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joan, “i loved you first”

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joan “i loved you first” Digital Single If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, first of all, thank you. I see you. Secondly, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for power ballads, and holy fuck, the Arkansas sweetboyz come through with a big one. Complete with verses that sound like the Backstreet Boys, a cheesy ass guitar solo, and a glorious group vocal climax, “i loved you first” hits all the right beats and will leave …

Skepta, “Pure Water”

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Skepta “Pure Water” Digital Single As UK hip-hop continues to grow at an astonishing rate, it’s easy to forget that nobody has meant more to this iteration of the genre than Uncle Skeppy. Luckily for us, the 35 year-old came though with a reminder of his unrivaled power with this muscular, razor-sharp new single. Like the best Skepta tracks, there’s not one ounce of fat on “Pure Water” — just a banging beat, two magnetic verses, and an infectious hook. He’s …

Rae Sremmurd: “Offshore” (f/ Young Thug)

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Rae Sremmurd “Offshore” (f/ Young Thug) Swaecation Though I’m still processing the Mississippi superstars’ excellent, new 27-song project, the free-flowing “Offshore” feels like an instant classic. Producer Mike Will is a genius at negotiating sonic space, and his gooey, descending synth chords leave plenty of room for Thug to play in. And my god, does he oblige. For nearly three minutes, Thug treats us to a single unbroken, spellbinding verse, showing off the idiosyncratic vocal gymnastics that made so many fall …

The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April ’18

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Grouper “Grid of Points” Yellow Electric Though only 21 minutes, the haunting beauty of Liz Harris’ eleventh studio LP will linger for many years to come. Penned and recorded in just 10 days, “Grid of Points” feels like a moment suspended in time — a distant memory that you just can’t shake off. The arraignments predominantly consist of just piano, voice, and ambient sounds captured during recording, most notably the passing train that closes the record. The way she uses …

Images & Words: Nines, “I See You Shining”

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Nines “I See You Shining” Crop Circle (out now on XL) Though not as flashy as many of his peers, the 27 year-old Londoner is one of the UK’s biggest talents. His new project, “Crop Circle,” is a consistent collection of heartfelt, insightful lyrics and cracking, versatile production that lives somewhere between grime, road rap, and modern American trap. “I See You Shining” is a great get-to-know-you track, as it highlights Nines’ low maintenance style, sharp storytelling, and subtly catchy …

Images & Words: Oneohtrix Point Never, “Black Snow”

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Oneohtrix Point Never “Black Snow” (f/ Anohni) Age of (out 06.01 on Warp) Though the Massachusetts native is probably best know for his otherworldly, chaotic experimental electro, some of his best tracks are his quietist. Whether it’s his recent stunner with Iggy Pop or the beautiful Anohni-lead “Returnal,” OPN (né Daniel Lopatin) knows how to craft the kind of ballad that can suck all the air out of you. Though “Black Snow” — the first single from his forthcoming eighth …

Images & Words: Anna Leone, “My Soul I”

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Anna Leone “My Soul I” Wandered Away (out now on Half Awake) Though this stirring ballad has been out since last year, it bears re-consideration, as it leads off the Swedish folk singer’s excellent, recently-released debut EP. Though the instrumentation is delicate, Leone’s voice has main-stage power that recalls her compatriot Lykke Li. That extra touch of drama elevates the five tracks on “Wandered Away” from simple, direct love songs to something rare and difficult to shake off.

Images & Words: Quando Rondo, “Project Kid”

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Quando Rondo “Project Kid” Life B4 Fame (out now, self-released) One of the standouts from the rising Savanah rapper’s excellent new mixtape, “Project Kid” is an open-hearted slab of melodic Southern rap. In his tuneful, yet raspy delivery, Rondo unleashes evocative, insightful lyrics with a weariness that belies his youth. In a scene that is overflowing with young talent, this guy is one to keep an eye on.

Images & Words: Real Lies, “The Checks”

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Real Lies “The Checks” Digital Single Longtime TP favorite and the trio behind my favorite song of 2014, London’s Real Lies are back with their first new music in a couple years. Few artists are as good at capturing the mood of being young and on your own in a big city like Real Lies, and “The Checks” is another intoxicating, nostalgic journey through the neon lights and rain-soaked streets of their (or, your) hometown. Recalling prime Pet Shop Boys and …

Father John Misty, “Just Dumb Enough to Try”

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Father John Misty “Just Dumb Enough To Try” God’s Favorite Customer (out 06.01 on Sub Pop) Though his last LP “Pure Comedy” had its moments, it was an overwritten project that was weighed down by grand, mostly superficial proclamations about the frivolity of modern life. His usually sharp pen often landed with a thud as it shot for insightful and landed closer to Abe Simpson. For me, Papa J. Misery is at his best on direct, confessional love songs like this …