Smooth Tuesday Jams: The French Touch

Continuing with our themes, I’ll be exploring the smooth vibes explored by France, often deemed the French Touch in house and dance music. The French are already pretty smooth with their language, food, and fashion, so it’s really not shocking that a lot of their music is smooth as well.

Come check out our next Sea Level party at Tender Trap in Williamsburg on April 10th at 9 PM. We will be continuing to throw them every second Wednesday of the month! More details available here.

Sébastien Tellier – "Look" (2008)

Following in the footsteps of Serge Gainsbourg, the original king of French smooth, Sebastien Tellier has experimented with various genres and styles, but they are always smooth and always for the ladies. Here is a stand out tune from his 2008 record, the aptly titled Sexuality, complete with incredible cover art.

Breakbot – "Another Dawn" (feat. Irfane) (2012)

Channeling the smooth of many legends past and filtering it through a contemporary lens, French artist Breakbot released his fantastic By Your Side LP last year. On this particular cut, he channels Michael McDonald, with vibes that heavily remind me of this one.

Air – "Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi" (1997)

Air are the masters of bachelor-pad, electronic-space-jazz lounge, and they have progressively become more pop driven. Their earlier stuff, though, was pure instrumental smooth. This is one of those tunes.

Phoenix – "You Can Blame It On Anybody" (2004)

Everyone knows Phoenix now as a result of their popular album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and their songs’ inclusion in car ads. What many people don’t know is that, before they were making sort of generic indie rock, Phoenix was making incredible smooth jams like this one on their first two (and partly third) records. I can listen to the vocal harmonies in the beginning on loop forever.

Daft Punk – "Something About Us" (2001)

There’s not much I can say about Daft Punk that hasn’t already been said: they are a big reason house music is popular all over the world today. This is taken from their definitive masterpiece, Discovery, and is a deviation from the rest of the record’s upbeat dance tunes, instead opting for a laid back smooth love jam.

Alan Braxe – "Voices" (2013)

Another master of the French touch sound that defined French dance music in the late ’90s-00s, Braxe, who has often collaborated with Fred Falke, was known for his lush synths, emotional chord changes, and funky bass lines. This tune illustrates much of that nostalgic beauty.
 

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Smooth Monday Jams: Duets Edition

Sup y’all. Kim inspired me last week with his Canada-centric post to try and keep these consistently themed as long as the ideas are flowing. This week is all about the tenderest of smooth jams: the smooth duet.

Be sure to check out Sea Level this Wednesday March 6th at The Tender Trap. Come check us out and vibe to the smooth jams that will have you smiling throughout the rest of your week. 

Samantha Sang & The Bee Gees – "Emotion" (1977)

Samantha Sang sang the lead, while The Bee Gees provide a falsetto cloud of backing vocals as this tune floats into the sky. Emotional.

Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – "Born To Love" (1983)

Peabo, a master of the smooth duet, teams up with Roberta, no duet rookie herself, and the results and unsurprisingly very smooth. That slap bass line hits so hard that DJ Premier had to sample it

Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney – "The Girl Is Mine" (1982)

Who says a duet has to be a man and a woman? MJ and Sir Paul prove that a couple o’ blokes can pull off a duet, albeit one of the goofiest tracks of all time (especially the dialogue at the end). Top level smooth though.

Cherelle & Alexander O’Neal – "Saturday Love" (1985)

Cherelle & Alexander O’Neal provide the perfect soundtrack to your groovin’ Saturday night on the town. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis on production. Flawless combination.

Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald – "On My Own" (1986)

I mostly picked this one because it’s one of the greatest videos of all time. Also, one man: Michael McDonald.
 

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Smooth Monday Jams: Canadian Edition

Hello! Kim Robinson here, one-half of the awesome party Sea Level that I put on with your regular scribe, Obey City.

For this week’s edition of Smooth Monday Jams, I’ve decided to take us on a journey northward to visit our pals in Canada. While some of the best smooth music has come from the states, there is no denying that the Canadians have a respectable catalog of smooth cuts. Here’s five songs that’ll tell you what some of our Canadian friends are aboot.

Dont forget: Sea Level has moved to Wednesdays at The Tender Trap, with the next party happening on March 6th! Come check us out and vibe to the smooth jams that will have you smiling throughout the rest of your week. Like Sea Level on Facebook to receive updates on our event

Destroyer – "Kaputt" (2011)

Dan Bejar of Destroyer excels at writing low-maintenance glam rock and indispensable smooth jams like the title cut from his album Kaputt. From the beginning of the track you know he means business with the filthy saxophone treatments sprinkled throughout. It’s a truly epic smooth jam that just keeps going on and on.

