Sade, "The Big Unknown"

Sade "The Big Unknown" Windows Soundtrack (out now on Sony) Though she's only a few months shy of her 60th birthday, Helen Folasade Adu remains a force like nobody else. On the stunning "The Big Unknown," Sade proves that her quiet storm is still a Category 5, as she glides effortlessly over oceanic, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week

Miya Folick "Thingamajig" Premonitions (out 10.26 on Terrible) With each new single, the talented LA vocalist is strengthening the case that her forthcoming LP could be one of the best debuts of the year. Her flexible vocals always stretch further than you expect, and she uses her seemingly unlimited range to exact maximum Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week

Welp, this is embarrassing. The week I roll out a new round-up column, I respond by posting exactly zero times. My editorial staff (of one) was pretty slammed this week, but that's no excuse. Hopefully this piece can make up for it, dear readers. I'll do better this week, because, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week

I was on vacay in England last week, and as I sat back down at my desk this morning, I realized that a massive amount of new music came out while I was gone. I'm going to try something new with quick one to two sentence recaps of some Read more

Lil Uzi Vert, "New Patek"

Lil Uzi Vert "New Patek" Digital Single Easily one of most joyful songs of the year, the hyperactive, hypertalented Philadelphian returns with six (6!) electric minutes of swirling, tuneful hip-hop. Over Dolan Beats' glorious crystallized piano keys and tiptoeing hi-hats, Uzi goes the fuck in as only he can, slaloming through the beat Read more

Images & Words: Future, “Crushed Up” / “Jumpin On A Jet”

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“Crushed Up” / “Jumpin’ On A Jet”
THE WIZRD (out 01.18 on Freebandz/Epic)
Though his legendary reign was showing signs of slowing down in that 2016-17 period, Nayvadius the Great came back strong last year with a handful of monster singles and Beastmode 2, his best project of the last few years. And judging by the rock-solid pair of pre-release singles from THE WIZRD, his fertile creative streak is well and truly back on. Both tracks are weightless, wobbly, mid-tempo burners that are absolutely loaded with sticky, druggy hooks. More than anything, he sounds inspired again. And when he’s in that mood, there’s nobody better.

Images & Words: Sharon Van Etten, “Seventeen”

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Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow (out 01.18 on Jagjaguwar)
It’s impossible not to romanticize your first little stint in New York. Your first apartment, your first go-to bar, your first neighborhood. When you were younger, more fun, and much poorer. Sharon Van Etten, who first moved to NYC in 2005, beautifully stews up that nostalgic brew on her dreamy, but still slightly gritty new single. A love letter to the city, “Seventeen” crackles with the excitement and trepidation that accompanies your early months in the city, which never quite leaves you, no matter how long it’s been.

My Favorite Songs of 2018

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70. Ross From Friends
“There’s a Hole in My Heart”
Aphelion (Brainfeeder)
Don’t let the jokey name fool you, the London deep house producer is cranking out some of the most emotional dance music around. This expansive, meditative cut is maximum tears on the dancefloor, pairing a heartbroken vocal sample with expansive synths and subtle, inch-perfect percussion. I still haven’t seen an episode of “Friends,” but maybe this’ll make me give it a shot.

69. Christina Vantzou x Echo Collective
“Some Limited and Waning Memory”
No. 4 (Kranky)

The KC composer’s is fast becoming one of the most consistent, driving forces in ambient music. And to my ears, her fourth LP is her strongest yet. This cut is absolutely haunting, as it bleeds from lush strings to choral voices to naked piano without the slightest hitch. Some of the piano passages are Sakamoto-esque and among the most aesthetically beautiful moments of instrumental music recorded this year.

68. Nicholas Krgovich
Ouch” (Tin Angel)
If you can’t relate to Nicholas Krgovich’s placid jog through Portland, I can’t relate to you. A beautifully, simple song about trying to move on from a long relationship, “October” captures those confusing early post-breakup months where your feelings seem to shift with the breeze. He veers from the rush of meeting someone new into waves of bitterness about his ex into missing him into enjoying his freedom. Through it all, Krgovich’s ultra-lithe beam* of a voice keeps it all together, and the way it slices through the autumn chill and all the insecurity reminds us it’ll all be ok.


67. Lil Uzi Vert
“New Patek”
Digital Single
I can’t imagine what buying a 2.5 million dollar watch would feel like, but the Philly megastar sounds pretty fucking stoked about it. In fact, he seems so overcome with post-Patek purchase ecstasy that if Dolan Beats wouldn’t have cut the beat at the 6-minute mark, Uzi probably would have just kept rapping forever. Woulda worked for me.

