New Music Daily
NYC-based indie electro quartet Blak Emoji specialize in pumped up dance rock that belies a deeper message.
Fronted by soulful singer-songwriter Kelsey Warren, the band blasted onto the Manhattan live scene in 2015, following up their renown live shows with their debut EP INTRO, a synth-dipped odyssey through the city that never sleeps. Released in January of 2017, INTRO stoked the flames of Blak Emoji’s hype, resulting in two of the EP’s singles being synced on the ABC television show Quantico.
The band’s forthcoming full length, KUMI, drops February 22nd and features the dizzying club anthem “Lust Love Above” which showcases Warren’s husky Seal-esque vocals over a hypnotic electro groove. While the song boasts a glitzy veneer, Warren manages to imbue the vocals with his trademark authenticity, speaking on the often diametrically apposed feelings of ‘lust’ and ‘love’ which are often inseparable when embarking on a new relationship.
Brooklyn-based Deidre Muro has fleshed out a nostalgic world inspired by girl groups, Go-go dancers, and high flying exploitation cinema. Her brilliant, vignette-like songs inject modern influences into the tried and true formulas made famous by Motown, creating a sound that is highly evocative of the 1960’s yet still adaptable to our modern times.
“Bad Day” is the flagship single from her newest album, Variety Hour, due out February 5th, 2019
If you’re not familiar with Brené Brown, let me do the honor of introducing you to a wonderful woman who has dedicated her professional life to studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Her book Daring Greatly taught me two important life lessons:
- “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
- “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
I look back at the version of myself who once wrote really honest Straight Talk Sundays regularly on here and I admire her openness and expressiveness. In the years that have passed since I contributed my thoughts regularly to this outlet, I fear the majority of that courage to be vulnerable has been lost. It feels tucked away and still not yet ready to come out fully. Perhaps someday. But for now, I’ve found the best way to express my feelings and emotions are through curating the creations of others in the form of monthly playlists (find November’s here and other months here). Today, in an effort to take one more step forward, I want to write about this month’s backstory.
The last month has been a challenging one. I’ve been dealing with some pretty debilitating health issues; I spent the majority of October either at home, in the hospital, or at doctors’ offices. I’ve had to take a good chunk of time away from work, which in itself has taken the courage to be honest with myself and put myself on the sidelines. I’ve missed my family. I’ve continued to miss my dad, who passed away over 8 years ago. I’ve missed a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
I haven’t been able to find much motivation to do many of the things I’ve always loved. It’s no secret that searching for new music is one of my favorite things to do, and I’ve spent a good chunk of my life finding pleasure in that. But I couldn’t find it in October, which is the month I use to put together November’s playlist. So this month’s playlist is mostly a collection of what I found from friends and some old favorites, accompanied by a few new findings of my own.
For reasons you can likely now understand, this month was certainly a more calming collection than some others. And it’s worth noting that these playlists are intended to be played in order as opposed to on shuffle. If you do listen in order, you may notice a sonic progression arranged a bit like that of a bell curve. It starts slow, it begins to get a bit more upbeat, peaks at the hip hop section I always save space for, then brings it back home with some slower arrangements, ending with two peaceful instrumentals and lastly a reminder from Andre 3000 and Big Boi to “hold on, be strong.”
There are songs intentionally placed next to each other that I feel were meant to be together. I imagine what a beautiful thing it would be if the artists could know what their song’s match is. To me, “I Miss You” (Branchez remix) fits perfectly beside another remix called “I Still See Your Face” by San Holo and Flaws, because don’t we all when we miss somebody? There are two Big Wild songs right next to each other, one that repeats “I do it for the love, I do it for the love” over and over again, the next repeating “show me love, show me love, show me love.” Chance the Rapper of course makes another appearance this month, and the song that follows is one he sampled in his song “Everybody’s Something” on Acid Rap. I have found myself asking the world to show me love and to remind me that “everybody’s somebody’s everything” throughout not just trying times in my own life, but also some pretty devastating times in the world around us. Just turn on the news to get a sense for what I’m talking about.
A good number of these songs were played in yoga classes that I’ve gone to as frequently as I can throughout all of this. The practice has brought me calm, community and strength. My confidence in my physical balance has been compromised throughout this journey, and while challenging, achieving different poses in yoga classes has helped me rebuild that a bit. Often led by this wonderful teacher who happens to have a phenomenal taste in music that I borrow inspiration from, I’m reminded in class to be courageous and embrace my own imperfections. And I take this next quote from Brené Brown quite literally: “When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, ‘Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again’—my gut reaction is, ‘What a badass.’” So I fall, I get up, and I keep working on my badass self. And for what it’s worth, I’m having fun finding badass new songs for December already, so I think I’m making progress!
