Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"


Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"


The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"


Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter


Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)


As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Images & Words: Real Lies, “You Were In Love”

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Real Lies
“You Were In Love”
Digital Single (self-released)

It’s been almost five years since the moody London group released their wonderful 2015 debut LP, “Real Life,” but it looks like they’re gearing up to delver the follow-up it so richly deserves. Just in time for #greysky season, “You Were in Love” serves up a delicious batch of their signature brand of beautiful gloom. Vocalist Kev Kharas guides us through the damp cityscape, showing us all the ways that his city has changed while remaining basically the same.

Lil Peep, “Belgium”

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Lil Peep
“Belgium”
EVERYBODY’S EVERYTHING (out now on AUTNMY)

Even though it’s been over two years since Lil Peep passed, his shadow still looms over pop music and the culture at large. There were so many different ways he could have taken his prodigious talent, which makes each of his posthumous LPs feel like important clues into where his head was at in the final period of his life.

On “Belgium,” he digs deep into grungy gloom — sounding a little bit like a SoundCloud rap Alice in Chains — clearly and affectingly singing about missing someone special to him while out on tour. I hope that he was able to make it back to them, even if it was for way too short of a time.

Images & Words: Coldplay, “Daddy”

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Coldplay
“Daddy”
Everyday Life (out 11.22 on Parlophone)

Chris Martin and co. are back with another album and are ready to make it rain on your face. “Daddy” is aching, sweet, and just the right amount of cheesy — as Martin dials up his most tender falsetto for a beautiful rumination on missing your father. It also comes with a stunning clip that’s worth five minutes of your time on its own.

Andy Stott, “Versi”

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Andy Stott
“Versi”
It Should Be Us (out now non Modern Love)

As you can tell, things have been a little slow in ThunderPenguin towers while I work on my Best of the Decade list. But when Andy fucking Stott puts out new music, you write about it. Those are the rules.

“Versi” — the lead track from his new club-focused EP — starts off dense and opaque before eroding into a warm, aqueous groove. He’s always been one of the most subtle producers around, and “Versi” is yet another direct hit from a man who will definitely find himself on my Best of the Decade list.

Images & Words: Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine”

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Ingrid Andress
“More Hearts Than Mine”
Digital Single

Though I’m about six months late on this swelling country ballad, it’s way too good not to write about. The rising Colorado crooner is blessed with a powerful, pure voice, and she smears it all over this standard, but really well-written song about how the ones we love grow to fall in love with the ones we love. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Images & Words: Turnover, “Much After Feeling”

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Turnover
“Much After Feeling”
Altogether (out 11.01 on Run For Cover)

Though the press release claims the Virginia native’s fourth LP will boast a new sound that incorporates “funk, jazz, and disco,” its smooth, sleek debut single feels more like evolution than revolution. Featuring the same bright, sunny feel of their previous album, “Super Natural,” vocalist Austin Getz’s increasingly confident vocals drive “Much After Feeling,” as he muses about trying to enjoy the moment you’re in, while missing someone you love.

Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron, “Belief (pt. 2)”

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Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron
“Belief (pt.2)”
Lost Wisdom pt. 2 (out 11.08 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)

The Pacific Northwest has a pretty established color pallet — muted greens and browns with little pops of color. But if it had a sound, it’d sound a lot like Phil Elverum and Julie Doiron gorgeous, slightly creaky vocals intertwining over sweetly strummed acoustic guitars. Though the lyrics are crushing, there’s light streaming through the open strings, hinting at a brighter future and a beautiful today.

The 1975, “Frail State of Mind”

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The 1975
“Frail State of Mind”
Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.21.20 on Dirty Hit)

Though it has a very different vibe than the thundering “People,” the new 1975 track — the second proper single from their upcoming 4th LP — wields just as much emotional heft. Accompanied by twinkly synth droplets (think: “How to Draw / Petrichor,” “The Man Who Married a Robot”), Healy details how anxiety can hold a person back, clearly and powerfully. In a generation besieged by anxiety, Healy’s words are important reminders that though it can be an isolating feeling, it’s one that so many share.

Images & Words: Matt Berninger, “Walking on a String” (f/ Phoebe Bridgers)

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Matt Berninger
“Walking on a String” (f/ Phoebe Bridgers)
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (out now on Dead Oceans)

It’s easy to imagine a young Phoebe Bridgers growing up on the angsty lyrics and the gravely delivery of the National’s Matt Berninger. And unsurprisingly, the duo make for a knockout combination on this gentle number from the 48 year-old’s upcoming debut solo LP. I prefer the alternate version, which features Bridgers vocally more, but both pack a subtly devastating hammer, as they consider the difficult task of being in love with someone who never quite makes you feel at ease.

Images & Words: Davido, “Risky” (f/ Popcaan)

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Davido
“Risky” (f/ Popcaan)
A Good Time (out 11.12 on Sony)

Two of the biggest voices of the decade link up for a delirious slice of modern afropop. Though both are elite songwriters and artists in their own right, they are both vocal wizards. So it’s a joy to hear them get together get together over an ocean breeze of an arrangement and extol the virtues of being into someone that has you ready to risk it all.

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