Hot Jam of the Day: DJ Rashad, Nick Hook & Machinedrum, "Understand"


DJ Rashad, Nick Hook & Machinedrum "Understand" 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

Hot Jam of the Day: Samantha Urbani, "1 2 3 4"


Samantha Urbani "1 2 3 4" Digital Single 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

Hot Jam of the Day: Jamie XX, "Loud Places" (f/ Romy Madley-Croft)


Jamie XX "Loud Places" (f/ Romy Madley-Croft) In Colour (out 06.02 on Young Turks) Like so much of their work as the XX, "Loud Places" snared me quickly. 18 seconds to be exact. The XX's brokenhearted first two albums have a number of lyrical gems, but the first stanza of this single Read more

First Quarter of 2015 Mini Round-Up: The Best Songs I Missed


It's been a busy three months for me, and while I've still had time to listen, I haven't been able to keep up with what has turned into a blinding first quarter. Here are a handful of my favorite songs that I haven't been able to write about. Stormzy "Know Me Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Courtney Barnett, "Depreston"


Courtney Barnett "Depreston" Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (out 03.24 on Mom + Pop) Since the dawn of modern civilization, procreation and land ownership have been the principle goals of humanity. While much has been written about the personal collateral damage brought about by the former, substantially less Read more

Images & Words: The Square, “Lewisham McDeez”

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The Square
“Lewisham McDeez”
Digital Single

Though the South London collective dropped this song late last year, the delirious crew cut finally gets a proper release and some Macky D’s-heavy visuals. Novelist may be the biggest name in the Square, but each of its members brings the goods here, lacing memorable verse after memorable verse over staccato hi-hats and an earworm bassline. No word on whether “Lewisham McDeez” will be a part of a follow-up to 2014′s mixtape, The Formula, but it’s yet another window into the group’s bright future.

Hot Jam of the Day: Wet, “Deadwater”

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Wet
“Deadwater”
Don’t You (out this summer on Columbia)

If you read me in 2013, you’ll know how taken I was with the Brooklyn trio’s disarming self-titled debut EP. So unsurprisingly, I am delighted by the news of their impending first LP and enchanted by its lead single. “Deadwater” begins as a brutal post-mortem for a relationship that collapsed on top of its participants, leaving vocalist Kelly Zutrau to dream of a world in which she had legs long enough to carry them out of an interminable rough patch.

Ultimately, it’s more than that, though. It’s about reminding oneself that there’s always a way out of the current-less “dead” water that a slowly metastasizing relationship can leave you trapped in. Her voice never falters when she says “there are better things for me,” and based upon where Wet look to be going, you can’t help but believe her.

Hot Jam of the Day: DJ Rashad, Nick Hook & Machinedrum, “Understand”

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DJ Rashad, Nick Hook & Machinedrum
“Understand”
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 finishing the songs he had worked with Rashad on, explaining that they “seemed impossible to finish after he passed.” Fortunately for us, the North Carolina native was able to complete them, and they’ll be released on a tribute album for the great man next week. A year on, Rashad’s influence and legacy remains stronger than ever, highlighted by excellent work from rising artists like JLin, DJ Earl, and Machinedrum himself.

“Teklife to tha next life.” RIP Rashad.

Hot Jam of the Day: Samantha Urbani, “1 2 3 4″

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Samantha Urbani
“1 2 3 4″
Digital Single

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 produces (Carly Rae Jepsen, Solange, Sky Ferreira etc). While the 80s pastiche and funky bassline are decidedly Hynes-ian, “1 2 3 4″ is punchier than many of Hynes’ moody, occasionally overcooked arrangements (see: Jepsen’s sleepy, “All That”), and it bangs in a way that only his best work does. Over a buoyant synths, Urbani channels peak Benatar and early Madonna, delivering sticky verses and a devastating chorus with the blasé confidence of a seasoned pop star. It’s the rare pop song that is light as a feather, yet hits like a (shit)ton of bricks. More like this, please.

Images & Words: Future, “March Madness”

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Future
“March Madness”
56 Nights (out now on Freebandz)

After 2014′s uneven Honest, Future has been on fire, dropping three incredible tapes in the last six months. The lead single from his most recent, 56 Nights, gets visuals from Vincent Lou, the same man behind the headtrip heartbreak of “Codeine Crazy” and iLOVEMAKONNEN’s original “Tuesday” clip. Like so much of his recent output, Future is both reeling and energized on “March Madness,” as if he knows the roller coaster is going too fast but still doesn’t want to get off. It sounds like a harrowing ride from the outside, and all we can do as listeners is strap ourselves in and hope he doesn’t crash.

