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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.

Jesse And The Wolf – Talk To Me

Jesse And The Wolf is one the premier production start ups in the game right now and they come through with a straight up scorcher on “Talk To Me”. It’s like my favorite old school soul rockers came together and decided to chop up a legendary genre into an offering that’s purely for the dance floors. Its jumpy stop-and-start hook is some infectious ear candy that would be just as good being performed by a live band as it would be dropped in the midst of a sweaty DJ set on a beachside hall where bodies are constantly moving, handheld fans are waved, and the ocean breeze cruises in for constant comfort. I loved last year’s “Hurt Me No More” but this new one is without a doubt my favorite Jesse And The Wolf joint to date.

I honestly detest when people beat around the bush – just talk to me and tell me what’s on your mind. We only have limited time on Earth as we know it so there’s no point in concealing intentions – be honest, be forthright, and let me know if our paths are meant to align or not. Forgo the facade that society has told us is acceptable and leave your true self to bare. Honesty opens the gateway to the true breadth of a spiritual pathway that we should all desire and you’re not only interfering with your own growth, but the growth of others as well when you aren’t forthright. For better or for worse, talk to me!

Mirage Club – Communication

Who better than the French to deliver an effortlessly cool indie-pop jam? The answer is truly no one as Mirage Club make readily apparent – their new single “Communication” is a funky, groovy tour through ’70s and ’80s influence channeled via the lens of crystal clear modern production stylings. It’s a track best suited for sweaty dance floors where any sense of time is lost and sensory overload leads to being suspended somewhere between the past, present, and future as the swaying of bodies moves from one point to the next. For a song that sounds so good via headphones alone at home, I can only imagine hearing this with the presence of dynamic buzzing bodies where everyone’s vibration and energy mixes into a potent spark of positivity.

I think communication is a mixture of inherent and learned behavior. Some people have a knack for knowing exactly what to say and how to say it, while others have to go through trial and error to best discover how to reciprocate ideas and feelings with others. For me, it was absolutely a learned behavior as I over communicated to the point of hurting others during my teenage years and had to develop a filter for my thoughts. Funnily enough, I ended up being a communications major during college and am much more sensitive and lucid with what I have to say. It’s all personal and hopefully one day all humans can properly communicate to the point of rising our collective vibrations and empower our collective consciousness.

Taylor Beau & Lil Anne – Faded

Anne Winters might be best known for her award-winning acting chops, but she shows an equally exciting knack for singing on her debut music single. It’s a fitting release for the newly anointed Lil Anne as it comes alongside none other than her partner in crime Taylor Beau, a connection that can be felt through the song as it oozes romantic chemistry. The back-and-forth trading of verses from one to another makes for a perfect duet in a classic r&b style as Anne plays the one asking pertinent questions while Beau tries to explain them away with utterly smooth vocals that make his past boyband involvement more than apparent. I look forward to hearing these two cross paths again musically and also seeing what Anne can do when she goes solo. There’s so much potential here all around!

I feel like “Faded” touches on a classic case of lust that we’ve all experienced at one point or another. One of my worst romantic experiences was a time where I had fallen for a girl and wanted to be in a relationship, but she increasingly only hit me up when she was drunk until it hit a point where I essentially never saw her sober. I desperately wanted to believe that she was into me until the day she cut things off. It was unfortunate but it gave me clarity for when she hit me up a few days later at midnight saying she missed me – I knew she didn’t miss me, she missed the drunk idea of me, and from there on out I left her in the past where that fling belonged. It was a demoralizing experience at the time, but it gave me a newfound confidence in my worth that I’ve carried to this day.

Lo Lytes – Take The Whole Bottle

Lo Lytes dropped a quality track called “Winter” earlier this year, but “Take The Whole Bottle” is a next level release that really feels like a collision of pop and r&b at its absolute finest. The intonations of his vocals and the moody pop instrumentals immediately conjure up images of The Weeknd – a lofty comparison, I know, but it’s just that good. Not only is the music amazing on its own right, but he totally nails the mood and energy of a relationship collapsing around you – it’s an inherently dramatic scenario deserving of an equally dramatic song and Lo Lytes delivers and then some.

Even if it’s not facing a bottle, we all have some form of escape. It can be exercise, it can be food, it can be television, the list goes on and on. We’re conscious beings that sometimes suffer the consequences of self reflection and need to run from that blessing and curse. It’s a learned practice to use healthy methods of escape like meditation that actually treat the root cause rather than glossing over it and storing it away while it sits and grows until eventually resurfacing at a later date. We only have limited time in our physical incarnations so we deserve to treat ourselves right and maximize a grounded, rewarding existence.