Billie Eilish


Certain musicians are blessed with the ability to hear, see, feel, or taste music, a variant of the neurological condition known as synesthesia.

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Photo by: FPVmat A / Unsplash

The song opens with a hyperactive-sounding synth.

Then a man's voice kicks in. "Sometimes I had too many beers," says supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh. "Which I gladly do. And I fully embrace."

The day that Brett Kavanaugh said those lines will go down in our collective memory as a day of unusual absurdity, which is saying a lot. As we all know, on September 27, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford told senators she was "100 percent certain Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her," according to CNN. As Time Magazine wrote, her testimony changed America, both opening up a flood of sexual assault accusations that had previously remained in the dark and proving just how far our government and power structures will go to ensure that the accused remain in power.

If Blasey Ford changed America, Brett Kavanuagh showed its true colors. He sobbed and shouted his way through his testimony, painting a portrait of upper-class, private-school boyhood that inevitably led to a reckoning and sparked a firestorm of criticism and parody. If Blasey Ford's testimony was a story of girlhood wrapped in silence and memory obscured by trauma, Kavanaugh's was a tale of American masculinity refracted through a funhouse mirror.

The Myth of the American Hero: Kavanaugh, Beer, and Other False Gods

Perhaps that's why "Brett Kavanaugh Automatic x Levels" slaps so hard. Brett Kavanaugh's testimony was impossible to take seriously, but contained within a capsule of 2011 EDM gold, its absurdity and banality somehow bend into a thing of strange beauty. "Maybe it was because I was an only child and had no sisters," he says. "Many of us became friends and remain friends to this day with students at local Catholic all-girl schools." His voice is slow, almost slurred; it sounds like a poor imitation of a middle school bully, or a drugged-out Pete Davidson.

But beneath the gleeful, celebratory atmosphere of "Brett Kavanaugh Automatic x Levels," something haunting—if not monstrous—lurks. That ghostly thing is, most transparently, the knowledge that Kavanaugh is quite literally one of the most powerful people in our nation. As a supreme court justice, he is appointed for life. For our entire foreseeable future—which may or may not include a revolution and a full-on climate crisis—will make decisions that affect millions of people, instantly.

There is something implicitly and horribly entertaining about hearing Kavanaugh's testimony mixed with "Levels." The remix makes it easier and more acceptable to laugh at Kavanaugh, and at the whole absurd situation; but when you contrast Kavanaugh's speech with Ford's, the whole thing starts to glitch.

While Kavanaugh lives under an umbrella of humor and simulacra-esque surrealism, the defenders of Christine Blasey Ford tend to utilize a kind of righteous and dead-serious moral supremacy, which doesn't sit well with anyone not entirely convinced by her testimony. "It was her civic duty," they say ad infinitum, "and that has to mean something." Meanwhile, Kavanaugh rambles on about his calendar and working out. The dance music grows louder until it sounds like a scream. We know what the right thing to do is, but we are tired. We are used to hearing these stories. We witness worse struggles on the streets daily; we hear them, live them.

And we've seen Kavanaugh before. It's an age-old image, that of the cowboy or the colonizer, the Hollywood bad-boy, the hero who always comes out on top, albeit with blood on his hands, the righteous redpilled alt-righter. Brett Kavanaugh's testimony highlighted the cracks in this archetype, but it also showed how firmly that archetype is ingrained into our minds and culture.

Today, while Kavanaugh sits on the supreme court, Blasey Ford has been forced to leave her home thanks to death threats—and she's a blonde white woman with a PhD. What happens to people who try to make accusations who are further out into the margins of society, who are less palatable to the masses? We already know the answer.

Parody, Remix, and Tik Tok Protest: Political Activism or Complacency?

In a way, the art of the politically charged parodical remix has become ubiqutious thanks to mediums like Tik Tok, which often paste lighthearted memes and jokes over serious messages (sometimes so serious that they get users banned from the platform). If something is so garishly absurd that it's hard to look at straight-on, humor and remixes are easy methods of deflecting, of seeing something without really seeing. So much of the Internet is like this—essentially one massive and bipolar defense mechanism, one pastiche of ironic humor and total existential panic, dissociation and brutal headlines.

