Lana Del Rey, "Doin' Time"


Lana Del Rey"Doin' Time"Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)If you grew up in California in the early 2000's, it was just about impossible to get in someone's car or go to a party that wasn't playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "Vossi Bop"


Stormzy"Vossi Bop"Digital SingleAfter a little while away, the London kingpin looks to be getting back in the game. "Vossi Bop" is a perfect comeback track because it is such a pure distillation of what makes Stormzy a true-one off. Over a tasty, yet simple beat, Big Mike goes in Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019 (1st Quarter)


Even though we're a solid week into the second quarter, better late than never right? Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite songs of the last three months. To keep numbers manageable, I didn't include anything from any of my favorite albums list and prioritized songs I Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2019 (First Quarter)


Gah, I can't believe we're already 25% through 2019. That said, Spring is in the air, and we've enjoyed an excellent, diverse crop of music during these first three months. Have a look at some of my favorite LPs of the year so far in no particular order. Dawn Richard
 “New Read more

Chief Keef, "Ain't Gonna Happen"


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 Read more

Featured

Lana Del Rey, “Doin’ Time”

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Lana Del Rey
“Doin’ Time”
Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)

If you grew up in California in the early 2000’s, it was just about impossible to get in someone’s car or go to a party that wasn’t playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Lana grew up (Westchester, I think), because her cover of the Long Beach skate-rats sun-scorched classic features the care and love that can only be delivered by a true Badfish. Del Rey manages to walk the line between paying homage to the original while making the new version her own. Summer can finally start for real now, y’all.

Images & Words: Stormzy, “Vossi Bop”

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Stormzy
“Vossi Bop”
Digital Single
After a little while away, the London kingpin looks to be getting back in the game. “Vossi Bop” is a perfect comeback track because it is such a pure distillation of what makes Stormzy a true-one off. Over a tasty, yet simple beat, Big Mike goes in like only her can, effortlessly dropping ultra-charismatic, memorable bars in the spirit of the early freestyles that made him an instant legend. There’s no word on whether an album is coming, but like most of his tracks, “Vossi Bop” is strong enough to stand on its own.

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019 (1st Quarter)

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Even though we’re a solid week into the second quarter, better late than never right? Here’s a quick round-up of some of my favorite songs of the last three months. To keep numbers manageable, I didn’t include anything from any of my favorite albums list and prioritized songs I haven’t yet written about. For all of our sakes, I tried (and mostly failed) to keep write-ups Tweet length. Songs are in no particular order.

Duggie x Odunsi (The Engine)
“Nightshift” (f/ Omagz)

Sojourn (out now on Blac-Apollo)
I’ll start the list by breaking my own rule. Though I wrote about the criminally under-reported Nigerian producer’s masterful debut EP on my Albums List, I couldn’t make this list without mentioning my possible song of the year so far. “Nightshift” is a beautiful marriage of styles that injects an Afrobeats heart into a smooth late-night R&B body, resulting in a borderless sound that mirrors our increasingly borderless musical world. Odunsi (The Engine) is quickly becoming one of the key figures of Nigeria’s ultra-exciting, new alté generation, and his versatile, playful delivery beautifully matches Duggie’s busy percussion and aqueous synths. Omagz rounds things off with a sublime, laid-back verse that sums up the track’s effortless magic.

Orville Peck
“Turn To Hate”
Pony (out now Sub Pop)
Blessed with a booming baritone and a razor-sharp pen, the masked man from Nevada dropped one of the most interesting debut records of the year. “Turn to Hate” is a rich, evocative country rocker that perfectly sums up Peck’s nontraditional, yet traditional country sound. You can hear classic crooners like Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak in his voice, but there’s a palpable modern edge to his music, which defies characterization and stands out from the rest of the scene.

Azjah
“Spotlight”
Digital Single
The talent coming out of LA is insane right now, but the Princess of Compton is as exciting as anybody. Besides being a whole slap, “Spotlight” highlights Azjah’s impressive ability to switch up her flow on a dime, weaving between playful, melodic singing and stinging barbs with ease. “Spotlight” is the kind of track that sticks in your head the moment you hear it and is a press push away from being a smash.

