Hot Jam of the Day: Lil Yachty, "Pretty" (f/ Burberry Perry)


Lil Yachty "Pretty" (f/ Burberry Perry) Summer Songs 2 (Quality Control) The Atlanta native’s excellent, youthful new mixtape, Summer Songs 2, is full of highlights, but none are as disarming as this emotional love song. “Pretty” is the type of track that makes you text your girl/boi or pine for the one that Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Records of the Second Quarter


Instead of just rolling through the best of June, let’s round up the finest music of the second quarter of 2016. Coming off last week’s Best Tracks list, here are my favorite albums of the year. Beyoncé Lemonade Parkwood / Columbia The album that stopped the world on its axis (and made me Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of the Second Quarter


Like we did back in March, let’s round up the best music of the second quarter of 2016. We’ll kick things off with the best tracks of the year so far. My album list should be out later this week. And so as not to repeat myself, I didn’t Read more

Stream This Shit: Karun (aka Runka), Indigo


Karun (aka Runka) Indigo East African Wave The Kenyan singer/songwriter's gorgeous, 7-song project is the latest release from the excellent, Nairobi-based collective East African Wave. The arrangements are generally sparse and down-tempo, as the disc's most prominent producers — Jinku and Nu Fvnk — mostly favor resonant, deep keys and use percussion as an Read more

Monday Round-Up: ABRA, Rae Sremmurd, and the Rest of What I Missed


LSDXOXO “Lady Vengeance” Fuck Marry Kill (out now on GHE20G0TH1K) The first proper release from NYC collective GHE20G0TH1K, Fuck Marry Kill is nine exhilarating, unique club tracks from the Philly producer. While the whole thing deserves your time, its lead single is a great place to start — pairing latin rhythms and synth Read more

Images & Words: Kodie Shane, “Losing Service”

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Kodie Shane
“Losing Service”
Little Rocket (self-released)

A member of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team crew, Atlanta singer/rapper Kodie Shane is rapidly cementing herself as a compelling artist in her own right. “Losing Service,” the standout from her excellent recent EP, highlights her romantic, hyper-melodic sound. Over syrupy keys and rolling hi-hats (courtesy of DJ Spinz, Matty P, and D. Clax), Shane gleefully laces a modern day sonnet about a lover, capturing that special swoon that summer love brings.

Hot Jam of the Day: Itasca, “Buddy”

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Itasca
“Buddy”
Open to Chance (out 09.30 on Paradise of Bachelors)
The first taste of LA-based folk singer Kayla Cohen’s third LP is a languid, easy love song that takes me back to lazy weekend drives through the canyons of west LA. “Buddy” feels less pastoral than its excellent predecessor, 2014′s Unmoored By The Wind. This time, Cohen frames her soothing vocals and fingerpicked guitarwork with an electric lap steel, rather than pan-flutes, giving “Buddy” a slightly more modern, American vibe.

Hot Jam of the Day: Tinashe, “Superlove”

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Tinashé
“Superlove”
Digital Single
On her new single, the LA crooner teamed up with The-Dream and Tricky Stewart to craft possibly the strongest pure radio single of her career. Terius and Tricky’s fingerprints are all over this thing, from the rolling drums to the ultra-bouncy verses. Tinashé is in fine form here as well, damn-near channeling Paula Abdul here. And her flirty, breezy vocals are the perfect partner to the track’s timeless arrangement. More like this please.

Hot Jam of the Day: Lil Yachty, “Pretty” (f/ Burberry Perry)

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Lil Yachty
“Pretty” (f/ Burberry Perry)
Summer Songs 2 (Quality Control)
The Atlanta native’s excellent, youthful new mixtape, Summer Songs 2, is full of highlights, but none are as disarming as this emotional love song. “Pretty” is the type of track that makes you text your girl/boi or pine for the one that got away. Along with BFF Burberry Perry, Yachty expresses his devotion over a delicate bed of synths. You just don’t hear many love songs this direct, which gives it a weight and a realness that is so affecting. This might be one of my favorite songs of the year.

Images & Words: Chairlift, “Crying in Public”

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Chairlift
”Crying in Public”
Moth (Columbia)
Everybody has cried in public at least once. Chairlift’s gorgeous ballad reminds me of riding the subway to work a few years ago, while reading the last third of Junot Diaz’s beautiful, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The book had brought me to tears a few times, but I’d mostly kept it together. However, one particularly gut-wrenching passage just crushed me one afternoon, and my silent, choked-back tears morphed into an emotional tsunami. And in an instant, I was that guy, blubbering on the train in front of everyone. I hopped off at the first available station and spent the next ten minutes composing myself for the rest of the ride home, where I could finish the book and weep like a 5 year-old in the privacy of my own apartment.

The Round-Up: The Best Records of the Second Quarter

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Instead of just rolling through the best of June, let’s round up the finest music of the second quarter of 2016. Coming off last week’s Best Tracks list, here are my favorite albums of the year.

