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The Ramona Flowers – Strangers

My love of a good ’80s influenced track is well documented – for god’s sake, I have Duran Duran’s Rio artwork permanently etched into my skin! Combine that love with a good Scott Pilgrim reference and you’ve got yourself a recipe for infatuation at first sight. Thus, it’s no surprise I find myself repeatedly spinning this new single from The Ramona Flowers. It’s called “Strangers” and it’s a funky, groovy, new wave influenced cut that feels like the 21st century soundtrack to an OutRun reboot. Palm trees are abound, neon lights streak across the sky like shooting stars, and the top on the car goes down to soak in the ocean air.

Let’s also talk about how “Forget about forever, let’s just be strangers” has to be the lyrical gold standard for a song of this style. Instead of everlasting love, it’s a testament to fleeting euphoria, the thrill of the chase also well documented during the track’s vocoder-soaked verses. Here’s to finding that temporary companion in a hazy room, walking outside into the darkness, and jetting off for a passion filled night that’ll only last a moment but feel like eternity.

Almand – Ride (ft. Tima Dee)

2017 was a fucking ride to say the least. There were crazy ups (working my dream job), crazy downs (long-lasting chronic depression), and everything in between. After living in a haze for years, it was the first 12-month period I was fully present for life and everything it entails. Along the way, I slowly but surely parsed out who I am as an individual – just this week, I’ve begun to fully realize my self image at the top of 2018 with plans for a plethora of tattoos and a new stack of metal shirts that’ve finally brought me back to my comfortable, all-black roots (2017 found me experimenting with anime inspired streetwear, colorful skater chic, and vintage nu-metal pieces just to name a few).

On the flip side, I’m also jaded from all the pain and loss I suffered through over the past year. Both of my childhood dogs died, I watched my parents’ lives slip into chaos, a cherished family friend took their own life, I spent a traumatic stint in the hospital, and my PTSD was a dark cloud that hung over every waking moment. No pain, no gain, though. I’ve set myself up to experience more joy than ever before in major moments like monumental work events and minor moments like hearing a song that touches me – hell, Almand’s new single “Ride” is a good place to start. It’s bouncy, sunny, melodic, playful, everything I want in a track to turn my perpetual frown upside down.

Its refrain also echoes a sentiment I’ve been feeling super hard lately: “I don’t wanna be alone, be alone.” I’ve spent the past year working on myself and I’m ready for someone to enter my life who I want to spend a good portion of my waking moments with. Maybe she’s out there thinking the same thing. Maybe when we’re together we’ll turn up the radio and blast “Ride”.

Rynx – Want You (ft. Miranda Glory)

I know a hit when I hear one. I’m not classically trained in music so I can’t explain the technicalities or the theory behind it, but it’s a feeling that starts in my gut and spreads throughout my entire body. Rynx doesn’t reinvent the wheel on his new single, but the best pop music doesn’t need to innovate – it refines a formula to its most infectious state, and he does just that. Every synth on “Want You” is designed for a visceral experience that makes you not just hear the song, but feel the song.

Miranda Glory’s vocals further that feeling as she goes beyond the usual complementary trappings of a topliner, instead sounding like a radio-ready professional. The hook on this song is something I especially want to hear blaring out of a stack of studio speakers as Rynx’s production and Glory’s singing intertwine into a ridiculously melodic sensation. Rynx’s remix he dropped earlier this year was a trap banger but this one shows his ceiling is astronomical. I’ll be anxiously awaiting his next release while I keep “Want You” on repeat.

Day Fly – Do You Need Me

Do you need me? The way that I need you? The answer to that question is unfortunately no; I know you’ll never need me again. On that fateful day you made it clear as my tears rained down like the summer storms that plagued that season. I opened myself up and you slammed the door shut. I never saw you again but I saw you in my thoughts and in my dreams. I held you in my arms, kissed you like I kissed you in the woods where youthful dreams ran wild, and then I woke up.

You’ve moved on, I’ve moved on, but I can’t help wonder what if…what if I didn’t shut down? What if I tried to revive what was left? What if I told you I was home? I’ll never know, but I’ll forever chase the feelings I felt on the spring days where the sun shone down and I was complete.

Day Fly’s intricate r&b, saturated with the warmth of its buzzing production and passionate vocals, has brought up a well of thoughts that I haven’t tapped into for quite some time. It’s a song that will undoubtedly connect with listeners beyond this one lonely soul, so join me in this exploration of emotions and hit play below.

Michael Mason – Evil Presence (ft. Sophie Meiers)

If there’s an evil presence on Michael Mason’s new single, it feels more like a succubus or siren of the sea rather than a traditional savage. From beginning to end, the track is utterly intoxicating, its sonic embrace slowly pulling you in closer and closer. The array of synths is disorienting at points while Sophie Meiers’ declares “I came to create my own hell, now you’re all under my spell”, a notion that’s impossible to disagree with as she self reflects: “evil presence in my soul.”

