The Most Anticipated Albums of The Fall (Part 2)

Dan Bodan Soft (10.28, DFA) After what feels like an eternity, the Berlin-based crooner is finally ready to drop his debut LP. I instantly fell in love with Bodan's lithe, gracefully salacious sound on 2012's bulletproof Aaron/DP 12" single. Since then, he's continued to crank out diverse, unclassifiable tunes that consistently challenge how Read more

Starting V: 5 Doughboyz Cashout Tracks You Need to Hear

Detroit's Doughboyz Cashout has been one of the best new finds of my music year, combining timeless g-funk beats with loquacious, swaggering bars. In a hip-hop scene increasingly driven by druggy production and #sadboi MCs like Drake and Future, the group's energy, directness, and overall good vibes are extremely Read more

The Most Anticipated Albums of the Fall (Part One)

Summer is over, and the best part of the year is upon us. 2014's fall release schedule is already packed with tons of sonic goodness, which, at any moment, could be bolstered by the emergence of long-rumored new releases from the likes of Kanye, Kendrick, Frank Ocean, and many others. Here's part Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Grouper, "Call Across Rooms"

Grouper "Call Across Rooms" Ruins (out October 31 on Kranky) Any day Liz Harris announces a new album is a good day to be alive; and when that announcement comes with a new song, life is just the best. "Call Across Rooms," the first single from the Portlander's forthcoming 10th LP, is Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Aphex Twin, "minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]"

Aphex Twin "minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]" Syro (out 09.19 on Warp) After 13 years in the woods, Da Gawd Richard D. James is finally ready to grace us with another full-length effort, his sixth. Our first taste of it is this aqueous, surprisingly accessible affair, especially when you consider his last LP, Read more

Full Crate x Mar: “Nobody Else”

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Full Crate x Mar
“Nobody Else”
Digital Single (out 11.09)

The underrated Dutch duo — producer Full Crate and vocalist Mar — return with a toned down re-skin of their sweltering, 2013 deep house banger of the same name. On this version, Full Crate strips away the original’s ever-present backbeat and opts to build around hypnotic, stabbed synth chords and Mar’s seductive tenor. The talented duo always does a great job of maintaining balance, ensuring that neither Full Crate’s scintillating arrangements nor Mar’s impressive vocals overwhelm the other. The result is music that is consistently better than the sum of its very impressive parts.

Hot Jam of the Day: Dawn Richard, “Blow”

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Dawn Richard
Blackheart (out 01.15.15 on Our Dawn)

Let’s rewind to January of 2013. Things were really looking up for ex-Danity Kane vocalist Dawn Richard. Thanks two a pair of excellent, well-received projects — 2012′s Armor On EP and 2013′s fan-fucking-tastic Goldenheart — the 31 year-old looked to have uncovered the most elusive gift in pop music: a second chance. No longer a footnote in Bad Boy’s checkered post-Biggie history, Richard was part of an exhilarating new generation of R&B futurists, ready to drag the once conservative genre into the 21st century.

In the face of all the forward momentum, Richard took the surprising decision to look back, reuniting with her former Danity Kane bandmates (save, the oft-divisive D. Woods) and crafting their third LP. No matter how fire “Show Stopper” still is (believe me, it is), the world doesn’t seem to be too into the return of Aubrey O’Day, and the album dropped to minimal fanfare yesterday, a couple months after DK 2.0 called it quits.

Ever the survivor, today Richard announced a proper follow-up to Goldenheart and a new single, the deliciously slinky “Blow.” It’s hard to imagine the New Orleans native not questioning the decision to have spent the better part of last year looking back, especially considering how artists like Tinashe and FKA Twigs blew up this year. Whether or not she actually cleared space for either much younger artist, her sound certainly shares many of their aqueous, slow-burning hallmarks. Hopefully for her, Blackheart will also share their mainstream appeal.

