Hot Jam of the Day: Julien Baker, "Appointments"


Julien Baker "Appointments" Turn Out the Lights (out 10.27 on Matador) "It's the hope that kills you," goes the old saying. But it can also be the thing that saves you and drives you through life's dark stretches. It's what the 21 year-old is reaching for on this breathtaking first single from her highly-anticipated second Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Kelela, "LMK"


Kelela "LMK" Take Me Apart (10.06 on Warp) Our agonizing wait for the first taste of Kelela's proper studio debut* is finally over, and my GOD, our girl came through with a banger. In lieu of just typing 4,000 fire emojis, I'll just say that "LMK" is such a perfect distillation of what makes Read more

Images & Words: Jessie Ware, "Midnight"


Jessie Ware “Midnight” Digital Single In the years I’ve been covering music, I wrote more about Jessie Ware’s early career than just about anyone else. I first covered her back in 2011 and tracked her progression from a promising, mostly unknown, quiet storm prodigy to a true powerhouse who could command any room she was Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2017, So Far...


Rating albums at the mid-point of the year, just to re-rate them in six months seems dumb, so I decided to go with an NBA Draft-style tier system to pick out a few of my favorites so far. TIER 1: THE FAVORITE Stormzy Gang Signs and Prayer #Merky The Londoner's debut LP is an Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Jae Stephens, "24k"


Jae Stephens "24k" Digital Single Fuck one of the best debuts of the year. The LA-based newcomer just dropped one of the best songs of the year out of thin air. Featuring inch-perfect production from Jam City, Stephens weaves a devastating slow jam that captures the growth of a relationship from anxious first Read more

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Stream This Shit: Kara-Lis Coverdale, Grafts

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Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 3.07.11 PMKara-Lis Coverdale
Grafts
Boomkat
Rejoice! The ever-reliable Montreal musician dropped a characteristically contemplative surprise album yesterday. Across three aqueous tracks, Coverdale blends soothing synth drones with splotches of piano, which forms a masterful mood that ebbs and swells for 22 gorgeous minutes.

Stream This Shit: MANIK, Sade – Operation Smooth

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Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 5.26.43 PMMANIK
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.

Stream This Shit: MssingNo, M1 Personal Trainer Mixtape

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screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-6-42-18-pmMssingNo
M1 Personal Trainer (Mixtape)
It wasn’t quite Lemonade, but the progressive grime maestro had me shook this afternoon when he surprise released his first mixtape on my unsuspecting head. The hyper-melodic, 24-minute track is made of all original material. And in the way only he can, the Londoner flips a-listers like Ariana Grande, Zara Larsson, and the Biebz to absolute perfection. Mssingno’s work almost always flawlessly balances radio-ready melodies with dancefloor heft for a sound that is often imitated but remains all his own.

Stream This Shit: Dawn Richard, Redemption

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screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-5-09-56-pmDawn Richard
Redemption
Out 11.18 on Our Dawn

T**mp won. Everything is shit. Fuck.

Listen to the great Dawn Richard’s incredible, gorgeous new album to make everything suck just a tiny bit less.

Stream This Shit: DJDS, Live in Tijuana

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DJDS
Live in Tijuana
I don’t usually post mixes on here — mostly because there are just so many of them — but I had to make an exception for this incredible live set from Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL. If you like dance music with heavy vocal samples, this is the collection for you, as the LA duo lace a stunning set that combines much of their best original work with a couple of choice surprises. It is beautifully paced and perfect mixed, cementing them as one of the must-see live acts in the country right now.

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.

Download This Shit: Tommy Kruise, Memphis Confidential Vol. 2

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Tommy Kruise
Memphis Confidential Vol. 2 (self-released)

The merry Montreal producer’s successor to 2012’s Memphis Confidential is a delicious, Third coast beat tape inspired by the city’s legendary rap scene. Kruise nails the spirit of the Memphis sound — one where beauty and darkness live together in harmony.

For example, “HEAD SPIN” is built around a synth line that is both foreboding and enticing, and “BIG 9” opens with soft, atmospheric synths before graduating into a pounding slab of midwestern house. Interestingly, its two interludes — “MY GROOVE” and “SQUEAKY TEXAS CALLS” — are real highlights, and the former features two very different vocal samples, knitted together to create some real magic. At just six tracks, MC2 is easy to sink your teeth into and bursting with flavor.

Stream This Shit: Brumes, Soundings in Fathoms

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Brumes
Soundings in Fathoms

I completely missed the Portland trio’s debut LP when it dropped last May. But I just found it, and holy hell, I’m glad I did. Their sound mixes ambient, Grouper-vibes with touches of folk, drone, and dream-pop (dreamwave? dreamgaze?). Whatever the genre, Soundings in Fathoms is a subtle, gorgeous collection, built around Desireé Rousseau’s faraway vocals and layers of delicate instrumentation.

Rousseau’s vocals are framed by beautifully fingerpicked nylon-string guitars (“oh, zia), stirring violins (“the color of light and shadow”), and spare synths (“I heard you”). Its evocative mood reminds me of driving from Portland to the impossibly gorgeous Oregon coast and getting absolutely soaked by that ridiculous sideways rain that they really only have in the Pacific Northwest. It hasn’t received anything near to the acclaim it deserves, but I guarantee you it will be worth your time.

Stream This Shit: Majical Cloudz, “Wait & See”

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Majical Cloudz
Wait & See EP (Matador)

“I never show it, but I am always laughing” sings Magical Cloudz frontman Devon Welsh on “Silver Car Crash” — one of the real high points of the Montreal duo’s towering second album, Are You Alone? It was a surprising admission, as Welsh’s lyrics tend to be obsessively, occasionally suffocatingly serious . But on further reflection, there’s a deep-seeded black humor there, a little like a Samuel Beckett novel or a late-stage Goya painting. The chuckles continue on this new collection of material that didn’t quite make last year’s LP. And by “chuckles,” I mean disarming, heartrending ballads, dripping with LOLzy moments like “when I’m dead, I’ll never feel this strange again.” Har dee har har.

Stream This Shit: Thundercat, The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam

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Thundercat
The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam
Out Now on Brainfeeder

An EP only in title, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s gorgeous 16-minute reflection on the metaphysical feels like a singular composition. While I was considering writing about one of disc’s two key middle tracks  — the soulful bounce of “Them Changes” and the labyrinthine “Lone Wolf and Cub” — much of their power is lost outside the context of the four songs that frame them.

On this record, Bruner shows off his strongest, most streamlined songwriting ever, keeping the noodling to a minimum and restricting his technical virtuosity to lines that serve only to improve the songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of bass wizardry here — notably on the backside of “Lone Wolf and Cub” — but it’s not the album’s enduring takeaway. Rather, it’s the realization that Bruner’s songwriting and underrated singing is finally catching up to his prodigious playing, which is a truly mouthwatering proposition.