Smooth Tuesday Jams: The Ladies of Smooth

Let’s focus on the ladies of smooth this week, shall we? There’ s obviously more than can be narrowed down to just five, so let’s just call this a "Ladies Of Smooth, Volume 1" post.

Sade – "I Couldn’t Love You More" (1992)

No list of smooth ladies would be complete without Helen Folasade Adu, better known to the world as Sade, whose music has help conceive thousands of babies around the world. It’s nearly impossible to pick just one of her jams, for now this is a favorite.

Stevie Nicks – "Sable On Blonde" (1983)

More or less "Dreams Pt. 2",) but who can be mad at that? Stevie is a goddess. I’m happy to note that I just picked this up on vinyl and there’s more than a few smooth cuts on it.

HAIM – "Falling" (2012)

Clearly influenced by Stevie & The Mac, these girls are well on their way to smooth stardom—this track in particular has been on constant repeat in the Sea Level offices. Happy to hear music like this is alive and well.

Anita Baker – "Mystery" (1986)

Everyone knows "Sweet Love" from her 1986 Rapture, but this lesser-known cut is even smoother to me. That bassline!

Suzanne Ciani – "The Seventh Wave: Sailing Away" (1982)

Suzanne Ciani is a true pioneer of music, especially electronic music. Sometimes we forget to focus on instrumental smooth music, and this one is a bubble bath for the ears. Waves crashing about, glittering synths, and lush pads washing over you. Love you, Suzanne. Shout outs to the homie DJ Steve for uploading this from his personal vinyl collection.

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).

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. 

Update Your Summer Playlist With Obey City’s ‘Melted Magic’ EP

While the air-conditioning system in the BlackBook office was down last week, I spent my days melting to the sound of Obey City’s latest EP, Melted Magic. Obey City is the individual project of Sam Obey, one member of the Brooklyn-based beat-making crew Astro Nautico. Obey’s four new tracks are perfectly delectable summertime grind anthems. Follow these steps: Download the EP, ingest a lazy cake, and prepare to dissolve.

Check out the video for Melted Magic’s lead single “Snickers” below.

Snickers from Astro Nautico on Vimeo.