Skip to content

Danelle Sandoval – Hands (ft. French Braids)

I wrote up the first track from Danelle Sandoval’s forthcoming EP and am pleased to report that she continues her hot streak on “Hands”. Featuring dynamic modern production from French Braids, it’s a wonderful blend of pop, electronic, and r&b sensibilities that has wide appeal while still feeling super intimate. Her vocals are tailor-made for affectionate storytelling as she says “don’t talk to me, no we don’t need to speak, our words don’t mean a thing.” Every line sparks immediate imagination as it’s impossible to not find yourself ruminating on past love, idealizing future romance, or getting lost in the present moment.

Compelling to speak with hands rather than words reminds me of the love language test that’s been popular among my friends and taken by myself. The five love language categories are touch, compliments, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. My main love language is touch – I express affection for the person I romantically care about with close contact like holding hands or hugs. It’s a fascinating topic that explores how each human has a unique way of showing their passion for another and in this moment I find myself totally relating to Sandoval’s lyrical focus – words are important, but sometimes you can convey your love with uttering a single thing. It’s a beautiful topic that dives into an essential part of our humanity and I can’t get enough of it.

Laarsen – Lavafields

I’ve written at length at Laarsen and I see no end in sight as the producer is one of the best new voices in the scene. He fuses classic sentiments of genres like garage with swelling modern synths that makes for an endlessly unforgettable catalogue. Off his new Lavafields EP, the title track is undoubtedly my favorite cut as the groove and percussive hits feel like they’re straight out of a sweaty, three hour Boiler Room set, while the vocals and synths blend into a wide appealing sound that feels almost Anjunabeats esque. His music is almost like a modern day trojan horse that’s insanely catchy for all audiences on the surface but sneaks in so many underground nods for longtime listeners of electronic music and those just discovering how deep the overarching genre goes alike.

And that’s just one track from his EP! Laarsen also dives into trip-hop, breakbeats, and house, sounding like a master of each genre. There’s a unifying thread that runs through each release and makes them uniquely his which is also prevalent in the artwork. I love the glitchy, DNA-like signifier that immediately lets you know you’re in for a sonic treat. I can’t even get myself to dive into a personal anecdote like I usually do because my mind is so hyper-focused on the music coursing through my speakers. This is truly a beautiful way to start my Friday morning and I can’t wait for other listeners to discover that same feeling over the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years.

mona on the radio – Dinner For 2

mona on the radio comes through with the cutest track and visuals I’ve seen in 2018. It’s such a breath of fresh air with how open and honest it is both in its lyrics and super catchy sound. mona is an open book about lost love and knows how to write a beautiful melody to convey his feelings in the purest form (it reminds me of an early 2000’s pop punk song that’s on the tip of my tongue and I wish I could remember it for the life of me!). “Dinner For 2” of those songs that’s best heard while laying down, headphones on, and slipping into a comforting daydream as all the worries of the world slip away and you’re left to experience a stress free world.

And let’s talk about the visuals on display here. It’s like vaporwave meets Andy Warhol and I could get lost for days starting at the artwork. I went back through mona’s tracks and this appears to be a trend which I just love. It’s so dope when you can glance at a piece of art and automatically know which musician it belongs to. The music scene is so oversaturated that you need to be a multimedia artist these days who doesn’t just make sounds but an entire conceptual world for listeners and critics to get lost in. mona obviously understands that so I can’t wait to keep diving into this little universe he’s slowly but surely creating.

Carter Reeves – Bittersweet

Carter Reeves is one of my favorite bubbling voices in pop right now. I was a massive fan of “Fly High” and “Pay Day” because they showed his versatility, but “Bittersweet” takes his sound to a whole other level that’s straight up ear candy. His melodies are so damn infectious (seriously, good luck keeping that hook out of your head), his voice on the verses sounds more assured than ever, and his lyrics show a knack for relatable storytelling that really elevates his game. It’s such a treat to be immediately ecstatic about a song and “Bittersweet” does just that. On top of all that, the production is without a doubt the best he’s worked with yet and really lays out a beautiful array of sounds for Reeves to work his increasingly established magic. I really can’t give enough praise here.

Life is full of bittersweet moments and to have the fullest experience on this earth you’re best off by embracing each and every one. There’s beauty in the grey areas that show how our lives ebb and flow through the universe’s constantly shifting existence. Going through a break up? You can feel sadness while also appreciating the wealth of good times you had. Going through a generally rough patch? Think of all the things you can be grateful for, whether they’re emotional or material. Consider that while you listen to “Bittersweet” on repeat!

ayokay – Sleepless Nights (feat. Nightly)

ayokay’s music is buzzing with life and electricity similar to the neon lights across all of artwork. His music feels like a hazy, humid summer night spent traversing the city with friends and a significant other attached to your arm the entire time. It sounds so fresh and so new, yet the vibe is timeless. The production is insanely top notch with every second is detailed while Nightly delivers silky smooth vocals that help bring the vibe I mentioned to life. I’d love to hear this while actually making my around or on a movie’s soundtrack – either way would be totally fitting!

In the past I spent a lot of sleepless nights stressing over the past, future, and present. It was so easy to get caught up in all the bullshit and spend hours laying in bed thinking about what could’ve been and what will be. These days I avoid the unnecessary stress of over complementing my life through outlets like meditation (40 minutes a day!), journaling, and talking with friends about my thoughts and feelings rather than internalizing them. Once you bring healthy coping mechanisms into your life, there’s no need to experience those nights that feel like they’re never going to end.