Hot Jam of the Day: Chromatics, “In Films”

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Chromatics
“In Films”
Dear Tommy (out soon on Italians Do It Better)

Welp, looks like Dear Tommy is officially 3 for 3. The third single from Johnny Jewel & friends’ upcoming LP is another direct hit. Evocative and slinky, “In Films” pairs vocalist Ruth Radelet’s icy vocals with rolling toms, driving bass, and an adhesive synth line. Knowing Jewel, there’s no telling how many tracks will be on Dear Tommy, but if they are as good as the first three (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), we’re in for a classic.

Images & Words: Hot Chip, “Need You Now”

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Hot Chip
“Need You Now”
Why Make Sense? (out 05.19 on Domino)

Though a good portion of their recent dance floor focused material leaves me a little cold, I am — and will always be — a sucker for a Hot Chip ballad. From Alexis Taylor’s beautiful, 2014 solo cut “Without a Crutch (2)” to 2012′s devotional, “Let Me Be Him,” to one of my all-time favorites, 2010′s “Alley Cats,” the Londoners’ last few records have been littered with heartfelt, transportive ballads that deliver just the right amount of cheez. They get the balance right again here, matching Taylor’s gorgeous tenor with a slinky, deep house-influenced arrangement. In classic HC style, the song is matched by an excellent video, highlighting the way we tend to beat ourselves up in the wake of a failed relationship.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jamie XX, “Loud Places” (f/ Romy Madley-Croft)

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Jamie XX
“Loud Places” (f/ Romy Madley-Croft)
In Colour (out 06.02 on Young Turks)

Like so much of their work as the XX, “Loud Places” snared me quickly. 18 seconds to be exact. The XX’s brokenhearted first two albums have a number of lyrical gems, but the first stanza of this single is one of Croft’s best yet. “I go to loud places. / To search for someone to be quiet with, who will take me home. / You go to loud places. / To find someone who will take you higher than I took you.” Once I heard that, I was in for the ride, but unlike so much of their previous work, I was legitimately surprised where it took me.

After the downcast, decidedly XX-ian start, “Loud Places” blasts out of her lonely bedroom and on to a buoyant, ecstatic dance-floor. It’s a welcome display of power from an oft-forlorn, vulnerable voice. And when Madley-Croft gets to her last line (“You’re in ecstasy without me. / When you come down I won’t be around.”), you can’t help but want to cheer for her — like she’s your recently-single friend who’s finally moving on from her ex and making out with a random at the bar.

Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, “Let Your Hair Down” (f/ The-Dream, Vantrease)

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T-Pain
“Let Your Hair Down” (f/ The-Dream, Vantrease)
The Iron Way
(out now)

Fresh off a mammoth 42-song set at The FADER Fort, T-Pain continues his renaissance with a new mixtape, The Iron Way. A glittering return to form, The Iron Way picks up where his 2014 singles left off, most notably on this exquisite collaboration with the Patron Saint of Thunder Penguin, The-Dream. Any superlatives I lob at “Let Your Hair Down” would underplay how much I’m feeling the languid shuffle of this neon slow jam. But, I guess that’s what happens when you get two of the best songwriters of their generation in the same room…

First Quarter of 2015 Mini Round-Up: The Best Songs I Missed

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It’s been a busy three months for me, and while I’ve still had time to listen, I haven’t been able to keep up with what has turned into a blinding first quarter. Here are a handful of my favorite songs that I haven’t been able to write about.

Stormzy
“Know Me From”
Digital Single
Like a lot of American teenagers, I was enamored by the exciting world of grime thanks to early efforts from The Streets and Dizzee Rascal. Unlike a lot of American teenagers, it stuck, and it’s still sticking as tightly as ever. Original Pirate Material remains one of my three favorite albums, and it has led me to discover heavyweights like Wiley, Skinnyman, Kano, and Roots Manuva, as well as less celebrated folks like the Mitchell Brothers, Sway, Tempa T, and Devlin.

For that reason, I’ve loved the recent American interest in grime. A wicked new wave of producers, as well as artists like Skepta, JME, Novelist, AJ Tracey, and Stormzy guarantee the genre’s bright future. The breakthrough banger from the 21 year-old Londoner is probably my favorite song of the year so far, and hopefully, it will continue to grow the genre enough to finally kick off the US grime takeover that I predicted in the late 90s… or at least, a couple of long-awaited American tours.

Kanye West
“Only One” / “All Day” / “Wolves”
So Help Me God (out ??? on GOOD Music)
I somehow missed writing about all three of these gems, and when considered together, they’re indicative of Kanye’s incredible versatility and duality as an artist. A heartfelt, disarmingly direct piano ballad to his wife and child; a delirious, maximalist turn-up anthem; a spare, claustrophobic rumination. They illuminate the many facets of Mr. West. And though he’s on fire, in love, and surrounded by all the cool kids, there is still lingering loneliness, isolation, and self-doubt all over these tracks. Those are the contradictions that make him the greatest artist of his generation.

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