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Malvae – How It Hurts (feat. Esther Veen)

I got an email from a friend telling me that this song sounds like a combination of Sober Rob and Nero which left me skeptical at first considering those are my favorite new school and “old school” producers respectively, but after listening to “How It Hurts”, I couldn’t agree more. This song is an absolute beast that borrows from the futuristic atmospherics that Nero concocted on Welcome Reality along with the forward-thinking sound that producers like Sober Rob have begun to put forth. Don’t mistake those comparisons for saying he outright sounds like other artists, though, because that’s not the case.

On this single, Malvae has carved out a wholly impressive sound that’s not just a listening experience. It’s a visceral, full-body experience where you can feel the vibrations of the sonic energy move from your ear drums all the way down your spine. It’s so exciting when music transcends just one sense and engulfs your entire being with an artistic product that impacts you on a physical and emotional level. Part of that is due to the immaculate synergy between Malvae and his frequent collaborator Estheer Veen. The two have a sense of familiarity with one another that’s readily apparent in the music as Esther’s vocals don’t feel like a typical topline. Instead, they’re an integral part of the music that intertwines with Malvae’s production as the two outputs flow together until you can’t trace where one ends and the other begins. From top to bottom, “How It Hurts” is a fascinating release that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

Laarsen – Peace Of Mind

I’m all about intricate electronic music, so Laarsen’s “Peace Of Mind” has provided an immediately rewarding introduction to this Friday morning. There’s so many layers of nuance between the croaking, stretched out synths, piercing melodies, and tattering percussion. Not only is there a ton to dig into, but on the surface level, the song is just straight up infectious. It has a bouncy groove almost grounded in older hip-hop sentiments with signature breakbeats spliced in between. It brings to mind a more upbeat take on DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing era material which mastered the balance between genres and atmospherics.

If you play Endtroducing late at night like I do, then “Peace Of Mind” is its daylight counterpart that just sounds right with the sun beaming down. The track has an energy to it that’s hard to quantify but you can feel it through each and every second of its runtime. It feels like a celebration of all its sounds, a celebration that I want to take part in again and again as I’ve continued to spin this track since it dropped earlier today.

Nick Lopez – Carousel

Life is a massive carousel that we’re all going around and around on. Everything moves in cycles, from friendship to work relationships to love. Nick Lopez does well to describe the emotions of the latter on “Carousel”, a wonderful pop track that takes listeners through a journey of fights, break-ups, passion, and make-ups. The duet between him and a killer unnamed vocalist adds to the weight of the song as they trade lines back and forth with an effortlessly natural sense of kinship, the singing equivalent of a couple honestly talking things out. There’s no conclusion or resolve, though; the two keep going around and around. Is that a positive thing? It could very well be.

There’s a natural ebb and flow to all things. Denial of that fact will lead to a negative conclusion because you’re not willing to look past the low points. You have to embrace everything life has to offer, the good and the bad and everything in between, to experience it to the fullest. There’s beauty to be found in every moment if you maintain a level head, stay present, and look hard enough for it. So what are you waiting for? Jump on the carousel, go around and around, and enjoy the ride.

THRASHOLE – You Want Her

I’m fascinated by recent developments in hip-hop. It’s been amazing to watch a niche genre sprawl into hundreds upon thousands of sub-genres under its umbrella and become an established musical juggernaut. There’s so many exciting sounds to discover these days and THRASHOLE’s debut single is one of them. It’s an edgy new project that apparently will have a revolving lineup which is an exciting concept that I’ve seen with hardcore bands like Shai Hulud, but never in the rap scene. The group’s first single features three killer emcees including Nova Rockafeller, The Buttress, and Blimes Brixton. They bring seriously diverse sounds to the table as Nova spits forebodingly playful bars, Buttress uses a delivery that’s outright eerie, and Blimes is straight heated with precision. The song’s hook is also unforgettable after a single listen – good luck not having “you want her, you want me, you want this, don’t test me” echo through every corner of your skull.

Of course, it’d be impossible to talk about “You Want Her” without mentioning the insane music video. It feels like a three minute horror movie, like something you’d see in The Blair Witch Project or VHS, as the grainy camera bounces around a pitch black bedroom, the only source of light being the camera that keeps each rapper front and center. It’s unnerving, disorienting, and other words, exactly what keeps me coming back to watch again and again. The synergy between each rapper, both sonically and visually, makes THRASHOLE a seriously exciting project in its entirety. Who knows if these three will be present in its next iteration, but I’m ready for whatever comes next.

pluko – asleep (feat. MOONZz)

I know this just came out today, but I have one of my favorite songs of the year on my hands. Three of the best electronic music things in pluko, MOONZz, and the Foreign Family Collective are all wrapped up into a beautiful release that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s such an emotional track with a glitchy, colorful drop much like its single artwork that feels forward-thinking and nostalgic at the same time. It’s insane to me that pluko has only been around for a year considering how nuanced his sound is and working with a respected powerhouse like Foreign Family is a testament to that.

