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Emma Sameth – 2AM

I’m a night owl by nature; whether it be the glare of a Macbook or glistening of the stars, my eyes are generally fixated on a source of light long after the sun has set. Over the past summer in particular, I would lay in the dark while skyscrapers’ static light and police cars’ dynamic mixture of red-and-blue permeated in tandem through the blinds of my downtown apartment window. If I couldn’t fall asleep, I would slip outside onto the balcony and watch the city slowly move along; an occasional car turning onto our street here, a person fixated on their phone or inhaling a cigarette there.

My senses were never overwhelmed with the medley of sights that took place during the day. Even if my mind was racing with anxiety, it was a time in which I could engage in self-healing and feel at peace within the framework of a massive, complex metropolis. Her story isn’t the same as mine, but something about Emma Sameth’s “2AM” conveys the vibes that I experienced in that apartment and on that balcony. The gorgeous, effects-tinged vocals amidst an expansive atmosphere remind me of my sense of organic humanity meshing with the constructed world which I called home. Only weeks away from my permanent return to Los Angeles, it takes me back to the experience of fading into the night once more.


Oren Yoel – Call Me Remix (Blondie)

I’m all for modern producers remixing classics. It can re-introduce the original to a younger audience while also refreshing the track for those that grew up with the song. But it’s a slippery, delicate and dangerous slope for obvious reasons. Basically you really better understand what you’re doing and remixing, and deliver something that truly builds on a classic. Much, much easier said than done. I’ve checked out many attempts this year, and none were very memorable. Really, I can’t remember any of them…

Until this one! Slept-on producer Oren Yoel’s take on Blondie’s uber-classic “Call Me” is pure remix/trap/big drum/EDM-hiphop hybrid porn. Yoel clearly understood what kind of edge was needed to actually add to the original, not just mail in a remix so he could say he remixed it. You might know Yoel from his production on Asher Roth’s massive debut album “Asleep In The Bread Aisle” or his variety of work with some singer named Miley Cyrus, but if this is any indication of where he’s headed as an artist, we’re all in. It’s a smart, well-crafted remix that not only does total justice to the original, but becomes it’s own winner of a song.


Arona Mane – POTGS (Feat. Milan)

It seems like an eternity since I’ve been able to write about music, but with college officially behind me and years of work within the music industry to be experienced, I’m finally back! My taste has rapidly expanded over the past few months as per usual, but I still find myself gravitating to atmospheric electronic joints, regardless of my newfound interests. Thus, it’s fitting that I stumbled upon a brand new cut from Arona Mane.

Titled “POTGS,” the track is an ethereal orb of grooves and good vibes, in part due to wonderful vocal contributions from Milan. While not executed in a traditional verse-verse-chorus-repeat format, her voice is chopped up into melodic and harmonizing bits that convey an unmistakably human warmth. Of course, the production chops that Arona Mane flexes to propel Milan are superb as well; listening on my treasured pair of m50x’s, every percussion hit is crisp, the bass line is driving yet not excessive, and most importantly, all of the moving pieces are allowed enough breathing room for the track to naturally flow. The two artists display such a fantastic cohesion that makes it feel like so much more than a one-off collaboration, and because of that, there’s little doubt I’ll be spinning “POTGS” well into the new year.


Little Simz ft. Syd – Shotgun

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With the release of Stillness in Wonderland, British rapper Little Simz can now boast two records, four mix tapes, performances alongside the likes of Estelle and Tinie Tempah and a successful acting career, with recurring roles in two British TV series. She’s only twenty-two. It’s clear she’s been hard at work. Artists like Little Simz are testaments to the pay off of prolific creation. Her sophomore album is her most complex body of work, showcasing the intricacies of the young entertainment personage.
“I’m a complex human being, there’s more than one side to me”
Stillness in Wonderland is less unafraid in experimenting than A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. It’s almost as though she’s smoothed out some of the aggression let out on her debut then sprinkled on some jazzy melodies and ethereal vocals to allow us to indulge in her artistry rather than digest her command upon intake.
Choosing a track to feature from this album was not easy. I decided to go with Shotgun, though. The badass ballad of sorts, featuring Syd, also known as Syd Tha Kyd of The Internet and Odd Future, because there’s few things more satisfying than talented women teaming up to create excellent work, in my opinion. These women are making names for themselves in the male dominated hip hop game of today and the result is a track that’s somehow both light and heavy. Definitely smooth enough to stick your straw into and sip at your own pace. Yum.