Feist – "One Evening" (2004)

Everyone knows Leslie Feist for the monster indie hit "1,2,3,4," but upon heavy inspection of her catalog we know that she’s a big fan of sultry R&B akin to Sade and Maxwell. Check this awesome video and song for this sleeper cut from the album Let It Die.

Gonzales – "Slow Down" (2008)

What can’t Gonzales do? Besides producing music for our previous artist Feist, he’s also worked with electroclash icon Peaches. On the side he plays amazing live solo piano recitals and records smooth jams for the intimate moments he’s created as a solo artist .

Joni Mitchell – "Coyote" (1976)  

You can’t go to Canada without visiting Joni. I’m a big fan of her early folk stuff, but have began to fully embrace her fusion-jazz work of the late ’70s. This track featuring the late, great bassist Jaco Pastorius was her first full jump into fusion, adding her beautiful vocals to a smooth jazzy landscape.

 

Drake – "Karaoke" (2010)

 

Produced by Sea Level fave Francis Starlight of "Francis & The Lights," this deep-cut was on Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later. Over a smooth synth beat, Drake laments a lost love that doesn’t want the spotlight or attention of his new fame at the time. Sea Level would like to see more collaborations like this, especially when the results are this smooth. Thanks, Canada!

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Smooth Monday Jams: Warm Up Edition

Brooklyn-based DJ and producer Obey City has curated a “Smooth Jams” series of his favorite tracks. Today’s installment warms us up with some Canadian finds. Plug in your headphones and crank up that volume, because it’s time to get smooth. 

This weekend I was up in Montreal for a gig. The weather there was not smooth at all…more like bone chilling. Is poutine a smooth snack? I’m not really sure. However, I did manage to get some record shopping in and picked up a couple smooth gems for ya’ll.

Be sure to check out Sea Level on its new nights. Begining in April, Sea Level will move to the second Wednesday of the month at the Tender Trap in Brooklyn. However the next one lands on Wednesday March 6th. Free smoothness for all begins at 9 PM. I promise you’ll hear songs like this and many more to start your work week off on a smoother note. Hope to see all you smoothies there.

 

Crackin’- "Dont You Wish You Could Be There" (1977)

Saw this cover with a rose bursting from an egg and I had to buy it. Classic AOR west coast smooth vibes all over this one.

 

 

Boule Noire – "Aimer D’Amour" (1978)

Apparently this record is easily found all over Quebec but I had never heard of Mr. Noire before. Sorta sounds like a french version of this

 

 

Shakatak – "Easier Said Than Done" (1981)

First of all look at this band’s name real quick – Shakatak. It’s definitely pronounced the same way as Shaq Attack, the nickname of former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. Now listen to this jam – sort of Bob James-esque light jazz/funk/fusion. Shaq would love this.

 

 

Janet Jackson – "Someone To Call My Lover (Velvet Mix)" (2001)

Always been a fan of this song but this remix – my god. Takes it to new levels. Jermaine Dupri does a pretty solid Devante Swing/Timbaland drum programming impersonation and mixes it with some gorgeous chord changes behind the already lush vocals from Ms. Jackson herself. Velvet indeed!

 

 

Craig David – "What’s Your Flava (Markus Enochson Broken Soul Mix)" (2009)

Ok, so I technically picked up the original 12" of this song by Craig David – but this version is far less known and much smoother. Shout outs to DJ Steve for putting me onto this a couple years back.

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Smooth Monday Jams: Lovers’ Edition

Another Monday, another spoonful of smooth jams spread nice ‘n’ thick on your week. In case you forgot, this Thursday is that day for lovers to hold one another close and for lonely people to sit in their rooms and cry whilst drowning their sorrows. The best part? Both scenarios are perfect for some smooth jams!

Be sure to check out Sea Level every first Monday of the month at Tender Trap in Brooklyn. Free smoothness for all begins at 9 PM. I promise you’ll hear songs like this and many more to start your work week off on a smoother note.

Robert John – "Winner Take All" (1980)

Robert John aka "The Guy Who Looks or Looked Like Zack Galifinakis but sounds like the Bee Gees" brings us a tune for the bitter heartbroken man on Valentine’s Day whose buddy took his girl. But he won’t go down without a fight!

