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Tommy Newport – On Top

Tommy Newport’s new single, “On Top”, has a timeless quality to it that makes it transcend the present moment. It could have come out this year, a decade ago, or decades ago and I wouldn’t flinch (which I mean as a total compliment). It’s organic alt-rock at its finest that taps a bit of funk and a bit of soul to give it serious depth of character; groovy guitar-work and driving percussion lays down the groundwork for Newport to confidently deliver vocals fit for intricate storytelling that paints a vivid picture. You can imagine this song being laid out to bare in a smokey club with bodies swaying and drinks clanking in unison.

I like visceral moments where conscious thinking goes out the window. It’s cool to actively intellectualize things and analyze them as they’re happening, but sometimes I just want to shut off parts of my brain and get lost with only the primal senses kicking. When UGA won the Rose Bowl in overtime, the pure exhilaration I felt was a full-body experience. When I met my favorite actor from Twin Peaks, the joy I felt was overwhelming. These are the moments I live for and I imagine hearing “On Top” in a live setting would be comparable.

Cait – Stay Out

I’m feeling fortunate to start this November morning off with some understated pop perfection. Cait’s “Stay Out” traverses borderline ballad and uplifting anthem territory without ever sounding overproduced or overdone. It’s an exercise in how to deliver infectious melodies while still feeling honest and organic. The instrumental is crisp and gives room for Cait to wax poetic as she proclaims “I’m gonna be just fine, if you just keep me in the back of your mind” while hitting all the right vocal pockets that make each and every line unforgettable. From top to bottom, “Stay Out” establishes Cait as a diverse pop talent with endless potential.

This song has me thinking about the fact that I’ve avoided bringing anyone into my life, romantic or otherwise, who I’ve had to force out of my mind. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel like I have a sixth sense for who to allow into my inner circle. As soon as I get an inkling of a feeling that something isn’t right, I trust my gut and cut them out. Maybe that’s drastic, but I don’t know, every time I haven’t followed that internal lead I’ve regretted it in one way or another. I’m definitely not perfect, though, so who knows; maybe I’ll finally get lost in the haze of a passionate relationship and get hit with a rude awakening at its end. Only time will tell.

Justin Caruso – Don’t Know You (feat. Jake Miller)

Justin Caruso has always had a knack for making sweetly melodic electronic songs, but this might be the first one I’ve heard from him that delivers some wonderfully welcomed edge. Called “Don’t Know”, it’s a Jake Miller assisted bop that begins with pure pop courtesy of strummed acoustic guitar and Miller’s vocals traced through one another. The song’s drop is where the edge hits as a deep synth groove stops and starts with a swell of tension that’s virtually impossible to escape. It’s a massive sound that takes Caruso’s music to totally new territory that I didn’t even know was in his repertoire. It’s an exciting phase in his evolution that has me immediately ready for more where that came from.

“It feels like I don’t know you.” I’ve definitely experienced that sentiment before, when someone who you thought you had seen every part of reveals a dark side you had no idea existed. Sometimes there’s hints that you should’ve caught along the way, but sometimes the transition can be shockingly sudden, and thus, you’re left to contend with the wreckage that person has wrought. In terms of romantic relationships, there have been moments that have totally blindsided me and left me wondering where the hell it all went wrong. In those situations, where you didn’t know the person all along, you have to recognize that it’s not your fault and it doesn’t reflect on your character. It might be a personal blow that hurts to the touch, but don’t be confused and think it was self-inflicted; you’re not broken and you can move on to someone whose truest self is revealed to you from the start.

