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

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”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.13.12): Best Coast, “How They Want Me To Be”

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Best Coast
“How They Want Me To Be”
The Only Place (Mexican Summer)

Without a doubt, no album has taken me off guard this year like the shimmering sophomore LP from the divisive Eagle Rock duo. As I’ll get into more when I review The Only Place later this week, it’s just such a huge step forward for the group. Channeling one of her heroes, Stevie Nicks, oft-derided vocalist/songwriter Bethany Cosentino dials back the reverb and really lets her voice shine, and the result is absolute magic. Cosentino paints an articulate, affecting reflection of what it’s like being a reluctant Internet celebrity. When she sings, “cuz when I wake up in the morning or the middle of night, I wonder who’s there and what they’ve said. But when I wake up in the morning or the middle of the night, I look at you and I know it’s alright,” it gives us an insight into who she is in a way that nothing she’s ever done has. An absolute standout from an incredibly special album.

Best Coast: “How They Want Me To Be”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.12.12): Jacques Greene & Ango, “Untitled

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Jacques Greene & Ango
“Untitled”
Unreleased

Montreal-based post-dubstep producer Jacques Greene has made a career of creating moods rather than songs. Airy, spacious cuts like “Another Girl” bubble and build in a way that pop songs just don’t. All of this makes his recent collaboration with mercurial Canadian vocalist Ango all the more spellbinding, as it is a decidedly non-pop take on the traditional typical pop/R&B formula. Driven by Ango’s smooth vocal and a typically urbane drum machine line, it starts out as another (admittedly potent) example of the bedroom R&B that is blowing up right now. About halfway through, it takes a totally unexpected left turn, which is pure Jacques Greene. Superb.

Jacques Greene: “Untitled”

And, the brilliant “Another Girl”…..

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11100445″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (05.07.12): Teen Daze, “What You Feel”

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Teen Daze
“What You Feel”
All of Us, Together (B-Side) (Lefse)

Thanks to the Internet, trends come and go incomprehensibly quickly, and if you don’t heed Tim Gunn’s advice, you might end up on the wrong side of Heidi Klum’s mantra (and this week’s award for unnecessarily cryptic pop culture metaphor goes to….). Though chillwave ruled the blogosphere just a few years ago, it is damn near retro nowadays, and while it’s a relentlessly nostalgia-focused genre, its artists are going to need to look to the future if they are going to remain relevant.

A chillwaver who is doing just that is Vancouver’s Teen Daze. From the bits of the ridiculously chillwaveily-titled All of Us, Together that have been released, Daze has turned up the Balearic influence and focused on songcraft, resulting in a deft, yet marked change in direction from his surprisingly excellent past EPs 2010’s Four More Years and 2011’s A Silent Planet. Though this dancefloor-friendly cut doesn’t make the album, it serves as a good example of how far he’s come and a reminder of why so many are so excited to finally hear his first proper LP.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45189729″ iframe=”true” /]

Listen to “The Future,” a lovely pre-release cut from All of Us, Together.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42010656″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (05.06.12): CFCF, “Exercise #5 (September)”

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CFCF
“Exercise #5 (September)”
Exercise (Paper Bag)

I like everything I post on this site, but this is especially brilliant. Inspired by legendary composers Ryuichi Sakamoto and Phillip Glass, the prolific Canadian producer’s new album is a swirling, icy collection of emotive piano-driven pieces. Like a filmless film score, Exercise nails the transformative, evocative quality that made the aforementioned artists so special, and after a few listens, I defy you not to get lost in Exercise’s fascinating world. This, the only track on the album with vocals, works so well in the context in the album, beacuse the warm, comforting vocals of CFCF (né Mike Silver) form the perfect contrast to the rest of his sparse, often-chilly compositions. This is really, really special.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/44402238″ iframe=”true” /]

Watch Silver perform an arresting version of the song below (courtesy of Yours Truly).

Yourstru.ly Presents: CFCF – September from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Hot Jam of the Day (05.04.12): 2:54, “Creeping”

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2:54
“Creeping”
2:54 (Fat Possum)

From one excellent guitar-driven band to another, the debut full-length from the moody duo of Colette and Hannah Thurlow is just a few short weeks away and looks to be a corker. Hypnotic, expansive, and full of hooks, “Creeping” is a perfect example of what has made them one of the most talked about groups both in their native UK and stateside. Since they hit the scene with their debut EP, 2011’s mesmeric Scarlet, the group has shown that they possess a melodic maturity and guile that belies their youth. Though they don’t really sound like the XX, the similarities are very apparent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they broke through in a similar fashion in the second half of 2012. Roll on May 28.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/44971771″ iframe=”true” /]

Watch the group’s video for “Scarlet.”