The Most Anticipated Albums of The Fall (Part 2)

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Dan Bodan
(10.28, DFA)
After what feels like an eternity, the Berlin-based crooner is finally ready to drop his debut LP. I instantly fell in love with Bodan’s lithe, gracefully salacious sound on 2012′s bulletproof Aaron/DP 12″ single. Since then, he’s continued to crank out diverse, unclassifiable tunes that consistently challenge how pop music is supposed to sound and what pop singers are supposed to sing about. In his music, nothing is taboo. Whether it’s a lounge lizard sax solo, trancey synths, an earnest cover of a jazz standard, or a soliloquy about a particularly memorable blowjob, everything is in play. And that’s what makes Bodan such a fearless artist and one of the most fascinating musicians of 2014.
Giddy-O-Meter: 10/10

(10.28, FREEBANDZ)
Fresh off the crushing (for me and presumably, them) dissolution of his relationship with Ciara, Future graces us with his second full-length release of the year. While his eyeroll-y recent collab with Wiz Khalifa, “Pussy Overrated,” gives me pause about this release, the presence of executive producer Metro Boomin and the 30 year-old’s stellar track record gets me back on board.
Giddy-O-Meter: 8/10

Young Chop
(10.28, Chop Squad)
Last week, I wrote about the Chicago producer’s impressive maturation over the last two and half years. After taking over the world with the ubiquitous “I Don’t Like,” Chop has steadfastly refused to be put in a box, and pre-release singles suggest that Still will serve as a culmination of 30 months of non-stop work and melodic experimentation. In interviews, Chop (né Tyree Pittman) comes off as a gregarious, genuine, super driven guy, and it’s great to see all of those traits keep paying off for him.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9/10

(10.31, Kranky)
Liz Harris recorded much of her 10th LP, Ruins, all the way back in 2011, whilst on an artist’s residency program on the southwestern coast of Portugal. Evidently, the Oregon resident stumbled upon a new kind of alchemy while there, because she managed to bottle up the region’s impossible beauty and distill it into eight gorgeous songs. Armed with mostly just a piano and her intimate, disarming voice, Harris crafted an album to savor and one of her most human, direct statements ever. It’s another unique effort from one of the finest musicians working today.
Giddy-O-Meter: 10/10

(11.04, Hippos In Tanks)
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what to expect when it comes to Alejandro “Arca” Ghersi’s debut LP. The eclectic, Venezualen producer has lit up high profile collaborations with Kanye West and FKA Twigs, and last year’s beguiling, &&&&&,was one of best mixtapes of 2013. That said, Xen seems likely to be a different animal altogether, and its mesmeric lead single, “Thievery,” features unsettling, witch-housey (I know, I know) instrumentation and an intoxicating, shuffling backbeat. I have no clue what the record will sound like, but when it comes to Arca, that’s kinda the point.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9/10

Dean Blunt
Black Metal
(11.04, Rough Trade)
Speaking of “who the fuck knows,” the mercurial Londoner’s second solo release is also sure to confound and delight openminded listeners. After his split with Inga Copeland — who dropped the incredible Because I’m Worth It back in May — the ex-Hype Williams man has continued his prolific, mellon-twisting output as a solo artist. The Redeemer was one of the most divisive, peculiar records of last year, and the songs we’ve heard from Black Metal point to a slightly more streamlined, albeit still pretty fucking weird sound.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9.5/10

Deptford Goth
(11.04, 37 Adventures)
Life After Defo, the southeast London songwriter’s debut LP was one of the most underrated albums of 2012, and I actually don’t blame music critics for that Everything about Daniel Woolhouse is understated. His warm, restrained vocals. His spare, windswept arrangements. Hell, even his face in promos is mostly obscured, either by his sadboi poses or his barista-level beard. That said, if you spend some time with his music, you’ll likely find that it’ll open up to you and reveal its quietly majestic properties.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9/10

Ryan Hemsworth
Alone for the First
(11.04, Last Gang)
If you’ve been following the Canadian DJ/producer’s career somewhat closely, you saw this one coming. Wiped out by the late nights, constant travel, loud music, and lonely hotel rooms of life as a touring DJ, Hemsworth’s second LP is the quietest, most reflective work of his career. The 7-song set is led by his lovely Dawn Golden-assisted, long distance relationship jam, “Snow in Newark.” Not much of a singer himself, Alone for the First Time enlists a talented guest-list, including Alex G, Lontalius, and lithe Swedish vocalist Little Cloud.
Giddy-O-Meter: 8.5/10

