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Delacey – Emily

Delacey is a pop star in the making, but she’s also an extremely personal writer whose new single is a touching tribute to her best friend. The lyrics are so pure, transitioning from dealing with broken relationships to taking shrooms and watching MTV. You can feel the honesty through the story Delacey weaves and that’s also owed to her next-level vocals which feel tailor made for wide audiences, radio airwaves, and beyond. It’s all topped off by production that serves to subtly complement Delacey’s powerful performance rather than take centerstage, a surge of bass at select moments functioning as its only real push to the forefront. From top to bottom, this is a touching piece within a sea of music that will rise to the top.

Friendships are a strange beast. I’ve learned that even our best friends have flaws and we have to learn how to deal with them (or whether we CAN deal with them which brings to question to the longevity of the friendship). Just last night, a good friend struck a nerve by saying my spiritual practices are strange and worthy of an “intervention.” It might have been said in a joking manner, but it struck deep to have something so essential to my life perceived as strange by the person who’s supposed to understand me the best. They apologized, but it’s now a matter of whether or not I should communicate how genuinely hurt I am over the comment – it’s a small thing to most people, but when you’re so in tune with yourself and your needs, these things become worthy of reflection and contemplation. Fortunately, I have the tools to write about it and talk to friends with years of experience on me and work through a small speed bump like this!

Elio – Empty Persuasions

Elio’s sophomore single feels like indie-pop perfection to me. Everything about this is so masterfully written and hits every pleasure center in my brain with every note. The vocals are simultaneously distant yet enticing and introspective, the instrumentals are subtly beautiful with little touches draped across its structure with twinkling bits of grace, all wrapped up into a wonderful package. I’m having trouble coming up with words to really nail down how this song is ringing so true to me, but maybe that’s a good thing, experiencing a song with all the senses and feeling it rather than sitting down and intellectualizing it. There’s a beauty in that, so I’ll look to appreciate this experience rather than judging it.

I feel like we’re tempted by an endless array of empty persuasions throughout our 21st century existence. Tempted by the newest product at the big box store, tempted by that unhealthy food blasting through your TV at midnight, tempted by the pursuit of material things to fill a void, tempted by idealized relationships that check all the boxes but are lacking in true fulfillment or meaning. I’m not sure if this is unique to our time period because people have been chasing throughout human history, but it sure feels magnified in this era. All that being said, being conscious of this and actively working against it will provide a lifetime of fulfillment if you allow it.

chloe mk – Fantasy

This might be chloe mk’s first EP but she’s immediately made herself known as one of the most promising voices in pop music right now. The EP feels like a turn of the century fever dream where Nokia flip phones and frosted tips swirl into a hazy amalgamation. The music has a modern punch, but you can hear the influence of 2000s pop starlets channeled through the lens of a conscious, utterly cool 2019 mind. My personal favorites are “I Can’t Stop” (can we talk about how that opening sounds like a slowed down “Still D.R.E.”) and “David Bowie” (a ridiculously beautiful ballad that’s dynamic, ever-shifting, and laced with endless layers to slowly fade into while listening along). This is a record that warrants repeated listens and stands head and shoulders above the 2019 pop crowd.

There was something about the early 2000s that felt like an untouchable zeitgeist. Technology was rising but we had nothing more than flip phones, pop music was slowly inching toward being critically appraised but not quite, it was an era of in-betweens, a transition period if you will. There’s so many lucid memories like looking at Dell computers in the local Circuit City and the just-built mall while “Toxic” echoed through the speakers. I feel like those were the last vestiges of innocence before social media drug us toward the unflinching realities of a toxic, chaotic society. It’s nice to close your eyes, listen to someone like chloe mk, and being totally grounded in the present moment while feeling the sensation of simpler times. That’s the Fantasy.

Grabbitz – King / Ghost In A Song

Grabbitz has totally transcended his roots in electronic music which I knew him for originally years ago. It’s an exciting time for the artist as he jumps to the highest of indie-pop heights on this song which jumps across various angles of the genre with ease. The first half is a super poppy track that you could imagine soundtracking a massive event while the latter half is a super swaggy, rapping infused joint with so much effortless cool to it that makes it feel like you’re kicked back listening to him spit while everyone nods along. Throw this one on in the background and vibe along for the perfect Friday sounds!

According to Grabbitz this track is about your art living on forever which I think is so true. Some art right now is certainly fleeting (see: Spotify targeting pop) but then you have work of auteurs that has lived for hundreds to thousands of years. Hell, we have ancient cave art that we admire so far in the future. Can you imagine in hundreds of years when humans plug into the database and dive into the music crafted today? Their minds will be blown, viewing our times through the lens of the art that defined the times. Here’s to living forever, now on Earth and far beyond to eternity.

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.