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Pomona Dream – Silver Apple of the Moon

I love to see different modes of art interacting with one another, so fortunately Pomona Dream make that happen in style on their new single: “Silver Apple of the Moon”. Musically it blends dusty hip-hop percussion that’s crisp with each clap, otherworldly vocals that could belong to jazz or dream pop (take your pick), and nostalgic synths aplenty. This duo has been impressive for years now, took a long break, and somehow have come back with their best song yet. To top it all off, they have some of the best single artwork I’ve seen in a long time as it channels the De Stijl movement and feels like it belongs in a high art museum rather than my SoundCloud and Spotify playlists!

I’ve done a ton of reading on postmodernism and how there’s no longer a distinction between modes of art like “high art,” “pop culture,”  etc. Only in 2019 could you have a Swedish duo making jazz and hip-hop influenced music with 20th century visuals. Boundaries have been broken and the art world is better for it – there doesn’t need to be walls built up between perspectives, only allowing for narrow minded work. There’s so much alarmist stuff out there about globalization and post-modernism and the like, but I genuinely think this shared communication of the creative ideas makes for a beautiful result and Pomona Dream sit squarely in the forefront of that idea.

okaywill – Falling For You

okaywill has quickly become one of my favorite indie-pop voices after hearing his song “Pretend” and that feeling is even deeper with the release of his new. It’s called “Falling For You” and it’s a little slice of airy bliss that’s like The Postal Service and Owl City had a sweet sonic child that who’s the key to a pure endorphin rush each and every time you hear it. The lyrics about pure love only make that sense of comfort grounded even further, like floating away away on an airy cloud with rays of the sun shining bright on your face and making you feel wonderfully at peace. I can’t get enough of how amazing this song is and how amazing it makes me feel, so I’m going to keep smashing the repeat button again and again.

There’s something about love that has a transcendent experience to it. It’s not just an emotion, it’s a deep feeling and an intellectual process working on overtime together. You can feel your skin tingle, but you can also sense your brain racing with thoughts about the person who’s making your skin tingle to begin with. It’s thus no wonder that songs, physical art, philosophy, film, and everything in between have been dedicated to the notion for the entirety of human history. Even with all those moving parts, falling in love is pretty simple when you think about it. As okaywill succinctly puts it, “I feel like I’m falling, falling for you.”

Golden Vessel – SLOWSHINE

I looked and saw that Golden Vessel has made appearances on EMPT before, but I had to jump on the opportunity and make sure I got to write about his debut album because this just might be my favorite record of the year. For those unfamiliar he’s an Australian artist who’s made a name for himself on collaborations with talents across a vast amount of genres like rapper Duckwrth, buzzing vocalist Emerson Leif, and one of my favorite pop artists in the ever rising Mallrat. Golden Vessel manages to flesh out every single sound he’s experimented with in the past into a tightknit collection of songs that all expertly flow together, exploring a ton of genres while uniquely, identifiably Golden Vessel. My personal favorites are the r&b leaning “HIGHWAY”, the rap and indie-pop blend on “TONIGHT”, and the beautiful full body experience of “WHITELITSKIES”. There’s really something for everyone on this album and I can’t recommend it enough.

Life is a slow shine. It takes years for us to progress into adults, then years to work on becoming closer and closer to our final form that we’re intended to be as reflections of the universe. Instead of expecting to be a spiritual icon, I try to do a tiny bit of work to get me closer each day. I feel the white light and power of that incremental journey, like my body shines a little bit more each and every time I meditate or read a good book or experience a breathtaking piece of nature that gives me the inspiration to chase my dreams. We’re conscious parts of the universe experiencing itself so it’s only right that we try to shine bright like the stars that share our atoms and very essence.

Kazy Lambist – Tous Les Jours (feat Jowee Omicil & Amoué)

There’s not a single doubt in my mind that Kazy Lambist is one of the best French artists active in the scene. Every single one of his releases builds upon the previous in terms of quality and so it’s no surprise that “Tous Les Jours” is his best effort yet. The production on this one is absolutely pulsating with fleeting sensual tension that’s classy in a way that only the French could pull off. Amoué’s vocals are utterly enchanting and you can feel the gravitational pull of each and every intoxicating word she utters (not to mention those spine-tingling vocal chops) while Jowee Omicil adds bouncy heaps of tongue-in-cheek swagger to give this one some extra oomph. This one is somehow made even more exciting with the best music video I’ve seen in years, a French cinematic experience that feels like a short film with commentary on the swipe-right culture we live in today.

