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Oh Wonder — The Rain

I once thought that I had given all the love that I had inside of me to give, away. I believed that there were no parts of a heart that loved everything it saw left to give anymore love to anyone, or anything else. ‘How stubbornly foolish was I‘, I realized, when I fell in love right away again with the first beautiful smile that came my way.

Throughout the years, I have met many loves. Loves who I sincerely felt were the loves of my life, and loves who I knew would leave me faster than the daydreams I had built inside my mind of our futures together. It was only through a combination of those loves that I began to understand what love is..

Love isn’t a rich man on a rich island who gives you everything you want because he can. Love isn’t a poor girl in a poor neighborhood who loves you mindlessly because of who she suspects you to be. No. Love is the endless dance that you both do whenever you get together. It is the waltz that your hearts sync with whenever they are with one another, and no matter how many years or decades have walked on by. Love is the kiss that you share because you both want it and have longed for it. Love, are moments of tenderness that you willfully give to someone rather than have asked for by anyone. Love is—selfless.

The Rain”, bOh Wonder is a simple reminder to me, in this new year, of what love is. It’s a melody or sound that I can adore at first listen, the same way that I have fallen in love at first sight, time and time again. It’s a soft whisper in your ear that gently tickles it the way we all love that feeling when it happens, even if it makes us slightly uncomfortable to love it so.

I’ve given all my love to you”. 

“The Rain”, could not have been a better title for this song as it explains itself more perfectly than most of the abstract titles for tunes these days. It feels like a misty rain that starts off as a light fog, deepening just a tad into a light drizzle, but that never, ever, gets to progress into a storm; it doesn’t need to.

Love doesn’t need you to do anything else but to be itself. Remember that for 2015.

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Dream Brother — UPPR DWNR

2014 was a year of beauty. It was a year of divorces and marriages. A year full of beautiful souls moving on into the afterlife, and other beautiful souls being born into this one. 2014 represented one of the most fruitful years of personal growth for me. I learned that no matter what comes my way, everything will somehow always be alright. I learned that not all loves are meant to be, but to be able to experience them in the first place is the prize in itself. I learned that we shouldn’t try to control others, especially if we cannot yet even control our very own selves and emotions. 2014 was a stepping stone into another great year to come, for all of us.

This morning I was looking for a song that wasn’t sad and that represented what a sunny year it has been for me writing for EMPT. Sure, more often than not I have let you into my personal thoughts and moments in my life that may not have been so sunny, but if you caught me out on these NYC streets you would see someone who no matter what bad things could be taking place in their life, will always have a smile. I smile because I know that after the storm comes the rainbow, and that after the rainbow comes the beautiful nights that I love so much. I smile because I know that a smile attracts more smiles, and that more smiles attract happiness.

If 2014 was a bad year for you then I wish you nothing but goodness in 2015, and, if 2014 was awesome for you, well then I wish you nothing but more awesomeness to come your way because you all deserve it.

Dream Brother’s “UPPR DWNR” is a classic sunny beach-time jam. Think The Beatles, The Beach Boys, or more recently, Vampire Weekend, and you have yourself some sonic golden sunshine for your ears and minds. This kind of tune is exactly like the smiling effect that I touched on above; countless studies prove that even forcing a smile onto your face can make you happy, so why not leave the year off with happiness and some feel-good music to bring on the eternal happiness that 2015 is promising to be.

Happy New Year friends, and many more.

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Vanic X Zella Day – Hypnotic

When’s the last time you listened to a song and were immediately hooked? Well this might be the next. There’s something captivating Zella Day’s voice and the echoey horn-infusions of Vanic’s production. As if to prove a point, the song comes to a energetic tease at :53 and just builds from there, until we hover until the explosion at 1:41.

There have been several occasions lately where I’ve listened to this song on repeat to keep up my momentum. One time was in the gym after not being there a while. It was right after Christmas and I was trying to burn off the hangover. Bad idea first of all, but this song helped me push through the pain. It helped me put a little bit more aggression into the punching bag. It urged me to do one more pull up. Isn’t that crazy? Artists I didn’t know existed until a couple weeks ago, living in a cities thousands of miles away from me, somehow transferred energy to me, and now I’m passing it onto you in hopes that it will have the same positive effect; in some way or another.