Rabit
“Kno U See It”

THE DOPE SHOW (self-released)
I probably should have included the Houstonian’s syrup-soaked screw tape in my best albums list, but this Young Joc flipping, molasses-thicc creeper more than stands on its own. Though OG Ron C was always quick to remind you that his music was “chopped up, not slopped up,” Rabit leaves all the slop in, layering dense waves of sound alongside the pitched-down, infernal vocals. What a glorious mess.

Triad God

“Gway Lo”

Triad (out now on Presto!?)


“Know what the fuck I’m saying?” mutters the Vietnamese-born, South London-based Vinh Ngan on this dreamlike track. And even though his words are hard to make out (and sometimes in Vietnamese), if you listen closely, you’ll start to get it. Triad God keeps his voice down low, repeating a few mantras over and over, on top of a gorgeous vocal sample and angelic strings from producer Palmistry. The effect is hypnotic and affecting, and if you listen closely, you’ll realize what the fuck he’s saying much quicker than you think.

La Dispute
“Fulton Street I”
Panaroma (out now on Epitaph)
Though I wasn’t familiar with the Grands Rapid emo vets, this frenetic, wild-eyed freak-out reached out and grabbed me. This track gives off serious At the Drive In and mewithoutyou vibes, and vocalist Jordan Dreyer’s wild-eyes vocals and frantic questioning are as cathartic as anything either band ever delivered.

Dan Bodan
“I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes…)”
Digital Single
Though the Berlin resident has mostly kept a low profile since his wonderful 2014 DFA debut LP, “Soft,” he popped his head up on this magical piano ballad that recalls the timeless sound of Cole Porter. Blessed with one of the sweetest voices around, he’s also an affecting, impactful songwriter, who will hopefully be hearing more from this year.

The BoyBoy West Coast
“Bottoms Up”

TikTok Snippet
Though we’re still waiting for the full version, I have a feeling that it won’t be able to match the bonkers magnetism of the “Bottoms Up” original viral snippets. Everything about the clips is striking and unique — from the low-rent, iPhone auto-tune to the eyebrow/goatee combo to the cheeseball mannerisms. It’s abundantly clear that BoyBoy is cut from a different cloth… and that cloth is fire a velour hoodie.

Sam Binga x Paul Wall
“AllCap”
Digital Single
A Houston vet and a UK bass-music futurist might seem like an odd couple, but they combine deliciously on this slithering single. Binga’s delicious, cinematic keyboard filigree and bouncy bass is the perfect tonic for Wall’s relentlessly quotable bars (“Pockets fatter than a pregnant giraffe”) and evergreen charisma.

Laura Stevenson
“Living Room, NY”
The Big Freeze (out now on Don Giovanni)
On one of the high-points of the Hudson Valley singer-songwriter’s undeniable fifth album, Stevenson injects a little extra urgency into her modern folk stylings. The result is a simple, yet spellbinding tune about yearning to be with someone (or somewhere) and the way those urges can dominate every inch of your thoughts.

Lucinda Chua
“Feel Something”
Antidotes 1 (out now, self-released)
The London composer’s debut single, “Somebody Who,” was one of my favorite tracks of 2018. And this year, Chua gave it a worthy project to belong to. The EP’s first track injects a little bit of quiet storm into her sound and pushes her mega-soothing voice a little higher into the mix. The results are subtly stunning.

Hayden Thorpe
“Diviner”
Diviner (out 05.24 on Domino)

Though Wild Beasts are rarely mentioned among the best bands of their generation, the Lake District quartet was always one of my favorites. And though I was disappointed that they broke up last year, I’m optimistic about vocalist Hayden Thorpe’s forthcoming solo work. First single, “Diviner,” pairs his odd, quivering falsetto with sparse, twinkle-toed pianos to delicious effect.

Townes Van Zandt
“Sky Blue”
Sky Blue (out now on Fat Possum)

Posthumous releases are always dicey, even when it comes to legends like TVZ. “Sky Blue” is a bit of a grab-bag — mostly covers and live versions of well-known tracks — but its title track is a rare gem. One of the disc’s two previously unheard originals, the Texan sounds utterly miserable here, just a lonely picker, struggling to find meaning in it all.  It’s that certain kind of melancholy that he made his name on and is tailor-made for his worn, but warm voice.

