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

Hot Jam of the Day: Local Natives, "Villany"


Local Natives "Villainy" Sunlit Youth (out 09.09 on Loma Vista) I left Los Angeles about nine months ago, and nothing makes me miss it more than certain music. A DJ Mustard beat, anything that sounds remotely Balearic, Father John Misty, fingerpicked guitars, the first two Frank Ocean records, and so on. This Read more

The Monday Round-Up: Clams Casino, Sampha, and the rest of what I missed


After spending last week in Hawaii, the Monday Round-Up is back with the best of what I missed last week. Clams Casino "Blast" 32 Levels (out 07.15 on Colombia) After breaking out in 2011 thanks to a string of successful beat tapes, the New Jersey cloud dweller has spent the majority of the Read more

The Monday Round-Up: Skepta, James Blake, and the Rest of What I Missed


An avalanche of important new albums dropped last Friday, so this week's Monday Round-Up is dedicated to my early favorites from that batch. Skepta “Konnichiwa” Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know) There are a bunch of great lines on the London rapper’s monstrous fourth LP, but my favorite comes about 90 seconds in. "Boy Better Read more

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.

Hot Jam of the Day: serpentwithfeet, “Flickering”

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serpentwithfeet
“Flickering”
Digital Single
“Flickering” is the stunning Tri Angle Records debut from the NYC-via-Baltimore singer-songwriter/performance artist, Josiah Wise. A gorgeous rumination on trying to hang on the ones we truly love, Wise emotes that the “cord between us is made of gossamer.” Its skeletal piano arrangement only adds to the drama, as each line hangs in the air like the delicate spider webs he’s singing about. It is the super rare song that we’ll transport your mind straight back to the people you love most. Just breathtaking.

Images & Words: Ian Isiah, “247″

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Ian Isiah
“247″
Digital Single
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the NYC, experimental R&B crooner, but his lovelorn new single is well worth the wait. Isiah’s underrated 2013 LP, The Love Champion, emitted much of the same sultry, romantic vibes of “247″ — most notably in the stunning single, “Freak U Down” (one of my favorite songs of that year). Isiah’s tender vocal glides over a warped piano melody from the always brilliant Sinjin Hawke, resulting in a ballad that feels both fresh and nostalgic. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a big year for Isiah.

Stream This Shit: Karun (aka Runka), Indigo

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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 accent, rather than a driving force. The restrained arrangements leave plenty of space for the singer (né Karun Mungai-Runkah) to dig into emotional, intimate spaces. My early favorites are “A Million Emotions” and “Need U The Most,” a pair of duets with her partner Joseph Kiwango. The former deals beautifully with the trepidation of falling in love, while the latter delves into being apart from home and the person you love. They are the kind of topics that just about everyone can relate to, but few can express with this much clarity and grace.

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

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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 droplets with a mantric vocal sample. More than anything, it’s the kind of song that makes me horribly miss the packed, sweaty dancefloors of New York City. Someone take me back.

Listen to the whole thing, here.

ABRA
“Crybaby”
Princess (out 08.20 on True Panther/Awful)
The Darkwave Duchess is back with a follow-up to last year’s exquisite LP, Rose. “Crybaby” is the kind of sweltering, new wave-indebted R&B that she’s been pumping out for the last couple of years. Boasting an earworm chorus and an undeniable baseline, it also packs one of the strongest bridges of the year. To top it all off, the Atlanta resident handled all production and songwriting here, further cementing her status as one of the brightest young talents in music today.

Alexis Taylor
“Lonely Vagabond”
Piano (out now on Moshi Moshi)
If you, like me, prefer your Hot Chip in ballad form, their frontman’s second solo album is for you. On nearly every track of Piano, Taylor frames his innocent, doe-like tenor with only a grand piano. While its skeletal arrangements will likely be too narrow in scope to captivate the masses, the disc stands as testament to Taylor’s underrated, nuanced songwriting and the affecting vulnerability of his gentle voice.

Angel Olsen
“Intern”
My Woman (out 09.02 on Jagjaguwar)
Falling in love with someone new is an incredibly fun experience that nobody wants to do again. On the first song from her forthcoming third LP, the ever-consistent Olsen considers this subject with her usual lyrical acuity and depth. What’s unusual about “Intern” is that her trademark guitar is replaced by lonely synths, framing her beautiful vocals in a fresh new way.