While not lyrically similar, the mood her and Mason create reminds me of Fever Ray’s “Triangle Walks”. Dark, melodramatic, and deceptively infectious, it creeps into the subconscious. Just like the album artwork, a figure with nothingness in place of its eyes stares into your soul – good luck breaking away from its grasp. It demands you replay “Evil Presence” again and again. You oblige.

Billie Eilish – Watch (Xie Remix)

All you need to hear is her vocals to understand that Billie Eilish is a star in the making. Her voice is especially ripe for remixes, a notion that rising producer Xie takes full advantage of on her interpretation of “Watch”. It maintains the indie-pop ethos of the original while adding a clattering electronic element that transitions it into future pop territory. Its breakdown of a hook is especially enticing as it glitches through chopped up vocal samples that accelerate atop a halftime instrumental.

While the line “I’ll sit and watch your car burn” isn’t exactly uplifting, Xie’s remix is a feel-good track down to its core. It’s one of those songs that makes me want to lay outside and soak up every ray of sun while it plays from a bluetooth speaker nearby. I’d say December isn’t the best time to have this daydream, but hell, I live in Southern California – it’s beach weather year round! Time to start packing my bags for a nice little day trip to the coast in the near future!

deelanZ – Authenticity

I love a good rock track with a gritty edge, so it’s no surprise that I’m digging deelanZ’s newest. It has elements of a throwback to early ’90s grunge rock, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and all, which brings back memories of hearing The Smashing Pumpkins on the radio on repeat and walking down the street, headphones on blasting “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Like any era relegated to the past, there’s something mystical about those days that’s difficult to replicate authentically. Sure, you can check off all the genre-based boxes, but there’s an intangible vibe that transcends quantification.

“Authenticity” is one of the rare songs that channels that intangible vibe, the ghosts of grunge’s past coursing through indie rock of the present. It feels like a flannel-wearing mallrat anthem for pacing around your suburb’s stomping grounds while brimming with confidence that it’s your turf. Light a cigarette, inhale, and look around at the monotonous wasteland you inhabit. Exhale and think about how you’re going to get out of this town to carve your own path. Throw your cigarette butt on the ground, stomp it out, and put your headphones on. Press play on “Authenticity”.

Kaizen – Bloom

“Bloom” feels like a nostalgic haze where your wildest dreams can come true. The lead-synth has a hypnotic groove that’s complemented by keypad sounds one instant, an existential interview sample the next, exuding a feeling of the terrestrial and the beyond in the same breath. The sense of wonderment is wonderfully overwhelming as it leads to a place where mental images aren’t even conjured. Instead, it’s sonic sensory overload from a track that hints at exponential bliss.

It specifically reminds me of when I’d lay down on a hill in my hometown’s park and stare up at the stars. It was always a beautiful sight that would inspire thoughts about my place on Earth and my place in the great beyond. It’s been impossible to recreate those moments in my adult life for extended periods, although they do come in short excerpts, like when I look up at the moon and think about the Earth’s hold on a celestial object, or when I hear songs like “Bloom”.

Bleach Baby – This Is For You

Want to hear a groovy house tune that sounds tailor-made for festival mainstages? Look no further than “This Is For You”. It’s apparently the debut release from a project with no information around it other than backing from Armada Deep, but who needs context beyond the music? I can already see an Ultra crowd bouncing up and down in unison, fireworks going off and flame columns shooting up into the night sky, absorbed by the sounds and not concerned with the magician behind the curtain.

It’s hard to feel alone while listening to a song whose ethos is so obviously communal in nature. You can feel the passion of electronic music coursing through the veins of “This Is For You” with each and every passing second, like PLUR is encoded in its sonic DNA. The days of making kandi and sweating it out on the dance-floor before hugging it out with all my friends during high school are coming back to me! “This Is For You” is obviously a song crafted with love and honesty in mind which simply can’t be faked or conjured up, so I’ll be revisiting this one soon.

Jai Wolf – Indian Summer (Kasbo Remix)

It’s a hell of a task to remix a song near and dear to over 45,000,000 listeners, much less being the only artist to deliver an official remix after the seminal electronic cut dropped two years ago. That being said I can’t imagine anyone better to do the job than Kasbo – he’s a young talent whose work is able to exist in the EDM space while maintaining artistic substance. Rather than feeling like tracks prepared to be readily added to club mixes with maximalist drops, he delivers songs that are crafted with care that makes each and every second important.

His “Indian Summer” remix continues that trend by creating just over four minutes of pure unadulterated bliss. It feels like the soundtrack to a vital moment in someone’s life as they reach a beautiful peak much like the mountains on the album artwork. Even on a normal work day like today it improves my mood and makes me feel like I’m participating in the greater good of a harmonious world. This is a track I’m gonna be listening to again…and again…and again…