All of these dating apps are so vapid and fleeting. People are judged on the basis of a few photos and a few sentences, sentenced to a swipe left and never seen again or a swipe right where middling conversation will evolve into something more than mindless chatter on rare occasions. There’s no capacity to foster genuine relationships that evolve from deep friendships or love at first sight – instead, instant gratification in 2019 demands that relationships be handed out on a silver platter, dates neatly wrapped in a bow and dropped off at your door like next-day shipping from Amazon Prime. The internet is essential for its connection between people across vast spaces, but that blessing becomes a curse when it comes to romanticism as of right now.

WITHOUT – I Want You

WITHOUT’s newest synthesizes pop music into its finest form. A simple yet infectious groove hits every sensory pocket, gliding along with ease, while receptive vocals circulate the hook until it’s lodged in your brain and all you can think is “I want you.” It’s a deceptively effective approach that arrives just in time for rising temperatures as the masses prepare to emerge and makes their way to the coast in swathes, windows down and hair blowing and all. I wish I could fast forward through the May grey and June gloom in Los Angeles to attain that perfect setting, but alas, the other 10 months of the year here are perfect so I have no room to complain.

I get bored really easily. It takes a lot for me to not only maintain interest in a person, but want them for an extended period of time. Once I hit that sweet spot, though, I’m all in. It might be to a fault as I can get wrapped up in my expectations without allowing reality to take its organic course, but hey, we all have our flaws and it’s a continuous learning experience. I’m in a place where I’m actively pursuing dating and relationships and it’s just not clicking with anyone, but rather than chasing for the aforementioned sweet spot, I’m comfortable sitting back and enriching myself until the right person comes along. Once that happens, I’ll want them.

Broken Back – She Falls

There’s something to be said for the philosophical notion that all art is political. It can be as broad as a punk band embodying the rebellion against societal norms or YG and Nipsey Hussle throwing up a middle finger directly to the man in charge. Broken Back walks the line between the two approaches as he calls out abusers who populate our society like a plague. It’s a necessary statement, especially within the context of an industry that has propped up abusers time and time again. We don’t need to just condemn these people privately, we need to publicly take a stand, and Broken Back makes this a reality with crystal clear lyrics that are going to impact listeners while delivering a powerful sound that will make listeners return to the single time and time again, absorbing such an important message each and every time.

It’s especially important that men fight back. We have such an inherent advantage in society and need to prop up the voices of women that are disrespected and shunned. Even as an assault victim who understands all too well the experience of violence against men, women’s lives are clearly at stake and deserve every ounce of our energy to protect them. If you’re a guy reading this and not sure what to do, you don’t have to make sweeping political changes. Call out your friend’s misogynistic bullshit that normalizes the patriarchy, offer emotional support to the women in your life who need it, do anything you can even if it feels like the smallest of actions. There’s lives that depend on it.

Haunted Days – The Ballroom Tape

I’m suspended in mid air, outside of the human conception of time. Past, present, and future are all mixed together, no longer separate entities but enigmatic experiences simultaneously occurring. Life as a child, life as an adult, and life as an aging man float in circles like a ballroom dance. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I do know Haunted Days’ new album is the soundtrack and is a fitting, multi-sensory experience that is so lucid and visceral that you can almost reach out and touch it. The plucking percussion feels like moving the hands of a clock with your hand, the keys feel like playing with a toy keyboard unaware of the impending jaws of death decades upon decades away, the vocal samples feel like the circulation of all your past conversations mixed into purple haze much like the stunning album artwork. It’s an introspective body of work that will send you to the depths of consciousness and the height of the cosmos all at once.

