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I’ve been following EVAN GIIA’s trajectory over the last year or so since “WESTWORLD” dropped and her growth as an artist has been so dope to see. Every release seems to get even catchier than the last and that evolution continues with “WHAT U NEED?”. This one is produced by Memba and feels like the equivalent of throwing everything up in the air, flipping a table over, and flipping a middle finger to all the problems racing through our minds. The production has a nice low-end bounce to it with tons of intricate little sounds sprinkled all around and EVAN’s voice is pure electro-pop anthem goodness. She has such a powerful presence on the song and there’s just no doubt that fans are going to deeply connect with every word she sings.

Those visceral, fuck-it moments that come from getting fed up are so essential. We all have an internal clock and when it strikes and when we get that gut feeling, it’s time to move on. I was part of a close knit community for years that I recently began to despise being a part of so slowly, and eventually, I had that moment where I realized I wanted no part of it anymore. What did I need? I needed freedom, a new start, new pursuits, SOMETHING new. It’s like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and for the past few weeks I’ve felt so good. That’s exactly what I needed.

Noé – ibynoé

Noé has been hot on my radar throughout 2019, so it’s thrilling to have her EP finally arrive. Originally teased by five standout singles that I had the pleasure of writing up in their entirety, each building upon the last with a further expansive soon, the EP comes equipped with a never-before-heard track called “i cheated on u” that once again takes her sound to new territory. It’s an acoustic, heartache ballad that dives into raw, unflinching honesty about infidelity with honesty and openness that makes each and every word hit with serious impact. Noé has an intrinsic way with words that make her music what I would consider poetic, constantly drawing intricate imagery from verse to chorus and back again. She’s exactly the voice I want to hear in indie-pop and I love the EP but can also see how she’s going to take her sound and style to a new level as her rise is imminent.

The ever-shifting landscape of music makes it so easy to leave music behind. As soon as we hear something, we instantly think ahead to the next album suggested on Spotify or the range of singles on our favorite playlist that go down a lot easier than a full record. There’s obviously music that’s been designed for this rapid form of mass consumption, but there’s no reason to get disillusioned as we have access to the widest array of true artists in history. No matter how many people buy into the now or try to game the system, the cream rises to the top and it’s obvious that Noé falls squarely into that category of making music that’s built to last.

Harry Nathan – Songs About Dreams About Her

I’ve been heavily looking forward to Harry Nathan’s new EP and it has totally transcended my expectations. It’s such an expertly woven batch of songs that feel like they all fit into the same explosive universe where catchy melodies and attentive intricacies reign supreme. The opener “Rooftops” starts things off on a high note with a tropical groove, singles “Fool For Your Love” and “Vanilla Sky” sound even better in the context of the record, “Timeless Dream” is an absolutely stunning ambient-esque ballad of an instrumental, and “Blue Eyed Girl” is a gorgeous closer that starts small before swelling up into an anthemic swan song. This EP is truly packed with highlights and I can’t recommend enough to just sit down and absorb it from front to back.

I don’t have a super insightful personal anecdote to dive into today. I just want to say that I’m in a really good place right now and music like Harry Nathan’s accentuates that feeling, like the soundtrack to a movie that’s momentarily transcended conflict or disarray and everything just feels right. I drove over a massive bridge last night, looked up at a mountain range right as the song’s chorus kicked, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and smile. It was a moment that affirmed my place of love and light in the universe and I look forward to continuing to cherish this ongoing experience.

bodyimage – choke

Have you ever wished pain upon someone? Have you ever encouraged the universe to send unflinching karma in the direction of someone who you thinks deserves it? If so, this is a fitting soundtrack to your voodoo-doll ethos. bodyimage have revealed a subtly vicious single called “choke” that feels like the metallic grind of industrial tension converted into a structure that sticks in your brain like glue. There’s moments to breathe when the vocals take centerstage and a sense of relief creeps in, but it’s quickly crushed into dust as the darkness encroaches once more. The song eventually devolves into the repetitious “I wanna, I wanna, I wanna make you choke,” like the moment when anger overwhelms your brain and it’s the only possible thought or emotion you’re registering in that moment.

It’s easy to thrive off of anger. It’s an easy emotion that for some reason comes naturally to us as humans. That creeping sensation of tension rises up through your body before exploding into a full-blown feeling in mind and body. A lot of anger can be irrational, but we are occasionally faced with seething, seeing red moments that come from a justifiable position in the push-and-pull of human connection. Music like “choke” is so valuable because it allows you to expunge those sensations from your body into art, and ideally, function as catharsis that comfortably grapples with a purely negative emotion before creating space in yourself to move on from the negativity. There’s also something to be said for returning to music with revenge in mind that can help relieve tension in your life time and time again. I’ll definitely be returning to “choke” again when I need a moment of removal and reprise.

Jabberwocky – Italobingo / La Yara EP

Italodisco is an essential genre and Jabberwocky are making sure it’s also everlasting on their amazing new EP. The first track is “Italobingo” which feels like a lengthy head trip through a hazy dance floor with lights flickering, bodies moving, and a sense of time or place nonexistent. It’s all about the groovy journey and I’ll be damned if I’m not on board for its entirety. The second single “La Yara” is funky emotional goodness that feels like the soundtrack to a ’70s melodrama where the love interests have a push and pull between one another before finally arriving in each other’s arms where they belong. Jabberwocky’s music isn’t just audible, it’s a cinematic experience that makes you see and feel things beyond the average imagination. I highly recommend getting on board this visceral train and never looking back.

It’s amazing that a French trio in 2019 is making topshelf music of a genre whose peak was in Italy during the 20th century. Good music transcends origins or nationalities or linear time constraints and is a universal language that we can all engage with however we please. Passion is the only currency that drives the exchange of good music outside of the corporate sense and Jabberwocky appear to have a whole wealth of it on deck. I’m sitting in Los Angeles experiencing a French trio channeling Italian music and I can fully feel it – there’s no senses lost because the passion shines through. That’s a beautiful thing.

Pretty Sister – Kingdom in the Valley

Pretty Sister has been one of the most consistent artist on my radar for years now and he never lets up – in fact it feels like he’s still growing as an artist. While his previous singles leaned a little heavier into nostalgia, this new one feels like his sound is really crystalizing into something absolutely fresh. It has just the right amount of funk, of synth-pop, of a modern trap reprise, and of modern swagger to his vocals – all a perfect foundation for a song about finding his queen (someone get wifed up by Pretty Sister already)! It’s exciting to hear an artist find their voice with years of amazing progression and it feels like Pretty Sister has truly arrived.

Dating culture is such an illogical mess. You can be the biggest catch in the world and you’ll still come up short with potential matches time and time again. It’s a nuisance that’s been exacerbated by a lack of accountability and honesty in relationships, but just stay the course because the right one for you is out there. They might not be on dating apps or the coffee shop you regularly go to, but instead hiding in a chance moment that’s ahead of you without even knowing it. Trust that the universe already has connected you two from afar and your gravitational pull toward one another will eventually put you in the right place at the right time. Your queen for your kingdom in the valley is out there!

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.