How to Dress Well
“Precious Love” (Recycle Culture Remix)
The always reliable, hugely underrated Minneapolis producer weaves his magic wand over How to Dress Well’s lovelorn original to devastating effect. It’s very difficult to make a song like “Precious Love” warmer, but he pulls it off here, building a glorious new sonic bed for Tom Krell’s falsetto to curl up in. Make sure to also check out his slept-on, ambient stunner, In Transit II, which dropped earlier this year.
“Talkin Bandz” (f/ Shawnna, DJ Victoriouz)
Future Brown (out 02.24 on Warp)
Nguzunguzu, Fatima Al Qadiri, and J-Cush don’t give a fuck about your year end list. “Talkin Bandz” is the kind of banger sure to throw a wrench in any self-respecting blogger’s “Best Of” list. It’s a potent concoction made of a cascading arrangement, a couple of monster verses from Chicago vet Shawnna, and a languid hook from DJ Victoriouz. Best of all, “Talkin Bandz” comes with the news of a long-awaited debut LP from the quartet, which is likely to be one of the hottest releases of 2015. All hail.
200 Press EP (out 12.08 on 1-800-Dinosaur)
Though he hasn’t released any official new music this year, the London boy genius has been hard at work, dropping a handful of exquisite one-off tracks on his can’t-miss BBC Radio 1 Residency. A radio rip of the Andre 300-flipping “200 Press” has been floating around for the last few months, but today we found out that it would be getting a proper release. Part of a three-song EP that may include 2014 bangers like “40455″ and “Building It Still,” this cut gloriously harkens back to Blake’s early beat-driven days of CMYK and Klavierwerke, reminding us what a master he is at manipulating and placing vocal samples. As much as I love his two proper studio LPs, his production work was game-changing and responsible, in part, for the creation of an entire genre, and it’s brilliant to see him continue to grow as a producer as well as a singer-songwriter.
“Tell The Children”
In these disheartening times, we need powerful, impactful voices like Tink’s.
RIP to Michael Brown Jr. and the many other innocents who have been tragically taken far too soon. May they find justice and peace in the next world.
Tobias Jesso Jr.
The world needs another piano ballad about how tough it is to make it in Hollywood about as much as Hollywood needs another cheap, shitty vintage store. That said, the Vancouver songwriter’s poignant break-up ballad with the city rings a little deeper than most, thanks to both his firsthand experience of not making it and his deft ability to stay close to his timeless source material (John Lennon, Randy Newman) without letting it overpower his own. Songs like this and the gorgeous, can’t-miss, “True Love,” feel like the work of a young artist still sifting through his early influences and searching for his own voice. And, when the early “figuring it out” phase yields these kind of results, it’s hard not to get excited about where he could go from here.
Truly Blessed (out now on Truly Blessed)
Long one of the most distinctive voices coming out of a Chicago hip-hop scene filled with distinctive, creative voices, Sadiki “SD” Thirston has consistently defied trends and co-signs, breaking ground as a solo artist and carving out his own lane. After a string of quality mixtapes and his move away from Chief Keef’s GBE Imprint, the 20 year old recently dropped his long-awaited debut studio LP, Truly Blessed. While I’m still not all the way through the record, its palatial, mantric lead single “Circles” has been on heavy rotation since it dropped last month, and it finally gets similarly unbalanced, wonky visuals.
“Detroit (Excerpt)” & “Dickie’s Theme”
Fresh off announcing the dissolution of his Dirty Beaches project (tear), Alex Zhang Hungtai returns with two more slabs of instrumental, bleary-eyed sonic wanderings. Though he is sporting a new moniker, these two songs follow a natural progression from Stateless: DB’s cavernous, wondrous final album that dropped earlier this month.
While Stateless explored the overwhelming nature of being a single soul lost in a vast world, these singles seem to speak to the other side. They capture the quiet, contemplative nature of a person synthesizing that vastness into a microscopic portion that they can understand. and call their own Much of Dirty Beaches’ music dealt with searching the great expanse of the outside world for a place to call home. Maybe, with Last Lizard, Hungtai has finally found the home he sought by looking inward, instead.
September 15, 2014. Roughly two weeks after his 22nd birthday, August Alsina dropped the video for his “No Love” remix. Featuring a verse and appearance from one of the biggest stars on the planet, Nicki Minaj, the clip looked set to cap off the biggest year of his life and announce him as an A-List R&B talent. Instead, the best day of his career turned into one of the worst of his life. On the night of the 15th, the New Orleans native found himself fighting for his life. He was placed in a medically induced coma after collapsing on stage in New York.
After three days spent in a hospital bed suffering multiple seizures, Alsina was brought out of the coma, safe and happy to be alive. That kind of experience would shake and humble even the most confident individual, and according to this single and his recent appearance at the Breakfast Club, it’s certainly affected his perspective and lifestyle. “Grindin’” sees the upfront vocalist salute those who stuck with him in his time of need, while reminding naysayers that he’ll respond to this setback the same way he has to the myriad roadblocks he’s already encountered. Stronger, undeterred, and more focused than ever.
B a noBody 7″ (out now on Rough Trade)
17 year-old Bridie Monds-Watson has been putting out personal, affecting folk music for a few years now, but this might just set a new benchmark for the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. Nothing she’s ever released has sounded like it could have been created by a teenager, and that’s never been more apparent than on this, her newest single. The Derry resident crafts songs that are mature in conception and construction — matching lyrics full of depth and insight with simple, yet developed arrangements and her curious, compelling voice. Listen up, because she has the raw materials to go very, very far.
Keep Shelly in Athens
When the Athens duo announced the departure of original vocalist Sarah P back in January, I assumed that it would be the last I’d hear from the dream poppers. Surprise, surprise, just 11 months later, they’re back with composer RΠЯ joined by new vocalist, Myrtha. “Fractals” sees the re-tooled group staying in their windswept, Balearic pop lane with Myrtha’s celestial vocals beautifully framed by washes of reverb, nu-wave bass, and some taut, The Edge-style guitar licks. The track is a solid addition to that “Dreaming of Summer” playlist you play to get through the winter, and it’s an exciting new beginning for the still-promising group.