Though released in the summer of 2002 and discovered while getting accustomed with the discomfort of adolescence in Canada, Interpol’s inaugural Turn on the Bright Lights will always be inextricably linked in my mind with two things: winter and New York.
From the opening chords of the LP appetizer “Untitled” to the doleful refrains that close out “Leif Erickson”—the whole album’s defining sound shimmers under the cool detached vocals of Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler’s angular guitar strokes–their tone straddling the line between crisp and harsh, balanced against the ebullience of Carlos Dengler’s bass. The whole rhythm section so strongly grounds the understated groove of the record that when it drops out during a few notable moments (the intro on “The New” for example), you can’t help but lean in closer, only to have the warmth of the band’s full sound return to swaddle you.
For all the derision aimed at Banks’ lyrics (fair) and the similarity to Joy Division ‘s Ian Curtis in his warbled delivery, it’s the quality and stylistic consistency of Interpol’s sound that makes the album still resonate so palpably fifteen years later. Be it the opening riff of “Obstacle 1,” the hopeful restraint of “NYC,” or even the sinister whispers underneath the knife-edge creepiness of “Roland,” each component and passage fits together with the same painful detachment that underpins the album.
It’s no coincidence that I’m pressed to look back on this record tonight as New York braces itself for Winter Storm Stella, evoking the title of the eighth track and fan favorite of the compilation. As I sit here overlooking the traffic of 2nd Avenue trickle to a slow drip in anticipation of the impending snowfall, I can’t help but look back on the years since this seminal album cemented itself as a permanent part of my rotation.
Raised in a snowy Canadian town on a constant glut of awareness and appreciation for the city (my mother landed in Queens after fleeing Iran), coupled with the post-9/11 zeitgeist in those years that refracted New York anywhere it could, it’s really no wonder I make the association. Maybe this album was really written by and for turn-of-the-century New Yorkers, taking bumps off their keys somewhere in the stairwell of a Brooklyn walk-up, but frankly, if this stuff doesn’t remind you of the time and place where you started abruptly becoming acquainted with your interior self, then you missed out.
Now that I’ve been lucky enough to live in the city awhile, if ever I’m wandering around in the snow as I’m wont to do in the coming days–turning on this record is one of the few things that will make me reexamine the sights I’ve become prone to ignore—and admire the bright lights anew.
Remix Roundup is a segment in which we share the latest and greatest mixes and beats on the blogosphere, and today we’ve got a fresh new installment for ya. First on the docket is a new revamp of XYLØ‘s “Dead End Love” from Vasta and N2N. The two house producers team up to create a powerhouse, enhanced edit of the original pop slow-burner, infusing it with a driving beat and crisp synths, while keeping Paige’s clear vocals at the forefront. Play it loud and pick up a free download on Soundcloud.
We’ve featured Autograf‘s stunning electro number “Heartbeat” on RMX Roundup previously, and now we’re delighted to share the official reimagining from Austin-based house producer CLOUDCHORD and synth guru and fellow Austinite Francis Preve. Cloudchord, aka Derek VanScoten describes the mix as a “Brian Eno meets Nu Disco banger” and we couldn’t agree more. When the synths kick in around 1:06, the track takes on a euphoric state and you can’t help but wanna dance. Stream below and find a complimentary DL of this one on the cloud also.
Lastly, if you thought you were done with the ODESZA‘s “Say My Name” mixes following the official remix context in 2014, you’d be wrong. Check out this amazing redux of the track by newcomers True Myth. It’s a fairly minimalist take, but the reprise takes on a funkadelic vibe at the 0:50 mark that will make you want to immerse yourself in this dance jam all over again. And guess what, True Myth is also giving it away on Soundcloud so we recommend adding all three pieces to your weekend playlist stat.
Guess what? We love a good Scandinavian club banger, and Copenhagen-based production duo Code Walk deliver on their debut single. Soliciting the help of Norwegian act Smerz, “Guess What” was written during a two week session on a small island off the coast of Norway. The single sees the duo — consisting of Søren Gregersen and Jesper Nørbæk — fuse a saucy feminine vocal with hypnotic, hard-hitting production, sinuous synths and trippy electronics. ‘Do you still feel sorry for me?‘ query Smerz, aka Henriette and Catharina in coy triumph on the effort.
Speaking on the track, Nørbæk explains: “Initially when ‘Guess What’ was still living on a drum machine what caught our ear was that we had programmed the drums to play a small kind of melody. It was something between a bassline and a beat, and after adding a few chords we arrived at a vibe we liked. Having this melodic yet sparse approach to rhythm gave it a certain attitude that we thought Smerz would be great for, so we laid down the main ideas and they took it from there. The girls did a killer job.”
Out January 27 on F12 Records, “Guess What” is the first single to be shared off their forthcoming debut EP, slated for a spring 2017 release. Listen below.
Tread carefully, cautions London-based artist Lyves on the song “Darkest Hour.” Following a period of personal change and loss, Lyves (aka Francesca Bergami) wrote and recorded the songs on her newly minted EP Like Water tucked away in an attic of a small Italian villa. Lyves combines a lush and R&B-suffused sound with a deep, resonate vocal that we can’t help but compare to Rhye.
Not one to divulge too many personal details, Bergami prefers to let the music exist on its own merit. She expounds: “When I worked in mental health I had a lot of people really open up to me, really let it all out – there’s something really beautiful and courageous about that. I really hope to offer something to people who might be going through a difficult time. I don’t want it to be about me. I want the music to speak for itself and possibly give something. That’s what fuels my passion.”
So interpret it how you will, but “Darkest Hour” feels like a very relevant track in this particular place and time in our country. Hear it below.