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Lincoln Jesser – Somebody Will (feat. Gabrielle Current)

The album artwork for “Somebody Will” feels like vaporwave and neofuturism collided into a timeless display, so I’m naturally infatuated at first sight. The purple and blue hues fading into one another are enchanting while the forthcoming collision between a static relic and a dynamic piece of technology brings to mind countless possibilities. If 2001: A Space Odyssey was actually a Macintosh advertisement from the 1980s, this is what it’d look like.

The music doesn’t embody its visual compliment, but I’m perfectly okay with that as it’s a summery electronic outing that fills me with as much joy as its artwork. Gabrielle Current’s vocals are utterly enchanting while Jesser’s production lends itself to poolside extravaganzas; it’s no 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack in vaporwave form, but as the temperature rises by the day in Los Angeles, it’s the perfect soundtrack to life outside the cinematic.

Essex – Notice

80’s synths got my mind like, YES PLEASE!  Hello Summer, where are you?  I see you in the distance but I need to feel you on my skin so hurry up please.

Las Vegas duo from New York City, Essex, has been making waves since their debut release of ‘Roads’ which received high praises from the likes of Magnetic Magazine, NestHQ, Tune Collective and more. Composed of Tyler Sherritt and Phil Goodman the duo showcases their unique style of 80’s synth pop with hints of singer/songwriter elements along with bass pop. Equipped with the necessary roots in live vocals and instrumentations, expect to hear organic, ethereal, real music coming from these two.”

I like hearing a musical group that goes in a nostalgic direction.  I like to reminisce on my days of total innocence and lesser expectations of the world.  So much on my plate these days that I finally understand the statement “You’ll sleep when your dead.”  Ain’t that the truth, definitely should have appreciated the days when I was able to sleep till 3 in the afternoon.  No use in looking backwards except to remember the sounds that we love so much that gave us our initial love for music.  Thanks Essex for the reminder of where my love for music came from.

Press play and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Birdee – Give Into Love (Feat. Chloe Amber)

From the rumbling bass line that sounds like a cousin of the “Another One Bites The Dust” bass line, to the dramatic synth stabs, to the sultry vocal – Birdee’s beautiful “Give Into Love” has all the makings of a nu-disco classic. Every sound and even the placement of each sound recalls the best elements of late 70’s disco music. You truly could throw this record in a mix with 20 other disco-funk smashes from 40 years ago and it would fit right in. It really makes you wonder how the hell there was such a backlash against disco 35 years ago. This was considered cheesy and silly after being the biggest thing in music for a few short years. Now you listen to disco classics and they sound and feel 20x smarter than any generic pop song from the 2000’s.

And “Give Into Love” isn’t just an ode to the classics. It carries with it modern EDM arrangement and sensibilities, resulting in a super refreshing eight minute journey through electronic music. Sure, it’s all broadcast through a disco filter, but you can clearly see Birdee’s understanding of way more than just disco and funk. It’s full of heart and soul and makes me want to take my aging, boring ass out for a little old school fun. Something about the way this track begins carries with it the same feeling of promise you have right before a big night out. When everything has aligned – your best friend is in from out of town, the girl you think about 88% of the day actually texted you FIRST and asked what your plan was for the night. And you actually have something to invite her to! The sheer excitement that comes from endless possibility on a night like that is captured well here by Birdee. His whole EP carries all the same vibes as well, highly recommended!

Dede – Faultline (Feat. Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear)

I sit here writing, looking out of a Helsinki apartment window through crisp Nordic air — the sun rises at 4:45am and sets at 10:30pm — a strange paradox for an expatriate from LA. My view of old bricks, cream & salmon stone, stoic church steeples and tin roofing reminds me that Europe was ancient before America was even a dream. Massive cranes and glass mesh with the historical fabric into a retro future, we don’t get the same juxtaposition in the United States where cities are still young.

Fitting that my soundtrack would be this gem from DEDE & Ed Droste…ephemeral, transitory, capturing crystalline space and time in these moments where I feel removed and foreign. Just an observer in a place that isn’t home, carried along by haunting, almost alien melodic flow. And it should be noted that the duet is executed perfectly — voices fusing each other into a kind of hypno-soothe, the perfect sedative for reflective world travel.

EMPT Exclusive New Artist: MVDNESS XIV

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Checo – Superpowers

Somehow each season always creeps up on me, even though the same thing happens four times a year, every year. Couldn’t be much more clockwork than that, yet I’m always surprised when the weather changes a little and the nights get a little longer or shorter. I often feel like I don’t realize it’s a new season until I hear a song that ushers in the change. There always seems to be a perfect song for each season, and the song almost announces the coming change in energy/vibe/climate/etc. Well, I was just smacked in the face with the reminder that summer is all but here thanks to the sounds of Checo’s new single “Superpowers.”

