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Donkeyboy – Kaleidoscope

I have quite a few memories from my childhood of looking through a kaleidoscope and being amazed at all the colorful explosions. It was amazing that a little plastic toy could be so inspiring. People always describe using psychedelics as a similarly colorful experience, but that wasn’t the case for me – I was stressed out for 2 hours while my friends made me watch live footage of the Talking Heads (seeing David Byrne in his giant suit is the exact opposite of a warm, comforting experience) and woke up the next day feeling horrifically tired.

Later in my life I realized that the high I was chasing was more likely to come from unaffected experiences, like listening to a song that genuinely inspires me. I get that feeling from Donkeyboy’s new single “Kaleidoscope”. It’s a glistening slice of synth pop that sends chills through my body and makes me feel like I’m having an ultra-positive, life changing experience every time I press play. There’s hints of the best parts of FUN. and even a little Daft Punk, all with a classic Scandinavian ear for infectious melodies. “Kaleidoscope” is a drug whose high I won’t be coming down from anytime soon.

LondonBridge – Treat Me Right

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing LondonBridge behind the decks for packed audiences at Exchange and Sound alike, but the Space Yacht mastermind’s set on Tuesday night was quite possibly his best yet. Spinning at 11pm as the club began to fill up, he brought the collective energy of the crowd from eager to outright ecstatic as he delivered a range of house gems on the fly (seriously, some of the tracks he dropped arrived in his inbox mere hours before Sound opened its doors). Amidst all of the quality music pumping through the clubs speakers, though, his original tunes were the ones that continued to catch my attention.

Grounded in deep, wonky grooves that are a perfect complement to the sweaty, lustful aura of beautiful people that he routinely performs for, his newest takes that sound to a new level. Called “Treat Me Right”, it has all the trappings of a club hit from the playful percussion to its down-pitched vocals narrating a wild night out. The song’s album artwork makes it readily obvious that it’s a release through Dim Mak which is a fact that I’m stoked on – beyond his keen ear for ace house tunes, LondonBridge’s passion for electronic music couldn’t be more apparent, so it’s a well-deserved platform for an essential voice in the Los Angeles scene and beyond.

Venza – Mad Love (feat. Aallis)

For such an original track, Venza’s “Mad Love” makes me strangely nostalgic – hints of longing for innocence on the verge of being corrupted in high school, that corruption’s peak pleasure and transition to self-destruction as spring faded into summer during a strange year of college. Funnily enough, the song taps into one of the core elements of that year in college: mad love. It was more infatuation than love, but I fell into an intense relationship that accented my inability to set boundaries. “Used to hold my heart in your hands,” as Aallis puts it.

Once I got a taste of a physical bond that transcended past experiences, of nights with the slightest hint of sleep, of leaving early in the morning and listening to ethereal music while the sun rose over a chilled college town, I was hooked. I couldn’t let go even when it was gone. I felt for the person, sure, but the mad love I felt was for an experience that I could never recreate no matter how hard I tried.

Venza and Aalli’s collaboration truly echoes that time in my life, not just lyrically but sonically – the sensuous slow-build of its verse, the sweet synth-led release of its chorus, fading back and forth in what feels like a hazy dream. They’ve recreated the experience I so desperately wanted – they’ve found the sonic sensation of mad love.

Hitimpulse – Cover Girls (ft. Bibi Bourelly)

Excuse the hyperbole, but Hitimpulse’s newest just might be one of my favorite pop tracks of 2017. Assisted by a rising star in Bibi Bourelly, “Cover Girls” is a fine-tuned track that avoids the pitfalls of overdoing its electronic influences (see: almost every future-bass pop track this year) and instead gradually builds out from a chilling buzz with distant echoes into cyclical, synth-infused swagger. Continuing to prove itself a foil to most pop tunes, it drops out into a minimalist bridge that finds Bourelly’s gorgeous vocal musings of “Boys only love cover girls though, don’t they?” amidst distance echoes that eventually give way to a stunning chorus.

Led by a battlecry of a lead synth and a low-end taking influence from modern hip-hop, Bourelly outright flourishes atop an instrumental that’s undoubtedly the most fitting production for her vocals to date. As for Hitimpulse, they continue to display their knack for pop creations by ensuring the hook doesn’t overstay its welcome. In the duration of one song, I’m convinced that they could be the next big production force in pop and electronic music. Did I mention “Cover Girls” comes equipped with a surreal music video that takes its sound to the next level? Peep that below.

Blondie – Heart Of Glass (Auxil’s Flip)

There are some legacy acts that aren’t visible everywhere you go like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd who are printed on every other shirt and poster you see, but they’re beloved to listeners and critics and musicians (will this be Carly Rae Jepsen in the future!? hmm…). In my eyes though, Blondie is one of those acts. They might not have their faces on every piece of wholesale memorabilia on Hollywood Boulevard, but they put out five acclaimed albums in a row during their heyday and still have fans and critics excited for a new album in 2017. And that all goes without mentioning their status as producers’ favorite source of inspiration for remixes!

I feel like there’s a couple Blondie remixes a year that gain traction which makes sense considering Debbie Harry’s vocals transcend time and space. That being said, a new production duo named Auxil just might have the best Blondie remix I’ve ever heard. It’s a deep house flip that blends with Harry’s vocals perfectly, especially on the bridge…that swell of synthesizers and her sampled vocals is downright euphoric! I don’t know where exactly this song takes me to mentally, but it’s a place I want to visit again and again with Auxil’s flip on repeat.

