Hello Natural Selections readership,
I am somewhat new to the Rockefeller community and very new to this publication, so I thought it might be a good idea to at least briefly introduce this column before jumping into the music. Something I’ve picked up on since starting research here is that most people listen to music in the lab while they work, and usually it’s something unique and maybe not too well known. Maybe it’s just how New Yorkers are, but Rockefeller people in particular seem to have an advanced knowledge of good music and the artists that produce it.
With that in mind, I hoped I might reach an audience of music enthusiasts that would be open to a few recommendations. I don’t claim to be an authority on all the good music out there, but I figured maybe some other Rockefeller people might be into the material I’ve come across one way or another. I think these albums (and all subsequent recommendations) are gold, so hopefully you’ll enjoy them too.
P.S. I realize after writing my recommendations that both albums are petty funk-forward, I’ll try to pick different genres next time.
Vulfpeck – Live at Madison Square Garden
Genre: Funk, Indie
Listen to this if you like: Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, anything on the Daptone label
Description: Some might consider it bold move to have my first recommendation be a live album, because live albums typically sound different than the more well-known original studio recording. For most other bands, I would agree, but Vulfpeck with their Madison Square Garden live album is an exception–this is my favorite album of theirs. If you compare the original and live versions of each song side by side, you’ll notice that the live versions not only pay homage to the original, but also that they are decorated and ornamented in a way that augments and improves each piece. In fact, I find it difficult to go back and hear the original pieces now because they sound so bare-bones. Featuring eighteen performers, this show might be one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. And if you want to see it visually it’s available on Youtube.
- “Animal Spirits” – One of Vulfpeck’s best studio songs, which was only improved by the energy and spontaneity of a live performance.
- “Wait for the Moment” – Another one of their most popular studio songs. It was not only performed super tight, but after the song normally ends, the band goes into a breakdown where each player individually comes in and progressively layers on top of the previous additions, extending the jam for about another three minutes–the resulting build to the song’s ending climax is absolutely incredible.
- “Dean Town” – This song has a very iconic and complicated bassline, and yet the crowd sings along and nails it for like two minutes of the three and a half minute piece.
- “Cory Wong,” “Beastly,” & “It Gets Funkier” – If you’re looking for funky grooves to get lost in, look no further than these three instrumentalal pieces.
L’Impératrice – Matahari
Genre: French indie disco
Listen to this if you like: Daft Punk, Breakbot, Chromeo
Description: It’s hard to pin down exactly what kind of sound this French band is going for. Like some kind of tropical space disco, it’s got this dark, smoky, sexy sensibility about it—the atmosphere is everything. Drifting from groove to groove, this album takes you on an odyssey as you get lost in its weird and enticing energy. Because it nails the vibe so well, the whole album is really great to listen to straight through because each plays with the tone in an interesting way. Furthermore, it’s hard to specify which songs are the best. Regardless, here are a few of my favorites.
- “Error 404” & “The Kiss” – These are dreamy, intimate, down-tempo pop jams. The singer, Flore Benguigui, drifts over gleaming synth pads, clean guitar fills, and a bouncy bass line.
- “Forever Nobody” – As one of the funkier tunes on the album, good luck getting the chorus out of your head. The interplay between the bass, drums, guitar, and synth is hypnotizing.