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SMLE – Chasing Channels

If you’re looking for ridiculously pretty electronic music, look no further than SMLE’s new EP. This one is a beautiful little four song package that traverses styles across electronic music. The first song is borderline post-rock before the punchy percussion swings in and makes it impossible to not nod along with a smile on your face. The second track “Counting Down” is one I told you all about when it dropped and is still an absurdly adorable anthem. “Haunted” brings a more dramatic, edgy flavor with a gritty drop while “A Way With You” is the darker instrumental complement to the album’s opener, making it a perfect bookend. From top to bottom, this EP is pure ear candy and I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s so easy to constantly chase, searching for what makes us complete. It’s natural and productive but sometimes you’ll realize you’ve been on the hunt aimlessly for so long when the solution was sitting in front of you the entire time. I have a long-standing approach to caring for myself but continued looking for the last piece that would make me whole, then just realized I needed to take one of my current practices further to get the result I’ve craved. It takes a lot of thought and introspection but you’ll always end up exactly where you’re supposed to be if you continue to be an active seeker.

Ashe – Cold In California

It’s been a while EMPT readers! I’ve been chomping at the bit to tell you about this Ashe single that blew me away and made one of my favorite artists feel not just like a musician but a magnetic personality who’s really caught me in her gravitational pull. This one is a purely acoustic piece that finds Ashe in her lonesome, contemplating the array of emotions she has about herself and about her home. It’s a fitting topic to muse over an acoustic guitar, timeless while being so uniquely Ashe all throughout. I was talking with a friend who’s also an Ashe fan and we both remarked how every single song she releases gets stuck in our heads after just one listen. She’s such a pure songwriting talent who’s truly positioned for indie stardom.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for two decades and I’m still not sure if I love this city or not. It’s a constant push and pull – some days I’m in love with the ocean, other days I’m baffled by the traffic; some days I’m in love with the arts scene, other days I’m dismayed by how awful the public transportation is; some days I’m in love with the grit and authenticity of groups that make the culture here tick, other days I feel at a loss when it comes to the vapidity of the powers that be, especially what I’ve seen grow since I first arrived. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a perfect city, especially when 4 million people of all different walks of life and strewn across vast swathes of land, so maybe all of those issues can be seen as the tragic beauty that make this metropolis tick? I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud, but I agree with Ashe that it indeed sometimes feels emotionally cold in California. Here’s to heating things up.

Else – Night Thoughts

This is the first time I’ve come across Else but this French duo makes some seriously next level electronic music. “Night Thoughts” isn’t just an audible experience, this is a cinematic journey through a wealth of emotions and feelings that you can feel with each and every pulse of those synths. It comes equipped with a wild music video which I recommend hopping over to whenever you have a chance because it totally elevates to a piece of pure art, far beyond what you’d just consider another addition to a playlist. The sound also reminds me of Cliff Martinez’s gripping soundtracks for the likes of Nicolas Winding Refn which serve as an immersive form of expression rather than simply existing as an outside piece only meant to be background noise, a ancillary piece rather than the main course.

The concept of night thoughts along with the mental connection to Nicolas Winding Refn is perfect timing because his new show, Too Old To Die Young, is fresh on my mind. It’s an absolutely mind-boggling array of carnal interactions draped under his signature neon lights and Martinez’s moving score. It really nails the dread that occurs in the shadows, those forms of shunned expression that occur once the sun sets. I think the ying and yang of existence makes harsh, abrasive moments beautiful when you come to an understanding that it’s simply one part on a grey scale of human existence. I know I’m rambling a bit here, but I’m just so overwhelmed with inspiration by “Night Thoughts” and I’m so thrilled to pass this onto as many people as I can.