Next time you’re having trouble grasping that motivation from within, blast this and drown the rest of the world out. Power through! To me, it’s something special and I foresee it being on my iPods’s “Top 25 Most Played” fairly soon. Enjoy!

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Los Árboles — Nobody Cares

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Something chill. Something smooth. Something Jazzy and Electronic. Something a little different. Something out of this world yet sitting right within it.

Released a few days ago by Argentinian label Discos Robar, Nobody Cares is an extra mellow almost chillwave-like intro that sets off the latest EP by Los Árboles. It’s a funky psychedelic trip through a Space Age Jazz Club set that meshes Dance music, Latin Jazz vibes and Electronic sounds to give us a few minutes of galactic escape.

Sometimes the only way to clear our heads and get away from it all is to listen to and do the things that we could never have imagined ourselves doing. Sometimes it’s those same set of unfamiliar chords and sounds pieced together that spark the parts of our brains that we didn’t even know laid dormant. Sometimes, it’s just simply fun to hit play and see where the ride takes you.

Enjoy it on the late night tip as you scour the net for your next trip.

 

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Rodrigo Amarante — Nada Em Vão

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Rainy NYC Sundays are made for whispers. They are made for quiet walks through an empty Central Park. They are made for hot chocolate by a fireplace or hot toddies behind your laptop screens. Rainy, New York City Sundays, are made for quiet hums and secret reminisces of melancholia that we have somehow already found peace with. Sundays like these are made for quiet runs with music like this plugged into your ears so that the calm of the city can be appreciated and all the unnecessary noises and sounds of it phased out.

nada em vão,
no espaço entre eu e você,
no silêncio um grito,
o som e o não “
[english] nothing in vain,
in the space between you and me,
in the silence a scream,
the yes and no.”

Rodrigo Amarante’s “Nada Em Vão” is a taste of the NYC that I speak of. It is a reminder to me that as much as I am intrigued by beautiful and perfect smiles, that from time to time I am also fascinated by the way eyes hold back tears, and faces look lost in deep thought.

It’s an NYC that is perfectly perfect in all of its imperfections with multiple layers in spaces that go unseen and under-appreciated. Nada Em Vão is similar this way when you listen to it. A smooth piano tapping softly set over a gentle guitar, bass string plucking that follows similar suit and an angelic choir that eerily whispers throughout the tune with a saxophone that gets lost somewhere between all of the pretty music.

For me, it’s simply another reminder that sadness can be as beautiful as happiness, and that sharing sounds like these is what can make that same sadness just as beautiful as all of our happinesses combined.

Enjoy the rain.

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Warren G & Nate Dogg ft. Sebu of Capital Cities — Regulate

If you know like I know
You don’t wanna step to this
It’s the G-Funk era
Funked out with a gangsta twist”

Searching for something quirky and fun for this beautiful Friday morning, I came across the perfect wacky tune to give all of us a smile. This rework of the classic “Regulate” by O.G.’s: Warren G & Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) formulated by Sebu of Capital Cities and featuring his vocals on the hook will make your heads bop, fingers snap and shoulders groove. It’s a fun, “nu-disco twist”  to a great representation from Hip Hop’s Golden Era.

Maybe it’s the fact that more and more major market radio stations across the United States are suddenly switching their formats to Classic Hip Hop of the 70’s,80’s and 90’s. Or, maybe it’s the fact that most of the newer Hip Hop songs these days contain lyrics that are barely audible without deciphering them via online searches, or that they fail to connect with the audience in any deeper manner than the surface materialisms they spew, or that they simply don’t paint bright enough pictures to merit the stamp of true artistry that has maestros like Sebu rewinding time to add their splashes of color to the sonic masterpieces of Hip Hop that mostly anyone can connect with. It’s those masterpieces that told the stories of our ghettos, allowed us to escape from our ghettos and provided a new lane out of our ghettos that the entire planet at every corner of the world soon came to connect with.

