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BØRNS – American Money (Virtu Remix)

Sometimes a remix sounds like what it is – a new version of an existing song. And that’s fine for the most part, but there’s something extra special about a remix that sounds like it could have been the original. And that’s what this Virtu remix of BØRNS “American Money” sounds like to me. It just works on every level. The dreamy, floaty texture of BØRNS voice builds into a massive future bass drop that explodes into a million pieces. The contrast between the light, almost fragile vocal and the heavy depth of the drop results in a euphoric blast of sound that feels like a roller coaster ride or a drug rush or some sort of intense stimulant…definitely something super exhilarating and quite possibly illegal.

“Green, like American Money.”

Less important, but still worth noting – why after all this time is american money still so plain and easily destroyable? Euros come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with a nice array of colors, it’s like grown up Monopoly money. Money from Mexico and Australia is friggin made out of plastic and cannot be ripped. Seriously, you can kinda stretch it, but you can’t rip it. I’m sure there’s a million other examples, and I’m gonna bet that american money remains the most dull. Maybe a complete overhaul would change the US economy for the better like when NFL teams make deep playoff runs the year they change their uniforms. It’s all in the psyche. Problem solved?


SOHN – Signal

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Like an unmoving body of water, Signal begins. Calm and calculated, first, the waves move slowly. Then, like an animal’s head piercing calm waters, SOHN’s voice comes in. Still, there’s barely any unsettling. The stormy weather SOHN sings of takes place inside of him. The song mimics that apparent composure some of us spend our lives perfecting.

Signal, wave across the water for me.”

That’s all he’s asking.

There are moments in my life I’ve convinced myself I’m not waiting in the dark. A signal from another was all I longed for. But really, it wasn’t. I thought it was just a sign but what I wanted was for another to carry me. Expectations are usually larger than what we convince ourselves we need.

Give me shelter, please.

Let me be the man I wanted to be.”

As though some sign from another is what would allow me to fully be. As though I needed your permission. As though you’d ever give it to me. The mere thought that I’d need you to do anything, means the “me” is gone. It means there’s no agency.

Signal’s soundscape manifests that acute loneliness that encapsulates when you’re waiting on someone else. When you’re waiting on someone who you might even know will let you down. But still, you wait. Because…

We each have our reasons.

Placing trust in another so often fails us. So why do we try again and again to believe? This time it’ll be different. This time it’ll be how it’s meant to be. And the song matches this hope as it swells periodically.

The thing is, it’ll never be how I want it unless I make it so. Unless I believe in myself to create the actions I want to see through.

In the track’s last moments, the music builds, revealing a deep frustration with this current state of being: one of wanting and not receiving. It’s SOHN’s desperation to become what he wants to be. The wave calls him out of his waiting.

Oh I’ve been travelling, waiting for a moment of peace.” 

Don’t wait, just be the peace.

 


Coolwater Set – Dubs Up (Feat. Problem and Whitney Phillips)

In this day and age I REALLY appreciate songs like this. Yes, because it’s a great song, but also because it makes me feel better about my early onset “get off my lawn” mentality about modern hiphop. When I’m questioning my fast developing grumpiness, a song like this reminds that it’s ok to dislike 95% of what passes as hiphop these days.

But that’s a tangent for another time, and it’s a Saturday so there aren’t too many annoyances stacked up yet. Right now it’s all about this lovely Coolwater Set slow-burner that reminds me of so many songs, moments and memories of my teen and college years. There’s something so special and unique about genuine funk-inspired west coast hiphop. To me, this song is what west coast hiphop has and always will sound like. From Egyptian Lover to Kendrick Lamar, the “Dubs Up” philosophy and style is the common thread between all of it.

“Under the bright city lights, nothin but dubs in the sky”

Building on the momentum of “The Coast,” “Dubs Up” proves that CW have an extremely diverse understanding of west coast music, LA culture and how to keep classic styles sounding relevant. They have a knack for connecting the dots between traditional hiphop vibes and the modern styles that will carry the genre into the future. And here, it all equals one helluva bouncy, feel-good song. Shit, maybe i’ll even let some of these new kids hang out on my lawn for a few more minutes.