Ashe – In Disguise

I’ve written about Ashe so much over the past few years and for good reason: she’s one of the most talented musicians out right now. Her voice is poetic, a naturally gifted story telling approach that makes you hang on to each and every word she utters to paint a colorful picture. “In Disguise” takes her into an almost western tinged direction that feels like a campfire song before transitioning into a pure pop chorus that’s going to convert so many listeners into dedicated fans. It’s hard to explain but some musicians have that *it* factor and Ashe’s voice absolutely has it – she feels like a totally natural star. Her ascent from indie darling into the pop realm is inevitable and I feel fortunate to have followed along with her career since the beginning.

I recently fell out of a friendship that I felt was built upon false premises and disrespect. They were someone who I considered the closest in my life for years, but our differences started to feel a lot more glaring than our similarities and I couldn’t bring myself to rectifying our latest conflict. I have people in my life that love me for who I am without any tinges of conflict or menace, so why would I keep putting energy into someone who doesn’t reciprocate the love that I put forth? Maybe they weren’t a fake friend, but it had become a falling apart friendship disguised as a strong one for far too long, and I feel better for it now that I’ve left. Will we ever reconcile our differences? Maybe, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Little Boots – Secret

Little Boots has been at the forefront of flipping pop into more danceable music and she keeps the effort going on “Secret”. It’s the first single off of her JUMP EP which drops this summer and is a pure bop made for the sweaty lust of your local club’s dance floor. The production reminds me of late 2000’s pop which perfected the synth bass line in the best way possible (“Like A G6” anyone?) while making it absolutely tasteful for those in the know rather than those tuned into the radio. Everything is pure catchy goodness whether it’s the airy and upbeat verses or the push and pull of down-pitched vocals with her open declaration of the secret she has in store. It’s insane that Little Boots has been doing this for over a decade and is still exponentially growing and making the best music of her career. She has real staying power than so many musicians could only dream of reaching.

Not showing all your cards in dating and keeping those secrets can be a blessing or a curse. If you’re seeing someone who likes to play the game, then not showing everything you’ve got can keep them interested and on your toes. We’ve all engaged in that push and pull but you reach a certain point where you get tired of it and just want to let them see everything you’ve got. If someone really digs you then shouldn’t they be down to really see you for you? I’m not sure if that’s old fashioned or new fashioned or something in between when it comes to the dating game but that’s how I see it. I won’t hold it against people who prefer to keep their secret though.

The Geek x Vrv – Paris Jazz Club 1920 (Feat Anomalie)

I feel like I’ve always associated The Geek x Vrv with more upbeat music but I’m digging this more tasteful and more lowkey approach on their new single. It feels like a subtle soundtrack, but the more I’ve listened to it on repeat listens, the more I’ve realized this thing is bustling with life – the keys feel like extravagant drapes, the drums feel like pure class, everything here is just so wonderful. Funnily enough, for a song that I felt wasn’t anywhere close to the realm of hip-hop, I found myself beginning to rap over the instrumental and couldn’t stop once I started. There’s a flow to this one that conjures up imagined storytelling vibes and allows you to simply fade away and let the music take you to faraway places or lay down your own words and your own story. It’s such a dynamic release with so much tangible potential and I can’t get enough.

For a song that lets you dive in with a personal angle, this one would definitely sound best in its namesake. I can imagine laughter permeating through the air, drink glasses clanking together, the sound of chairs dragging across floors as friends greet one another and enter a circle to extend its emotional capacity, the sound of coins clanking on the bar as patrons leave their change for tips, the creaking of wooden doors opening and closing. All of this would swirl through the atmosphere where each action is not individual, but instead connected occurrences all existing on the same thread of perception. It’s a beautiful concept and that imagined jazz club sounds like a beautiful place to be.

TriOrca – Ghost

I’m starting off this cloudy Friday morning on the West Coast with some smokey, soulful sounds. TriOrca’s “Ghost” is a gorgeous, organic ascension that feels like floating through the clouds while the Earth slowly turns below. The production is beautiful while offering plenty of comfortable space for it to slowly and naturally unwind while the vocals are absolutely powerful and feel like a timeless display. This stands out to me as one of the most genuine songs I’ve heard in a long time, where you can truly feel the passion of every component of the song precisely threaded into an utterly pleasing product.

