On High Rotation

Sony mdr nc7 noise cancelling headphones

Here’s a sampling of what’s on high rotation on my various MP3-playing devices. Lately, they’ve been synthy…

Midnight City by M83

M83’s upcoming double album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, isn’t due out until October, but they’ve let an advance single out: Midnight City. It’s big, it’s bold and audacious enough to open with a signature squawky synth and close with…a saxophone line? I suppose if polo shirts with popped collars made a comeback, the rock sax was bound to follow. Throw some headphones on for this one — and I mean headphones, not those blasted little white earbuds — and enjoy. If you like the song, you can download it, too!

The album from which this song comes looks promising: produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (he’s done Beck, Goldfrapp, Mars Volt and Nine Inch Nails) and featuring guitarist Brad Laner (Medicine) and vocals by Morgan Kibby (Saturdays=Youth).

Blackness by Digital Leather

I’m a happy-go-lucky guy, but many of my favourite tunes have some rather depressing lyrics. It could be that I’m a closet emo kid or that I hung out with the “perkygoth” crew at Crazy Go Nuts University (Miz Tweendom, Hard Harry and Krazy Karl, I’m lookin’ at you) or that I’ve picked up some kind of “without the shadows, you can’t know where the light is” Zen motorbike mechanic mindset along the way.

Anyhow, I love this song, which takes a lot of opposites and blends them together: acoustic guitar and synths, folky and punk sounds, a mellow start and a rockin’-out finish, happy chords and dark lyrics and a willingness to follow the line “I’ve got courage in my heart” with the Bloodhound Gang-esque “Love is a thing like cold black leather”. Whether you’re nursing a scotch in an empty hotel bar thinking “What now?”, working out or moshing in a dangerously overpacked dance floor — and I’ve done all three in the past little while — this song will make excellent background music.

(By the bye, I have no idea why that old-school surgery imagery is included with the video. Whoever uploaded it must’ve thought it was a nice match for the song.)

Forrest Gump by Digitalism (with Julian Casablancas)

If you’re going to build a song on the Holy Trinity of Rock — the I-III-IV chord progression, as in Purple Haze, Smoke on the Water (which Deep Purple lifted from Astrud Gilberto and Gil Evans) and so many other songs — you’d better bring something interesting to add to it. Digitalism do just that with this track; they start with those tried and true chords and build up to a very catchy chorus and even throw in a lovely bridge for good measure. There’s a great pop sensibility to this tune, and part of that is thanks to Julian Casablancas (lead throat and songwriter for The Strokes), who co-wrote this tune with these two German electro-poppers. This tune will stick in your head.

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