Carly Rae Jepsen
“No Drug Like Me”
Dedicated (out 05.17 on Interscope)
Carly Rae is the queen of the pre-chorus. Nobody in modern pop does a “big build to a chorus” better than 33 year-old, and “No Drug Like Me” is one of her absolute best. The way she slightly hangs on “starry-eyed” and “open wide” ratchets up the tension beautifully before the chorus hits and lets the song breathe again. It’s a clever trick that ensures that each of her hooks feel like big releases, and she’s an absolute master at it.


Dave
“Streatham”
PSYCHODRAMA (out now on Neighbourhood)
To be honest, I just haven’t quite gotten to the South Londoner’s debut LP yet, but fuck, “Streatham” is hard. Over crawling piano melody, the 20 year-old weaves a pair of vivid, characteristically sharp verses about the neighborhood that made him who he is. Dave’s got this unique ability to drop heavy bars without weighing down the tracks, allowing him to hit on serious topics without coming off preachy. A huge talent.

Colin Self
“Survival”
Siblings (out now on RVNG Intl.)

Though the record came out on the back-end of last year, I had to mention this swirling, swelling single from the Berlin-based multi-disciplinary artist. The disc deals with searching for a home for yourself in an often unfriendly world, and “Survival” is its soaring centerpiece. Self delivers one of the most unforgettable vocal performances of the year, as a bed of strings and monstrous drums rise around them.

MURLO
“Outer Body”
Dolos (out now on Coil)
The Manchester producer’s long-awaited debut LP is a labyrinthine jungle of sound built around Blade Runner synths and skittering futuristic grime percussion. Early standout, “Outer Body,” undulates and wobbles like an open ocean without doing too much and getting the listener seasick.

Weyes Blood
“A Lot’s Gonna Change”
Titanic Rising (out now on Sub Pop)

Though I haven’t gotten to it yet, I will write more about the Natalie Mering’s bewitching fourth album soon. For those who haven’t dug in, its first song is a perfect place to start. The LA singer lays her powerful voice on top of an impossibly lush bed of strings and piano, singing to her younger self about the rocky road that lies in front of her. She doles out the kind of advice we could all have used in our younger years but never would have actually listened to.

NoCap
“Ghetto Angels”
Digital Single
A modern hymn for anybody who has ever had to bury a close friend, the rising Alabama artist absolutely pours his heart out over spare 808s and Sunday Mass pianos. The verses are dripping with all the feelings that accompany a tragic loss: the initial shock, the hollow feeling that follows, and finally, the steely determination you’re left with to live for your friend and honor their memory. The feelings are heavy, but the music is light — ascendant even — and it drags NoCap’s lonely, weary vocals to the finish line, until they’re finally raised high by the rest of his friends who join him on the last chorus. Hard to find a better song than this one this year.

Russ Splash
“Gun Lean

Digital Single
No song called “Gun Lean” should be this innocent and carefree, but the UK driller’s breakthrough single is as buoyant as anything I’ve heard this year. A massive viral dance craze in his native England, the Gun Lean has been lighting up everything from TikTok to Premier League pitches and shows no signs of slowing down.

03 Greedo
“Traphouse” (f/ Shoreline Mafia)

Digital Single
Though he sits incarcerated in Texas for a non-violent crime, 03 Greedo’s presence still looms large. The LA native’s whiny refrain (“no sheets on top of my behhdddd”) drives this weightless West Coast banger and outshines solid verses from members of the city’s most popping group, Shoreline Mafia. It’s a testament to how much Greedo can do with a single line and a sad reminder that he was cruelly denied the moment that his elite talent deserved. Free Greedo.

Steel Banglez
“Fashion Week” (f/ AJ Tracey & MoStack)

Digital Single
Quickly becoming one of the most consistent hitmakers in the UK, the East London producer seems primed for a stateside takeover. On “Fashion Week,” Banglez enlists a few of the usual suspects on one of smoothest songs of the year. Over steel drums and syncopated drum patters, AJT and MoStack go verse for verse, dripping with dangerous levels of charisma and confidence.

Lil Uzi Vert
“Free Uzi”

Digital Single
The Philadelphia rapper is quickly developing into the rarest kind of superstar: the one with enough resources to do exactly what they want and the guts to do it. A few months after announcing his retirement (¯\_(ツ)_/¯), Uzi dropped this ultra-dynamic, frenetic new single out of the sky and shut the internet down. Very few people have this much power and even fewer choose to wield it in such an exciting way.

