Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"


Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"


The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"


Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter


Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)


As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Andy Stott, “Versi”

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Andy Stott
“Versi”
It Should Be Us (out now non Modern Love)

As you can tell, things have been a little slow in ThunderPenguin towers while I work on my Best of the Decade list. But when Andy fucking Stott puts out new music, you write about it. Those are the rules.

“Versi” — the lead track from his new club-focused EP — starts off dense and opaque before eroding into a warm, aqueous groove. He’s always been one of the most subtle producers around, and “Versi” is yet another direct hit from a man who will definitely find himself on my Best of the Decade list.

Images & Words: Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine”

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Ingrid Andress
“More Hearts Than Mine”
Digital Single

Though I’m about six months late on this swelling country ballad, it’s way too good not to write about. The rising Colorado crooner is blessed with a powerful, pure voice, and she smears it all over this standard, but really well-written song about how the ones we love grow to fall in love with the ones we love. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Images & Words: Turnover, “Much After Feeling”

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Turnover
“Much After Feeling”
Altogether (out 11.01 on Run For Cover)

Though the press release claims the Virginia native’s fourth LP will boast a new sound that incorporates “funk, jazz, and disco,” its smooth, sleek debut single feels more like evolution than revolution. Featuring the same bright, sunny feel of their previous album, “Super Natural,” vocalist Austin Getz’s increasingly confident vocals drive “Much After Feeling,” as he muses about trying to enjoy the moment you’re in, while missing someone you love.

Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron, “Belief (pt. 2)”

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Mount Eerie & Julie Doiron
“Belief (pt.2)”
Lost Wisdom pt. 2 (out 11.08 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)

The Pacific Northwest has a pretty established color pallet — muted greens and browns with little pops of color. But if it had a sound, it’d sound a lot like Phil Elverum and Julie Doiron gorgeous, slightly creaky vocals intertwining over sweetly strummed acoustic guitars. Though the lyrics are crushing, there’s light streaming through the open strings, hinting at a brighter future and a beautiful today.

The 1975, “Frail State of Mind”

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The 1975
“Frail State of Mind”
Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.21.20 on Dirty Hit)

Though it has a very different vibe than the thundering “People,” the new 1975 track — the second proper single from their upcoming 4th LP — wields just as much emotional heft. Accompanied by twinkly synth droplets (think: “How to Draw / Petrichor,” “The Man Who Married a Robot”), Healy details how anxiety can hold a person back, clearly and powerfully. In a generation besieged by anxiety, Healy’s words are important reminders that though it can be an isolating feeling, it’s one that so many share.

Images & Words: Matt Berninger, “Walking on a String” (f/ Phoebe Bridgers)

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Matt Berninger
“Walking on a String” (f/ Phoebe Bridgers)
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (out now on Dead Oceans)

It’s easy to imagine a young Phoebe Bridgers growing up on the angsty lyrics and the gravely delivery of the National’s Matt Berninger. And unsurprisingly, the duo make for a knockout combination on this gentle number from the 48 year-old’s upcoming debut solo LP. I prefer the alternate version, which features Bridgers vocally more, but both pack a subtly devastating hammer, as they consider the difficult task of being in love with someone who never quite makes you feel at ease.

Images & Words: Davido, “Risky” (f/ Popcaan)

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Davido
“Risky” (f/ Popcaan)
A Good Time (out 11.12 on Sony)

Two of the biggest voices of the decade link up for a delirious slice of modern afropop. Though both are elite songwriters and artists in their own right, they are both vocal wizards. So it’s a joy to hear them get together get together over an ocean breeze of an arrangement and extol the virtues of being into someone that has you ready to risk it all.

Images & Words: Vagabon, “Water Me Down”

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Vagabon
“Water Me Down”
Vagabon (out now on Vagabon)

After a couple of years away, Laetitia Tamko is back with a follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Infinite Worlds. Though her sound has morphed a bit toward warm, gushing pop, her voice and songwriting touch are both still undeniable. “Water Me Down” is bright and airy, matching her deep, evocative vocals with an undulating synth and plenty of negative space for her to explore. It’s an exciting step forward for an artist who can’t help but keep us guessing.

Images & Words: Sorry Girls, “One That You Want”

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Sorry Girls
“One That You Want”
Deborah (out now on Artbus)
The Montreal synth-pop duo dropped their debut LP on Friday. The solid project is led by this weightless, lovelorn weeper that finds bandleader Heather Foster Kirkpatrick pining for a lost love. It’s not an entirely novel sound, but it’s expertly executed and delivered with passion and precision.

Arthur Russell, “You Did It Yourself”

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Arthur Russell
“You Did It Yourself”
Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)
There’s something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist’s sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music that has defined this decade.

Like many of his best songs, “You Did It Yourself” defies categorization, featuring touches of dance, folk, pop, and indie. And even though he passed away almost 30 years ago, it still feels impossibly modern, underling what a genius he was and how impactful his art still is. Posthumous albums are always kind of dicey, but I can’t think of a better person to bookend this weird, wonderful decade of music.

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