Next – "Butta Love" (1997)

I could have filled this list up smooth slow-jam crossovers 100 times over, but I had to narrow it down. After all, who doesn’t want that butta love on Valentine’s Day? So smooth and so creamy.

Bobby Caldwell – "My Flame" (1978)

One of my favorite smooth jams of all time by one of my favorite smooth voices—HANDS DOWN. You put this on before y’all leave for dinner and, oops, looks like you’re gonna be late for that reservation, buddy!

Bobby Nunn – "Do You Look That Good In The Morning?" (1983)

A SECRET WEAPON OF MINE! Can’t believe I’m sharing this gem with y’all, but yes, this is one. What if you’re out on the town come Valentine’s Day and you got to find some last-minute loving? Just recite the words in this song my friend. Case closed.

DeBarge – "All This Love" (1982)

There’s so much love in us all! Unleash it upon the world this week and every week, not just on Valentine’s Day! That’s how this song makes me feel, at least.
 

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Smooth Monday Jams: Check Your History

There are still a lot of people out there who have a negative connotation when the words "smooth" and "music" are combined, and I’m the first to say that not all smooth music is necessarily good. This isn’t your generic, corny smooth jazz CD or your boring easy-listening station (although there are some gems in those genres, as well). I’m attracted to the smooth tracks from all genres, of which there are more than you can even imagine. To ease the pressures off your Mondays, I bring you the “Smooth Jams” series, my favorite smooth tracks of the week.

Be sure to check out Sea Level tonight and every first Monday of the month at Tender Trap in Brooklyn. Free smoothness for all begins at 9 PM. I promise you’ll hear songs like this and many more to start your work week off on a smoother note.

Software – "Island Sunrise" (1988)

Shots out to Mamiko Motto for putting me onto this one (tune into her show Hepcat Radio on NTS every Wednesday 8-9 PM GMT). Anything beginning with the sounds of the ocean is off to a good start, but the ethereal pads, synthesizer chimes, and overall musicality of this track makes me melt.

Mya – "Smilin" (1997)

This unreleased gem by Mya is produced and arranged by Devante Swing, one of the most under appreciated musical geniuses of our time. Check your history!

Toro y Moi – "Touch" (2012)

Whoever said that no one is making any smooth jams anymore, is straight up wrong. Toro Y Moi serves up a tasteful and laid back groover. (pro-tip: mix into this.)

Toto – "Human Nature" (1983)

Toto basically recorded this entire song before showing it to Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones. I love this version almost as much as the hit most people know off Thriller. Toto were the unsung smooth heroes of the late ’70s and early ’80s: they were studio musicians on so many of the best tracks.

The Doobie Brothers – "Minute by Minute" (1978)

Gotta end with some yacht rock from one of the godfathers of smooth, Michael McDonald. AND I SAY CHURCHHHHHHHHH (shout out Meek Mill).

2012’s Hottest Parties, From San Francisco to Brooklyn to Beirut

Over the summer, BlackBook sent seven photographers into the night to capture the energy of their home cities. Now that we’re in the throws of the bitter cold, what better time to look back at the hottest parties of the year? 

9:37pm, August 11th: Non Stop Bhangra

Public Works,
 San Francisco, California

As a professional photographer, I go to many parties here in San Francisco. Not many are memorable, but I remember the first time I happened upon Non Stop Bhangra. I was passing by a club called Public Works on Erie Street when I heard the instantly recognizable beat of bhangra music spilling from the door. I followed the sound into a room full of women wearing saris and men wearing turbans. Everyone was waving their arms in the air with broad smiles. This is Non Stop Bhangra, a party started in 2004. It happens the second Saturday of every month and I never miss it.—Hanna Quevedo

2:30am, August 3rd: Happy Hour Hammer Time

Mojo Crew Club, Beirut, Lebanon

Happy Hour Hammer Time carries on the party spirit in Beirut during the holy month of Ramadan, usually a quiet month on the party circuit. The party is thusly named because “you’ll have fun and you’ll probably get hammered,” according to one of its beer-loving founders. It’s the longest-running happy hour in the city, and for only 20,000 Lebanese lira ($15) offers an open tap, cheap drinks, and endless beer pong. Filling the beer pong cups are two local beers, 961 and LB, which are part of the emerging microbrew scene in Lebanon.—Eric Hinojosa