Melodrama has a negative connotation associated with it, but I remember taking a course on melodramatic films in college that totally shifted my view of the signifier. I now see melodrama as an enhanced take on emotions, a necessary lens that’s like viewing them up close and personal through a microscope, being offered the ability to interact and understand rather than shooing away emotions as something that must be understated and implied. All that being said, I see Haunted Days as a perfect example of melodrama at its finest. Sorry for all the academic talk, but Haunted Days has truly sent me into a state of deep thought and I’m so fortunate to experience an album that makes me think and feel on a level that’s rare for music to procure. I can’t recommend The Ballroom Tape enough and encourage you to spin it and go on a journey of your own!

Harry Nathan – Fool For Your Love

I’m totally infatuated with the album artwork for “Fool For Your Love”. It taps into deep layers of nostalgia while echoing the sentiment that love isn’t just a human emotion based in the body – it’s a cosmic force that’s impossible to contain and will continue to infinitely grow as the universe expands with no end in sight. I have to say that Harry Nathan matches this sense of grandeur on his new single through a roundabout way as it’s an understated, keys and horns driven piece of ballad pop that is pure, synthesized beauty that would be the perfect soundtrack to slowly floating through space and exploring everything our solar system’s stunning neighborhood has to offer. From top to bottom, it’s an utter beauty that warrants repeated listens.

I make a concerted effort to look up to the sky and ground myself in a grand sense of place, standing on a rock hurdling through the universe while stars millions of lightyears away offer stories from the past, the moon hovers like a comforting watchful eye, and the darkness feels like a comforting blanket that wraps over the Earth to quietly ease us all to sleep. There’s something to be said for the successes of past civilizations, times when humans had a deep relationship with the cosmos and thus had deeper understanding of themselves. Cities and urban sprawl and technology are all mind-blowing products of human innovation, but I worry that we’re accelerating away from the truth embedded within us. I suppose only time will tell, but until then, I’ll be continuing to maintain a practice that can withstand whatever is to come.

du0 – It’s OK

This is my first taste of du0’s work but I’m immediately hooked – “It’s OK” is an absolute banger of massive proportions. The verses are subtly dramatic, but the hook is an utter monstrosity that emanates rumbling sonic waves of sound that shake the headphones with each pulse and feel cinematic enough to score the crux of an action movie. This is a song that, simply put, has an “it” factor that’s impossible to quantify but makes it readily apparent that it’ll have a lasting impact on each and every set of ears it spreads its Richter Scale registering sounds to. Good luck listening to “It’s OK” and not feeling utterly empowered, ready to take on the day with brute force and make sure everything goes your way!

We don’t remind ourselves enough that it’s ok. As humans with the ability to self reflect, we beat ourselves up so much over mistakes (or what we perceive as mistakes) rather than accepting the course of life for what it is, learning lessons, and moving onward and upwards. Whether it’s sleeping in, overeating, not exercising all week, you name it, that’s ok! Sometimes we need to hit the reset button and whatever lesson you take from that will only benefit you in the long run. Appreciate all aspects of life and our blessing of free will, even when you regret acting out, and things will fall into place.

Noé – Rabbit Hole

Noé has to be the most consistent artist I’ve stumbled upon in 2019. Each and every release she’s unveiled has been a meticulously crafted gem that finds indie-pop at its finest, and like clockwork, she delivers yet again with a brand new single. Titled “Rabbit Hole”, it’s a hazy mist of snappy percussion and vocals that channel pure soul with layers upon layers that slowly reveal themselves as the track marches along into an echoing, blissed out head rush of pure fascination. I can only imagine what’s coming next with her debut EP which is without a doubt one of my most anticipated releases over the coming months.

I love a good dive down the rabbit hole. Sometimes it’s a a short-lived journey that takes me to the depths of Genius videos of one-hit wonders explaining their songs, while other times it’s a truly sustained journey into the expansive knowledge of something that I’ve been blind to for so long. That goes to my discovery of the knowledge of ancient civilizations over the past six months – one of my best friends gifted me a book about cataclysms on Earth and a cautious interest led me toward resonating with the material, and in turn, slowly evolved into listening to podcasts on the subject. That turned into checking out books on ancient civilizations lost to the marching forward of time and a collective amnesia of the human mind, and now, my life is enriched with knowledge that I never knew existed. I suppose that’s a more productive and sustained dive down the rabbit hole.