You’re a busy USC student. You have classes, you have homework, and you have the ever-persistent call of “The Row”. You don’t have time to scour the internet all day in search of new music. Every Monday, I’ll do the work for you, faithful reader, and post a new gem to add to your collection.
I don’t know why, but remixes have really captured my attention recently. The re-contextualization of a vocal or an instrumental snippet can illuminate aspects of a song that could easily be overlooked in the original cut. That’s really the appeal of the remix: it can show you why a great song is great, and how it can get better.
But taken out of context, a remix can take on a life of its own. Such is the case for this showstopper, the C-Berg remix of Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms.” The original song was recorded for the most recent Twilight film soundtrack, but this remix is the first exposure I’ve had to the song (though the soundtrack should not be overlooked, it features the awesome Bat For Lashes/Beck collaboration “Let’s Get Lost”).
In this context, “Heavy In Your Arms” does seem like a serious departure from Florence’s typical compositions. In place of the intricate, multi-layered orchestration and towering, scream-it-to-the-heavens choruses typical of her songs, C-Berg lays Florence’s vocal over a nervous, synth-based instrumental, dripping with slow-burning apprehension. The final result sounds something like a Fever Ray track, loaded with tension and dread.
While “tension” and “dread” aren’t usually words one would use to describe Florence’s tunes, the song still retains much of the DNA that made her underrated 2009 LP Lungs such a powerful album. She still touts evocative, over-emoted lyrics with a fantastic flair for imagery, as she murmurs “my love has concrete feet/my love’s an iron ball/wrapped around your ankles/ over the waterfall”. And while at first she sings the chorus in a low, hypnotic moan, she erupts halfway through the song into her breathtaking belt, taking the song to an emotional climax without ever easing the tension. This is Florence at her most restrained, and it’s a very, very good look for her.
You’re a busy USC student. You have classes, you have homework, and you have the ever-persistent call of “The Row”. You don’t have time to scour the internet all day in search of new music. Every week, I’ll do the work for you, faithful reader, and post a new gem to add to your collection.
Ah, what a glorious opportunity.
My job as the Gem Collector is, technically, to bring you new music that you’ll hopefully fall in love with. But there’s just so much to share, so many obscure (or forgottenbands from months and years past that all deserve to be relaunched into the mainstream consciousness that I feel bad sometimes just focusing on new music.
One of those largely forgotten bands is 80’s and 90’s dream-pop powerhouse Cocteau Twins. They essentially invented the modern conception of dream pop: billowy, reverbed-out guitars, floating pop vocals, ethereal harmonies. Basically, really pretty music. So when previously-highlighted beatmaker Star Slinger decided to rework the title track from the Twins’ epically beautiful 1990 masterpiece Heaven or Las Vegas, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spoonfeed it to the masses.
“Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins Rework)” kicks a lot of ass, considering the languid, classic girl-pop vibe of its source material. The bass is thick, the stuttering beat ready to rattle your trunk a little bit while you cruise down some sun-soaked, palm-lined street. But Star Slinger preserves the essential melody and beauty of the song. You may want to just close your eyes and nod your head while the gorgeous vocal washes over you on a bed of wavery synths. We don’t blame you.
Depending on what you’re looking for, a concert can be a variety of things. A classical concert is usually a reserved affair, full of attentive listening and passionate, detailed discussion. A hard rock concert is usually a brawny salute to big riffs and even bigger egos.
But what about electronic music concerts? If Yelle’s set at the Echoplex is any example, those start with earnest toe tapping and shimmying, and end in frenzied, disoriented, and absolutely delirious dancing.
The night’s revels began with a half-hour set by DJ Pauly V, whose lack of outward excitement was easily offset by the tracks he spun, including inspired remixes of “Hands” by The Ting Tings and “Black & Blue” by Miike Snow.
Following him was the group Hawney Troof, fronted by Vice Cooler. While his set was filled with uncomfortable personal interjections, he made up for them by throwing himself into the crowd (literally), and performing with an enthusiasm that not even a skeptical audience could cull.
But when a demure young woman in a giant denim shirt and brightly sequined leggings walked onto the Echoplex stage, the crowd erupted, and from there the noise volume only grew, and the space between bodies on the floor only shrank.
Yelle’s set consisted mostly of newer songs, including the Kitsuné single “La Musique,” which sounds much better live than it does on the recorded track. But there were a few delightful throwbacks, such as her French cover of Robyn’s “Who’s That Girl.”
Easily the most popular tracks of the night were off of “Pop Up,” her debut album.
“Ce Jeu” roused up her faithful, but it was with “Je Veux Te Voir” that Yelle killed the crowd. The rowdy anthem that brought her to fame (it used to be called “Short Dick Cuizi”), “Je Veux Te Voir” ridicules a misogynistic French rapper with explicitly pointed lyrics. It’s also a real clubbanger of a track, which might explain the confused looks on some audience members as Yelle sneered through her live rendition of the song.
And the night ended only as it ever could’ve, with the girl-power pop anthem “À Cause Des Garçons.” A testament to the power of her music: everyone in the audience sang and danced along, despite the decidedly feminine nature of the song. Especially thrilling was when, midway through the track, Yelle and her two backing musicians deftly transitioned into the Tepr remix, minus the tektonik dancing.
After Yelle’s set ended, many of the concertgoers were sweaty and exhausted, lethargically shuffling out into the startling cold of the night. But the one thing everyone had in common? Grins of satisfaction and mindless enjoyment.
In short, this was everything that an electronic music concert should provide. Throughout her set, Yelle kept chirping “Merci beaucoup!” as the crowd thunderously applauded her songs.
But no, Ms. Yelle, c’est vous qui devez entendre “Merci beaucoup.” For while her music is filled with foreign words, its effect is universal.
We have a concert series called “On The Rise” that showcases local talent. Tonight, Wednesday November 10th, we are having an On the Rise show featuring some awesome local bands. Come by Tommy’s Place tonight at 8:30 to check out White Apple Tree, Twin Falcons and Pacific Hurt…..grab some friends, grab a drink at Traddie’s and come enjoy some awesome music!