DROELOE – Shibuya

The artwork of DROLOE’s “Shibuya” evokes rather specific mental imagery when I spin the track, its red neon lights exuding the tensions of nightlife that are echoed within the music itself. Beginning with an airy lead-synth that quickly becomes distorted into a rough translation of its former being, the percussion kicks off to light-speed. Its resulting drop provides a tough, thunderous low-end with a carousel of hi-hats surrounding its now-warped synth, one that seamlessly transitions into a much more positive affair as the song reaches its elated peak in its second half.

The give-and-take relationship of nightlife’s surface and its complimentary underbelly materializes with the audible work now fleshed out to compliment its visual representation, a place where the backroom-dealings that prop up the party threaten to flow over into the dreamworld above, a safe-haven where emotional connections of love and lust are made amidst flashing lights. All the pieces are in place for a surrealist nightmare to break loose, yet just as quickly as the possibility emerges, it subsides.The opposing forces bend but never break, allowing the dream to live on, the red neon lights flickering onward.


Izzard – Secret Garden (Feat. Merival)

Soda Island have curated a jubilant aesthetic of candy-coated cartoon imagery that taps into nostalgia and the childlike wonder buried within. Of course, the accompanying music is paramount to making their creative direction sustainable, and with cuts like Izzard’s “Secret Garden,” it’s undeniably working.

Blazoned with a flowery creature on its artwork, the Merival-assisted track positions itself as an audible Eden, overflowing with pleasure in the form of acoustic guitar-work and a simple yet charming synth coexisting in harmony. Merival’s performance is equally essential to the atmosphere as her voice, gorgeous and distinct with a folksy tinge yet somehow emitting a comforting familiarity, provides a brief meditation on the tribulations of love.

As “Secret Garden,” loops over and over again through my headphones, I find myself in a cozy mental space within its fantastical walls, ones I imagine to be draped with lush vines overlooking waterfalls, a place brimming with wonder. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever want to leave.


Fjord – I Get It Now

I love when bands make a statement song. I’m not talking about a “We Will Rock You” eternal anthem type of statement song, I’m talking about that subtle sort of song that cements the bands existence. How often do you hear a cool song by a new band, and then, well, that’s about it for that? All the time of course, on the obscure level, the indie hot-level on the the more infamous one-hit-wonder level. Fjord released “Blue,” a polished, rich electro-pop song and showed up on the radar. Next time I heard from them was their beautiful cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My,” but covers are tricky to gauge. So in a sense, I was still waiting for Fjord’s follow-up.

Thankfully, “I Get It Now” shows that Fjord is the real deal. I get it now (haha, nice!). The song oozes confidence, coolness and sounds like it belongs on the top shelf amongst other statements songs. Songs when bands declared that they were more than just a lucky jam. What a relief for the fan that took a liking to that first song, hoping they could count on the band to deliver something else that could validate calling them “my favorite new band” or something like that. Remember that feeling? You hear this great song, build up this legend about the band in your head, and then (unfairly) the band has to live up to these massive standards with that next song. And then you hear the new song, and it sounds like what you hoped for. It carries the coolness of the band that’s been built up in your mind. It’s unpredictable, exciting and generally two steps ahead of your (high) hopes. That’s how you deliver, and that’s exactly what Fjord did on “I Get It Now.”

Next comes their “Textures” EP on September 16th, and rather than fret about whether it’ll live up to the standards i’ve set for them, I can comfortably relax knowing it’s gonna be fantastic. No longer a blip on the radar, Fjord is now a huge presence that can’t be ignored. And it doesn’t hurt that they kinda sound AND look like Tears For Fears.


Kan Wakan – Molasses (Feat. Elle Olsun)

This song is the musical version of onomatopoeia, the term for a word that resembles the sound it describes. But is there a word for songs that sound and feel like the title of the song? I’m too focused on writing this post (aka too lazy to open up another tab) to look it up, but I’m going to assume no. But dammit there should be, and Kan Wakan’s “Molasses” is the reason.

