Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"


Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"


The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"


Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter


Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)


As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Featured

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.

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

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I was on vacay in England last week, and as I sat back down at my desk this morning, I realized that a massive amount of new music came out while I was gone. I’m going to try something new with quick one to two sentence recaps of some songs I loved. And we’ll see, maybe I’ll start doing this every week.

Mariah Carey
“GTFO”

Digital Single
It’s been out for a few weeks, but I keep coming back to Mariah’s stunning new kiss off ballad. It reminds me so much of “H.A.T.E.U.” — her most underrated perfect song. And though it’s likely too low-key to become a smash, her ability to deliver a track this emotive and raw more than 30 years into her career is remarkable. She’ll always be remembered as a legendary vocalist and artist, but her bravery and the emotional heft of her music is just as special. People should be making more of this song.

Robyn
“Honey”
Honey (out Oct 26 on Konichiwa)
Robyn SZN is rapidly approaching, and “Honey” is our second taste of the project. Though it seems a bit of an off-speed pitch following the anthemic “Missing U,” it is also one of the most directly romantic Robyn tunes of recent years and is growing on me with each listen.

SOB x RBE
“Vibes”
Gangin II (out now on EMPIRE)
Vallejo’s finest returned with a follow-up to their excellent “GANGIN” tape from earlier in the year. Though I haven’t been through it all yet, low-RPM banger “Vibes” is a perfect example of the lyrical interplay and Bay Area slap that makes them such standouts.

Empress Of
“Love For Me”

Us (out 10/19 on Terrible)
Somehow, I didn’t write about Lorely Rodriguez’s irresistible lead single “When I’m With Him” (don’t worry, it’ll be HIGH on my year-end list). Her new track, “Love For Me,” is a bit more pulled back, but she still sounds beautiful on it, gliding over a characteristically clever, synth-driven arrangement from DJDS.

Quando Rondo
“Bacc To The Basics”

Life After Fame (out now, self-released)
One of my favorite new rappers of the year, the Savannah MC just dropped an excellent new tape. Lead single, “Bacc To The Basics,” highlights Rondo’s raspy delivery and evocative, personal storytelling. One to watch for 2019.

Col3trane
“Tyler”
BOOT (out now on Cole Basta)
The rising London vocalist with the awful name feels like a star in the making. Though it’s hard to write about the teenager’s music without mentioning its palpable Frank Ocean influence, his easy tenor and evocative songwriting stand on their own.

Pinegrove
“Paterson & Leo”

Skylight (self-released, out now)
Without wading into the morality of songwriter Evan Stephens Hall (read these pieces, make up your own mind), the first few spins of their restrained new project have been encouraging. This subdued, pretty track captures the specific kind of big-hearted feeling that makes their best songs so special.

Westerman
“Albatross”
The Arc EP (out 11.09 on Blue Flowers)
Another curious song from the elusive London singer-songwriter, “Albatross” is a gorgeous slice of synthetic folk music. He balances synths and drum machines with washes of electric guitar and his forlorn voice in a unique way, resulting in tunes that live between a ton of different styles but are beholden to none.

It Looks Sad.
“Bike”

Sky Lake (out 11.02 on Tiny Engines)
Besides being the clear favorites for “Best Band Name of 2018,” the Charlotte duo has been cranking out sweet, gauzy dream pop this year. New single, “Bike,” is a languid late summer jam that pairs reverb-soaked guitars with Jimmy Turner’s laid-back vocals to deliciously nostalgic effect.

Lil Uzi Vert, “New Patek”

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Lil Uzi Vert
“New Patek”

Digital Single
Easily one of most joyful songs of the year, the hyperactive, hypertalented Philadelphian returns with six (6!) electric minutes of swirling, tuneful hip-hop. Over Dolan Beats’ glorious crystallized piano keys and tiptoeing hi-hats, Uzi goes the fuck in as only he can, slaloming through the beat with ease.

What’s most impressive is the way that he commands your attention for all six minutes, and if anything, it feels like “New Patek” could have been even longer. Already one of the true singular stylists in music, somehow Uzi keeps revealing new abilities and stretching his creativity beyond our expectations. What a talent.

Images & Words: How To Dress Well, “Nonkilling 6 | Hunger”

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How to Dress Well
“Nonkilling 6 | Hunger”

The Anteroom (out 10.19 on Domino)
Though it was a little bit buried on my “Favorite Songs of 2018, So Far..” list, I’m extremely excited about the experimental direction Tom Krell seems to be going in on his fifth LP. This stunning two-parter pairs his evocative falsetto with a rave-y backbeat and opaque, occasionally harsh instrumentation.

If you follow his social media, you’ll know that he is deep into uncompromising, blistering techno, and he does such a good job of marrying those influences with his love of heartfelt pop music on this track. His tender vocals immediately soften the rough edges and inject palpable humanity into the mix. Though it may not appeal to genre purists (I can hear the FACT writers sharpening their daggers), it’s an exciting, unique sound and a more natural home for Krell than the streamlined pop of his last album.

Wild Pink, “Mount Erie”

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Wild Pink
“Lake Erie”
Yolk in the Fur (out now on Tiny Engines)
Though I’m about six months late to the NYC trio’s outstanding second LP, I’m extremely glad that I finally found it. While their AM Radio sound has been relentlessly compared to War on Drugs, frontman John Ross is such a more emotionally direct songwriter than Adam Granduciel. And his illustrative lyrics are a beautiful foil for their windswept, expansive guitar rock.

“Lake Eerie” is a potent example of just how good Wild Pink is when both elements of their sound are hitting on all cylinders. The first thing you notice is the gorgeous, reverb-soaked arrangement — the kind of thing that just screams “open road, windows down.” But after a few spins, Ross’ lyrics start to dig in. A coming of age story, the New Yorker considers the journey we all take from adolescence to adulthood and why we never really change.