The Japanese House
“We Talk All The Time”

Good At Falling (out now on Dirty Hit)
I never would have guessed that Imogen Heap would become one of the dominant influences in indie-pop, but here we are, and I’m not mad about it. Nobody does Garden State-core better than the Japanese House (né Amber Bain), and “We Talk All The Time” is probably my favorite song she’s ever written. An affecting elegy on the last days of a relationship, Bain beautifully chronicles the gradual, painful way that two lovers can pull apart at the seems — with physical intimacy often being the first casualty.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2019 (First Quarter)

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Gah, I can’t believe we’re already 25% through 2019. That said, Spring is in the air, and we’ve enjoyed an excellent, diverse crop of music during these first three months. Have a look at some of my favorite LPs of the year so far in no particular order.

Dawn Richard
“New Breed”
Our Dawn
Probably my favorite project from my favorite R&B artist of the last ten years, “New Breed” is the New Orleans native’s most personal statement to date. In just over half an hour, Richard guides us through the eclectic, electric sound of her hometown, talking her shit and telling her story without fear, apology, or one ounce of bullshit. Truly a one of a kind.

Read my longer review for No Recess, here.

Default Genders
main pop girl 2019
self-released
Aka “Love in the Time of Fentanyl,” James Brooks’ (formerly of Elite Gymnastics) second LP was one of my favorite musical surprises of the last few years. Though his previous work is pretty patchy, this project is absolutely breathtaking and impossible to categorize. The Minneapolis native paints twelve affecting portraits of young people on the brink, with Rockwell’s eye for detail but none of his idealism.

Read my longer review for No Recess, here.

Nivhek
“After its Own Death / Walking in a Spiral Towards the House”
YELLOWELECTRIC
When a new Liz Harris project arrives out of the blue, you don’t ask questions. You just thank your lucky stars and hit play. I don’t know what a “Nivhek” is and why this isn’t a Grouper record, but I do know it feels like a welcome callback to her (even more) experimental early work. Though it only has four tracks, it’s her longest project in years, stretching almost to an hour. Each of the songs have movements that shift between ambient moments of stillness, harsh synth drones, and the odd bit of singing. It’s the kind of thing that will give back what you put in and only start to reveal itself on repeat listens.

Xanman
Various YouTube Videos
Self-Released
Trying to keep up with the rising PG County rapper’s music is a full-time job. There’s basically no info about him online or a hub for his thrilling, unpredictable music on Spotify, DatPiff, Soundcloud, or social media. So, YouTube searches and random clicks are as good as it gets. And honestly, that sense of random discovery and lack of context is a perfect microcosm for Xan’s music, as his stream of consciousness, oft-arrhythmic flow doesn’t fit into categories or marketing best practices. It just fucking goes.


Jayda G
“Significant Changes”
Ninja Tune
The ground is thawing, the days are getting longer, and New Yorkers are emerging from their holes at a rapidly increasing rate. It’ll never be a better time to throw yourself into the gorgeous, multi-faceted dancefloor odyssey from Berlin-via-Vancouver artist Jayda Guy. The incredible disc’s nine tracks touch on everything from deep house to 90s rave to R&B to straight up disco with the touch of a master DJ who knows how to intertwine a bunch of different sounds to craft one cohesive, exhilarating set.

Duggie
“Sojourn”
Self-Released
A real hidden gem, I literally have found zero information online about the Lagos-based producer or his magnificent new EP. However, everything you need to know about this guy can be heard on this incredible project, featuring three near-perfect slices of modern R&B-meets-Afropop. The intoxicating first is a silky devotional, sung by rising crooner Kaysnap, while “Popular” is a playful, late-night number with dancehall touches. The third, “Nightshift,” is probably my favorite, pairing two strong voices from Nigeria’s alté scene on a track that deserves to be a global smash. I need to do some more digging on Duggie, but context be damned, these are three of the absolute best songs I’ve heard in 2019.

Listen to the EP on Spotify.

American Football
American Football
Polyvinyl
A double helping of #dadfeelings, the emo legends’ wonderful third LP features some of their most beautiful guitar-work and Midwestern mope master Mike Kinsella’s most cutting lyrics. Built around endless layers of impossibly twinkly guitars, Kinsella uneasily tries to ease into fatherhood, wondering how they hell he got here and whether he’s the right man for the job. Jokes aside, it’s an affecting, considered look at growing up, accompanied by tuneful, tasteful musical virtuosity.