Monumental moments like these captured in time and reworked by the sound masters of today are still able to provide us with the visions from what America came from, seeing it from where it is today. We are still able to close our eyes, listen and hear Warren G as he tells us a tale all the while perfectly envisioning exactly what he sees and feels. Thanks to Sebu we are able to experience it as a distant memory that we can groove to rather than something of a sad reality in dire need of sociopolitical change.

Enjoy the REAL new classic:

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Ars-Nova — Ear Play Ting

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Aida noticed the similarities right away. I knew that she would because very few people have met or known the old one, and even less know about the new. I noticed the similarities after the second or third date. It was the energy that led me to it.

My mind is so busy that at times I get bored trying to keep it entertained. I’ll listen to hours of new music just to quench the insatiable thirst that my mind has, and even then it isn’t enough. I find myself attracted to similar minds that way too. Beautiful smiles, pretty eyes and gorgeous hair have become less of important factors than when I was eight. These days, a pretty smile and nice hair do a lot less for me than a beautiful mind.

But new music does have a way of soothing me from time to time. Maybe it’s because for the entire year of 2014 I vowed to not listen to the same old songs again and not watch movies or shows that I have already seen. And every once in a while I come across a song that forces itself on me and makes me listen to it more than once. I’m not sure if it’s the remnants of a The Weeknd track somewhere in the background of Ars-Nova’s Ear Play Ting, or if it’s the silly 2 Chainz style adlibs that entertain me here, but, the mere fact that I am entertained is enough to write and post about.

As we celebrate the holidays with everything that is familiar to us, and as we prepare for another new year to come, let’s try harder to embrace the unknown. Let’s try harder to not listen to the same old songs, over and over, or to watch the same old Christmas movies, or any movies for that matter. Let’s try harder to find hidden gems within new faces and voices and spread them across the web. Let’s try harder to share with the world the masterpieces that may never quite be. Let’s forget about the similarities in things and find what makes each piece unique, instead.

If I looked at her as a similar song then I would be missing out on all the unique beauty that she brings.

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Zhu Paradise Awaits

I’m born with this mighty sin”

Years ago I had to make a choice in a version of the Garden of Eden that seems was designed for just me. Before that decision, I had asked the highest-power to grant me my innermost and deepest desires. He did, and I had everything. Suddenly one day, a little devil came over with a big apple for me, and that Big Apple was this city of sin that I have called home since birth. The decision was: stay with everything that I had just asked God for a few years earlier, or take a bite of the apple and chase whatever highs this city could provide. At the time, the decision for me was too easy because my mind was not ready to settle.

Chasing highs is the addiction that most people succumb to. Whether it’s a high from heroin, a simple runners high, the chase for the next adrenaline rush, or the rush to the next lover, highs are something that this city seems to have an endless supply of, and somehow I find myself in the middle of it all.

I’m born with this mighty sin
Thinking about the naked women in my bed

I’m born with this mighty sin
Walking around just talking my shit
Conversation based around just sex”

My highs come in the form of moments. Just like other addicts I find these highs wearing off faster and faster with me chasing right away after the next one. But in between come the moments of loneliness that leave me wondering if that apple I chose to bite was all worth it, and I think that this is what we all have to one day come to realize. Do we want to keep chasing highs all over the planet, or do we really want to give up the chase for that one energy that can provide everything that we could ever need?

Paradise Awaits by Zhu is the kind of high most of today’s youth chases. As Hip Hop ages and EDM rises and rises with no peak in sight, the sonic dish of variety is as appealing to the audience as that apple once presented to me. On one hand you have music that starts to become stale and redundant, and on the other you have tunes like this that provide excitement at every 4th bar with constant changes and transitions that truly leave us waiting for where the music is going because we cannot tell. It is that excitement of the unknown that once put me out in these streets to become the social omnivore that I am today. But it is that same volatile and unpredictable set of properties to this kind of life that have me questioning my decision.

I can’t tell you if I will settle some day. I don’t know that I will ever stop chasing the highs from the unknown energies of the world that it has to offer, but, I do know that more and more, as the chase starts to become redundant to me, I think to myself: ‘Is there anything out there that won’t bore me?’. 

For now, this song right here will keep you from boredom.