(11.11, Houndstooth)
Like an NC-17 version of the XX, the shadowy duo’s darkly seductive jams will slink their way on to that “special” playlist we all have on our laptops. Built around the dual vocals of members Samia and Justin (who also serves as their main beatmaker), 18+ stews elements of hip-hop, goth, bedroom R&B, and downtempo electro into an intoxicating sonic elixir. While last year’s mixtape showed incredible potential, Trust boasts much improved production value that should take them to the next level.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9.5/10

Antony and the Johnsons
(11.11, Secretly Canadian)
While it’s not really a new album, Antony’s concert film/live album that chronicles the extraordinary stories of 13 women over the backdrop of the Mercury Prize winner’s exquisite chamber pop looks like a revelation. Besides being one of the finest live performers I’ve ever seen, Antony’s music and personal stories (and surely the ones featured in this documentary) are extremely inspiring and enlightening, and I personally can’t wait to sit down an enjoy Turning in full.
Giddy-O-Meter: 9/10

Andy Stott
Faith in Strangers
(11.17, Modern Love)
Let’s be real, no matter what the pre-release singles sounded like, a fanboi like me was always going to fawn over any new Andy Stott record. That said, when they’re this fucking good, you can’t really blame me. The two songs in question — “Violence” and “Faith in Strangers” — highlight his mastery of managing sonic space and his originality as a producer and songwriter. The Mancunian producer’s last LP, Luxury Problems, made my Top 5 of 2012 list, and there’s no reason his next one can’t do one better this year.
Giddy-O-Meter: 10/10

RL Grime
(11.17, WeDidIt)
It’s been a helluva year for the futurists in LA’s WeDidIt Collective. 2014 saw quality releases from core members Groundislava and Shlohmo, along with a stream of exquisite remixes and one-off singles. So it’s only fitting that (arguably) their biggest star, RL Grime (né Henry Steinway), is set to bookend their year with his debut LP. Akin to maximalist, hands-up producers like Hudson Mohawke, it’ll be fascinating to see how Steinway balances club bangers with more pop-focused tracks, like his swirling collaboration with How to Dress Well.
Giddy-O-Meter: 8/10

Images & Words: Jacques Greene, “1 4 Me”

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Jacques Greene
“1 4 Me”
After Life, After Party EP (out 11.11 on LuckyMe)

Just six months removed from releasing his best EP yet, Phantom Vibrate, the Montreal producer returns with an early Christmas present in the form of a surprise two-song (plus remixes from Suicideyear and Sei A) EP. Lead single, “1 4 Me,” is the kind of sublime, emotive quasi-deep house magic that we’ve come to expect from Greene (né Philippe Aubin-Dionne) over the years. I can’t wait to hear the title track and sink my teeth into those remixes.

Hot Jam of the Day: NZCA Lines, “New Atmosphere”

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NZCA Lines
“New Atmosphere”
New Atmosphere 7″ (out 12.08 on Moshi Moshi)

Well, this is a nice surprise. After a few years away, NZCA Lines (né Michael Lovett) returns with a new single and a potential follow-up to his excellent 2012 self-titled debut. “New Atmosphere” features the same icy new wave/synth-pop sound of his debut, and Lovett’s lovelorn vocals remain some of the most pleasing in the genre today. He’s also someone who has always been able to employ new agey production and imagery without veering into tired irony or pastiche, and it’s great to have him releasing new music again.

Hot Jam of the Day: Dan Bodan, “A Soft Opening”

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Dan Bodan
“A Soft Opening”
Soft (out 10.28 on DFA)

The Berlin-based vocalist’s debut LP is the star of my forthcoming “Fall Albums to Watch (Part Two)” column, so I won’t say much else except that its gorgeous, 18+-produced opening number is a keeper. Over the last couple of years, Bodan has carefully constructed a sound all his own, weaving his dreamy, dramatic vocals over consistently progressive soundscapes. Though he continues to be hopelessly underrated by the American press, make no mistake, Soft will likely end up one of the year’s finest albums.