The melodies, the horns in the chorus, it all sounds and feels like long summer nights and that feeling of freedom that those months bring. Checo sings “This is your love song baby, I hope you know the words” and it feels like those younger days when you spent the summer chasing after your crush – and it was the only thing you “had” to do. No job, no bills, no major responsibilities. You just really had to make sure you kissed this girl by August or else the whole summer was gonna be in ruins.

This song has a great blend of modern electronic production mixed with a live band/live instrumentation feel. The snares reverberate through the track and has the feel of hearing live drums during the day outside at a festival. More of that sunshiny, summery feel. It’s smooth, satisfying and thoroughly relatable. Cheers to the summer months, coming in hot!

VALENTINE & 4AM – Us (ft. Naji)

Due to their combination of uplifting music and eye-popping aesthetics, I quickly developed a special affinity for Moving Castle when I first discovered tracks from Chet Porter and Manila Killa a little over a year ago. Every addition to their roster since then has seemed like an organic extension of their brand and identity, likely in part due to the familial ethos that shines through each move they make whether it’s in interviews or Twitter interactions. I thus can’t say I’m surprised in the least that Valentine, 4AM, and Naji have brought forth a thrilling sound on “Us” that’s simultaneously fresh and quintessential Moving Castle.

“Us” combines airiness with urgency as the track’s soaring synths alternate in a stop-and-start motion that should equate to plenty of frenzied, sweaty, and utterly elated audiences. It’s truly hard to imagine Valentine and 4AM’s collaboration playing anywhere less than in front of the mesmerizing lights at a club like Los Angeles’ Exchange, and while their name recognition isn’t there just yet, their talents combined with the beloved family they’ve found should lead them to that promised land sooner rather than later.

Joe Hertz – Simple ft. JONES (Chris McClenney Remix)

I usually don’t have a burning desire to dress up and get down, but Chris McClenney’s “Simple” remix has me searching for the nearest velvet-covered club. JONES’ soulful vocals sound immaculate as they build up to the track’s euphoric release of stuttering lounge stylings before reconvening with its newfound direction; it’s a collision between music’s past and present that has me nostalgic for a time period I never experienced.

I can’t dance, yet this track suddenly makes me feel like I could hit the dance-floor. I don’t aim to be suave, yet it makes me feel like I could make someone else’s night with nothing more than a wink. Music that soundtracks reality is important, but music like this that fuels some pleasant escapism can be even better. It’s nice to get outside of yourself and embrace some consequence-free freedom, and who knows? It might even lead to more freedom in your day-to-day reality. Now put on your dancing shoes and get out there.

Aftrparty – Hold Me Down

“Hold Me Down” is a balancing act. Gritty yet melodic, infectious yet subdued, the Aftrparty production constantly shifts gears with precision as one form gives way to another. It’s not just the broad transition from PB Kaya’s emotive r&b to Rawch’s charming bars, though – peep how the guitar is incorporated into the drop piece-by-piece before being deconstructed and reincorporated as a weight-bearing layer, or better yet, how the rubbery synth-line peaks the moment the drop hits before quickly diverting into a complimentary sound.

It’s details like these that set apart the men from the boys, so to speak. They may not be noticed by every listener, but they function as the groundwork that keeps the song engaging no matter how much or how little attention is being paid to the song. For a production duo formed only last year, Aftrparty have a seriously fine-tuned method to their music that I hope they maintain moving forward.

While on the topic of musical structures, I’d also like to take a moment to suggest reading Di’s fascinating interview with Max Martin. Its insight into his creative approach has spurred me to pursue better understanding what makes songs like “Hold Me Down” tick.

Point Point – Hands (feat. Denai Moore)

A car floats 1,000 feet above the earth’s surface and the city around it continues to stretch beyond the stratosphere with a decadent silver-and-white glow. A glass platform leads into the nearest building and minimalist décor equates extravagance. In the middle of the entrance stands a pedestal upon which a thixotropic set of hands rests. They shimmer with a subtle ebb and flow that feels human – so obviously synthetic yet, as nuanced as an organic composition.

Maybe it’s because I was reading up on Blade Runner 2049 last night, but the artwork for Point Point’s “Hands” immediately took my mind to a place of pure imagination. Once I digested the music itself, it only elevated my futuristic fantasy further as the track balances such urgency in its lead-synth with lounge-leaning relaxation in Denai Moore’s vocals, each diametrically opposed approach consuming one another in a circular motion like the balance of organic life and its synthetic constructions.

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