Brasstracks – Those Who Know

This new one from Brasstracks couldn’t have arrived at a better time. As the summer heat quickly begins to recede from its peak last week, “Those Who Know” is tailor-made for driving with the windows down and soaking up some of the best weather of the year in Los Angeles. Last night I drove through a winding canyon with a cool breeze flowing through my car, and looking back, the only thing that could’ve made that drive better would be this single as its soundtrack…now that I think about it, having a lovely lady in the passenger’s seat might’ve been a nice addition too, so I guess that’s two things!

That being said, it’s dope to hear a single be so infectious without popping out in ways that listeners have come to expect from the first taste of a new project. There’s so much replay value here and so many layers to digest with each successive listen from an act that’s made their name through a fresh, nuanced approach to electronic music. Just as much as I look forward to hearing this during my next drive, I’m excited to don a pair of headphones and dig into the subtleties of “Those Who Know” while waiting for Brasstracks’ next release.

LOKI – Lovin’ U (feat. Avedo)

Hats off to Epicure – for a label only established last year, they’ve just taken a step that signals a knack for curation to rival the best of electronic music’s rising boutique collectives. That notion comes to fruition on LOKI and Avedo’s new collaboration “LOVIN’ U”, an impeccable dive into synth-soaked romantics with sleek production stylings and a soulful vocal performance to match (not to mention what’s one of my favorite pieces of album artwork in recent memory). It’s a thorough, well-rounded release that serves as a prime example of a precise vision being executed by an organic, impassioned group of creatives.

A quick aside: I’m a cynic when it comes to technology in the context of capitalism – so often it ranges from coercively reinforcing systematic standards to downright exploitation. That leaves me worried about the increasingly centralized power of multi-national gatekeepers like Spotify over the distribution of music, but then I remember the innovation of artists and industry players as they push boundaries in the present that will lead to new avenues of delivering their music to listeners in new forms and fashions we’ve yet to consider. A recently realized label like Epicure that’s beginning to establish a recognizable identity and vision beyond a traditional label structure gives me hope for the future.

Super Duper – Never Gets Old (Feat. Remmi)

A lot of things get old throughout life, but if you direct your energy toward things you genuinely love then it’s much less likely to happen on drastic scales. You can’t just throw all of your energy into your passion without taking care of the base levels of your life, though. It’s great to be truly invested in something, but it’s not healthy to obsess over it until you’re burnt out and wondering how to even begin to recapture the spark that you had in the first place. There’s many ways to go about grounding yourself, but I’ve found a mixture of meditation to calm my thoughts, exercise to energize my body, and journaling to latch myself into the present moment gives me the groundwork I need to go out and chase my dreams.

It might sound less exciting than just going all out 24/7, but in the end it makes everything so much more sustainable and rewarding, much like this joint from Super Duper! Whether it’s the quirky piano to kick the track off or REMMI’s gorgeous pop vocals twirling along, you can hear the happiness flowing through Super Duper’s production and REMMI’s performance…it’s the kind of happiness that can’t be conjured by snapping your fingers, and it’s a happiness that’s evenly spread throughout the song rather than having huge pop hooks and throwaway verses in between. Most importantly, “Never Gets Old” is a song that I can’t get enough of!

Lui Peng – What To Say

Whether it’s on a macro scale or micro scale, it’s always exciting to watch the growth of an artist in realtime. There’s something so gratifying about tracking their creative energy as it evolves from a raw state into a focused vision that has the potential to make an impact on those who interact with their art. I’m experiencing that exact process with Lui Peng, an artist who I covered just over a month ago via his single “Nocturnal”, a cut where a singer-songwriter ethos and hip-hop sensibilities collided. On his fresh offering “What To Say”, the rising talent delivers a sound that’s simultaneously more infectious and introspective through a new lens.

While there was a slight division between the blend of musical elements on “Nocturnal”, Peng’s newest is a wholly natural blend of electronic and r&b elements that operate as one utterly smooth entity. As Peng croons “You know what to say to me make me feel like it’s real, when I’m feeling love”, the transition from minimal production to a gorgeous surge of percussion and wavy vocal sample just feels right. In the span of a month, Peng has gone from finding his footing as a genre-bending artist to delivering a seamless fusion that feels outright instinctive. Time to sit back and continue enjoying Peng’s inevitable evolution.

Micky Blue – Good Love

Micky Blue’s “Good Love” is a track that’s all about shedding negativity from a fucked up situation and emerging with a smile on your face. It’s easier said than done, but carrying resentments does our bodies and minds no good. There’s only so much mental baggage that can sit in our conscious and unconscious minds before it saps the finite amount of energy we carry until we’re sluggish and paralyzed with anxiety and depressive periods. One way to approach shedding that baggage is to view all situations without a positive or negative lens – rather than being good or bad, they just simply are. You can truly grow from examining a harmful situation in your past when you set aside internal biases and devise a strategy for the future.

Of course this leads to a freeing experience that feels good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Good Love” is a perfect example of the triumph you’ll feel once you step away from the past and toward the future, especially when the past wrongs were courtesy of a romantic interest…and while you might not have Micky Blue’s stunning, melodic vocals and ear for a massive hook, you’ll feel just as good! Now get out there, get to examining your life with an objective eye, and let “Good Love” be your soundtrack!