“Ghost” is the type of song where I can zone out to its atmospherics and contemplate vague generalities of life. I’m thinking about how far I’ve come, my place in the universe in this very moment, hints of nostalgia, hints of anticipation for the future, appreciation of the present, gratitude for my life regardless of the time, and just about everything in between. My mental space exists in a zen moment right now where everything feels slowed down and I’m able to go through the motions of life with care. I’ll keep “Ghost” on as the soundtrack while that walk through this blessed existence continues to unwind.

Running Touch – Make Your Move

Running Touch seems to have no ties to any specific genre, always bouncing around from one to the next. His newest is a total dance-worthy jam soaked with tons of dimly lit dramatics that are draped heavy with synths evoking real emotions with each and every note. The instrumental is totally visceral and a full body sensation while the vocals have a romantic, inviting flair to them. Running Touch really gives each part of this song a deep impactful attribute that all wraps up into one of my favorite tracks of the year, point blank. Get into this one as soon as you can.

What’s the point of beating around the bush? Get to the point and make your move. That doesn’t just apply to romance, but all the interactions in our life. Why do we place such an emphasis on bluffing, on playing hard to get, on playing it cool and acting like we don’t care? Pure openness and honesty is a spiritual principle that should be the guiding force in all of our lives, yet we’ve strayed from a deep understanding of ourselves and have given into to this material world. I like to think living a spiritual life by that principle will not only serve ourselves, but lead to a butterfly effect with a world strung together by it if we allow it.


I’ve been following EVAN GIIA’s trajectory over the last year or so since “WESTWORLD” dropped and her growth as an artist has been so dope to see. Every release seems to get even catchier than the last and that evolution continues with “WHAT U NEED?”. This one is produced by Memba and feels like the equivalent of throwing everything up in the air, flipping a table over, and flipping a middle finger to all the problems racing through our minds. The production has a nice low-end bounce to it with tons of intricate little sounds sprinkled all around and EVAN’s voice is pure electro-pop anthem goodness. She has such a powerful presence on the song and there’s just no doubt that fans are going to deeply connect with every word she sings.

Those visceral, fuck-it moments that come from getting fed up are so essential. We all have an internal clock and when it strikes and when we get that gut feeling, it’s time to move on. I was part of a close knit community for years that I recently began to despise being a part of so slowly, and eventually, I had that moment where I realized I wanted no part of it anymore. What did I need? I needed freedom, a new start, new pursuits, SOMETHING new. It’s like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and for the past few weeks I’ve felt so good. That’s exactly what I needed.

Noé – ibynoé

Noé has been hot on my radar throughout 2019, so it’s thrilling to have her EP finally arrive. Originally teased by five standout singles that I had the pleasure of writing up in their entirety, each building upon the last with a further expansive soon, the EP comes equipped with a never-before-heard track called “i cheated on u” that once again takes her sound to new territory. It’s an acoustic, heartache ballad that dives into raw, unflinching honesty about infidelity with honesty and openness that makes each and every word hit with serious impact. Noé has an intrinsic way with words that make her music what I would consider poetic, constantly drawing intricate imagery from verse to chorus and back again. She’s exactly the voice I want to hear in indie-pop and I love the EP but can also see how she’s going to take her sound and style to a new level as her rise is imminent.

The ever-shifting landscape of music makes it so easy to leave music behind. As soon as we hear something, we instantly think ahead to the next album suggested on Spotify or the range of singles on our favorite playlist that go down a lot easier than a full record. There’s obviously music that’s been designed for this rapid form of mass consumption, but there’s no reason to get disillusioned as we have access to the widest array of true artists in history. No matter how many people buy into the now or try to game the system, the cream rises to the top and it’s obvious that Noé falls squarely into that category of making music that’s built to last.