I also have to give a major shoutout to MOONZz! She always crushes her features and “asleep” is no different. Her vocals are a picture perfect complement to pluko’s production as they delicately intertwine. From top to bottom, this track is like a warm blanket that I just want to be enveloped in and let it course through the air into my ears for hours at a time. I have a moody nighttime playlist for when I’m driving through the city, cruising down the coast, or just relaxing at home and staring out my window, and this will make an amazing addition.

AKA Wolves – Wanna Get

It’s safe to say my partying days are behind me, but I can appreciate a track that paints a hazy picture of late nights out with no plans of going home in sight. AKA Wolves nails all of the details like when you’d make eye contact with someone and know they were the one you’d be spending the coming hours with. The music is a perfect complement because it’s so damn infectious and feels like the soundtrack to one of those scenes where a camera spins in circles in the middle of a club and all the lights, drinks, and beautiful people flash by.

It’s impressive that AKA Wolves has laid out such a detailed depiction of fleeting sensations on his debut single. It’s equally impressive that this is first collaboration with The Glitter Club, an artist who he discovered by chance while walking into a venue. I’m a believer in synchronicities and fate, so I think it was more than a coincidence that these two ended up in the same room together. The music they’ve made together is visceral, impactful, and makes me want a lot (or should I say “wanna get”) more from both artists in the near future. Until then, I’ll be hitting the repeat button with the weekend quickly approaching!

DJ Sliink & Zak Leever – Never Stop

Jersey club is a genre whose stop-and-start rhythm usually dominates the forefront of tracks, but pioneer DJ Sliink has thread the sound through a contemporary, wide-appealing electronic approach on “Never Stop”. It’s an atmospheric cut that feels more suited for late night cruising than sweaty dance floors as the touches of jersey club arrive as complementary changes of pace, like a car shifting gears. It’s an exciting prospect that shows a niche sound has the potential to make a widespread impact on its own and through infiltrating other genres alike.

Zak Leever’s vocal performance gives this track an extra boost toward wide-appealing territory as his topline is top quality. It’s the type of effortlessly cool singing that you’d want and expect from a track that’s going to make a genuine impact. It also speaks to DJ Sliink’s versatility as a producer as his recent string of singles shows how many different approaches he’s able to make sound totally natural over his array of production angles. “Never Stop” is a gift that keeps on giving.

Xie – DRIP

Xie is a fucking boss and her new single makes that crystal clear. Her vocals have an effortless swagger to them that makes her bragging about diamonds on her body, generally flexing, and being a rockstar sound so natural. The production adds a whole other layer of sonic braggadocio with a deep bass line that’s tailor-made for bumping out the whip and turning heads. The second drop of the track in particular is the perfect culmination of all the bombast as she adds synths that sound like sirens going off for everyone in the club to get moving.

I also love the artwork that Bailey Bross (@amouthshut) made for this single. You can just imagine “DRIP” bumping out of those speakers in a neon lit room and everyone nodding their heads along in unison, all knowing that their homie just finished off a banger that’s going to make a serious impact. This track brings so many situations to mind which shows just how versatile Xie’s final product is…in the studio, in the whip, in the club, it doesn’t matter. Wherever you drop “DRIP”, it’s going to pop off and make a night to remember.

Kill Paris – Red Lights (Madnap remix)

Madnap’s approach to electronic music comes with an organic bent that’s hard to quantify but has been on full display with tracks like last year’s “Honey”. His sound feels so honest and personal rather than over-processed to the point of a disconnect; it’s subtle and stunning as seen on his brand new remix. Taking on “Red Lights” by Kill Paris, he transitions the groovy, upbeat original into a dreamy downtempo cut whose passionate display is felt through sultry verses and a dense, dynamic drop of a hook. There’s so many little touches like the tempo switch during the second drop that make this remix exciting to dive into with each and every listen.

The track’s sound feels like the sonic equivalent of a night drive through a neon-lit city where the individual moments blur together because the experience overwhelms the senses. It’s affecting and sticks with you long after the car shifts to park, your head hits the bed, and daylight creeps back in. I’m compelled to go on a drive with Madnap’s “Red Lights” remix playing and allow sensory overload to take hold.

Lonely Benson – Lonely Benson

Lonely Benson is an absolute fucking virtuoso and his debut album makes that crystal clear. It’s scattered with hints of nostalgia that touch specific parts of the soul (my Neon Indian chillwave phase and perpetual ’80s fandom are both satisfied), yet he simultaneously delivers a new experience that teases out fresh thoughts and feelings. The carefree tropical vibes that are spread throughout the record are so tantalizing and make for the perfect soundtrack as it begins to push upwards of 100 degrees on this side of the country.

The album’s last single is my favorite cut in particular. It’s titled “Let It Go” and it’s driven by buzzy synths layered in a way that grounds the song while simultaneously giving it a dynamic touch. The hook is a perfect culmination as all the moving electronic parts strike together in harmony while his singing feels like another symbiotic layer rather than a detached lead. It’s modern new wave excellence and I can’t get enough. My other immediate recommendations are “Location” and “Let Me Know”, but you can’t go wrong with any track on this album. Kick back on the beach, press play, and let it sweep you away.