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Images & Words: Drake, “Nice For What”

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Drake “Nice For What” Digital Single At his heart, Drake is an actor. In recent years, he’s played convincing roles as artists from London, Kingston, The Bay, Santo Domingo, and of course, Houstalantavegas. For his next gig, Drizzy returns to the Big Easy to soak up the New Orleans sound we already know he loves. Just like many of his past blockbusters, the performance is electric, and he sounds incredibly comfortable over a bounce beat that is actually pretty faithful …

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The First Quarter

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To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s been a vintage first quarter for music, as I had fewer albums that I wanted to write about than usual. That said, there are some truly excellent albums on this list, and there’s a lot to look forward coming up soon. Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour” UMG Recordings What: The country rising star’s transcendent, all-conquering third studio album Where: Nashville, TN via Golden, TX In a Tweet: A balanced, stunning collection of well-sung, beautifully written modern …

Grouper, “Driving”

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Grouper “Driving” Grid of Points (out 04.27 on yellow electric) We’re only a few weeks away from hearing the legendary Liz Harris’ eleventh solo LP, and it’s shaping up to be one of her best projects. Following the haunting, “Parking Lot,” “Driving” is also a piano-led affair that sees Harris’ doleful vocals way up in the mix. And though it’s impossible to make out what she’s saying, her voice is transportive. I’m not sure where it’ll take you, but this …

Images & Words: Jamie Issac, “Wings”

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Jamie Isaac “Wings” (04:30) IDLER (out 04.30 on Marathon Artists) It’s nice to see the talented South Londoner start to get the press he deserves in the build-up to his second LP. Judging by its first two singles, the disc is set to follow in the footsteps of his wonderful debut, “Couch Baby.” In many ways, “Wings” is a classic Issac tune — pairing his sleepy, restless vocals with inch-perfect, jazzy instrumentation. Best of all, he’s never been a singles …

Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”

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Kacey Musgraves “Golden Hour” Golden Hour (out now on UMG) At this point, you probably already know that the 29 year-old Texan’s new album is something special. The disc is a stunning collection of impeccably sung and written modern country tunes, all of which deserve your time. However, I wanted to give one of its most low-key moments a little extra shine: this gorgeous ode to the simple pleasures of spending time with the person you love. Kacey’s always been …

Westerman: “I Turned Away”

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Westerman “I Turned Away” Confirmation Single (out now on Blue Flowers) I’ve been curious about the young London songwriter (and Tottenham fan) for most of this year, but his low-key, experimental pop hadn’t quite grabbed me fully until I heard this beautiful, wistful track. Though it’s drawn Arthur Russell comparisons, it oddly reminds me of some of Springsteen’s quieter moments on “Nebraska” and “Tunnel of Love.” Maybe it’s the consistent backbeat or the way the reverb-soaked guitar resonates, but “I Turned …

Images & Words: Future, “Absolutely Going Brazy”

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Future “Absolutely Going Brazy” Digital Single The first rapper of ThungerPenguin is quietly having an impressive year, and this atmospheric new single is the best of the bunch. Low-BPM Future tends to be the best Future, and he’s on top form here, smearing his melodic, pained vocals over late-night keys and skittering percussion. The track beautifully walks the line between glory and anguish, simultaneously celebrating getting fucked up in fancy foreign countries and admitting that “xans (are) taking over all …

Images & Words: BlocBoy J, “Rover 2.0”

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BlocBoy JB “Rover 2.0” (f/ 21 Savage) Digital Single An early Drake feature can go one of two ways for a young artist. For every Migos and the Weeknd, there’s a Ramriddlz and Makonnen. The next test case is hyperactive Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB, who is currently riding the wave of an Aubrey-assisted Top 10 single, the electric “Look Alive.” For his crucial follow-up, he revisited an older track and recruited 21 Savage. And though the low-key Atlanta native may …

Mr. Mitch, “Creep (Take You Home)”

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Mr. Mitch “Creep (Take You Home)” Digital Single The London producer digs into the smarminess of many men’s attitude toward approaching women on this low-key track. Like much of Mitch’s best work, “Creep” builds slowly and carefully around a repetitive, hypnotic sample. In this case, however, the refrain is grating, unsettling, and mildly threatening, aiming to recreate the feeling that many women deal with every single day.

Tracey Thorn, “Air”

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Tracey Thorn “Air” (f/ Shura) Record (out now on Unmade Road Ltd) At 55 years old, the former Everything But The Girl frontwoman could have easily rested on her laurels and impressive back catalog. However, the Hertfordshire native sounds rejuvenated on her excellent fifth solo LP, especially on this sashaying disco stunner.  Alongside rising pop vocalist Shura, Thorn sings beautifully about feeling overlooked in her youth and searching for warmth in a cold world.