Viceroy – 1999 (ft. Brandyn Burnette)

Viceroy used to be the king of the tropical electronic sound, but he’s totally switched up his artistic direction and it’s seriously paid off. That couldn’t be more apparent on “1999”, a single that’s equal parts swagged out and soulful. His production has a wonderful punch to it that resonates through a reverberating low end while horns tailor made for a celebration are draped across the top of the instrumental like a colorful decoration. Brandyn Burnette’s vocals drive that vibe home – he essentially floats across Viceroy’s production with such an effortlessly cool demeanor that you can’t resist nodding along and feeling all the joy he’s putting out into the world.

I’d love to hear an EP or an album between these two. They complement each other so well and the synergy between them is so strong that it’s almost difficult to put into words. Not only do they sound amazing together, but Burnette’s lyrics totally fit the aura Viceroy creates. They celebrate a shared love for their nostalgia when it comes to the ’90s but sound totally fresh while doing so – I love the lines ranging from Steve Nash shooting free throws to Tony Hawk on his grind. It really catches the feel of that era and has me thinking about my days during that decade. Here’s to appreciating the past while keeping our eyes on the present and future.

Rebecca Perl – Keepin’ It Cool (Tep No Edit)

This is my first encounter with Rebecca Perl and I’m immediately struck by how natural of a talent she is. Her vocals have a buoyant quality to them that simply can’t be forced and she shows hints of a future pop powerhouse – not to be hyperbolic here, but I hear a little bit of Taylor Swift in her cadence during the chorus. Tep No’s edit on the production makes Perl’s performance an even more enticing centerpiece as playful, chilled out synths and touches of a strummed acoustic guitar give the song a wholly relaxing vibe that’s perfect for poolside relaxation with the heat of summer in Los Angeles (and across the country) upon us.

There’s a sense of timelessness when I’m at the pool or on the beach. Maybe it’s because I was around the two so much as a kid, but when I’m laid back in a chair or on the sand, I feel suspended in time. The warmth of the sun beating down on me, the sound of the water cascading back and forth, the sound of music and laughter drifting from one ear to the other; in that moment, the comfort I experience is almost indescribable. It makes me realize how I’m a tiny piece of the universe as I look up at our planet’s star, yet it also makes me feel significant, present, and whole. There’s a meditative quality to those moments that bring me inner peace and I need to pursue that feeling on a more regular basis with a whole coast to the west of me.

BLVK IRIS – Naked (feat. Micky Blue & Janelle Kroll)

BLVK IRIS enlists a dream duo of vocalists on his new single. Micky Blue and Janelle Kroll are both buzzing solo artists and topliners in their own right and they show exactly why on “Naked” – not only are their individual performances killer, but the chemistry between the two wonderfully stretches across verses as they provide a perfect complement to one another. Of course, that’s in part owed to the insanely smooth production courtesy of BLVK IRIS as he crafts an intricate electronic, neo-r&b fusion that hits all the most sonically pleasing pockets as it rides along with an unforgettable groove. The verses are atmospheric and understated while the chorus provides a swell of sounds that are the icing on the cake as the conclusion to an entrancing build up.

I love how there’s so many moving parts here between a producer, two vocalists, and multiple genres intersecting, yet they all make it seamlessly work. In the streaming age, I’ve noticed a lot of collaborations that overdo it and suffer from too many cooks in the kitchen so to speak, but every artist’s contribution on “Naked” feels totally meaningful and ingrained into the song’s very essence. I can’t imagine it existing without all of their talents fused together as they all effortlessly feed off of one another’s energy with such grace. I’m truly blown away by this track and I hope you are too on this welcomed summer Friday with the weekend almost upon us.

Petticoat – Ooze

There’s music that transcends genre conventions and newcomer Petticoat does just that on “Ooze”. It’s an insanely nuanced single that reminds me of the warped trap sounds that TNGHT brought to the mainstream while maintaining an undeniably modern approach. The bass hits with a pleasant thud, the verse’s synths are strung across the sonic sphere in a style that wonderfully accentuates the under-current, and of course the drop is pure ear candy. Excuse the pun, but this track oozes boundary pushing electronic flair that I can’t help but see pushing Petticoat to the forefront of a new wave of producers. It might take a while to catch on, sure, but the potential is absolutely there and is impossible to ignore once you’ve heard his work.

I also love the aesthetic direction between all of Petticoat’s singles. That’s a decision that will do well to set himself apart from the pack. Once you’ve seen that signature yellow background and all black garb, you know you’ve stumbled across yet another one of his productions and know to expect something amazing. A unified visual approach to your music is so important in 2018 as it takes more than just music to create a truly unique identity. The modern musician also needs to be a multimedia artist. It might signal an oversaturation of work that has led to this notion, but I for one am totally cool with it – it’s exciting to see artists pushed outside of their comfort zones and deliver projects that extend beyond the confines of one medium into something more expansive.

Boehm – Cool Kidz

Boehm comes through with a super sleek new single called “Cool Kidz” that taps into a lighthearted, joyous aesthetic. The production in particular is super buoyant and floats along at ease with some absolutely killer vocals from an unnamed talent. Out via Ultra, it shows that the label hasn’t lost a step when it comes to identifying talent that can bridge the lanes of electronic and pop sounds to create songs that are perfect additions to the playlists of teen boppers and festival goers alike. You have to have versatility in a day and age where every niche sound has already been made ten times over and Boehm pulls off that versatility without a doubt.

Cool kids while I was growing up were those who conformed to preppy standards, but I feel like society has shifted toward rewarding the innovators. Lil Uzi Vert is releasing an album with artwork influenced by the Heaven’s Gate cult, kids are skating around with fanny packs around their shoulders, and moshing at shows has become the status quo. Music, fashion, and physical rebellion that was quietly ushered into the corners of our culture is now at the forefront as the youth innovates at a speed never before seen in humanity. We’re truly fortunate to live in a time where the freedom to express one’s self is gaining steam.