Listening to it feels like swimming in a river of molasses/honey/syrup/anything sweet with a high viscosity. There’s a slow but slinky flow that’s almost euphoric, and extremely cinematic. Sometimes it reminds me of one of those dreams where you’re trying to run but just can’t. Everything is in slow-mo, and you just kinda accept it and trudge your way through the dream. That’s what I like best about the vibe of this song, the duality of it’s “molassesness.” It can feel you’re moving with the current one moment, and struggling against the current in the next. I think that explains why sometimes I feel really happy after a listening, and sometimes I feel completely dazed and confused afterwards. Layers, baby.

Ok, I gave in and looked it up and didn’t find anything. So I think we can just go with “Molassesness” and give Kan Wakan’s song credit for the origin of the word. Now I’m gonna go contact Merriam and/or Webster and make this official.


Chet Porter – Stay (Feat. Chelsea Cutler)

Chelsea Cutler’s previous collaborations with Andrew Luce clued me in on the East Coast singer’s raw talent, but in tandem with Chet Porter, she has delivered a performance that solidifies her as a must-hear voice in electronic music. Delivering a crystal-clear melody that hits every note with a methodical ebb-and-flow, it’s difficult to conjure up many vocals from 2016 that can compare to the technical prowess of Cutler’s alongside the exultant emotions delivered.

As for Porter’s production, he does the Foreign Family Collective proud with an exercise in future bass excellence, not only in the most apparent portions of “Stay” like its ethereal, all-engrossing hook, but the subtle flares of the plucked synths and chopped-up vocal samples. The atmosphere he constructs is a wonderfully-layered space for Cutler to excel even further in result.

Rather than going on a spacey personal tangent per usual, I’ll hand things over to Cutler and Porter. Listen to “Stay” below.


Popeska – Take You Up On That (Feat. ACES)

An eruption of colors, blossoming like a flower from the ground at an accelerated pace, but not of this earth. Sunlight and moonlight trade back and forth with one another. It’s otherworldly, yet it’s home.

Popeska’s newest nudges this vivid mental imagery into existence with no regard for restraining sonic possibilities. As ACES’ vocals lay the groundwork for transcendent vibes to come, the future- bass drop propels it to that distant world.

After listening to “Take You Up On That” again and again, I sit here and think to myself: the universe is infinitely expanding. There are countless galaxies to one day reach, solar systems to explore, and planets to hopefully inhabit. Maybe, just maybe, when a new dawn comes and Earth is a distant memory in the back of humanity’s collective conscious, the world that Popeska has caused to materialize within my mind will be not just an idea, but a beautiful reality.


O.J. Hodding – Kicking Back (Ft. Masta Marx)

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When I first heard O.J. Hodding’s subtly accented flow clearly over a beat as smooth as a skater’s cruise down some stretch of concrete, it was like a gulp of cold water in this heat. Kicking Back quenches a thirst for clean lyricism I didn’t even realize I had.

There are a lot of new hardcore hip-hop artists coming up right now. With Desiigner, Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert releasing tracks and mixtapes that focus more on hard-hitting production than lyricism, the rhythm and flow of the Tribe kind now feels extra old school with the genre filling to the brim with gangsta rap.  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. The sophistication and specificity of good production is at its most satisfying right now, in my opinion. But no one can claim they understand any of the lyrics to Timmy Turner.

Especially with Phife’s untimely death earlier this year, Hodding’s track comes at a time when it’s important to remember those legends of the 90s that paved the way for today’s rap royalty.

The simplicity in the production of Kicking Back, the first track in Hodding’s new EP Mellow, is misleading, though. That kind of subtle layering to create a smooth yet wavy flow with lyrics driving it forward as opposed to landing comfortably in an overpowering bass is difficult in its own right. This kind of subtlety is lacking in today’s bursting hip-hop bangers whose weight barely makes sense past its club and party reign. Mellow is hip hop you can enjoy in your apartment or on the subway without feeling the anxiety of not being with your crew doing cool things out on the town.

Not that Mellow’s message calls for much intellectual analysis but there’s no denying a calculated effort to communicate something clearly in each of its full-bodied tracks, even if it’s just to chill out. That’s okay too.