66. Yves Tumor
Safe in the Hands of Love (Warp)
It feels criminal to put a track from the Turin artist’s incredible, shapeshifting 3rd LP this low on the list, but the project is just so cohesive, it’s hard to pull out any one song from it. Among the fascinating cacophony of sounds that range from ambient noise to club to alt-rock, I settled on the late-night groove of “Honesty.” The way Tumor balances the sticky, sung melodies (which kinda remind me of Marilyn Manson, somehow) with legit bass music is so effective, as is the way he wields the undulating beat to maximum effect.

65. Peggy Gou
“It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”
Once EP (Ninja Tune)
No DJ made the leap in 2018 quite like the Incheon, South Korea native, graduating from promising talent to legit star. The 28 year-old headlined festivals all over the world and dropped the best music of her young career. This electro disco banger was the pick of the bunch, pairing her sing-song voice with a nasty baseline, well-placed vibraphones, and an extra helping of 90’s house grooves.

64. Foxing
“Nearer My God”
Nearer My God (Triple Crown)
The St. Louis indie rock crew’s third album is the sound of a band saying “fuck it, I’m going for it.” And nothing sums up that approach better than its title track: a cavernous emo ballad that sees Conor Murphy pleading with us to just fucking love him. It is direct, unabashed, and features one of the absolute monster crescendos of the year, which will leave you wondering if anybody out there wants you at all.

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Silk Road Assassins, “Bloom”

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Silk Road Assassins

State of Ruin (out 02.08 on Planet Mu)
A few years on from their excellent debut EP, Reflection Spaces, the Bath-based instrumental grime experimenters are back with their first full-length project. The disc’s cinematic first single, “Bloom,” is packed with the creeping dread, futuristic keys, and skittering percussion that they’re known for. This is definitely one to look out for early next year.

American Football, “Silhouettes”

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American Football

American Football (out 03.22 on Polyvinyl)
It’s year-end season at ThunderPenguin, so our writing staff (of one) is a little bit pre-occupied by our annual songs and albums lists. However, this gorgeous, atmospheric new track from the dreamo Ohio vets is simply too good to pass up. The expansive slow-burner starts pairs lush beds of vibraphones with their signature arpeggiated, melodious guitar work. Nice to know that we won’t have to wait another 15 years for an American Football record.

Jessica Pratt, “Poly Blue”

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Jessica Pratt
“Poly Blue”

Quiet Sings (02.08.19 on Mexican Summer)
The second taste of the San Francisco singer-songwriter’s third LP is a characteristically gorgeous, atmospheric slice of pastoral folk. Pratt’s voice has a mystical quality that takes me back to falling in love with my mother’s Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez records when I was a kid. This will be one of the soundtracks of my winter.

Images & Words: Robyn, “Honey”

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Honey (out now on Konichiwa)
One of the best songs of 2018 (more on all that later) gets the moody, sexy visuals it deserves. Without cannibalizing too much of my year-end list, I will say that I much prefer seeing Robyn dancing with other people than on her own. And it’s been wonderful to see her push back against some of the stereotypes that “Dancing On My Own” left her with.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, “Tides IV”

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
“Tides IV”

Tides: Music For Meditation And Yoga (out January 2019 on Touchtheplants)
I’m not much for Yoga, but the Washington-born, LA-based composer’s new album might change that. The project was penned for her mother’s yoga practice, and the first track from it is gorgeous, ambient piece that breathes right along with the listener. Any project like this will be best heard in context, but this is a delicious first taste.

Images & Words: Key Glock, “Since 6ix”

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Key Glock
“Since 6ix”
Glockoma (out now Paper Route
One of Memphis’ most promising young talents drops his best track yet, sliding effortlessly between an absolute monster of a beat from Tay Keith and 2LeftHand. After blowing up locally, Key has his on international acclaim, and if this mixtape is anything to go by, it’s a question of “when” not “if.”

Images & Words: AMA, “MONOCHROME”

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Digital Single (Dirty Hit)
Hailing from West London, the 18 year-old pop/R&B singer is yet another rising new voice coming from the city. Her debut single, “Monochrome,” feels both nostalgic and current, drawing inspiration from the R&B of her youth and fitting comfortably next to fellow Brits like like Jorja Smith and Mabel. Though her career is just getting kicked off, it’s easy to see why she’s already got so many people so excited.

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