Rae Sremmurd
“Look Alive”
SremmLife 2 (out 06.24 on EarDrummers)
Just two weeks before their second LP drops, the all-conquering duo gives their mid tempo banger gets a characteristically lit new video. Even though the BPMs are turned down here, their irrepressible energy comes through loud and clear. Like much of their best tracks, infectious vocal melodies aren’t reserved for the chorus, as each of their verses boast better vocal hooks than most songs’ refrains.

Hot Jam of the Day: Strict Face, “Murderer” (f/ K-Major)

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Strict Face
“Murderer” (f/ K-Major)
Strict Face EP (out soon on NLV Records)
The Australian grime producer links up with the man behind one of the best albums of 2015 on this modern R&B banger. Face (né Jon Santos) pairs a twinkle-toed harp melody (think: “The Boy is Mine”) with thudding sub-bass and syncopated percussion. The beat is a brilliant match for the Atlanta vocalist’s tender, elastic tenor, which slithers around the heavy drums with consummate ease.

Hot Jam of the Day: Local Natives, “Villany”

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Local Natives
“Villainy”
Sunlit Youth (out 09.09 on Loma Vista)
I left Los Angeles about nine months ago, and nothing makes me miss it more than certain music. A DJ Mustard beat, anything that sounds remotely Balearic, Father John Misty, fingerpicked guitars, the first two Frank Ocean records, and so on. This LA group certainly makes the list, and the second single from their third LP is giving me a severe hankering for the city and all its smoggy, dry-skinned, decrepit glory.

They’ve always written fantastic vocal harmonies, and “Villainy” is one of their strongest and stickiest. The melody is lithe without being flimsy, and it is expertly framed by a (surprisingly) guitar-free arrangement. It’s a strong statement from a group that’s been a way for a couple of years, and a little more inspiration for me to plan a weekend trip back down the 5.

Stream This Shit: Phoenix Martins, 47

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Phoenix Martins
47 (out now)
The London-based producer/vocalist is back with another aqueous 4-song EP. Just a year removed from her debut, Retrospective, 47 sees her emotional, ethereal sound developing, mostly when it comes to songwriting. The sparse, affecting standout, “Blue,” features a lonely guitar in a seabed of synths, and Martins’ struggling to deal with a flaky, uncommitted lover. The lovesick “Trueness” adds some bounce to her sound, courtesy of a skittering hi-hats and gentle percussion. At first glance, you might want to lump her alongside artists like Nao and FKA Twigs, but the more you listen, the more you realize how much her sound stands apart from just about everybody else working today.

Monday Round-Up: Gucci Mane, Jenny Hval, and the Best of What I Missed

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Gucci Mane
“First Day out the Feds”
Digital Single
After about two years in the same federal penitentiary that was home to Timothy McVeigh, Radric Davis emerged in one piece and ready to get back to work. Unsurprisingly, his first single is suffocating and profoundly sad. Davis shares the mental scars of a lifetime of trouble with startling detail and admits that he “did some things to some people that was downright evil.” He sounds weary but not defeated, like a man with plenty more stories to tell.

Thast
“Rep Your County” (Dave Luxe remix)
Digital Single
The Canadian producer puts a fresh coat of paint on Queen Thast’s 2014, track “Rep Your County.” The Central Florida native recently teased new material with Ryan Hemsworth and Zora Jones, and this delicious Dave Luxe remix will be enough tie us over until the new tracks drop. She is without a doubt one of the most exciting young artists on the planet right now.

Jenny Hval
“Female Vampire”
Blood Bitch (09.30 on Sacred Bones)
Rejoice! Jenny Hval, the artist behind my second favorite album of 2015, is blessing us with another full-length this year. According to the press release, Blood Bitch will be a concept album that explores menstruation, vampires, and 70s horror films. Sign me the fuck up.

Gundam
“Intimate” / “Too Late”
Intimate / Too Late (out now on Goon Club Allstars)
The Essex producer’s lovely, Cassie-flipping “Intimate” has been floating around the Internet for a few years, but it finally gets a proper release by Goon Club Allstars. One of the leaders of the recent R&G (rhythm & grime) resurgence, Gundam first appeared on my radar via 2014’s excellent LP, Flirtation, and his work is highly recommended for those who love their club music with maximum 90’s R&B emotion.

Ryley Walker
“The Halfwit In Me”
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (out 08.19 on Dead Oceans)
I struggled to get into the Chicago folker’s critically well-received 2015 LP, Primrose Green. For all its tasty guitar-work (and, he is a great fucking guitar player), I struggled to find a foothold in the songwriting. So suffice it to say, I was surprised to keep coming back to his dusty, gentle breeze of a new single.

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