Grandson – Bury Me Face Down

If America – or the whole world for that matter – ever decided to boil all our problems down into one issue, I think it might turn out to be passivity. It’s not the CORE issue – at the core are the fears, anxieties and depressions – but passivity is the nasty result of those mental enemies. And probably the main cause of peoples anger and frustrations. There’s billions of people around the earth waking up every day unsatisfied, frustrated, desperate, helpless, angry, fearful, depressed, seemingly all for a wide variety of reasons. But the common thread is that most people just don’t do shit, and/or aren’t motivated to do shit. Their energy is sucked out by stress, fears and worries. So much of our energy goes towards things we don’t really care about, and then what do we have left?

“When I go, into the ground… I won’t go quietly, I’m bringing my crown.”

But at the end of the day, it’s still a choice. And with the above quote, Grandson summarizes it perfectly on his smoldering, swagged-out new single “Bury Me Face Down.” Once you realize that you’re letting life walk by you, over you, under you and around you, you have a choice to make. Yeah you’re drained, exhausted, and pissed off at the guy who made a left in front of you and didn’t wave thanks. Yeah you have to wake up early tomorrow morning and do it all again. It’s still a choice, and when you choose to give more than you thought you could, you re-write the program and create new opportunities for yourself. One thing leads to another, and you’re feeling WAY better about yourself and attracting a better reality. If everyone was out there getting shit done, nobody would even have time to be angry at someone else because they believe in a different god or voted for the other candidate. All that shit just keeps us distracted from the real stuff anyway. We’re all the same entity trying to figure it out, the least we can do is fight back and CAUSE reality to bend for US.


Jacob Banks – Monster 2.0

Jacob Banks honest and earnest lyrics ring so true here, for everyone. We all have a “monster” we’re hiding, that “other” side of us that we keep wrapped up for safe keeping. Most often that monster is packed to the gills with emotions that don’t serve us. You know, the ole stand-by’s like fear, jealously, revenge, hatred, vengeance, etc. So often it feels like situations call for these emotions, and usually we can’t control them when they fly out of us. We lash out, and then apologize. Rinse and repeat.

But at some point we all realize that we actually are in complete control here. It’s so easy to brush off the simple concept, but you really can choose your experience, any time. Because really, the experience isn’t the thing or event that’s happening, it’s our REACTION to the thing or event that IS the experience. In that sense, you don’t have to let the monster out, ever. How invincible would you be if you were able to instantly process any event and understand it’s short term and long term meaning? Well, you can. You can ALWAYS be the “bigger person.” That’s really what the choice boils down to – will you be the bigger person, or will you put on the monster costume, and end up having to apologize, again.

Jacob’s honesty here makes him the bigger person. Honesty always wins. It also doesn’t hurt that he deftly mixes R&B, soul, blues and even a gospel vibe, while bringing in trap-style drums/bass for the pre-chorus. The whole thing works really well, and reminds us all how innovative indie music can be. Here’s one instance where letting the monster out was a positive thing.


Mondo Cozmo – Higher

Its so funny, I was just reminiscing about some incredible times I had overseas about 6 years ago, and for some reason the soundtrack to my memory is LCD Soundsystem, primarily “Dance Yrself Clean.” I think that song must have been playing in the background for the entire year of 2010. I really started to miss that vibe of music – dancy, kind of electronic, but old school electronic. More like 80’s new wave than drop-oriented modern EDM.

Then I was reminiscing about a totally different time in my life when Beck’s “Guero” was all I listened to. It was 2005-ish, I was getting sick of hip-hop, and vibing to a lot of indie rock. Beck’s album kinda brought all those energies together, in my opinion it was his best. It was filled with dusty drum breaks and Beck’s warbled sing songy psuedo-rap flow, but had a rock sensibility about it. It really expanded my awareness of what could be accomplished in music when blending genres, and now music is ALL about blending genres.

So, magically Mondo Cozmo’s “Higher” appears, blending EXACTLY what I loved most about LCD and Beck. But don’t get me wrong, this song screams originality, especially in 2016. It’s smart, effortless, ubeat, swagged-out, and a whole bunch of other colorful adjectives. Basically, it’s fun as shit. The voice is raspy and has a wise, knowing quality about it. the lyrics are crisp and clear but still abstract. I’m definitely going to play this non-stop and create memories that I’ll reminisce about in 5 years, wistfully thinking about the first time I heard Mondo Cozmo’s “Higher.”


