Track of the Week: Good Times by The Holdup

I’ve been traveling a bit the last few weeks, and it’s starting to feel like spring outside. Nothing better to it off than this week’s track: Good Times by The Holdup, off of Stay Gold.

It’s a lazy reggae-esque track that feels like a good time hanging on on a warm summer evening, celebrating the main priority of “having a good time”. The singer’s voice isn’t what I’d call classic reggae and he’s a little high pitched but it adds to the feel good vibe the song gives.

Opening over a simple guitar riff, and building up with simple drums and the lead guitar, it’s an easy song to listen to while you’re waiting for the days to get longer and the sun to be warmer. “Cuz it’s been a while / since the last time you smiled / and I’m waiting for the next good time”.

Track of the Week: Behind the Bushes by The Knife

This week’s track is Behind the Bushes by The Knife, off of Deep Cuts. I’d peg the album as a whole an electronica synth / electropop work. It’s best known for the song Heartbeats which appeared in some TV commercials apparently.

This track stand out though. It’s free of vocals and free of any kind of dance beat. The backing sound is a set of strings with the melody played by a flute (I seem to be picking a lot of flute music recently). Nearly through most of the song there’s no rhythm section with the exception of a faint drum section as the song creschendos.

The thing that pulled this one to me is how craftily it’s placed in the context of the rest of the album. All sorts of electropop/discopop and them — bam — a melodic exploration of strings, flue and synth. It stands up well on it’s own, but it’s even better when listened in the context of the album as a whole.

Trip to Bangalore

I returned from India on Sunday, after leaving Bombay at 420am, a two hour layover in Dubai, and then a 16 hour flight back to San Francisco. Of my two bags, one was lost and at last check Emirates doesn’t know where it is yet. Well played Emirates, well played. I managed to get 10 hours of sleep in last night so we’ll see how the jetlag goes.

On my flight from from Bombay to Dubai, I was on the same flight at John Abraham, who apparently is some huge Indian movie star. I had no idea who this guy was except there was a crowd of men and women flanking him everywhere he went. I was in the boarding line with him and the only way I figured out who he was was by reading his name off of his boarding pass and then Googling it.

I left Bangalore on Friday and spent the weekend in Bombay with my sister and my grandma in Santacruz. On Friday night we went to this place called Escobar(great name, eh?) to hang out with and meet my sister’s friend. Quite fun.

Spending time in the Bangalore office reminded me a lot of the first few trips I took to the Microsoft Shanghai office in 2005. The team is full of energy, excited and eager to work on cool technology. I love getting to spend time with motivated and excited engineers. The office there is full of talent and I hope to be able to mke it there a few times this year. It’s almost alluring enough to make me want to move there for a while. I also had a chance to give a tech talk on Packager for iPhone to the teams there, which was also great.

Track of the Week: Glamorous Lifesystle by The Jacka

This week’s track is Glamorous Lifestyle by The Jacka, off of Tear Gas. A bit of a departure from the last few weeks of track of the week, this is track straight out of the Bay Area as The Jacka hails from Pittsburg, CA.

Not a ton to say about this track. It’s a fun ditty, full of the usual hip hop bravado. The thing that got me hooked on this one is that it’s local to the Bay Area, it’s pretty catchy (strings + flute = unusual and fun) and has a great hook. If that doesn’t make for a hip hop / pop single, I’m not sure what does. The album as a whole is pretty solid hip hop album. Production is pretty low-fi but he’s got a good voice and can rhyme over a beat.

Getting to Bangalore

I’m in Bangalore this week to work with our engineering team here. That’s worth a post on it’s own at some point (tons of job related stuff that I should get around to posting). What I wanted to post about how incredible it is to get all the way out to India from the states, and the incredible complexity of travel this far. Our flight from San Francisco, on Emirates, was delayed four hours since the arriving flight from Dubai had not made it in yet. Since there was a huge delay, we ended up missing our connection in Dubai that would have taken us on to Banglore, thus we stayed in the Dubai airport for six hours waiting for the next flight. Made it to Bangalore Monday ~8am, an hour and a half ride later we were at our hotel then went on to the office.

Bangalore is a pretty impressive city. For one it feels a bit more progressive than other Indian cities I’ve been in. I was last in India January 2009, in Mumbai. The streets are quite clean, and there’s signage everywhere that says “don’t drink and drive” (in English). In fact, at this one round-a-bout, there’s a (for lack of a better word) sculpture of a guy who hit a tree on his scooter that says something like “don’t let this be you.”  There are apparently four subway lines coming to the city, with one supposed to be opening this year. Given how bad the traffic is here, that should be a godsend. It takes us ~30m to travel the ~5km to the office. Yikes.

We’re here working with the team to design a bunch of the major components of the product that will be made here (again, I should blog on the latest job news) and to kick off our next few sprints. It’s fun to work with energetic thinkers and spend time brainstorming on the whats and hows of our work.

I’m here till Friday, when I leave for Mumbai to spend the weekend with my sister. From there, it’s back to the states on Sunday.