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Images & Words: Future Islands, “Ran”

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Future Islands “Ran” The Far Field (out 04.07 on 4AD) The lead single from the ever-earnest Baltimore trio’s fifth LP gets an characteristically heartfelt treatment. The clip finds frontman Samuel T. Herring running through Maryland, spurred on by rumbling bass and mournful synths. Though there’s no hint of whether he’s running towards something or away from it, it’s an affecting little story nevertheless.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jean-Michel Blais & CFCF, “In a Landscape” (Rework)

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Jean-Michel Blais & CFCF “In a Landscape” (Rework)  Cascades (out 03.15 on Arts & Crafts) The weather is beautiful today in New York, but it’s still February. And when that wind chill returns, you’ll want to curl up in the gorgeous, ruminative piano playing of Jean-Michel Blais and CFCF. Both artists hail from Montreal and are known for crafting reflective, careful instrumental music. “In a Landscape” — the second single from their forthcoming EP — is a characteristically well-constructed, stirring version of  a John Cage …

Hot Jam of the Day: The 1975, “By Your Side”

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The 1975 “By Your Side” Digital Single While covering one of an icon’s most beloved songs is always risky business, the 1975’s Sade cover captures a little bit of the overwhelming warmth and love of the original. Though auto-tune seems like a wonky choice for a song as intimate as “By Your Side,” frontman Matt Healy’s robo-croon is surprisingly successful, and that left-field approach offers some much needed divergence from the unmatchable original. This version is obviously never going to hit Ms Adu’s dizzying heights, but it will hopefully expose …

Images & Words: AJ x Deno, “Ride or Die”

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AJ x Deno “Ride or Die” Digital Single The London teenagers have been releasing bouncy tracks together since last year, but the infectious “Ride or Die” reaches new heights. Deno Driz’s silky vocals recall a young Joey McIntyre, and his boyish voice is well balanced by AJ’s easy, slick bars and a warm, buoyant arrangement with touches of Afropop. Hopefully, this is a sign of big things to come for the duo.

Stream This Shit: MANIK, Sade – Operation Smooth

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MANIK Sade – Operation Smooth Digital EP Valentine’s Day may be over, but MANIK wants to keep that lovin’ feeling going all winter long. Over the weekend, the NYC producer dropped four delicious, deep house edits of Ms. Adu (aka The Queen of ThunderPenguin), and goddamn, they are good. To my ears, they are as strong as many of the classic Sade remixes that appeared on the official versions of many of her singles. Summon all the fire emojis.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mr. Mitch, “Priority” (f/ P Money)

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Mr. Mitch “Priority” (f/ P Money) Devout (out 04.21 on Planet Mu) Today, the London grime-ish producer announced his second LP, the follow-up to 2014’s excellent Parallel Memories. Lead single, “Priority,” is a contemplative, mid-tempo cut that features the twinkling, emotional synth melodies that he’s known for. And Lewisham veteran P Money comes through with some reflective, low-key verses that touch on parenthood, sobriety, and growing up. Mitch is that rare artist who has crafted a signature sound without being beholden to it, constantly …

Hot Jam of the Day: Kingdom, “What Is Love” (f/ SZA)

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Kingdom “What Is Love” (f/ SZA) Tears in the Club (out 02.24 on Fade to Mind) The third track from the Fade To Mind honcho’s debut LP is the perfect soundtrack for your Valentine’s Day. Kingdom (né Ezra Rubin) has a sparkling track record of crafting forward-thinking slow jams, and “What is Love” is another notch on his musical bedpost. His seductive synths and choppy percussion sets the mood, and SZA knocks it out of the park, never raising her voice but still pushing all the right …

Images & Words: Phoebe Bridgers, “Smoke Signals”

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Phoebe Bridgers “Smoke Signals” Digital Single (PAXAM) The first song from the LA folk singer’s debut LP has been in heavy rotation for me since it dropped in early January. There’s a wonderful spookiness to “Smoke Signals,” and its cinematic, uneasy atmosphere reminds me of classic horror movies from the dawn of Hollywood.  You can almost feel the smoke lingering in the air, as her fingerpicked electric guitar and haunting vocals undulate gracefully before slowly receding back into the darkness.

Images & Words: Stormzy, “Big For Your Boots”

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Stormzy “Big For Your Boots” Gang Signs & Prayer (out 02.24 on #Merky) About halfway through my first listen of the lead single from Stormzy’s debut LP, I got the feeling that I was listening to a future classic. Maybe it’s the way the beat shifts gears — how the hi-hats accelerate then drop off like a NASCAR. Or maybe it’s the magnetic, endlessly quotable bars, tailor-made to be screamed by hoards of sweaty kids. It could also be Sir Spyro …

The Best Of What I Missed (January, 2017)

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I’m gonna try to bring back the monthly Round-Up/Best-Of column. Except this year, I’m only going to focus on the stuff that I haven’t previously covered. So if you want to hear my thoughts on Sampha, Mount Eerie, Stormzy, Julie Byrne, J Hus, The xx, Father John Misty, etc, all you have to do is scroll down. The Migos Rightfully Claim The National Spotlight Though their commitment to staying independent was questioned by many, the Migos’ unquestioned rise to the top of …