Minimix #5 – Up Up Up!

Welcome back! This installment of With a Side of Beets has some (mostly) upbeat tunes I’ve been enjoying as of late. Got some good speakers? Headphones? Here we go!

This first track is by Kid Travis, it’s called “On My Way” and it gets my head nodding by the third kick drum hit. Firstly, check out Kid Travis’s voice. There’s so much subtlety, motivated variety of tone, and emotion in here. I also love how the arrangement of the first verse is just vocals, bass, and percussion. It’s all we need, and it can be a bold choice to not overproduce.

Then there’s that funky bassline and how it sounds like a human played it (which I find to be surprisingly rare these days in dance-y music). But the bassline in “On My Way” sounds like a human had to think about how to play each note and did so with tenderness and confidence. Check it out at 1:20 – what do you think?).

All in all – great melodies, great grooves, great musicianship. Great great great! Please excuse me, I need to dance now.

For my next trick (whips cape around self), I present you with “Karaté” from French band, YELLE. I enjoy the track better without the visuals in the YouTube (for reasons I will explain below), so feel free to watch or keep reading while you listen.

The reason I like not watching the video is because when I listen to “Karaté”, I’m suddenly in a small, dark, and empty music venue with purple strobe lights flashing in time with the beat. There’s an empty stage ahead of me. I can smell this place usually has a lot of people, but right now, it’s just me, that dancefloor, and YELLE coming out of two speaker towers.** This track is transportive and I like letting my mind come up with the visuals.

My favorite part starts at 0:30 when that STANKY old-school house bass comes in and continues through whatever the heck you call that chopped up, funky, production magic coming in at 0:45.

It took me a while to figure out what this track means – I asked YELLE’s PR rep about it, but no answer yet. That means we’ll have to do with my interpretation for now:

how are you [now] when you’re on the tatami [mat]
when you’re not protected
when you’ve got no friends [around]?
your kimono [feels like it] is a pyjama! your kimono is a pyjama!”

So, this piece is about psyching out the competition at a martial arts fight, right?! If yes, that makes this a great pump up track: as long as you remember these lyrics are directed at that poor sucker trying to take you down.

Next up is a piece coming all the way from Russia (if you are reading this and in Russia, hello! I am excited you are here!).

“Волна” by Boogrov will likely appeal to people who enjoy Four Tet, Jon Hopkins, Burial, and Imogen Heap. I’ve included Imogen Heap on this list because there’s a “magical” quality to this music, you can hear it in the gentle tinkling sounds that pan from left to right. Another thing to note is the vocals weave in and out, which to me sounds like someone gently humming to themselves.***

On a more sound-nerd note, this track has a good bit of dynamic range in the master. You can see on the Soundcloud waveform how spiky (spikey?!?! spiky?!?!) parts stick up. Those are transients from the percussion coming through, because there’s no squashing by intense compression or limiting here! Halfway through, you can also see a nice valley in between the louder sections that give our ear some time to settle in to a new texture.

Next up are two tracks that have visuals I enjoy watching. First up is “D Fine Us” by a transcontinental collaboration between The Fox, Big T, and Noga Erez. There’s something about the diverse combination of sounds that reminds me of Moby’s Play. The rotoscope-y, hand painted visual style is very expressive, too! Not much I can say to describe this sound – best to hear it.

Nextly (is that word?!), “Things I Thought Were Mine” by Bedfordshire artist, Alfie Templeman. He’s only 17!! The visuals are endearing, especially for anyone who loved playing the old-school Nintendo Super Mario with the flying raccoon tails! This track is funky, clever, uplifting, and I love when Alfie switches into his falsetto.

Lastly, “Things I Thought Were Mine” is a good concept to meditate on, segueing smoothly into our last track of the day, “Fleur” by Infralyd.

Listening now, I am remembering many things I think of as mine are actually not mine. And though someday it will be time to let these things go, (which can often make us hold on tighter or choose to ignore what will eventually go, since that parting may be painful), while the things are here, I can enjoy and appreciate them – their ephemerality making the time spent in their company even more meaningful. This track somehow makes accepting that easier for me.

Point being, in order to go Up Up Up you’ve got to let go of what keeps you Down Down Down. And it is here that we end our minimix today.

As always, thank you for spending this time with me. I appreciate it more than I can express here in words.

The Reverb Junkie

**PSA moment: when you go to a club, especially one with towers of speakers, wear real hearing protection! Seriously!

*** In high school, I was informed that using “themselves” when referring to “someone” was incorrect, however I believe that singular people can be referred to as “them” and I know many people who identify this way, so (waves magic grammar wand) it is CORRECT!