Morning Commute: SHIELDS – Evidence

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How catchy is that hook? I mean, this is the kind of track that’ll make a pope dance… until he realizes that the song is about looking for evidence. Ouch. Too much? So is 4 billion dollars, but that’s a topic for another day. This is a post about SHIELDS’ new song, Evidence, an alt-pop dance tune complete with their signature harmonies, ethereal instrumentation, and complex but easy to remember/catchy song structure. It’s everything we have come to love and expect from the Newcastle based quintet.

While the song itself is light and airy, the lyrics are anything but. With a very pointed and clear message, the song delivers the time tested saying dating back to the 17th century, “actions speak louder than words,” in a new and polished package. This song is something that lyrically holds universal truth for everyone. If you’re like me, you know that actions are the key to change and honesty, but sometimes that can get muddled in selfish pride or even just being scared of what the truth actually means for your life. This is a really good reminder that the people around you don’t actually give a fuck what your reason is behind lying, they just want the truth.

I don’t believe a word you sound absurd 
I don’t believe a word you sound absurd

No one will go first, this feeling’s the worst
Waiting it out, building it up, feeding itself
No one will go first, this feeling’s the worst

You go, I go, I go, you go

You can tell me anything you want 
It’s time now to show me the truth

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Morning Commute: Big Sam’s Funky Nation – Pokechop

Even before they started singing about Mardi Gras, it was very clear these guys were here to represent NOLA. There isn’t another city like it on this planet, and the inhabitants are the same way. The video and the sound screams Big Easy. New Orleans is a proud and distinct city, and the only thing that doesn’t fit is the 76ers hoodie in the back. Good thing this isn’t an article about the 76ers and their squad they’ve assembled in Philadelphia that’s led by a man with two left knees. That article wouldn’t be so kind. This is an article about something way better than the Sixers. I’m a Hornets fan, so this is obviously all in good fun. I root for a team that seems content with being a 10 seed in a weak conference. My team also cheated on me and left for the Big Easy a long time ago, which is a perfect segue back to this funk track that is the epitome of the city it was born in.

Everyone feels like funk music is about the hard popping bass lines, the cadence of the vocals, and a powerful brass section. Funk is just as much about the negative space in the song, and Big Sam’s Funky Nation know how to work their negative space perfectly. I know that seems weird, but stay with me. If there’s constant sound to create a “fuller” track, you sacrifice the aspect of funk that is just as synonymous with the genre as the music itself: dancing. Having the negative space, that millisecond between bass lines, is what gives you a paint by numbers guide to exactly how your body should move to the song. It lets you know when to step, stomp, and shake, as witnessed by the men and women in this song. Funk music is about bringing everyone together, having fun, having a few drinks, and dancing until your legs feel like jello, either from the dancing or the drinks.

The perfect picture of New Orleans, Pokechop shows what the city is all about: robust music, a new twist on classic style (except for that 76ers hoodie), beautiful people and architecture, and a penchant for the good life. The Big Easy is known for their parties, and Big Sam’s Funk Nation knows how to throw one hell of a party.

Morning Commute: Fyra “U Wanna”

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It’s time to wake up, and I’ve got a song that will have you rolling your hips in the bed before you roll your body out of it. Fyra’s new single, U Wanna, is a banger that still keeps the same groove that Fyra has become known for from previous singles like In My RoomU Wanna is a really honest song that delves into relationships becoming too busy and cluttered, and the importance of making time for each other. In Fyra’s words, “take a break, do the deed, get back on the grind.” On your commute this morning, keep that in mind. All work and no play, and all that good stuff.

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Morning Commute: Emilie Mover “Fallin’ In”

When I came across this new single from Emilie Mover, I knew the name was familiar. I couldn’t place where I knew it from, but there was something very familiar about the timbre of this Canadian turned New Yorker folk artist. I started looking through her discography, and immediately knew where I had heard the pure and articulate, while having just enough rasp, vocals before; she has an incredible album where she covers some of my favorite Peggy Lee songs that you can find here.

Okay, now let’s focus on Fallin’ In, the second single off of her new album, Night Owl. Mover says of the song,

“Fallin’ In is actually the last song I wrote for Night Owl. I wrote it in a park near my apartment the morning we left for Bathouse.  I was kind of just going through the tunes, finalizing idea and starting to think about the order for the album.  I was watching some kids play together in the park and it was a beautiful late summer day and it was one of those things that just came together within minutes.  It kind of wrote itself.”

