singer cuts may also bring some people back to Moby’s earlier work. However despite similarities, Bonobo’s groove is still unique and highly influential in this electronic sub genre. Active, yet calming, The Plug is one of many standout tracks on his first album “Animal Collective” that sets a dim lit mood without putting you to sleep. If you like what you hear with this song, I strongly recommend giving the entire album a spin.
“My Darling” by Ralph Myerz
Written around the common relationship theme of too little too late, “My Darling” is a unique blend of hip hop and soft piano chords. Add on guest female singer’s “Pee Wee” ‘s enchanting vocals which seem straight from a smokey 1940’s basement lounge and you’ll see why many feel this song defines late night bliss. With a run time of under 3:30, it’s also quite quick for a genre where dragged out and seemingly imperceptible build ups are a dime a dozen. Those of you embarrassed about playing too girly of a sound though can relax thanks to the heavy presence of kick drum and the occasional record scratch. For those with eclectic tastes, one good tip I’ll recommend is using your iTunes genius function to build playlists off this song for interesting, musically cross pollinated results.
“The Richest Man in Babylon” by Thievery Corporation
This single bears the album title of Thievery Corporation’s highly regarded third album released back in 2002 for good reason. Part dub, part reggae, unlike previous hits from the group “The Richest Man in Babylon” is both catchy and politically charged. Jamaican toasters Notch and Sleepy Wonder deliver a socially conscious report that channels Bob Marley’s revolutionist spirit in a format potentially more appealing to modern urbanites secure in their trendy dwelling. Funky, different, and worth many a repeat, this song is just at home in the background of impromptu hipster parties as it is amidst the fumes of Rasta smoking sessions.
“Satellite” by BT
As personally one of my top five artists of all time, BT stands apart in his ability to master nearly any form of music he puts his mind to. Though many songs by many artists have shared the same title, BT’s haunting and eerily introspective version is utterly unique and vastly different from the trance he made his name producing. Rarely do you come across songs that mimic this same emotional mix of nostalgia, sadness, and calm, so smoothly. It’s solemn winding guitar chorus and atmospheric enhancements can initiate long day dreams while driving, or just sitting on the couch. That’s what makes it great. However don’t put it on if you happen to be in a chipper mood since you might find it slipping by the time “Satellite” ends.
“Debra” by Beck
Considering the slow intensity embodied in the previous tracks on this list, throwing in a dash of the absurd can never hurt. Arguably from one of Beck’s greatest album’s, Debra is a Lonely Island style song hidden under the veneer of breathy soul. Centered around convincing a girl to engage in a three-some with her sister “Debra”, Beck woos listeners with admirable falsetto and tempting lines of seduction like “Lady, step into my Hyundai” like no other man could. Hilarious and swank at the same time, there’s a good chance most people casually listening to it won’t recognize the inherent parody its so well done. That doesn’t matter in the slightest though since who cares if the jokes on them?