Whether this omnipresent deflection will actually motivate political action or encourage apathy and complacency remains to be seen. Most likely the result will be a pastiche of both—kind of like "Brett Kavanaugh Automatic x Levels."

Let's not forget that "Levels"—the song that underlies the Kavanaugh testimony excerpts—was composed by the late Avicii, a Swedish producer who committed suicide in 2018. The song contains the refrain, "Oh, sometimes, I get a good feeling," made artificially high-pitched. It's exuberant, almost radiantly ecstatic, an ode to impulsivity, ketamine, and rave culture at its peak.

Avicii -

Avicii's passing was read by many as a result of pressure from the music industry, which forced the producer onto a relentless tour schedule. After his death, "Levels" became obsessively remixed, its ecstasy transmuted across medias so much that it all but became part of the Internet's sonic DNA. But it's still haunted by the sadness of the loss of Avicii, and the loss of all the futures that could've been—had the rave lasted forever, had the escape it promised remained permanent.

EDM and rave culture, like the "Brett Kavanaugh Automatic x Levels" remix and, more recently, memes themselves, are all distractions—and also ways of getting intimate with some of the primal forces that lurk deep in our minds. Beneath the dancing and the laughter, there's an intense, almost religious emotion that comes from tripping out and dancing under flashing lights, and beneath the chuckles, there's an abject horror at Kavanaugh and other forms of leadership we see playing out today.

On an emotional level, this might be the defining contrast of our post-postmodern condition—that oscillation between feeling everything and feeling nothing at all. On a capitalist level, that contrast exists, too, between the have-everythings and the have-nots, and within the have-everythings who have nothing inside.

What Happens After

It's not as if this is a new story, what happened to Christine Blasey Ford. Things happen in the dark wilderness of youth and behind closed doors at the offices. It's written in our American lineage, like apple pie and racism. Boys will be boys, and men defend each other, and will continue to defend each other, especially as the myth of the white male leader becomes more worn down by other storms like the one Ford started.

As people begin to understand that the forces that got Brett Kavanaugh appointed are the same forces that, relatively speaking, are trapping people in cycles of poverty, and are the same forces that obscured the truth about climate change in endless mantras about recycling, then maybe these patterns will slowly change.

But for now, maybe all we can or will do is dance.

Music Lists

Six Songs You Should Hear This Week: Musical Acid Trips

New tracks from Valerie June, Kevin Abstract, Norah Jones, AURORA, and more.

Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash

Each one of this week's best new songs is a miniature revelation in itself, trippy enough to open your mind to new worlds.

For the record, the creator of this list has never taken acid; but these songs are what she imagines it would feel like, and truly, who needs drugs when you have songs like these? Transcendence, peace, revelations, a feeling of interconnectedness, swirly imagery—it's all here for your listening pleasure.

1. Drinker: Wave

Bicoastal NY/LA duo Aaron Mendelsohn and Ariel Loh (aka Drinker) have gifted the world with a gorgeous piece of pop psychedelia in the form of their new single, "Wave," released on Wednesday. The haunting track starts slow and ethereal, building up to a climactic tower of synths punctuated by bell-like guitar tones. A slow burn that's rewarding the whole way through, it's the kind of song meant for lying on a dock at sunset, sifting through memories and feeling the first hints of evening chill. Lyrically, it's a testament to the strangeness of time—the way it continues to move forward, but the past always seems to surge into the present. "Who is this? I'm stuck inside a wave," goes the refrain, a line that could be about dissociation, or fear of the future, or déja vu. "I feel like we've been here before," sings Mendelsohn, "but it wasn't you that I was here with." Hypnotic in its spaciousness, disconcerting in its dissociative leanings, this is an immersive sonic experience that bodes well for the duo's upcoming EP release on May 3.

