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Images & Words: Santi, “Sparky”

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Santi “Sparky” Digital Single The man behind one of my favorite songs of 2018 returns with his first new music of 2019, and unsurprisingly, it’s a banger. One of the leaders of Nigeria’s exciting alté movement, Santi pairs beachy, airy keyboards with his evocative voice for a sound that recalls Afrobeats, dancehall, and American R&B. Though his voice is soothing and the vibe is soft, there’s a still that little hint of edge that guarantees that his music could never …

Images & Words: NoCap, “Ghetto Angels”

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NoCap “Ghetto Angels” Digital Single As YNW Melly’s chilling, “Murder on My Mind,” finally finished its ascent to #1 last week, the rising Mobile, AL rapper quietly released a new song that deserves just as much attention. NoCap is yet another example of the rising tide of young, independent artists, whose sound has just as much in common with R&B and gospel as street rap. More than anything, “Ghetto Angels” — much like “Murder on My Mind” — feels like …

Foxes in Fiction, “Ontario Sunshine pt. 3” (feat. Emily Yacina)

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Foxes in Fiction “Ontario Sunshine pt. 3” (feat. Emily Yacina) Digital Single It’s a rainy Friday morning in New York, which is just about the perfect backdrop for the dreamy, long-awaited new single from Warren Hildebrand. Short of a few one-off tracks, the Queens-based artist has been pretty quiet since his lovely 2014 project, “Ontario Gothic,” but he’s returning sometime soon with a new full-length. Though this track isn’t slated to appear on it, hopefully it’s a sign of things …

Matt Kivel, “l.a. coliseum”

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Matt Kivel “l.a. coliseum” last night in america (out 05.10 on Cascine) Our first taste of the LA singer’s debut LP for Cascine is a dreamy, low-light rumination on the early days of a relationship. Kivel’s voice is soft but affecting, and it gently bobs along the layers of soft synths and meandering electric guitar. It’s a track that really feels like falling in love in LA,  and it leaves me seriously jonesing for those technicolor sunsets and warm, evening …

Chief Keef, “Ain’t Gonna Happen”

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Chief Keef “Ain’t Gonna Happen” GloToven (Glo Gang / RBC) The Chicago stalwart’s new project with the legendary Zaytoven is unsurprisingly full of weird and wacky sounds, moving in innumerable unexpected and exciting ways. Its most powerful moment is its starkest, as a heartbroken Keef floats freely over Zay’s gorgeous piano. “Face dried up, from all of the tears I done cried up,” he laments, namedropping late friends and family members like Fredo Santana, Big Glo, and Capo. In just …

Channel Tres, “Brilliant N***a”

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Channel Tres “Brilliant N***a” Digital Single The man behind one of my favorite songs of 2018 returns with a silky new slice of the indefinable deep house/jazz/rap sound that he started cooking up on his incredible, self-titled debut EP. Over a meandering flutes, airy toms, and droning synths, the artist born Sheldon Young glides effortlessly across proceedings, dropping adhesive, charismatic couplets by the dozen. Hopefully, a proper debut LP beckons.

Images & Words: Xanman, “Kane”

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Xanman “Kane” Hey Shootah Vol 2. (self-released) This song has been out for a minute, but I just realized that I still haven’t written about the super talented DMV native yet. Considering that I’ve probably listened to more Xanman than any other rapper so far in 2019, it feels like it’s time to change that. Like most of his tracks, “Kane” feels like it’s over before it even stars, imploring you to run it back (at least) a couple more …

Images & Words: Roses Gabor, “I Could Be Yours”

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Roses Gabor “I Could Be Yours” Fantasy & Facts (out now on AllPoints) The low-key London R&B boundary pusher dropped her long-awaited debut LP on Friday, and it’s a unsurprisingly fascinating project. Gabor’s slinky, seductive sound lives in the cracks between R&B and electro, and “I Could Be Yours” is perhaps the best example of just how potent her sound can be. A lot more people should really be talking about this project.

Laura Stevenson, “Value Inn”

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Laura Stevenson “Value Inn” The Big Freeze (out 03.29 on Don Giovanni) Though the Long Island singer-songwriter has been at it for nearly 10 years, “Value Inn” is my first taste of the Laura Stevenson experience, and goddamn, it is a delicious one. “Value Inn” is a stark, brooding piece of electric folk that pairs her bewitching voice with reverb-soaked guitars that start as a drizzle before building into a dense storm. Recorded in her childhood bedroom, the track crackles with …

The National, “You Had Your Soul with You”

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The National “You Had Your Soul With You” I Am Easy to Find (out 05.17 on 4AD) We millennials are fickle bastards, man. After releasing a trio of fantastic albums, it only took me one snoozer (2013’s “Trouble Will Find Me”) to basically write off the Ohio quintet as a spent force. I was shocked by how much I loved the back-half of 2017’s “Trouble Will Find Me,” and this jittery new single builds on the disc’s momentum. Over sporadic …