Monday, March 20, 2017

Listen: Brothy Sounds from Caged Animals, Knifey and LAIKIPIA

Savory mushroom and sesame oats taste a whole helluvalot better with:

While some may mistake the Caged Animals' track "These Dark Times" as being about mushrooms or possibly broth soaked oats (I've seen both suggested on Facebook), the reality is so much more emotional and necessary. "These Dark Times" is the band's response to the police murder of Philando Castile. Here is their explanation about it:

Philando’s death hit me hard. It drove home, in a very personal way, what it means to live in America with white privilege. Here was a guy my age, gunned down in front of his partner and child, during what should’ve been a normal traffic stop. A working-class American who was playing by the rules, serving his community, and bleeding out on cellphone screens across the world.

Witnessing the viral Facebook video of his bloody final breaths, I couldn’t help but notice the disparity between his reality and mine. Under no circumstance could I picture an outcome like this if I were the one being pulled over. Philando’s crime: an alleged cracked tail-light. Philando’s fate: an unholy death in front of the whole world. To make this even starker, I spent the majority of 2015/2016 driving around NYC with my wife and daughter in a car with a broken tail-light. I was never once pulled over.

In the days following Mr. Castile’s death I was moved and inspired by the outpouring of support from the community he had served. I began writing.

What I came up with is a meditation on what it means to desire something more for yourself, to push past your prescribed boundaries, and remain hopeful in the face of overwhelming obstacles. I channeled Philando for the lyric “I want to make it out alive from my hometown.”

In some ways I thought this song didn't deserve to be heard. Maybe my voice wasn’t the right one to give these emotions expression. I sat on it for a few months and searched my heart. After the result’s of our presidential election I even thought about quitting music all together. “In times as disturbing as these,” I thought, “what good am I offering the world with music?”

Thankfully a turning point came in my way of thinking. Instead of defeatism I became filled with a sense of urgency. This new motivation has given me the inspiration to carry on and a renewed confidence in creating music.

Attending The Women’s March with my wife and two-year old daughter reinforced this new outlook. I began to believe more and more that we must remain engaged with a political struggle while also channeling our hearts and minds toward a cultural one. I got straight to work recording my new song.

Throughout history, artists have been tasked with the responsibility of holding a mirror to society but they have also been given the privilege to shape it. We each need to use this opportunity now, more than ever, to engage emotionally with other people. To change hearts while we change minds. In that spirit, and in my small way, I hope to contribute to this turning of the tides.

Here is a song called "These Dark Times." It is delivered with hope that we will transcend this moment and it is dedicated to the memory of Philando Castile, his family members, and the millions of Americans shouting “Not My President!”

Thanks to my partner Magali Charron for providing the excellent photograph from the NYC Women’s March that graces the single’s front cover.

"Tanlines" by Knifey is a track designed to cut through the bleak twilight of winter and reminisce about better, warmer and more naked - times. The song has a desperate energy that stretches out its frozen fingers towards the not-too-distant memory of a lover’s touch made soft by seawater and tropical air. It is the type of fanboy fantasy material perfect for late night trips on decrepit (or even super well maintained) streetcars.

Like LAIKIPIA, I'm a dreamer. Mushrooms, oats and veggie broth were born out of a fifteen minute late night doze session. LAIKIPIA's version of dreaming takes the form captivating soundscapes and extremely hopeful lyrics. "Hello Dreamer" encourages listeners to embrace the dreamer in them and take the next step to do, well, whatever you are dreaming about. The song is, according to Taylor Harrison and Xander Rawlins the duo behind LAIKIPIA, about waking up, self-reflecting, renouncing hesitation and putting ambition into action.