Pieter Oliver – Girl And A City

I write about a lot of electronic and rap music but I couldn’t help but gravitate to this new single by Pieter Oliver. It’s called “Girl And A City” and it’s highbrow singer-songwriter material for a more sophisticated audience than a lot of music that comes out these days (I personally get John Mayer vibes but maybe that’s just me). It’s anchored down by a beautiful instrumental with the perfect amount of melodic guitar touches and super powerful vocals that can hang with the best of them. I love how lyrical this song is too – it’s not just the best sounding words, it’s a detailed portrait where you can follow along and hear Oliver’s journey. You can feel a whole lot of love in the words as he describes bringing a girl he’s in love with to the city he’s also fell in love with. It’s an amazing concept with all sorts of depth that I can see myself revisiting to pick up on all the little nuances.

Falling in love with a girl and a city are both pretty comparable experiences. You fall in love with their exterior, you fall in love with their quirks, you fall in love with their interests, you even fall in love with their flaws…everything that makes them tick becomes part of a wide breadth of reasons to keep coming back to them again and again. Both loves have the chance to take your breath away, whether it’s the moment of holding hands with your girl in your favorite restaurant or driving past downtown and soaking in the skyline. I wish for everyone to have these experiences because they’re so essential to living your life to the fullest.

Godwin – i know

There’s certain music like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Yndi Halda and 65daysofstatic that puts me in a totally different headspace. I can feel myself transcending my senses, transcending the human body, and assimilating into the sounds for a visceral feeling where all the dimensions blend into one another. It’s a serene state of mind and one that I frequently try to enter, whether it’s putting on post-rock and watching the sun rise or putting on ambient music and slipping into a state between waking and rest. I get that same full-body feeling from Godwin’s “i know” which is an insanely beautiful song from a new artist I wasn’t familiar with until now. It’s not just a song, it’s an experience that you can feel as chills rush throughout your body like they’re intertwining with the music. Simply put it’s melodic music at its finest.

I spend a lot of time staring at the sky and thinking about the relationship between love and the cosmos. They feel intrinsic to each other – what’s the universe without love and what’s endless love without a never-ending universe to move along with it? I think there’s a reason one of the most romantic activities is to lay down in the middle of nature, holding hands, and staring up at the stars. I think there’s a reason people refer to their partners as their sun and their moon. It’s hard to explain and quantify but I think love is essential to existence here on Earth and far, far beyond.

Greatness of Saturn – Greatness of Saturn EP

A good friend of mine turned me onto something called the Saturn Theory which asserts that Saturn used to be a central part of our sky, much like the sun and moon today. It’s a fascinating take to totally reimagine the cosmos and I thus spent hours reading into the great gas giant’s relevance to Earth. I’m really excited to have discovered Greatness of Saturn as the producer channels the importance of said gas giant into a forward-thinking electronic sound fitting for one of the wonders of our vast solar system. His EP reminds of me a greats like Nero and current favorites like No Mana as the production throughout is crisp, edgy, and interstellar. My personal favorite on the album is without a doubt “777” as it delivers an absolutely massive atmosphere that’s impossible to not get totally lost within.

I’ve been reading Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and it’s really helped contextualize my place within the universe. It’s so fascinating that all of human history has occurred on a planet that’s irrelevant to an infinitely expanding space. That could make someone feel small, but for me, it spurs a sense of wonderment as we’ve been given the gift of existence at this very moment amidst a vast and beautiful arena. It gives me chills just looking at the sun and moon these days as these behemoths in our sky confirm that our cosmic body is not alone. I look forward to continually appreciating the unique roles throughout our solar system and beyond.

Tails & inverness – Skeleton (feat. Nevve)

Tails and inverness make an exciting combination because both producers have been creating buzz in their own respective ways, so it’s a major pleasure to hear them unite on “Skeleton” which is an absolute smash. It’s a hard hitting trap song but it’s also lush and melodic which is quite the feat for a genre that usually opts to make thunderous bass its sole centerpiece. The vocals from Nevve are the icing on the cake as their beautiful cadence is draped on top of the production in a way that meshes so naturally. With Halloween coming up, the fittingly titled “Skeleton” will make the perfect soundtrack to hazy fall nights ahead of us.

