Images & Words: Chromatics, "Black Walls"


Chromatics "Black Walls" Dear Tommy (out PROLLY NEVER on Italians Do It Better) Goddamn it, Johnny Jewel. Just when I'd moved on from the idea that I'd ever hear "Dear Tommy," this guy drags me back in with a luscious new track and a (probably fictional) release date for Fall of 2018. "Black Read more

Snail Mail, "Let's Find An Out"


Snail Mail "Let's Find An Out" Lush (out 06.08 on Matador) Though I've somehow not written about them yet, I've been loving the Baltimore trio's pre-release singles for their hotly-anticipated debut LP. The stripped-back third single, "Let's Find An Out," is my favorite of the bunch, pairing songwriter Lindsey Jordan's plaintive vocals Read more

Rae Sremmurd: "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug)


Rae Sremmurd "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug) Swaecation Though I'm still processing the Mississippi superstars' excellent, new 27-song project, the free-flowing "Offshore" feels like an instant classic. Producer Mike Will is a genius at negotiating sonic space, and his gooey, descending synth chords leave plenty of room for Thug to play in. And Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April '18


Grouper “Grid of Points” Yellow Electric Though only 21 minutes, the haunting beauty of Liz Harris' eleventh studio LP will linger for many years to come. Penned and recorded in just 10 days, "Grid of Points" feels like a moment suspended in time — a distant memory that you just can't Read more

Images & Words: Oneohtrix Point Never, "Black Snow"


Oneohtrix Point Never "Black Snow" (f/ Anohni) Age of (out 06.01 on Warp) Though the Massachusetts native is probably best know for his otherworldly, chaotic experimental electro, some of his best tracks are his quietist. Whether it's his recent stunner with Iggy Pop or the beautiful Anohni-lead "Returnal," OPN (né Daniel Lopatin) Read more

Featured

Hot Jam of the Day (06.08.12): Jens Lekman, “Erica America”

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Jens Lekman
“Erica America”
I Know What Love Isn’t (Secretly Canadian)

In Jens Lekman’s world, even bad break-ups sound beautiful. According to reports, I Know What Love Isn’t — the successor to his just-about-perfect 2007 Night Falls Over Kortedala — is a bonafide break-up album, apparently along the same lines as Beck’s seminal Sea Change. While the subject matter may prove similar, from this and first single “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love,” it seems unlikely to be such a downcast affair. Though both tracks feature decidedly melancholic undertones, they are both shimmering, starry-eyed affairs with sweeping choruses. On “Erica America,” Lekman sashays over a a tasty bit of calypso-style classical guitar and a graceful arraignment, as only he is able to. Without losing his signature lightness, Lekman articulately picks through the bones of a failed relationship, and while it is no doubt a painful exercise, Lekman refuses to let the subject matter weigh him down, resulting in a song that is simultaneously bitter and hopeful. Brilliant.

Jens Lekman: “Erica America”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.05.12): Grizzly Bear, “Sleeping Ute”

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Grizzly Bear
“Sleeping Ute”
From Still Untitled New Album (out 9/18)

It was an absolutely incredible week for music, but as I was busy with finals, I have fallen behind on my coverage. But don’t worry, I will make it up in the next few days. Of all the incredible tracks that dropped this week, none can trump the first single from this incredibly influential, BK avant-folk outfit’s highly-anticipated fourth LP. “Sleeping Ute” combines the jangly, guitar-driven, freewheeling style of their seminal 2006 LP Yellow House with the polished production of 2009’s breakthrough Veckatimest. Lead by Daniel Rossen’s dexterous, tongue-twisting guitarwork and his confident croon, the track is a perfect example of Grizzly Bear’s rare ability to craft songs that are immediate and accessible, while remaining esoteric and unexpected. Make no mistake; this is pop music, but it’s extremely sophisticated — lyrically, sonically, compositionally — pop music. There aren’t a lot of bands that can do that, and that’s why that class of band — your Animal Collectives, Radioheads, Grizzly Bears, etc — are often praised to the high heavens and absolutely deserve to be.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/48759127″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jams of the Day (06.04.12): Paradis, “Hemisphere” & “Je M’ennuie”