Autograf – Episode

Goose bump city for the first minute of this one, that’s pretty much a perfect sonic moment. Man I’d love to hear Snoop unleash a new verse over this sh*t. I don’t know if I’d even call this a remix of “Next Episode,” I’m not even really sure what the hell Autograf did here, but it’s fantastic. In fact, this is a style of remix I’d like to hear more often. There’s really not much that ties this to the original other than the haunting voice of the late, great Nate Dogg (RIP). The rest is a journey into a electronic universe of almost psychedelic sounds and it blossoms from there. It truly feels like a “next episode.”

Back to the goose bump thing though. It pretty much happens every time something hits me in the spot. If it’s compelling art of any sort, the goose bumps rise to the surface promptly. It’s a pretty fascinating human reaction, kinda like a dog wagging his tail. It’s impossible for a dog to hide his enjoyment because the tail tells the tale (yes!) every time. Same with me and goosebumps, and sometimes I’d rather hide them than reveal to the world that I’m REALLY digging what I’m looking at/listening to. Like the other day I was in the car with my girlfriend, who’s 9 years younger than me. Young MC’s “Bust A Move” came on Backspin, and it brought back a ton of memories and I was actually vibing on Young MC’s embarrassingly simple flow. Needless to say the song didn’t give her the same feelings. But goosebumps popped up for me, and I had to spend the next 5 minutes explaining why “Bust A Move” moves me in the same way as a piece of art hanging in The Getty. I would have preferred to keep that to myself. I just realized that goosebumps are kinda like a non-sexual boner right? I guess little bumps are better than a big ole lump in the pants from listening to Young MC.


Leon – Dance (Oliver Remix)

Listening to this Oliver remix of Leon’s “Dance” feels like biting into a burger from Shake Shack. Just ridiculous amounts of flavor coming from every direction. This track just oozes class, it feels like sophisticated dance music. None of that bang your head, shake your tits or twerk it up party business here – this is that high class, smooth strutting, big boy, $25 shots of whiskey music. The kind of vibe where you don’t give a sh*t about what’s going on around you, because what’s going IS you, dammit!

Other than the coincidental silliness of two quirky male first names working together (I’m highly anticipating the new Steve remix of Jim), this song is pure perfection. It’s the soundtrack to that moment when you’re by yourself at the club, having just arrived before your friends. You go ahead and buy yourself a drink and find a little perch in which to view the surroundings. Head bobbing, confidence through the roof, fueled by sips (gulps) of whiskey and unfettered excitement about limitless potential of the night ahead. Those moments are even better than the actual night sometimes. Enjoy the weekend and all the moments “in between.”


Honors – Over

This line from Honors debut single “Over” says it all:

“You know I’m gonna change, things just don’t stay the same, no more, no more.”

It’s the absolute truth, whether referring to yourself, your thoughts, your opinions, relationships, music, sports, politics, and pretty much anything else really. Change and cycles are the way of the universe, like it or not. It’s up to us to learn enough about the way it works so we can move WITH the changes and cycles, rather than resist them and ultimately lose every time. NOTHING stays the same, because EVERYTHING is part of the movement/cycle/change.

If you enter into a relationship and assume that the way it is then is the way it will be in 2 years, the relationship is already doomed. It’s either laziness or fear or a combination of both that keeps people thinking that life is static. Moments are moments. Time is ultimately irrelevant and non-existent, but we’re forced to think “linearly” as earthlings so we find a moment that suits us and hope/assume/wish that time stops there. But it all keeps moving, so you have to keep moving too. Learn new things that will change your opinions and beliefs. Develop core beliefs that will inform you as to when you should “change.” You gotta be aware of rhythms, especially your own, and you gotta know when to move just like when a squirrel senses a human walking up behind them and darts off into a tree without ever actually looking back to see what was behind them. Awareness.

Music is changing constantly, sub-genres slip in and out like waves. What’s exciting about Honors debut is that it feels like change, aside from the obvious lyric. The sounds, the arrangement, the mood – it all feels like change. Honors is taking a sound that has been bubbling and building upon it, anticipating change and attempting to be a leader rather than a follower. I can’t wait to hear what they have coming next, because it feels like they might be “next.”