Future
“Future Hndrxx Presents: The WZRD”
Epic
San Nayvadius’ hot-streak continues on this uneven, but exciting new project. Admittedly, it’s probably 8 tracks too long. But this is 2019, make yourself a playlist. Tuneful, upbeat pre-release singles “Jumpin on a Jet” and “Crushed Up” both delivered the goods, but Future really gets in his bag on the back-half of this project. Whether he’s crooning his ass off on “Baptize” or trading daggers with Young Thug and Gunna on “Unicorn Purp,” the 35 year-old still has so much to give.


Lomelda
“M for Empathy”
Double Double Whammy
At just 16 minutes for 11 songs, you could be forgiven for writing off the Texas folk experimenter’s new album as inessential sketches. You’d be wrong, of course. But I’d understand. The truth is, her third LP is a powerful collection of tracks that explore empathy and care (for herself and others) with arresting insight and a real intent to connect. Some may find her earnestness off-putting, but in this world, we need it more than ever.

Chief Keef
“Glotoven”
Glo Gang
Chief Keef and Zaytoven have so much in common. Though they are good collaborators, the duo basically operate in their own respective lanes, creating sounds and vibes that are all their own. So it’s no surprise that their joint LP is a fantastic, surprising journey into the minds of two of the great sonic auteurs of the last ten years. Zay serves up a tasty, multi-faceted collection of beats — from muscular street rap (“Sneeze,” “Han Han”) to reflective, luxurious piano magic (“Ain’t Gonna Happen,” “Petty”) — and Keef switches his flow up to match each of them, bringing out some of his most forceful, personal raps.

Ariana Grande
“thank u, next”
Republic

Though it doesn’t feel quite as ubiquitous as her other projects, this sharp, consistent LP is probably my favorite Ari record front to back. We all knew the lead single was a classic going in, but playful swooners like “needy” and “bad idea” are among the most weightless, joyful pop songs that you’ll hear. That said, centerpiece “ghostin” stands on its own. The spellbinding, farewell ballad to ex- fiancé Mac Miller beautifully underlines trauma’s ripple effect — the way the death of a loved one spreads far beyond the person you lose and wriggles into all the corners of our lives. An absolute masterpiece.

Solange
“When I Get Home”
Columbia
Frankly, I’m surprised by the fairly tepid response to Solange’s long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s beloved “A Seat at the Table.” Maybe its unhurried, subtle elegance is anathema to the way we consume culture in 2019, or maybe it was just missing a breakthrough single. Whatever the case, the jazzy “When I Get Home” extremely deserves your time. The disc takes listeners on a personal, loving journey through her hometown, revealing so much about what drives her and what makes her the artist that she is.

Jessica Pratt
“Quiet Signs”
Kemado
Even though she’s quite well-known, Jessica Pratt’s music feels like a secret — like you found it at the bottom of a box of records in your grandma’s attic. Her hushed third LP is another direct hit, deftly expanding on the pastoral folk of her first two albums with well-chosen moments of pan flute, organ, and strings. The results are languid, soothing tracks that can’t help but conjure up memories and spark daydreams.

Croatian Amor
“Isa”
Posh Isolation
Danish producer Loke Rahbek has the ability to conjure up both dreams and nightmares, often in the scope of a single song. “Isa,” his sixth LP, delivers plenty of both, striking a deft balance with aqueous ambient synths, industrial percussive touches, and the odd, fleeting human voice. The result is an engulfing, cinematic journey into our increasingly robotic hearts, considering where the organic material ends and the digital begins… or if there’s even a line at all anymore.

Lucki
“Freewave 3”
Self-Released
The Chicago native’s new project feels like it’s submerged in 10 feet of water. Over a cavalcade of downtempo, downtrodden beats, he lays out his bleary-eyed reality, dogged by addiction and tragedy. Few artists tackle addiction with the unglamorous, brutal honesty of the 22 year-old, and in a scene that often glorifies drug use, Lucki does anything but.