There’s more in there, but I want to leave some for you to find or interpret on your own. With that, if you’ve listened to the music, thank you. If you’ve read these words, thank you once more. And if you’ve read these words without any judgment, thank you the most. Thanks for letting me share my feelings, my imperfections, and giving me the space to be a little courageous. It’s uncomfortable! But I hope you can hear a little more if and when you choose to listen to this and perhaps be reminded to be courageous and intentionally make space in your life for something you love as I have for music and writing. The title of Song 35 is for you.
Cover art sources that I could find: TylerSean and Emily Carstens
Appalachian-inspired Ashville quintet Emma’s Lounge create punk rock roots music, sprinkled with indie electro funk. Prior to launching EM, band spearhead Logan Venderlic was hailed as the Appalachian Tom Petty by The Wall Street Journal and drew comparisons to The Clash from NPR. After a brutal series of events, Venderlic sought refuge in his close knit group of friends who eventually became the brick and mortar of the new band. “Heading For The Hills” finds the outfit in fine form, melding powerful riffs, dynamic backing vocals Springsteen-esque promise land howls. Their newest LP, Confluence, drops next week on October 12th.
Today’s super fly track comes from prodigious Australian American producer VoxEagle. “Salvation” is an insanely potent pop tune that sounds like classic Oasis soaring over pastiche Yeezy art house atmospherics.
Channeling nostalgia from late 90s era urban pop, sultry NYC songstress Amira B combines raw lyrics with groovy funk vibes. Her latest single, “Never Gonna Fall In Love”, is a chilled out slice of R&B that draws inspiration from both Mariah Carey and Natasha Bedingfield and features a verse from rapper Rich G. who channels some serious Young Jeezy vibes.
Amira is celebrating the release of the single with an Artist Residency at Pianos on August 7th, 14th & 21st.
Hailing from a small town in Oregon, bedroom producer THECLECTIK boasts a big, bright melodic pop sound that was forged in the furnace of rave culture and new jack swing.
His bubbly debut single, “I Found You” ft. Ze Rox & Jay Tablet, calls to mind the sparse purple vibes of Prince, paying homage to his retro roots while pushing the R&B sound into poppier territory. The track’s simple yet alluring sense of space and rhythm evokes both THECLECTIK’s ties to the underground and his love for the glitzy sheen of early 90’s urban pop.
The resulting combination is deeply alluring, assisted by the gorgeous, layered vocals of Ze Rox and a supreme off-the-cuff flow from Jay Tablet. It’s a bouncy, earworm that will have it’s claws in you after one listen.
Multi-faceted artist JD Samson, formerly of the seminal electro-punk group Le Tigre, and acclaimed French producer and DJ Yuksek have dropped their nu-disco/house banger “Don’t Even Try.”
Samson is a culturally influential curator, DJ, musician, visual artist, and advocate of the LGBTQ community around the world, and currently a professor of music at NYU. She has written and produced for other artists, including Christina Aguilera, Pussy Riot and Cobra Starship. Yuksek is a seminal artist in the French House dance scene, and has made music with the biggest names in the biz, remixing and collaborating with Gorillaz, Phoenix and more.
NYC-based Language cue up some speedball revolver riffs with a highbrow twist. While their tunes often channel old school punk vibes while their tight narratives are imbued with scholarly insight into world history and socio-political functions.
Language‘s Charles Sloan (bass, vox) shares, “I started with of a couple ideas: a middle school project where I had to decide what I would take with me on a spaceship to a new world, and the story of Aeneas, one of the mythical founders of Rome, who took his father, statues of his gods, and his son and lead them out of a burning Troy. It’s all reduced to a few shouted phrases, which is where the desperation and irrationality enter.”
Joey Aich is gearing up for the release of his next EP, If Money Grew on Trees. With the EP due out in a few weeks, he gives us a lastte taste of what to expect with “Meccas.”
Boasting a 90’s hip hop sound, Joey flexes his ability to keep it about the words. “Meccas” notably sounds influenced by Pabst & Jazz from one of Joey’s idols, Asher Roth. I can neither confirm or deny this statement despite my friendship with Joey, but wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
If Money Grew on Trees: March 30th