This Week in Music #25 – Summer Tunes

If (like most of my readership) you find yourself lucky enough to be entering summer, you’ll know that you need to chuck some awesome tracks together to take you through the next few months of sun.

If you’re familiar with my music tastes you’ll know I’m not a massive contemporary pop fan, but you might be presently surprised to see one or two tracks crop up which might make this post non-alienating to 90% of people for the first time ever!

Broods – L.A.F

Despite the fact I didn’t really enjoy Broods’ most popular tracks Bridges, and Mother & Father (which may be due to the ubiquitous nature of these tracks) I’ve really been digging L.A.F, that deep synth organ in the background really does something for me – I also think it’s a bit more upbeat and catchy than the other two songs I mentioned (as demonstrated by my in car singing). All in all I think it’s one of those nice meditative summer songs.

Brothertiger – Crazy, Again

This track first came to my ears when I was enjoying a weekend bike ride, it’s warm, breezy, and ambient – I’d even say it has a touch of groove about it. I’ve been binging on chillwave the last couple of years, with an increased expansion of artists this year – and Brothertiger might be my favourite of the new artists (sorry, no one will beat Toro Y Moi for overall favourite). Listen to this track right now if you can see the sun, it’s lovely – it shocks me that it only has 2000 views on YouTube!

Craft Spells – Nausea

Over the last couple of months I’ve gone to write my 25th music post a couple of times, both times the opening track was this song by Craft Spells. Nausea for me evokes a kind of serenity, it’s relaxing but you’re not sure where it’s going despite the fact the song doesn’t take any surprising twists or turns. It feels as if the artist is trying to induce dizziness in the listener. The album of the same name continues the downbeat beauty of this track, I’d recommend checking it out.

Toro Y Moi – Talamak

Well I mentioned him earlier in the post, Toro Y Moi is my jam musically. It’s warm, it’s ecclectic – and he seems to generate sounds whether from analogue or digital devices which seem to be entirely unique and random – and yet it’s orchestrated in such an evocative manner with no degree of kitsch that means I can’t stop listening to Toro Y Moi. Talamak reminds me of walks in parks, and days spent sitting in Albert Park, those opening few seconds are just so sweet and tender that I can never be mad when it comes on, even if it’s the tenth time I’ve heard it in a week.

Wavves – Green Eyes

The album cover, the lyrics, the fury – Green Eyes is one of those fist pumping, stare intently at everyone you see kind of songs. It’s also (along with the entire album King of the Beach) one of those summer beats you want playing when you’re heading out of the city towards the beach. Download the entire album to your phone, it’s worth it. This is one of those albums you want on any road trip.

Anyway I hope this gives you 15 minutes of enjoyment over the summer (and potentially hours if I make you addicted to any of these artists :)) let me know in the comments if you’ve got any summer beats you’ll be blaring this season.

Life Without Power

This past Sunday (the 5th of October) a power outage swept across large parts of East and South Auckland due to a fire at a substation. As a resident of Remuera/Meadowbank my flatmates and I were victims of a no-power weekend. This was irksome for several reasons – aside from the basic necessities of life like a cup of tea, and wi-fi – I had actually set aside the day for non-stop gaming (my version of relaxation).

The initial hour spent at home was full of interesting thought processes; when I first tried to turn the kettle on I thought “hmm that’s strange”, then when the lights refused to illuminate I thought “oh no we’ve been cut off by the power company” it wasn’t until my phone refused to ring the power company’s helpline for the third time in a row I realised “oh the cellphone tower reception’s out too” – this was both a relief and an emotional sandbag. I was glad that we hadn’t foolishly forgot some bill somehow, but equally I knew I was settling in for at least several hours without power.

Following this period of initial discovery I started to ponder my plan for the day, with no way to gather information I realised that there would be little point staying at home, as it would no doubt lead to a waiting game against an invisible enemy. I planned a scouting mission to the local cafe – I knew it was unlikely to produce results as power cuts rarely affect small target areas (such as the five houses I could see from ours) but I thought it would be worthwhile to see how in the dark (thank you very much) everyone else was.

Completely. Everyone else nearby was completely in the dark.

It was beginning to rain, and knowing that nothing but grey skies, and darkness awaited me at home I decided to head towards civilisation, or at least where I hoped civilisation would still exist.

Arriving in town with my laptop in hand I was glad to see that the mighty CBD had lived to see another day. I performed my usual city pondering, in which I idly navigated streets I’d walked a hundred times before – and as always I discovered half a dozen things about the CBD I had never known before. Two of my favourites this time were the fact that there’s Paintball and Crazy Golf in the CBD Metro (I freakin’ love Crazy Golf so I’ll definitely be utilising that in the future), however it was Wi-Fi which I sought so needily. The rest of my day was then spent sitting in the Library followed by Vulcan Cafe (decent coffee!) and do you know what thought inevitably crossed my mind?

Addiction to technology.
And the funny thing is, it wasn’t “we’re too dependant on technology, we spend too much time using it – boo technology!” – it was “holy crap, how awesome and invaluable are these items that most of us take for granted” – seriously I mean ALL pieces of technology. Lightbulbs to see what’s in my closet, power to charge my toothbrush, Wi-Fi to connect me to BILLIONS of devices around the world!

Of course we all should probably spent a little less time on facebook than we do, however after today I feel more assured of my technology consumption than ever before. It may not be great that we’re all so dependant on technology, but do you know what? If less general knowledge is a by-product of an overall more progressive culture via the enhancements that technology provides – then I think it’s a worthy trade.

1d20 reasons you should play D&D right now!

In this modern era where geek is chic (or at least Jason Schwartzman and sweaters), one area that hasn’t seen much daylight in popular culture is Dungeons and Dragons. I’m always surprised that this is the case as tabletop gaming in general allows such vivid use of your imagination. With the right mentality and rule set – literally anything is possible.

Perhaps it’s the notion that imagination should be limited to children and creative agency types, because D&D is so often viewed with the highest suspicion and disdain from the general public – it’s truly one of those areas where you expect to here someone yell “Neeeeeerd!” at you without irony.

I’ve been playing it once or twice a month with some friends for about six months now and after our first campaign in which I played a Gnomish Bard (who invented the now famous genre of Scream Flute) have now begun a new campaign.

So far I’ve been loving the new campaign as I’ve been playing a holier-than-thou Human Paladin who wants nothing more than to help those lowly in society while slaying any microbe of evil present around him. Unbeknownst to my character, he is actually journeying with an Evil Necromancer at the moment who is currently operating under the guise of being a cleric. I’ll be very interested to see how this plays out throughout our campaign – one of the hardest things about D&D is separating out player knowledge vs character knowledge. That is, I know my friend Tim is playing an evil character, and that my Paladin should slay him – however, within the world my character doesn’t know and so long as Ghurn (the cleric) is careful, he can hypothetically continue to grow in strength and perhaps attempt to kill me later down the line by raising dead to support him!

One facet of D&D I really enjoy is the social aspect – it’s a great excuse to hang out, have a couple of beers/glasses of wine and do stupid things, yet Dungeons & Dragons is open to all levels of immersion – if you want to you can ruthlessly roleplay. It’s really up to the group and Dungeon Master.

It’s a lot of fun, and is kind of a laugh, and it’s not too hard to pick up – I think the hardest aspects are the initial character building stages + the use of magic. However with an experienced player or two at hand you can get up and running with D&D in absolutely no time.

So next time you’re struggling to decide between Monopoly or Cluedo, why not try D&D?