Better Oblivion Community Center
“Better Oblivion Community Center”
Dead Oceans
Though the Phoebe Bridgers/Conor Oberst collab is probably my least favorite Bridgers-related project, BOCC still has a handful of lovely moments. The duo sound best to me when the arrangements are spare (see: “Dominos” and “Didn’t Know What I was in For”) and Bridgers takes the wheel. Ultimatley, there’s just too much of Oberst’s creaky voice on here for me, but hey, some Phoebe is better than no Phoebe.

Caracara
“Better EP”
Memory Music
“Sounds kinda like Lifehouse and Third Eye Blind” may not sound like a compliment at face value, but the Philly four-piece’s updated take on the 90’s mod-rock sound of my youth tickles all my musical pleasure centers. Led by the solemn vocals and evocative writing of front-person William Lindsay, the “Better EP” explores the cruel wages of addiction that he observed both from his North Philly neighborhood and in his own life. Though it’s only three songs, it has a hell of a lot to say.

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 23 years, he’s encountered a staggering amount of loss, but in classic style, he soldiers on, pushing boundaries and continuing to cement his legacy as one of the most important, influential rappers of his generation.

Tierra Whack, “Only Child”

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Tierra Whack
“Only Child”

Digital Single
Tierra Whack’s 2018 debut “Whack World” was one of the most promising debut albums I’ve heard in a very long time. However, I found it super hard to write about (and ultimately, fall in love with), because of her decision to chop all the tracks off at the 60-second mark. It felt like it could have been so much more.

Luckily, “Only Child” makes it all the way to 240 seconds, and my god, it’s nice to hear a new, fully fleshed-out song from her. I heard a lot of early Frank Ocean on “Whack World,” in the uncanny way she could dance through multiple genres, sometimes in the same song. And though the arrangement feels a bit more straightforward than we’re used to from her, she’s uses her voice in such a clever way, effortlessly shifting from a playful coo to lower-register emoting to a nimble, punchy rap verse to close things out. She’s got all the tools to be an absolute star, and it’ll be fascinating where she decides to take her ultra-rare talent from here.

CFCF, “Closed Space”

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CFCF
“Closed Space”
Liquid Colours (out 03.01)
Though I haven’t listened to it as much as his ree-fucking-dick-u-lus J.Lo remix (aka: the best song of 2019 so far), the first single from Montreal mainstay Michael Silver’s new album is an instant keeper. It kicks off with luxurious beds of neo-geo synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pure Moods comp before kicking in with a hyperdrive break-beat that drives the track to an unexpected conclusion. I don’t think I’ve heard a CFCF record that I didn’t love, and “Liquid Colours” doesn’t look likely to change that any time soon.

Sade, “The Big Unknown”

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Sade
“The Big Unknown”

Windows Soundtrack (out now on Sony)
Though she’s only a few months shy of her 60th birthday, Helen Folasade Adu remains a force like nobody else. On the stunning “The Big Unknown,” Sade proves that her quiet storm is still a Category 5, as she glides effortlessly over oceanic, minor-key keys and languid percussion. As the fires crackle and swell, so does she, and her mesmerizing vocal drives the track toward its devastating crescendo. “I will rise again,” she declares defiantly. You’d have to be an idiot not to believe her.

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week

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Miya Folick
“Thingamajig”
Premonitions (out 10.26 on
Terrible)
With each new single, the talented LA vocalist is strengthening the case that her forthcoming LP could be one of the best debuts of the year. Her flexible vocals always stretch further than you expect, and she uses her seemingly unlimited range to exact maximum feeling from all of her songs. This, the fourth track from “Premonitions,” is a sublime, gorgeous ode to doing one of the most important things that so many of us struggle to do: apologize.

Adrianne Lenker
“Cradle”
abysskiss (out now on Saddle Creek)
Though I don’t have anything against Big Thief, their front-woman Adrianne Lenker’s first solo album, to me, eclipses both of the Brooklyn quartet’s two efforts. A hyper-talented guitar player, Lenker’s plainspoken, yet affecting voice sounds so clean over her nimble, solo fingerpicking. “abysskiss” is an album worth spending some time with.

Kodak Black
“ZEZE” (f/ Offset & Travis Scott)

Digital Single
Veteran producer D.A. Doman comes through with an addictive island-flavored beat that is so good, it almost doesn’t matter who is on it. And when you’ve got two A-listers and the troubled but undeniably talented Kodak Black in the booth, you know it’s going to pop. The way the trio bop weightlessly over the steel drums and hi-hats will have you dreaming of the summer just passed.

