Sade, "The Big Unknown"


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, Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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, Read more

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


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 Read more

Lil Uzi Vert, "New Patek"


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 Read more

Featured

Hot Jam of the Day (06.14.12): Ice Choir, “I Want You Now and Always”

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Ice Choir
“I Want You Now and Always”
Afar (Underwater Peoples) 

This is the third cut we’ve heard from the debut LP from Pains of Being Pure At Heart member Kurt Feldman’s new, heavily John Hughes-inspired side project. Like “Two Rings” and “Teletrips,” “I Want You Now and Always” is dripping in nostalgic longing, armed with killer 8-bit hooks, and slathered with slinky snyths and MIDI bass. This is hopelessly naive dance music for people who would rather rock out in front of the mirror to their headphones than at a packed discotheque. While many albums that are this rooted in doe-eyed pastiche don’t hold up over repeated listens, everything this Brooklyn quartet has released so far has done little but grow on me. Afar is due out at the end of July, and as long as their next single doesn’t feature Scott Stapp and the dude from Saliva, Mr. Feldman and friends have all but wrapped up my 20 bucks.

Ice Choir: “I Want You Now and Always”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.10.12): Frank Ocean, “Pyramids”

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Frank Ocean
“Pyramids”
Channel Orange (Def Jam)

In the last 18 months, Frank Ocean has showed us that he is a lot of things — passionate, eclectic, progressive — but above all, his music has proven that he is incredibly ambitious. Whether it was taking on “Hotel California” on his debut mixtape, distancing himself from Odd Future, or publicly  expressing his frustration with hip-hop colossus Def Jam, the New Orleans native has shown a relentless desire to walk his own path and stand alone as an artist. This is perhaps most evident on “Pyramids,” the lead single from his hyper-anticipated first proper album. A monolithic, expansive, 10-minute meditation that takes us from ancient Egypt into the present day. It’s an audacious assault on what major-label R&B should sound like (name another R&B debut single that cracked 10 minutes), but it’s also a surprisingly engaging experience that never drags, despite its length. Basically, this is Frank all over, and you get the feeling that if we don’t get it, it wouldn’t bother him one bit.

Frank Ocean: “Pyramids”

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”