Hot Jam of the Day (04.30.12): Sigur Ros, “Varuo” (Radio Edit)

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Sigur Rós
“Varúð” (Radio Edit)
Valtari (XL)

Fresh off the heels of “Ekki Múkk,” the predictably stunning lead single from the group’s sixth LP Valtari, the Icelanders return with a fresh new slab of expansive, etherial magic. Though “Varúð” jives very well with their signature, crescendo-heavy sound, like “Ekki Múkk,” it is a slightly more stripped down version of the Sigur Rós we all know and fell so hopelessly in love with years ago. Vocalist Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson’s falsetto is as evocative as ever and is perfectly framed by a typically celestial, dramatic melody. Valtari was always going to be one of Thunder Penguin’s most anticipated albums of 2011, but if the rest of it lives up to its first two singles, it’s also going to be one of the best.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/44821305″ iframe=”true” /]

Check out the visuals for “Ekki Múkk.”

Download This Shit: Kool A.D. (of Das Racist), 51

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Brooklyn indie hip-hop collective Das Racist has kept itself busy this year. Alongside the release of their first properly released full-length, 2011’s Relax, both of the group’s rapping members (Himanshu “Heems” Suri & Victor “Kool A.D.” Vazquez) have already released solo mixtapes in 2012. While both were uneven affairs, 51 (A.D.’s second of the year) is a surprisingly engaging effort that highlights Vazquez’s hyper-eclectic flow, versatile musical taste, and winning personality. Because they are such a Brooklyn group, it’s easy to forget that Vazquez is from the Bay Area, and 51 sees the MC embracing those roots with some dope cameos from some of the Bay’s leading lights, including Main Attrakionz, Amaze 88, Trackademicks, and legendary (in these parts) Coup frontman Boots Riley. Like a lot of mixtapes, it’s a little long, but Vazquez laid-back, electric flow makes sure that it doesn’t drag. This is possibly the best thing from the Das Racist camp since its brilliant 2010 mixtapes.

Download it for free, here.

Concert Review: Frankie Rose Live at the Brick and Mortar, SF

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This review originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, you can read the original here.

Live Review:
Frankie Rose w/ Dive
The Brick and Mortar Hall, San Francisco
April 21

In case you hadn’t noticed, Frankie Rose’s got the Internet goin’ nutz. The 33 year-old has served time in two super buzzy groups of girls (Dum Dum & Vivian) and NYC critical darlings the Crystal Stilts and is about to kick off a tour with Real Estate.

The blogosphere’s thickest rims have been falling over themselves to praise her sparkling sophomore LP, Interstellar (Slumberland, 2012), and on Saturday night, Rose took herself and that buzz (I hear it needs its own van) to a sold-out Brick and Mortar Music Hall for an brief yet enthralling 10-song set.

She was supported by fellow Brooklyn-based dream popsters, Dive, a band with a fair bit of indie cred of its own. Featuring sometime Beach Fossil Zachary Cole Smith and ex-Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt, the group banged out a jangly, wistful set that was heavy on reverb, sepia-tinged melodies, and (just-the-right-kind-of) awful haircuts.

Though watching young men gaze at their shoes is generally a surefire way to kill an early Saturday evening buzz, Smith and his bandmates cut energetic, engaging figures, bee-bopping along with their very blog-friendly, Beach Fossil-y tracks. Judging from this performance and the success of their pre-release singles, I’d wager that we’ll be seeing them headlining their own tour in the coming months.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/28357786″ iframe=”true” /]

30 minutes of sweet, easily digestible Dive jams provided the perfect appetizer for Rose’s main course, as she took the stage to rapturous applause. Upon surveying her minions, the diminutive frontperson flashed a sheepish, toothy grin and kicked directly into Interstellar‘s celestial penultimate track, “Moon in My Mind.” Flanked by a lean four-person band, Rose rattled off an incredibly tight set that struck a nice balance between her most recent LP and her 2010 stunner, Frankie Rose and the Outs.

And though her old cuts still sound fresh (“Candy” was a particular stand-out), Saturday night was really a celebration of the triumphant Interstellar. This was most evident during a four-song run that featured “Gospel/Grace,” the title track, “Daylight Sky,” and the undeniable “Know Me” – probably the best four songs on the record.

The run highlighted Rose’s uncanny ability to craft cathartic, introspective songs that are also incredibly danceable and full of pop hooks. She also has a devastating ear for dynamics, especially evident in her gauzy guitar lines. Though simple technically, they add so much depth to the tracks’ bones, which are basically just rock-solid pop-rock songs. Rose didn’t do a ton of talking, but when she did, she showed a humble, disarming sense of humor that made her instantly likable.

Throughout her catalog, Frankie Rose has a keen sense of when it’s time to say goodnight — that the best things are always over too soon — which is why only two of Interstellar’s tracks clock in at over four minutes. So while we all could have probably done with a few more, Rose hopped off stage after only ten songs, signing off with an inspired rendition her most expansive work to date, “Save Me.”

Unfortunately, unlike Spotify, I couldn’t start the whole thing over again, but if I could have, I definitely would have, and I surely wouldn’t have been the only one.