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Paradis
“Hémisphère” & “Je M’ennuie”
Hémisphère (Beats in Space)

Oh my god, this is so good. This is the secretive, Parisian duo’s second incredible 12″ of the last 12 months, and it’s even better than the first, 2011’s brooding, exquisite “Parfait Tirage.” The former is a characteristically moody, vocal-driven track that displays a palpable cinematic essence, while the former cuts a more ambient, though equally devastating figure. In their short career, the group has shown a remarkable ability to craft expansive, urbane atmospheric dance music with just the proper twinge of pop sensibilities. Though we are still waiting for a proper debut from the Frenchmen (government names: Simon Mény and Pierre Rousseau), this much quality allows us to forgive the dearth of quantity. Both tracks also come with some unsurprisingly film-noir style visuals. C’est magnifique.

“Hémisphère”:

“Je M’ennuie”:

Hot Jam of the Day (05.29.12): Disclosure, “Control” (f/ Ria Ritchie)

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Disclosure
“Control”
The Face (Greco-Roman)

I’ve been a huge fan of this South London duo since last year’s severely underrated “I Love….That You Know,” and since then, they have been cranking out infectious, progressive post-dubstep with remarkable consistency. Consisting of brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, the duo is set to release their long-awaited four-track EP next Tuesday on simmering German/British label Greco-Roman. This is the second single from The Face, succeeding the aptly-titled “Boiling,” which doubles as one of the very best songs of 2012 so far. Very few dubstep producers handle vocals with the same care and subtly as Disclosure, and that’s apparent on all three of the aforementioned tracks. Preferring to use them to build mood rather than take the spotlight, the group uses vocals to give the listener something to hold on to without letting them run rampant and turn the wheel into radio-pop land. I’m surprised they still haven’t made a jump into our continental conscious (á la James Blake), but I really think it’s coming soon. Brilliant.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/48079700″ iframe=”true” /]

Disclosure: “Boiling” (feat. Sinead Harnett)

Hot Jams of the Day (05.28.12): D’Eon, “Transparency (pt. II)” & “Now You Do”

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D’Eon
“Transparency (pt. II)” & “Now You Do”
LP (Hippos In Tanks)

It’s always gonna be a good day when you are greeted by two expansive, new tracks from the mercurial, esoteric Montreal native. The former is an update on one of my favorite songs of 2011, the latter is a brand new thought, and both are absolutely scintillating. In the last few years, we’ve been lucky enough to experience a fascinating new crop of R&B artists determined to push the genre forward. Artists like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Holy Other, and How to Dress Well have all garnered significantly more buzz than the former Grimes collaborator, but while all of those artists have used their distinctive voices to significantly contribute to so much to modern music, nobody has a more singular, progressive take on R&B right now than D’Eon. While his sound is probably too weird to captivate the masses like the aforementioned artists (sans, HTDW), anybody who cares about hearing some unique, fresh, and totally original shit need to sit up and take notice. Something special is going on here.

D’Eon: “Transparency pt. II”

D’Eon: “Now You Do”

Check out the Grimes-assisted clip for the original “Transparency”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.25.12): How To Dress Well, “Ocean Floor For Everything”

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How To Dress Well
“Ocean Floor For Everything”
Total Loss (Acephale)

How to Dress Well — the alter ego of Chicago-based philosophy professor Tom Krell — was responsible for my favorite album of 2010: the ghostly, celestial Love Remains. Krell has one of most distinctive voices (literally and figuratively) in all of popular music, and his bizarre, singular take on R&B is equal parts hopeful and melancholic. This, the first single of his follow-up Total Loss, feels a little bit more like an idea than a whole thought, which isn’t surprising. Love Remains is one of the rare albums meant to be digested as a whole, and I can’t imagine this next one being any different. Either way, it’s a nice way for folks who haven’t heard him to get a taste of what he does.

How To Dress Well – “Ocean Floor For Everything”

And just cuz, here’s the video from Love Remains cut “Lover’s Start”….my 7th favorite song of 2010.