Now I’ll go ahead and get a little deeper here – who are you when you’e stripped down to nothing but your proverbial skeleton? When all of the excess materialism is gone what’s left? So many people compensate for a lack of self-understanding and a true feeling of their whole self. I’m fortunate to have a spiritual center that guides me through every day and allows me to be true to the person I am. I know what my values are, what art I enjoy engaging with, what people fulfill my relationships to their maximum potential. These are all great things for me to keep in mind and I hope you do too.

slenderbodies – smooth operator

It’s a brave task to take on a monumental classic like Sade’s “Smooth Operator”, but if anyone is equipped for the task, it’s the guys in slenderbodies. They have such a fine-tuned that’s inherently unique to them and it makes them able to take on any task with a supreme amount of grace. Thus their “Smooth Operator” cover is expectedly a tour de force in gorgeous atmospheric sounds as a wonderful, blooming atmosphere is draped upon with their staple of whispy vocals that inject every one of their songs with a feeling of story telling. I don’t think anyone could transcend Sade’s original, but slenderbodies come damn close which is a testament to just how talented these guys are. This is a song I’ll have on repeat on late nights with candles lit and soaking in all of the ambiance.

I don’t have much of a personal anecdote to write about today. Things are at a constant state of good which is about all you could ask for. There’s blue skies as far as the eyes can see, palm trees draped over Hollywood Boulevard, the ocean in the distance, the hills peppered with archicteurael bliss…I could go on and on about all of the things that make a good day in Los Angeles that much better. I’m looking forward to really soaking all of that in over the weekend and reveling in all of the things that I enjoy.

NEIKED – How Did I Find You (feat. Miriam Bryant)

NEIKED and Miriam Bryant make up a massive dream team so it’s only right that their new single is a laidback smash. NEIKED’s production is the perfect balance of understated and catchy with driving percussion, a funky bassline, and stretchy synths. Miriam Bryant’s vocals are absolutely amazing as always which should be no surprise to anyone who’s followed along with her career. She’s on “Push Play”, one of the most insane highlights from Zedd’s quintessential album Clarity, and also has a ton of great solo songs under her belt. With all the success between NEIKED and Miriam this might be their best work to date which is a major accomplishment for these two major talents.

I used to wonder how I found the important people in my life, but I’m now a firm believer in synchronicities. Once you put out positive energy and your intentions into the universe, it’s going to be reciprocated as those emitting the same frequencies are subconsciously attracted and similar minds thus come together. My best friends have all come into my life through a domino effect as one individual leads to another through ways that simply defy elements of chance. I feel like those synchronicities represent a cosmic force that transcends scientific explanation and is what so many of us perceive as a god. It’s reassuring to know that the universe has our best interests at heart.

JØUR – Cut

A new singer-songwriter by the name of JØUR has come through with an absolute smash. Titled “Cut”, it feels like a massive production that the likes of Adele would deliver. Her vocals are absolutely stunning and complemented by a top-shelf instrumental that’s minimalist in all the right places. Low-key piano keys are draped about, the percussion bends and snaps with a crisp aura, and a synth slithers throughout the atmosphere to wrap all of it together. From top to bottom, it’s an exercise in melodramatic pop excellence that is one of those songs you could see receiving massive looks on playlists and syncs (sorry for the industry speak, but when I get excited about a song, I can’t help but think about its potential to impact not just individual listeners, but the masses too!).

As is common for me, I’m also infatuated with the album artwork here. It feels like a piece of Greek or Roman sculpture that transcends time and space. The horizontal shadows that stretch across the figure provide a dynamic layer that makes the art feel like a living, breathing piece to watch shift and shape. Just like “Cut”, it’s understated beauty that’s going to make a visceral impact on people once they see it. As someone saturated with music on a daily basis, it’s such a gift to feel so many emotions toward a song and be able to express every aspect of it. That’s how engagement with art should always feel.