2. Valerie June: Little Wing

Valerie June - Little

Valerie June has returned with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and it's absolutely breathtaking. Mystical and pure, raw and electric, it's a compilation of whirling guitars, whistling strings, distant organs, and eventually a horn section to drive it all home. June sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks, but perhaps even more weather-worn, her voice is ageless, meant for staticky radios. She proved her songwriting abilities on 2017's The Order of Time, but this cover is a testament to her aptitude as an arranger and a conveyer of raw emotion. In a way, it seems to come straight from a timeless dimension where there are only peace and starlight, and yet, at the same time, it cuts through to the core of something distinctly of this world, some pain known only to humankind. If you listen to one song this week, listen to this one.

3. Novo Amor: I Make Sparks

Novo Amor - I Make Sparks (official audio)

Nobody is better at making soupy lullabies than Novo Amor, but he's made a particularly beautiful one with "I Make Sparks," a title that—despite its swaggering implications—moves beyond the realm of woodsy folk. Ideal for the ending frames of a film, the song is a miniature vacation in itself. Light strings cast flickering lights over Amor's frail, breathy vocals, and though his voice never grows to anything more than a whisper, the music swells and grows throughout, reaching a satisfyingly disorienting conclusion.

4. Aurora: The Seed

For a slightly more energized but equally intense listening experience, AURORA's newest release, "The Seed," will do the trick. It sounds perfect for, say, the finale of a show like Game of Thrones—hopeful and dramatic, full of rhythmic humming and intense violins, designed for scenes of armies charging over snowy hills.

In essence, this is a song about environmental destruction—one of many, certainly, as we approach the end times. "When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, you cannot eat money, oh no," she sings. Ominous, indeed; maybe avoid this if you're actually going to take acid because it could potentially send you on a bad trip.

5. Kevin Abstract: Georgia

Kevin Abstract announced his newest project, ARIZONA baby, in a cryptic Instagram post a few days ago. But the first single, "Georgia," is transparent and honest, a welcome return to Abstract's distinct solo work. On this song, he draws lyrical inspiration from the old classic "Georgia On My Mind" and spins it into a web of bells, swirling electric guitar, and gritty basslines. At heart, it's a love song, a tribute to the free-fall of true emotion, communicated through rapidly panned vocals and electronic vocal effects layered over a slow beat. Abstract is a master of his craft, and with the release of ARIZONA baby, he's continued his tradition of making some of the best atmospheric rap out there. (For better or worse, it was produced by Jack Antonoff, which may explain its sonic similarities to Lana Del Rey's "Venice Bitch"—the high-pitched synth is definitely the same—but that's another story).

6. Norah Jones: A Song With No Name

This song is the sonic embodiment of a tall glass of water, a breath of fresh air, a drive upstate in the midst of a New York City summer, a comedown after a wild night. In classic Norah tradition, it's easy on the ears and heart, just ambiguous enough to feel applicable to almost any kind of subdued situation, but has enough nuance to merit multiple listens. Striking lyrics cut harshly against soft acoustic guitar and not much else—"If I had a gun, if I had a knife, if I had your love if I was your wife," she sings, as gentle piano twinkles in the background.

Special Mention: LSD

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning LSD, the project of Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth, whose debut LP dropped this Friday. But unless you have a taste for poorly crafted, shamelessly algorithmic, and lyrically embarrassing pop music, spare yourself the pain and skip this one.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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Supa Bwe, Chance the Rapper and Kanye’s New Song “Rememory” Might be a Tribute to Toni Morrison

The term "rememory" was actually coined by Morrison in her 1988 novel Beloved.

Photo by Nate Isaac on Unsplash

Supa Bwe and Chance the Rapper's new track, "Rememory (Just Say Thank You)" has arrived just in time for summer.

Infused with Chance's characteristically infectious joy, it layers repetitive lyrics over a chilled-out beat in a buoyant tribute to nostalgia and good times.

"Rememory" is one of the tracks on Supa Bwe's Just Say Thank You EP, released today on EMPIRE. The two artists have worked together before—Chance added his voice to Supa's "Fool It With Freestyle" in 2016, and Supa Bwe appeared on Chance's "Wala Cam" last year.

