Carly Rae Jepsen
Emotion (out 09.21 on Interscope)
I have wanted to write about the third single from Canadian popstar's third LP since wonky versions of it started appearing online a couple of weeks ago, and today we finally get a proper studio quality version. A nice bridge between the anthemic, punchy Read more
While working out his follow up to 2012's wonderful, I Know What Love Isn't, Swedish crooner/ThunderPenguin fave, Jens Lekman has been quietly releasing a new track every week on SoundCloud. Don't let the paltry play numbers (most average around 6-10k streams) or the lack of blog love fool you, there Read more
With four inch-perfect singles already under their belt (including 2014's best song), the North Londoners' forthcoming debut LP is one of the most anticipated albums of the year around these parts. While we've already heard a radio rip of the still-unreleased "Lovers Lane," this is the Read more
DJ Rashad, Nick Hook & Machinedrum
Movin’ Forward (out 04.24 on TEKLIFE)
A few days before the one-year anniversary of footwork legend DJ Rashad's tragic passing, Machinedrum (né Travis Stewart) releases this gorgeous collaboration with the late DJ and Nick Hook. In the press release, Stewart wrote about the difficulties of Read more
"1 2 3 4"
The first line of the Soundcloud blurb for the ex-Friends singer's new single reads "written, arranged, performed & co-produced by Samantha Urbani." Assumedly, this was meant to avoid the shadow of her boyfriend Dev Hynes, whose figure looms ubiquitously over nearly every act he Read more
Thundercat The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam Out Now on Brainfeeder
An EP only in title, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s gorgeous 16-minute reflection on the metaphysical feels like a singular composition. While I was considering writing about one of disc’s two key middle tracks — the soulful bounce of “Them Changes” and the labyrinthine “Lone Wolf and Cub” — much of their power is lost outside the context of the four songs that frame them.
On this record, Bruner shows off his strongest, most streamlined songwriting ever, keeping the noodling to a minimum and restricting his technical virtuosity to lines that serve only to improve the songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of bass wizardry here — notably on the backside of “Lone Wolf and Cub” — but it’s not the album’s enduring takeaway. Rather, it’s the realization that Bruner’s songwriting and underrated singing is finally catching up to his prodigious playing, which is a truly mouthwatering proposition.
There’s making the song cry, then there’s what production vets Nard & B did to Future’s newest single. When faced with one of the weepiest tracks you’ll ever hear, the 30 year-old summarily beats the breaks off the track in signature style. The ATLien is in the heart of one of the great mixtape runs of the last decade (see: Wayne ’06-’07 and Gucci’09-’11), and “News or Somethn” is one of the high points of this hot streak. While the popular Future narrative has always been melodicism over lyricism, he’s recently been painting incredibly somber portraits with vivid, expressive lyrics. Lines like “know a few real ones ain’t gon’ see they next birthday” and “it’s a full moon in the middle of the day” connect with breathtaking thuds. And by the time the emotive outro guitar solo hits, you’re left staring into the heart of American desolation, and the only thing you can do is run it back again.
Carly Rae Jepsen
“Emotion” Emotion (out 09.21 on Interscope)
I have wanted to write about the third single from Canadian popstar’s third LP since wonky versions of it started appearing online a couple of weeks ago, and today we finally get a proper studio quality version. A nice bridge between the anthemic, punchy “I Really Like You” and the moody ballad, “All That,” “Emotion” is a mid-tempo masterclass — the special kind of song that bottles up post-first kiss butterflies and serves them up to you again and again. Over 3 glorious minutes, the 29 year-old pours her heart out, beautifully framed by taut guitars and delicious swaths of synth. While the 80s, John Hughes influences are obvious here, this is a rare timeless pop song that can appeal to any person in any era. All you need is a beating heart.
The Radio Dept.
“Occupied” Occupied (out 06.16 on Labrador)
After yesterday’s post about a pair of mercurial Swedes, it’s only right to shout out the new single from one of the OG mercurial Swedish groups, The Radio Dept. Unlike Karl X Johan’s tossed-off Whitesnake cover, “Occupied” is very much the finished article — a dark, droning seven-minute epic that pairs Johan Duncanson’s brooding vocals with icy synths and busy, rising percussion. While it’s unclear if this 3-song EP will be a harbinger for a proper follow-up to 2010′s well-loved, Clinging to a Scheme, it’s good to know that the group is still cooking with gasoline, even as they enter their third decade of existence. Long may it continue.