Beyoncé
Lemonade
Parkwood / Columbia
The album that stopped the world on its axis (and made me and my girlfriend 40 minutes late to a dinner), Beyoncé’s incredible, genre-spanning sixth effort needs no endorsement from me. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best albums of the year, but you probably knew that. As I’m sure I’ll be writing about it in December, I’ll spare you for now. All hail.
Hottest Jams: “Love Drought” “Pray You Catch Me”

The Hotelier
Goodness
Tiny Engines
Another album that I’m sure to be writing about in December, the Worcester, MA quartet’s follow-up to 2014 masterpiece Home, Like Noplace Is There, isn’t as bleak as its predecessor but packs just as much catharsis. The “emo” label never really fit right and isn’t even close now, as the group has established themselves as much more than a nostalgia act. Goodness is a dense, varied collection that is equal parts grit and grace, meshing melodic riffs with crashing drums and Christian Holden’s distressed tenor to absolute perfection. Easily, one of the best indie rock albums of the last few years.
Hottest Jams: “Soft Animal” “Opening Mail For My Grandmother”

Anderson .Paak
Malibu
Steel Wool
For all the rave reviews, big tours, and TV appearances, I still somehow feel like the Oxnard native’s beautiful second LP hasn’t gotten its due. In short, this thing should make Paak one of the biggest artists in the country. Over 60 engaging minutes, he proves that he can do just about everything well. He sings with the easy confidence of a seasoned soul singer. He raps with depth, cadence, and touch. He plays jazzy, swinging drums that drive the album forward. And, more than anything, he demonstrates his incredible gift as a storyteller, crafting Malibu into a living, breathing world that it’s impossible not to get sucked into. To me, this is cut from the same cloth and absolutely deserves to be in the same echelon as recent classics like To Pimp a Butterfly, Channel Orange, Lemonade, and the like.
Hottest Jams: “The Season / Carry Me” “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance”

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Images & Words: Francis and The Lights, “Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)

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Francis and The Lights
“Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)
Digital Single
I have a lot of questions about this song/video:

*Who is actually singing?
*What is Kanye doing?
*Why is that Francis guy is trying to Esco Step?
*Which piece of Justin Vernon’s outfit is most appalling?
*When/how did this song burrow this deep into my brain?

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of the Second Quarter

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Like we did back in March, let’s round up the best music of the second quarter of 2016. We’ll kick things off with the best tracks of the year so far. My album list should be out later this week. And so as not to repeat myself, I didn’t include anything from any of those albums on this list.

Kanye West
“Champions” (f/ Gucci Mane, Quavo, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti, Big Sean, Desiigner)
Cruel Winter (release date TBA on G.O.O.D. Music)
The Life of Pablo could be the best album of the year, but it probably doesn’t not even contain Kanye’s best song of 2016. “Champions” beautifully highlights what makes West such a musical genius and explains why his music is more vital than ever, a near impossibility for a hip-hop artist 15 years into his career.

Sure, his lyrical skills aren’t as sharp as they used to be, but that’s not the point. Rather, West has opted to work like a great head coach or creative director, surrounding himself with the young talent and placing them in the best position to succeed. Yeezy only gives us four new bars, but everybody else shines, resulting in a thrilling posse anthem in the spirit of classics like “Mercy” and “Clique.”

Gucci Mane
“1st Day Out The Feds”
Digital Single
At some point, it was almost as if Gucci Mane became more of a meme than a man. All the trouble and noise had reduced one of the most influential, important rap artists of all-time into an interminable stream of cheap “Bitch I Might Be” LOLz. For that reason, it’s been brilliant to see him spend his first month as a free man with a seemingly sound mind and sharp focus, dropping a string of potent singles. None is more affecting than this suffocating, paranoid tale of life in one of America’s most notorious prisons.

Thast
“Rep Your County” (Dave Luxe remix)
Digital Single
I’ve already written a ton about Thast this year, and I’m assuming that she’s only getting warmed up. On this tasty remix, MTL beatsmith, Dave Luxe laces an airy arrangement that leaves plenty of space for the rising Tampa native’s booming, voracious flow to gobble up the yards. She’s promised that new work with Zora Jones and Ryan Hemsworth is just around the corner, and I could not be more excited to hear it. Without a doubt, one of the best rappers in the country right now.

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Images & Words: Blood Orange, “Augustine”

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Blood Orange
“Augustine”
Freetown Sound (out now on Domino)
Late last night, Dev Hynes dropped his third record under the name Blood Orange: the massively-anticipated Freetown Sound. While I’m not even close to digesting all 17 tracks, its lead single is an example of why so many have been looking forward to this thing. It pairs an elastic arrangement with an adhesive hook and solemn, heartfelt lyrics in a way that is uniquely Hynes. Excellent as this is, it feels like it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jamie Isaac, “Pigeon”

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Jamie Isaac
“Pigeon”
Couch Baby (out 07.08 on Marathon Artists)
A few years on from 2014′s underrated, electro-soul EP, Blue Break, the South Londoner is back with a proper debut LP. Third single, “Pigeon,” is a great example of what he does best — low-key keys, yearning vocals, and subtle, understated hooks. Jazzy pianos and spare percussion color meandering synth chords, setting an evocative stage for Isaac’s gentle tenor, reminiscent of James Blake and Jamie Woon. It is far from a summer jam, but this song’s gentle listlessness feels right for the long, hot days that await.

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