She goes on to say that the idea behind the song is to get into what really happens when we grow up. How do we go from being carefree kids playing together in the park to overworked and overstressed adults?

emilie

Okay, that last part may be me projecting, but the true idea behind the song is trying to maintain that childlike whimsy and excitement for life throughout adulthood. She lets us in on the fact that her dad has always upheld that view on life, and has been a sterling example of how to maintain a fervor for all things fun. The children in the park made Mover think of all of her childhood friends, and only thought it appropriate to have them play on the track. Those same friends that she played with in the parks as a kid are now playing on a track about them playing in those parks. If that’s not absolutely beautiful and very meta, I don’t know what is. Her dad, Mover’s “favorite kid at heart,” is also featured on the track, absolutely crushing the horn solo at the 2:30 mark.

I haven’t gotten around to listening to the whole album yet, but if Night Owl is anything like Fallin’ In, it is going to make plenty of our personal playlists. Reeking of jazz chords and off-beat rhythms, this song has a lot heavier package than most folk songs.

Want to listen to Emilie and all of our other featured artists for the month of June in one neat and tidy playlist? Click here.

Want to listen to me and Caleb talk about Bad Luck and feature new artists you haven’t heard of yet? Click here.

-Seth

Video of the Day and Morning Commute: Jessicka “Penniless Fools”

This is the first song that has been the perfect fit for the Video of the Day (for obvious reasons), and the Morning Commute. Jessicka’s track, Penniless Fools, is the first song we’ve considered for cross-categorization, and it is a well deserved accolade.

Starting out with almost a minute of B-roll footage, Penniless Fools really gets started at around the :50 mark, but the shots beforehand are nice enough to keep your interest focused on the song. Once the song does get started, you’ll be instantly happy that you stuck around. Jessicka’s voice and the instrumentation is reminiscent of Florence + the Machine, but Jessicka has a style all her own. With a powerful voice and a beautiful arrangement to back her up, the singer-songwriter from Vancouver takes a very meta look at the roles we play in life. The tape she plays in the middle of the song at the 3:15 mark plays the role of the average human mind:

“It’s a measly manner of existence,
to get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer
to devote your whole life to keeping stock,
or making phone calls,
or selling,
or buying.
To suffer 50 weeks of the year
for a two week vacation
when all you really desire is to be outside with your shirt off,
but still,
that’s how you build a future.”

Penniless Fools gets into the dilemma of working to support yourself financially vs. doing the things that you love to support yourself mentally. A very small percentage of people get up and go to a job that they love, a larger percentage enjoy a lot of the aspects of their job, and a much larger percentage hate what they do much more frequently than they enjoy it. This song gets into that and makes you really question whether the financial stability is worth using your only shot at life to be completely miserable.

This is a song that really resonates with me and a situation I went through recently. I was making a lot of money in a position where I essentially had to sell my soul to the devil. I decided it would be best to leave that job without a backup plan in place because I couldn’t take one more day of the soul-crushing position I was in. I knew that we would take a substantial pay cut for a while and that I may not find something for quite a while, but the financial stability that job provided wasn’t worth the strain it put on me and my family. Fast forward 7 months, and I now have multiple streams of revenue, all coming from sources that I absolutely love (or at least love more than I dislike). I still don’t make the same kind of money I made previously, but that really doesn’t matter when I’m about to be buried.

“Living the dream, but not much sleep.”

Morning Commute: LV Baby “Keep Me High Up”

Every track we feature on this site is going to be something that makes our personal playlists in some fashion. There are some songs that end up making every playlist we put together, and this is one of them. Windows Down Playlist? Keep Me High Up. Smooth Brass Playlist? Keep Me High Up. Feel It In Your Soles (lyrically conscious songs to dance to)? Keep Me High Up. Funeral Pyres? Keep Me High Up. Okay… maybe not the last one, but you get the picture.