This one really takes me back. One of my favorite ever reclusive Swedish duos (there’s plenty of others, look ‘em up) takes on one of my favorite ever power ballads. While John Sykes’ signature guitarwork is replaced by moody synths, the Stockholm duo stays pretty faithful to Whitesnake’s original arrangement, and vocalist Johan Tuvesson brings plenty of David Coverdale-esque brooding to the table too. There’s still no word of a long-promised proper debut, but if they keep covering classic power ballads, I won’t be complaining.
“She Giv” Senary Cycles (out 07.17 on Soundman)
While the British producer has been mostly painted with the ‘instrumental grime’ brush, the shoe has never really quite fit, and with each passing release, Wen has developed a sound that is increasingly difficult pigeonhole in a genre, no matter how diverse said genre is. “She Giv” is the lead single off his forthcoming “double EP” (whatever the hell that means), which looks set to be the boldest release of his career. The cut pairs interstellar keys with a mantric vocal sample and extra helpings of skittering percussion and delicious sub-bass. This is late night music, worthy of soundtracking a last drink or a bus ride home, and it will likely only make up a small part of a fascinating bigger statement.
“Special Affair” Ego Death (out 06.29)
Probably the most interesting post-Odd Future project thus far, The Internet has hinted at big things since their engaging, underrated (but uneven) debut, Purple Naked Ladies. On the eve of their third LP and first since Odd Future’s official disbanding, the group is presenting the most mature look of their career. Vocalist Sydney “Syd” Bennett has always had an easy, soulful voice, and it’s a great match for the neo-soul vibes and jazzy standup bassline weaved by longtime producer/cohort Matt “Martians” Martin’s and their four talented band members. Even high-profile former Odd Future’ers like Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt have arguably struggled to hit the heights of their early work, but if this is any indication, Bennett and Martin may be joining Frank Ocean as the real post-grad stars of the much-loved LA collective.
“To Take Care of Myself Again” Chrissybaby Forever (out now on Turnstyle)
Since Girls disbanded in 2012, Christopher Owens has been an artist who seems to be searching for a home. He’s tried hyper-serious 70s folk pastiche (2013′s Lysandre) and kitschy Americana (2014′s A New Testament), but nothing’s seemed to fit quite like the denim cutoffs and tye-dye sadboi vibes turned Girls from a little ‘San Francisco Treat’ into indie rock ‘Giants’ (puns, super intended). That all changed when Chrissybaby Forever dropped out of the sky last week. And while I’ve still yet to digest all of its 16 tracks, it feels like a tasty return to form, topped off with its stirring closer, “To Take Care of Myself Again.” To me, his best tracks are his sweeping ballads (i.e. “Hellhole Ratrace,” “Life in San Francisco,” “Heartbreaker”), and this is cut from the same slice of Golden Gate park quilt that will always be his spiritual home.
“Obsession” Obsession EP (out now on Phonica)
The stand-out of the anonymous Russian producer’s follow up to last year’s Never Look Back, “Obsession” is an engulfing slab of warm, elegant house. While little is known about the man behind the boards, it is clear that he is greatly influenced by the languid deep house of 90s, evidenced here by the sweltering synth pads, seductive single-note melodies, and pulsing backbeat. That said, it’s far from simple pastiche, and though the track lyric-free, it’s clear that the rising producer has his own voice and something unique to say.
“Lake” Moth/Lake (out now on Boomkat Editions)
The architect of one of the strongest, most singular efforts of last year, Elysia Crampton (formerly E+E) is set to release her proper debut, American Drift, this summer. Luckily for us, she treated us to this lovely, 2-song appetizer. Inspired by the lakes of the Shenandoah Valley, “Lake” is an amphibious, humid sonic world full of crickets, foreboding hand drums, and droning synths. “Moth” isn’t currently streaming online, but it is also very much worth your time, and I’d highly recommend heading to Boomkat before the 300-press vinyl sells out. American Drift is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated albums of 2015.