Hot Jam of the Day: LUH, “Unites”

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Digital Single

Less than a year after crafting their fascinating debut LP, 2011′s raucous Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, Manchester-based quartet WU LYF abruptly and disappointingly disbanded. Since their 2012 split, the members have resurfaced sporadically, most notably with bassist/vocalist Tom “Francis Lung” McClung’s shuffling “A Selfish Man” and mercurial vocalist Ellery James Roberts’ cavernous “Kerou’s Lament.” While both singles have merit, they both feel incomplete without an album to live on, like a tasty appetizer with no entree.

Now, Roberts returns with a new project, a collaboration with his partner, the photographer Ebony Hoorn. Lead single, “Unites,” features much of the WU LYF hallmarks: the barrel-chested vocals; the plaintive, heart-on-sleeve lyrics; the explosive, maximalist melodies. In short, it sounds fucking great. That said, it’ll need a full statement to go with it, if it wants to make the kind of lasting impact Go Tell Fire to The Mountain did. Roberts is obviously capable, but whether that record will materialize is anybody’s guess.

Hot Jam of the Day: Young Chop, “Valley” (f/ Chief Keef)

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Young Chop
“Valley” (f/ Chief Keef)
Still (out 10.28 on Chop Squad)

Back in 2012, nobody could have predicated that the duo behind the earth-shaking, propulsive “Don’t Like” would have grown into such sonic mad scientists this early in their career. Tyree “Young Chop” Pittman is widely credited with creating Chicago’s drill sound, but as soon as it broke nationwide, Chop turned his back on drill and focused on crafting evocative, layered melodies and developing his songwriting chops (buh dum pish). As his producer spread his wings, so did Keef. The 19 year-old has spent the last two years relentlessly messing with his vocals, and he has cemented his place in a new breed of rappers who are reimagining what “gangsta rappers” should sound like. While much has changed for both artists in the last two years, one thing hasn’t. They’re still great together, and long may it continue.

Starting V: 5 Doughboyz Cashout Tracks You Need to Hear

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Detroit’s Doughboyz Cashout has been one of the best new finds of my music year, combining timeless g-funk beats with loquacious, swaggering bars. In a hip-hop scene increasingly driven by druggy production and #sadboi MCs like Drake and Future, the group’s energy, directness, and overall good vibes are extremely welcome. Though there are palpable traces of Bay Area swag, LA soul, and New Orleans/Atlanta late 90′s snap, their potent sonic stew is all their own.

Though they’ve endured a long road to fame (they formed in ’06), it looks like they’re finally set to blow, signing to (Young) Jeezy’s CTE Records. Here are five of the DBCO tracks that helped soundtrack my summer.

Payroll Giovanni: “Get Money Regardless” (Digital Single)
To my ears, Payroll Giovanni’s slick flow is reminiscent of the mid 90′s California artists that I grew up with, namely Rappin’ 4-Tay. That buoyant, effortless delivery (think: a vocal Bradley Beal 20-footer) is on full display here with Giovanni sliding through twinkling keys and a soulful vocal hook to devastating effect.

Big Quis: “Mayweather” (f/ Payroll Giovanni) (on My Turn)
On this, one of the group’s most anthemic tracks, Giovanni and the ravenous Big Quis turn their swag up to Money Mayweather levels here. Quis’ aggressive flow is an excellent foil to Giovanni’s laid back demeanor, and their vocal synergy is masterfully framed by a swirling arrangement and an adhesive hook. This should have been one of the songs of the summer.

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Hot Jam of the Day: Jessie Ware, “Sweetest Song”

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Jessie Ware
“Sweetest Song”
Tough Love (out 10.21 on PMR)

I wrote last week about my anxiety about the second LP from TP uber-fave Jessie Ware, but this lovelorn slow-burner certainly helps curb some of it. Much of the Londoner’s best work is her most restrained, when she forsakes the over the top, TV commercial chorus for the stifled and the subtle. “Sweetest Song” is good Jessie at her best, as she smears her expressive, low-register vocal over the kind of sparse, sultry arrangement that helped make her debut one of the best albums of that year. Let’s hope the rest of Tough Love follows suit.

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