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Cal the 3rd starts out with the trumpet, beckoning your attention, almost like a king is about to enter. LV Baby may not be royalty, but his voice is about as close as you get to being knighted. There are so many rappers out there who fall in line and do something safe that they know everyone will enjoy. Those guys are needed for the kingdom to succeed. They have their place, and are greatly appreciated. Then, there are guys like LV Baby. With a raspy timbre and his constantly changing cadence, he tells a story of familial struggle; from almost losing his father to an aortic dissection, to losing contact with his brother, LV Baby leaves it all out on the table. He then follows up talking about his struggles by focusing on the many blessings he has in his life. When asked about the album and his creative process, LV Baby said,

“Simply put, I poured my heart into this record. I’ve been going through a lot, but I haven’t stopped working/creating. Thank God I’ve been able to make some of my best music throughout this period in my life. This song is a happy-sad summer jam that may have saved my life.”

These are the people in the kingdom who get to kneel before the kings and queens of rap-gone-by and get to become knights. Men and women who tell real stories, try new things, and hold nothing back. If you think that this song is a one-off lyrically, go check out American Pie. Damn!

Morning Commute: The Fedz “The Traveller”

I didn’t know where to start with this song, but when I found out they have a music video that tells the story of the RCK (Refugee Community Kitchen), I decided to let them tell the story. Before reading another word, watch the video. You’ll have to read some, so I’ll see you after the video is over.

Hey guys, welcome back. First off, let me get the part of the post where I talk about the vocals, instrumentation, etc. out of the way because I know that’s not what The FEDZ are really focused on with this song. In fact, they believe in what RCK is doing so strongly, that they are donating part of the profits from this song to the organization so they can continue to feed displaced families in need. (Link to buy the song) With tight tenor vocals and minimal piano leading the way, they set the stage for the song by making you focus on the words. The most beautiful part of the arrangement to me though is the gospel choir style gang vocals in the chorus. It really gives life to this story about the plight of the homeless and the refugee and the detrimental cycle life can take when they just need a break. It lets you know that this isn’t a story about a specific homeless person or a refugee, but a story about ALL homeless people and refugees.

The word of the day is humanity. Remember that.

Now, let’s get into the lyrics of the song. It starts out by getting you to think about what you see when you see a homeless or displaced person, and it’s pretty startling. I, admittedly, have been as guilty as anyone when see a homeless person. I see someone, and without knowing their story, try to label them: drug addict, alcoholic, lazy, and the list goes on and on. Even if they are one or all of those things, it doesn’t make them any less of a person. It makes me less of a person when I try to elevate myself above another person. The world needs more people to lean down to help them out.

They talk about someone taking a bad turn and all of a sudden, they’ve fallen down a slippery slope into their current unfortunate circumstance. I can specifically remember two times in my life where if I had taken the red pill, who knows what would’ve happened? I have stood on the edge of that slippery slope, and because of the cornerstones of my life, the community I surrounded myself with, and the values I was taught by loving parents, I staved off temptation, took the blue pill, and woke up in my own bed. Most people don’t have that support in their life, so straying down the wrong path is much easier. Nobody goes straight from an average joe with 2.5 kids, the white picket fence, and everything going in an upward trend to living on the streets in one day. There are a series of unfortunate events that lead up to that point.

I have an anecdotal story about refugees that I thought would be appropriate here that echoes the points made in “The Traveller.” I know someone who works very closely with refugees in Central Asian countries; offers them shelter and support, gets them acclimated to life in a new country, helps them navigate the hardships of refugee life. I had the opportunity to visit my friend and see what life looks like for them. We ate dinner one evening with a family who had been displaced from their home not because they wanted to move, but because if they didn’t run, they could be murdered. Back in their country, they lived in a two story home, and they owned a nut farm where they grew and sold various nuts to people all over the country. This family consisted of 6 people: a mother well into her 60’s, a father who was the same age, a son in his 30’s, a daughter in her 20’s, a son with debilitating cerebral palsy, and a 3 year old granddaughter. To escape their country, they literally had to carry the son with cerebral palsy in incredible heat. They now live in a one room cement shack on the roof of a building. Life changed for them in an absolutely dramatic way, and it had nothing to do with any choices that they personally made.

They are viewed as second rate citizens in a country where they can claim asylum and wait out the storm, but you could never tell they had even seen a rain cloud. They were some of the happiest and most generous people I’ve ever met in my life. We are not defined by what happens to us, but how we handle what happens to us.

Make someone’s life easier today. Give that homeless guy a warm meal. Give RCK money so they can keep giving warm meals.