Kiss me in my dreams
And tell me paradise is what we see”

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Shuggie Otis — Strawberry Letter 23

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Ashley Hefnawy is like a cool comic book crusader to me. The few times that I have seen her in the flesh, it has been as if I myself am just another part of her comic book world. Even in my environment she managed to make me feel that way. Her passion and love for music are nearly unmatched, and her ability to share it with us is a gift to our very own world. She put me on to Shuggie Otis last night, somewhere high above the clouds staring at Gotham from a short distance in the backdrop. Ashley‘s world is immediately more colorful than any I have encountered. All the colors to everything somehow become enhanced; it’s trippy, and dope at the same time. Look at the artwork alone for Shuggie‘s 1971 album: “Freedom Fight”, and take notice of how rich the purple filtering to it is; how vibrant it appears, and then you might be able to see what I do.

Anyway, Strawberry Letter 23 is the definition of a sonic masterpiece.

I’ve figured out within the past few weeks that I am a complete music snob, and an audiophile. Basically, I only want the good shit.

In order to grasp the best feel for how vibrant this song is you will need a few things:

  1. A sound system that consists of the music not coming out of your laptop speaker, but that you can plug your laptop into.
  2. Speakers, and a decent subwoofer that isn’t too “crunk”. So basically, lower the intensity of your sub, if you have one, to about 2 on a 10 scale, and your treble to about 6 on a 10.
  3. A good pair of headphones for listening later on again because some of the instruments like the live triangle that are used can only be heard properly with headphones. The surround sound effects are much better. NOTE: HEADPHONES SHOULD NOT BE BEATS by DRE. Those distort the highs in order to give music more umph on the bottom ends.

Now, you are ready to listen. What you are about to experience is how live-orchestras sound, and hopefully it will allow you to miss some of things that made music so warm to begin with.

Somewhere down the line we started compensating great sonic recordings of live-instrument production with the digital, and we lost things. We lost the ability to feel what a beautiful bassline feels like. We lost some of the warmth to it. At 1:13, when the triangle comes in, panned left, we forgot what the echoing “tings” of it sound like in the room. Listen to how they move away like the peak of a yodel getting lost in the canyons. 

I guess it helps when your dad is a legendary composer because in this day and age the same process would cost millions, but isn’t it so worth it?

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Jessie Ware – Keep On Lying (TOKiMONSTA Remix)

I’d quite like to talk about dancing really quickly. Now, this isn’t a dance song, but I’m currently tapping my feet along to the good-ness that is TOKiMONSTA’s style. She (yes, SHE) first captured my attention with “Drive” (do your ears a favor and search our site for this post), so I was happy to hear her style translate over to a remix. She couldn’t have picked a better artist than Jessie Ware. OK.. I’m a little (lot) biased, having been a fan of Jessie’s for a few years. Simply put, this is a badass song.

Back to dancing… I never felt hindered from dancing until moving to Oklahoma. It’s not a bad state overall, but it’s the little things that get me. One thing being the lack of dance floors (excluding two-stepping bars of course). The fact that the majority of bar-hoppers would rather sit and talk allll night, than to get up and get a little jiggy, confuses me. It became apparent to me last weekend when I was in a college town; it was the “Big Game”- two Oklahoma colleges playing each other. So, a girlfriend and I were hopping around, having fun, all the while looking for a place to “end” the night. Somewhere to dance! This was how it was for me in college.. go out and find somewhere to let loose. It shouldn’t be as hard as it was last weekend! We ended up creating our OWN dance floor!! When I woke up the next morning and was revisiting the memories, the thought hit me- why were we the ONLY ones dancing?? I felt like an anomaly, with everyone looking at us strangely. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Austin’s abundant nightlife, filled with bars accompanied by energetic people and dance floors, not just bar stools.

So it’s just kinda been on my mind lately. I’m not asking for a giant dance party.. just some SPACE to move around, and for the general atmosphere to be open to body movement. Let’s bring some free-thinking into these Southern towns! Who’s with me?

Make sure to give Jessie Ware’s new album a listen, and keep your ears pricked for more of TOKiMONSTA’s work.

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