Boy Pablo
“Sick Feeling”

Soy Pablo (out now on 777)
The Norwegian chillboi’s second EP dropped on Friday, and its best tune is a surprisingly potent, emotionally direct song about the way heartbreak smacks you in the face when you are young. Don’t let the goofy Guitar Hero prop fool you, Pablo sounds legitimately lost as he retraces his steps, wondering where it all went wrong.

Kevin Gates
“Wrong Love”

Luca Brasi 3 (out now on Bread Winners’ Association)
Kevin Gates doesn’t ever hold back. And he pours out his heart on his new mixtape, the first since serving nine months in federal prison. Though the project is uneven, Gates shines on soulful, confessional tracks like this one where he unflinchingly speaks on his heavy drug usage, suicide, and being an absentee father. Like the man himself, it is powerful, uncomfortable, and as real as it gets.

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week

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Welp, this is embarrassing. The week I roll out a new round-up column, I respond by posting exactly zero times. My editorial staff (of one) was pretty slammed this week, but that’s no excuse. Hopefully this piece can make up for it, dear readers.

I’ll do better this week, because, let’s be honest, I can’t do any worse.

Jessie Ware
“Overtime”

Digital Single
Deep house Jessie is the best Jessie, and holy shit does the Londoner deliver with this late-night banger. Buoyed by a nasty sub-bass line and atmospheric synths from Bicep and Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, “Overtime” feels like something that could’ve come from her classic debut, “Devotion,” and is easily one of her strongest tracks in years.

Sheck Wes
“Never Lost”

MUDBOY (out now on Interscope)
Most of the talk about rising star Sheck Wes is about his booming voice, not what he has to say. However, the hyper-unique Harlem rapper has a ton of compelling tales to tell on his break-out debut, MUDBOY. On “Never Lost,” Sheck digs into his mother sending him back to their native Senegal to shape up when he was in high school. A fascinating story, well told.

Tomberlin
“I’m Not Scared” (Live @ Paste Studios)

At Weddings (Saddle Creek)
Though I whiffed on Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s incredible debut when it dropped this summer, I’ve been more than making up for it over the last two weeks. The Kentucky native’s plaintive, fearless songwriting is only matched by her powerful voice, which is on full display throughout this stunning performance. What a talent.

Bedouine
“Hey, Who Really Cares” / “Come Down in Time”

Digital Single
Azniv Korkehian, the Angelino behind one of my favorite albums of 2017, is back with a gorgeous pair of pastoral folk covers. Though the Elton John tune is fantastic, her cover of folk master Linda Perhacs’ magical 1970 song is the showstopper. Her impossibly soft voice is a dead ringer for the perma-soothing Perhacs, and she captures every ounce of the kindness that radiates from the original.

Blueface
“Respect My Crypn”
Famous Cryp (out now on 886011)
The next in line of super original stylists from LA, Blueface dropped new visuals from another track off his breakthrough debut. It may take a few spins to get used to his choppy, off-beat flow, but once you find the beat, you’ll find yourself running it back again and again.

Lil Durk
“Downfall” (f/ Young Dolph & Lil Baby)
Digital Single
With his label drama now behind him, Lil Durk can now fully focus on music, and it shows. After enduring a down period thanks to a bumpy relationship with Def Jam, the Chicago native has been dropping consistently excellent music for the better part of two years. And it feels like he’s well set up for a second act that’s even better than his blazing first.

Mariah Carey
“With You”

Digital Single
Don’t look now y’all, Ms Mariah’s still-unannounced new album is officially 2 for 2. Though it’s a totally different vibe to the sharp-tongued “GTFO,” the DJ Mustard-produced “With You” is infused with the exact same heart and honesty. Let’s. Fucking. Go.

Nicholas Krgovich
“Lido”

OUCH (out 10.26 on Tin Angel)
Though he’s been at it for a few years, the Canadian crooner’s sweet sound was a new discovery for me last week. A little folky and a little lounge-y, “Lido” begins as a sadsack break-up tune but is boosted by its hopeful resolution. I’m officially curious to hear the rest of this project.

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