Hot Jam of the Day (05.21.12): Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (Just Friends): “Avalanche”

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Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (aka Just Friends)
“Avalanche”
The 
Prism

I probably should kind of hate Nico Jaar. I’ve never met the man, but from the outside looking in, it seems like when he’s not DJing ultra-exclusive NYC club nights, playing sold-out shows, and being 194% more handsome than me, he’s making impossibly sexy jams with young Hollywood royalty. Coming off the back of his stunning collaboration with Scout LaRue Willis (Bruce and Demi’s daughter) “With Just One Glance,” he returns with a typically airy boner jam that features the breathy, alluring vocals of Sasha Spielberg (daughter of Steven and Kate Capshaw). While the studio version is only available on the pretty-damn-awesome Prism, this radio rip is indicative of why Jaar has amassed such an impressive library of work in such a short time. He has an incredible understanding of sonic space and can tactfully frame a vocal track with the touch and maturity of a seasoned producer. Did I mention that he’s still only 22? Ok, I think I hate him again….

NicoJaar+SashaSpielberg: “Avalanche”

Just in case you missed it, here’s “Just One Glance.”

Jaar+Willis: “With Just One Glance”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.18.12): Lemonade, “Softkiss”

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Lemonade
“Softkiss”
Diver (True Panther)

The same week we got a tasty video for the BK-via-SF 80’s-obsessed trio’s spellbinding slow jam, “Neptune,” they grace us with another slice of synth-slathered gold.  Though it’s a much more upbeat affair, it is cut from the same cloth as “Neptune” (one of the best ten songs of 2012 so far). Moody, expressive, and dripping with nostalgia, “Softkiss” again sees vocalist Callan Clendenin pinning over a lost lover. In the wrong hands, a refrain like “do you still wear my coat when you get cold?” would come off incredibly trite and callow, but Clendenin’s earnest croon turns it into an affecting rhetorical question that hits close to home. I thought their self-titled debut LP was forgettable, and their follow up EP, Pure Moods, was solid but unspectacular, but based off the two tracks I’ve heard, I think Diver might turn out to be an absolute gem. Watch this space.

Lemonade: “Softkiss”

Terius Tuesday: “Fancy”

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A lot of people ask me why I love The-Dream so much. The answer is simple; Terius “The-Dream” Nash is a pop music Jedi, and I fuckin’ love pop music. Every Tuesday, Thunder Penguin will celebrate and examine one of his best songs, for no other reason than to get a little more Terius in our lives.

The-Dream
“Fancy”
Love vs Money (Radio Killa, 2009)

We begin our journey through Terius Town with his finest work: the swirling, expansive centerpiece of his near-perfect sophomore LP, Love vs Money.  Though its contemplative spine makes it sonically atypical of Nash’s work, “Fancy” is the perfect introduction to Nash’s world (“trips to Monaco/designer nails from head to toe”). Beginning with a ruminative piano melody, it unfolds into a sprawling devotional to the one woman that not even Nash — the colossal cassanova — can resist, the “dream of a billion men.” In a genre known for the objectification of women, Nash prefers to deify them, a predilection nevermore apparent than on this track.

Over the next six and a half minutes, Nash’s vocals glide effortlessly over an undulating, lush arraignment that builds to an absolutely devastating climax. He’s always had a knack for a grand, unexpected finale (see: “Yamaha,” “Fuck My Brains Out”), and when he adds that pounding kickdrum, it makes for his grandest of all. Simply put, “Fancy” is a stellar introduction to Nash’s unbelievable ability as a songwriter. Easily one of the best ten songs of the decade.

The-Dream: Fancy

Hot Jam of the Day (05.15.12): The Tallest Man on Earth, “1904”

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The Tallest Man on Earth
“1904”
There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)

Ok, people. It’s officially time to start taking Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson seriously. The whole Dylan rip-off criticism needs to be put to bed. In a relatively short five years, he has cultivated an army of excellent folk songs and has crafted his own signature sound. On this, the first single from his upcoming third album There’s No Leaving Now (due out June 11), the diminutive Swede flexes his songwriting muscle, matching a light, meandering guitar line with his earnest, full-throated vocals. Like all the best folk artists, Matsson’s music has a knack for cultivating rich, transportive canvases that swallow up the listener and bring them into his reality, and “1904” is no different. One of the most distinctive and important voices in the genre today.

The Tallest Man on Earth: “1904”