2014 in songs

warm water” that you played through a portable speaker in the basket of your two-year-old bicycle, your last summer in montreal. volume turned way up, riding with two of your best friends — to work with the sun rising at your back, coffee in one hand, or to the bar at night, racing to beat the rain. you pretended you were in “now & then,” embodying every cliche: carefree, sun-kissed, singing at the top of your lungs without knowing the words. you played it at the park in the heat, in your stuffy apartment, on your computer at work, in the studio, and in the early morning when the three of you came home, sticky with sweat and laughter, from a night of partying under seventeen moons.

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music monday / pearl

there’s something to be said about the appeal of anonymity. certainly in dance music, mystery has become a bit of a signature in and of itself. masks a la daft punk or zomby, pseudonyms or aliases, burial’s entire persona, the ubiquitous “special guest” slot on every bill. secrets are the new black, so much so that it’s not really a secret anymore. for that reason, i tend to shrug off these kinds of anonymous producers, but every so often comes an artist like pearl.

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on the street with georgie fisher

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have you ever been in love? georgie fisher has. i don’t know because we’ve talked about it — it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask — i know because i can hear it in her songs. warm, honest acoustic folk music that, while it doesn’t necessarily speak to break ups or relationships, is somehow grounded in the kind of openness that only falling in love can bring to light. or maybe it’s just that georgie’s is the kind of voice that you can tell has broken a heart or two.

the first time i heard georgie play, it was my second week in berlin. she and cohort harry leatherby had set up — guitars, amps, bottles of beer — outside an u bahn station in kreuzberg. we were just about to wander away when they started playing. we danced a bit. it didn’t last long, maybe a song or two, before it started raining and they were gone but i knew — knew — that i wanted to work with her on a piece for littlecity, which as it turns out, is my first rooted in berlin’s music scene.

when i meet georgie for the second time, we are both hungover. over bagels and coffee at friedrichshain’s shakespeare & sons, we talk about street performance, berlin, and her own history with folk music. a native of sydney, australia, georgie moved to berlin a year ago after a short while spent in london, where she recorded her debut EP playground. now based out of berlin, she quit her job bartending to pursue music full-time, a career that finds her not only playing gigs in small venues around the city, but on bridges, in parks, at the local flea market, and in the streets.

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speaker sessions 020 / lyli

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i’ve never met lyli jordy in person. i’ve never heard her speak aside from picking up on her ghostly vocals in the productions featured on her soundcloud. we met in the way that seems typical of the music community – over the internet, earlier this summer when my good friend jackie spade pointed me in lyli’s direction, insisting that she has a “voice that needs to be heard.” i tucked into her soundcloud, devouring her every release from dripping, melting dub to complex microhouse or instrumentalized minimal thread through perfect, breathy vocal fragments. and though i’ve never heard it in person, i know for sure that lyli has a voice that, indeed, begs to be heard.

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music monday / zola jesus

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raised on a forest in merrill, wisconsin, nika roza danilova had an early introduction to music, begging her parents to work with a vocal coach at only 7 or 8 years old. based on her small town roots, you might not expect her sound to be so industrial, but as zola jesus, her performance, personal, and musical style is as modern-goth-urban as they come.

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