3:32am, July 28th: Squat House Party

La Plage De L’Elephant, Ibiza, Spain

Wild nights are the status quo here in Ibiza. But what I like about Squat House Party, a concept imported from Buenos Aires, is that it’s a clash of cultures. Though they first started in abandoned houses in Argentina, now Squat House is a global movement with events in hotspots like Barcelona, Punta del Este, and Sao Paolo. This mix of underground music in a high socioeconomic environment is called “under-chic,” and the parties rarely end before dawn.—Ezequiel Salvatierra

12:52am, August 3rd: Astro Nautico

Free Candy, Brooklyn, New York

It’s the first Friday of the month and, on this sweltering night in an old parking garage in Flatbush, a mass of people are shaking their hips and stomping their feet to the thumping bass provided by the Brooklyn collective Astro Nautico. The crowd of twentysomethings is entranced as they watch VHS clips the resident artist Paul Jones projects to accompany the music. The booze flows freely like the sweat pouring down the small of everyone’s backs, but no one cares. This is a dance party.—Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez

10:32pm, August 1st: Diarrhea Planet Concert

Mercy Lounge,
 Nashville, Tennessee

In the best of times, partying in Nashville means seeing bands like Diarrhea Planet. Armed with four guitar players, a $150 noise citation, and a song called “Ghost with a Boner,” DP has developed a reputation in the local punk scene as Music City’s most entertainingly ostentatious party-punk sextet. Tonight, a sea of straight-edges at the foot of the stage will dance themselves into a frenzied mosh pit, screaming every lyric to every song and crowd surfing for at least a quarter of the show. At least one person will wind up bleeding.—Lance Conzett

11:37pm, August 11th: Beat Players

East Village Club, London, England

London DJ Stuart Patterson opened East Village in 2008. Tonight, Beat Players, a group of DJs who focus on the soulful side of house music and cater to a slightly older crowd, celebrates the Olympics with a “Best of the British” night. London’s Phil Asher spins disco in the upstairs lounge, while rising Welsh star Sean McCabe plays soulful house in the booming basement.—Annalisa Bruno

10:45pm, August 15th: Low End Theory

The Airliner, Los Angeles, California

Low End Theory is a mix of hip-hop and bass heavy experimental beats. As I reach the 2nd floor I feel like I’ve stepped into a sauna. The girl next to me complains to her friend that it smells like “sweaty feet on the dance floor”. Honestly it did, but nobody seemed to care. The energy of the front stage had the party pumping and the crowd was feeding off the beats. Low End Theory has some of the most legendary resident DJs and MCs in L.A., and it’s good to see that hip-hop is alive and well in L.A.—Nanette Gonzales

Rump-Shakin’ Friday Night on Flatbush

All right folks, if you’re like me you know that with the start of August comes that looming feeling that summer is almost over and leaving you wondering what you have been doing for the past two months. Well tonight, I recommend starting the night by joining in on a rooftop BBQ. You do know someone with a roof don’t you? In any case, plan a nice meal out with some friends to congregate over a few (or several) beers, ‘cause once it pops it don’t stop, summer! You’ll sit there with friends sharing some laughs, talking about your plans for the future and how this time you’re actually going to get off your ass and start doing shit. The time is now. Once you’ve had your revelations about the life you want, you’ll be feeling good and, chances are, looking good, too. I love what you’re doing with your hair!

Believe me when I say you’ll want hit the dance floor over at FreeCandy where Brooklyn-based DJ collective Astro Nautico have been throwing the freshest monthly parties your rumps simply cannot miss. Nestled in a former parking garage space in Prospect Heights, the venue is decked out with art, neon, neon art, and a giant projection area (which on this night Paul Jones will be manning the visuals for). Oh yeah! There’s a bar, just follow the neon to the glowing sign that reads FREE CANDY. The booze, however, is not free but still well priced for your dwindling bank account. You are sure to be engulfed by the lights, the vigor, perhaps a cute dancing buddy, and, of course, the music.

Residents Obey City, Kuhn, and Paul Jones have brought along guests by the likes of Falty DL B2B Dave Q, Mess Kid, Jacob 2-2, Lotide to share in this very special evening. The Astro boys have come a long way from the days of their infamous Over The Top parties at Cameo Gallery in 2010 and are going for gold straight into the future, electrifying dance floors across the globe.

If you are still feeling the effects from the full moon this week, then your energy is likely soaring, making tonight’s decision simple: forget everything, it’s time to dance.