According to its press release, "Rememory" was produced by members of Chance's backing band, and it was arranged by Kanye West himself. Back in 2018, Chance said he and Kanye were working on a full-length album together, and the project was even discussed in Chance's feature on Life of Pablo's "Ultralight Beam." Still, as of now, there's no evidence that Chance's upcoming release—dropping this July—is a Yeezy collaboration.


The two hip hop titans did come together to create this song, though, a promising sign for anyone still holding out hope for a long-form collab. "Rememory" is classic Chance, enhanced by Kanye's talent for crafting euphoric anthems.

It's also not the first song Chance has released called "Rememory." In 2016, his band Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment released a track with the same name. That one is significantly darker, telling the story of a man whose wife took her kids away in a car, leaving him alone with his sins and a court date.

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Rememory (Lyrics) (High Quality)

The phrase "rememory" itself comes from an even deeper place—it was actually coined by none other than Toni Morrison, in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved. In that book, the term describes a process of re-constructing the past in order to live with the ghosts of old traumas. Morrison's work has been incorporated by other rappers before; she's even been cited as a major inspiration by frequent Chance collaborator Noname, suggesting a possible connection.

Regardless of its origins, 2019's "Rememory" seems poised to become the song of the summer, designed for anyone who's looking to move forward into the future without forgetting the past.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week sees the release of the Marvel's latest blockbuster and, oh man, angry internet dudes are raging.


Captain Marvel

As the first female-centered superhero movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel's success or failure will likely influence the priorities of Disney's future output. This is probably a positive thing, as the movie is likely to do very well at the box office and it's about time we have more superhero movies that star people other than white guys. But does that mean Captain Marvel will actually be a good movie? Judging from the trailers, it's hard to say––it looks just like every other MCU movie from the past decade. If you like everything else Marvel puts out, you're probably going to like this. Otherwise, it looks as generic as always, albeit with the very talented Brie Larson in the leading role.


An Elephant Sitting Still


Deeply human and incredibly depressing, An Elephant Sitting Still follows four people in China as they travel to the city of Manzhouli to visit an elephant who is said to sit completely still and ignore the outside world. Each of the four protagonists, ranging from a schoolboy to a pensioner, are trying to escape their morbid realities––the repercussions of severely injuring a bully, parental disputes, an illicit affair leading to a friend's suicide, being offloaded into a nursing home against one's will. It's not a feel-good movie (the writer/director killed himself shortly after finishing), but it's an honest, empathetic glimpse of humanity.

The Kid

The Kid (2019 Movie) Official Trailer – Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, Jake

A semi-biographical Western about a young kid who befriends famous lawman Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) and legendary outlaw Billy the Kid (Dane Dehaan) as he tries to save his kidnapped sister from the clutches of his evil uncle (Chris Pratt). The cast is pretty great and the action looks decent, but the dialogue seems a bit too on the nose judging from the trailer. That being said, Westerns don't come to theaters very often, so if you have an itch for gunslinging, this might scratch it.


BABYLON • Official Trailer HD • Kino Lorber Repertory &

A British film made in 1980 but never before released in the US, Babylon tells the story of a black, working-class reggae musician named Blue. The movie explores the Jamaican "sound system" culture, along with police racism, poverty, and violence against young black men. Watching it now in theaters is an interesting experience, as the movie works as an 80s cultural time capsule while remaining politically relevant today.

Gloria Bell

Gloria Bell | Official Trailer HD |

A reimagining of the 2013 Chilean-Spanish drama Gloria from the same director (Sebastián Leilo), Gloria Bell stars Julianne Moore as a divorcee living it up on the Los Angeles club scene. Not too many movies out there focus on the dating experiences of middle-aged women, making Gloria Bell a rarity, and a good one at that. John Turturro co-stars as Gloria's love interest, but the movie's heart lies entirely with Julianne Moore and her phenomenal performance.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at

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