In this column, we cover songs for you to nod your head to in the EDM scene [electronic dance music, not extra dancy music, for those not in the know]. There is enough dance floor pressure here to get you out of the tryptophan malaise with a quickness.
1. Grenier “Here Come The Dark Lights”
If your idea of dubstep is Skrillex–and shame on you if this is the case since Skrillex is brostep, it is time to edumacate yourself. A far cry from the Shrillex sound, dubstep originated in South London, with singles usually landing on the B-sides of garage records [btw, it’s pronounced ga-ra-dj like a proper Brit]. BBC Radio 1 DJs John Peel and Mary Ann Hobbs brought the genre fully into the mainstream, but its hallmark has always been heavy bass lines–in other words, not the kind of “wobble wobble” abuse/overuse in dubstep-by-the-numbers would have you believe.
Grenier, aka DJG, has been toiling in the bass trenches of San Francisco producing quality music for a while now. His show in DC in 2011, brought by the bassxperts of 88DC, was a testament to what good dubstep sounds like–dark and heavy and mercifully free of screeching girls.
2. Lana Del Rey “Ride” [MJ Cole Remix]
Speaking of garage and dubstep, UK producer MJ Cole has churned out a solid catalogue of garage hits, including Sincere. On this latest remix, he takes Lana Del Rey’s languid Ride and makes it shimmer and seethe with the traditional syncopated garage beat. This is one very rideable hot beat.
3. Jodi & Hosta “My Life”
Time to talk about drum’n’bass, my ever-present love. Drum’n’bass has more offshoots than Bob Marley, all with different Moms too. There is liquid d’n’b and its close brethren, chillstep. Some might argue chillstep is more of the dubstep ilk, with producers like Sierra Leone and Mount Kimbie as an example, but this track is just straight up chill drum’n’bass. Lush and pure aural delight.
4. Little Dragon “Sunshine” [Shlohmo Remix]
In the immortal words of Dave Chapelle, everything is better in slo-mo and downtempo purveyor Shlohmo proves this to be the case indeed. Taking Little Dragon’s effervescent Sunshine–oh, and btw, Yukimi Nagano can do *no* wrong in my book–and layering it on top of a wistful and wispy beat produces a shining sonic delight. You will be flying high on this particular lotus.
5. Alexander Spit “A Breathtaking Trip”
I first chanced upon this rapper when I noticed Alchemist appeared on his “Getaway Car” track. When asked who he wants to work with, San Francisco rapper Alexander Spit references Portishead and Kanye. His languid yet sharp delivery is definitely trip-hop-worthy and no less trip-worthy. Psychedelic explorations and phantasmagoria abound. “Bodies feel like costumes after I ate the mushrooms.” This is one hazy breath-taking trip to the other side. “I stay gone, my chick thinking we long distance.”
The silver linings abound in the impossibly endearing Silver Linings Playbook, a glorious mash-up of a mental health issues-rom-com film that is far too cheeky and whip smart to, surprisingly, be a mainstream release. Director David O. Russell (Three Kings, I ♥ Huckabees, The Fighter) adapts Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel about a down-on-his-luck former high school teacher fresh out of a month stint in a mental health hospital. Hell-bent on “winning back” his estranged, restraining-order-wielding wife, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is staging a Rocky-like comeback physically (complete with jogging with a garbage bag on top of his running clothes so he can sweat more) and mentally, by reading his way through the high school English syllabus. Oh, and there is this “dance thing” too that he has agreed to do with the self-described “crazy slut with a dead husband” Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). While Silver Linings Playbook does rely on some tried and tested rom com tropes, this is a far cry from jam-in-every-underdog-story-cliche film.
And speaking of crazy, Bradley Cooper channels his ADD-addledom from Limitless with excellent aplomb here, and it serves him well in bringing Pat’s manic moments to life. His portrayal of Pat as a “normal” guy who is humbled by the realization that he has struggled with bipolar disorder for a really long time is thoroughly disarming and easily one of Cooper’s finest characterizations to date. And while mental health issues are handled with enough gravitas in the film, there is also room for plenty of good-natured ribbing, as in the scene where Tiffany and Pat rattle off all the meds they have been on and the fun factor of each of them. Anupam Kher’s turn as Pat’s football-loving shrink Dr. Patel is pure comedic gold, even if it is not terribly true to DSM guidelines (I mean, when is the last time a shrink played a song to “test” whether it would set a patient off, without warning the patient). Pat’s constant riffing on the theme of positivity (Excelsior!=Ever Upward!) is equal parts funny and terribly true to the often mind-numbing platitudes patients in therapy are to “realize.” Speaking of therapy, Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as “damaged girl” Tiffany, with its perfect balance of toughness and vulnerability, is a testament to the actress’s maturity and range. The relationship between Pat and Tiffany is sort of like a a more G version of the one between Marla Singer and Jack in Fight Club, with its wry sarcastic repartee and heart-warming “out-crazy-ing” each other moments. Apparently having poor filters makes for some seriously enjoyable dialogue. And of course, the age old romcom trope of “the dance contest that brings everyone together” is yes, pretty recognizable, but what’s a little Dancing With The Starsaction to propel the plot forward but forgivable and fun.