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

Tierra Whack, "Only Child"


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 Read more

CFCF, "Closed Space"


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 Read more

Featured

Hot Jam of the Day (04.16.12): Disclosure, “Boiling” (f/ Sinead Harnett)

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Disclosure
“Boiling” (f/ Sinead Harnett)
The Face EP (Greco-Roman)

After a run of successful singles, the fraternal post-dubstep duo of Guy and Howard Lawrence has finally prepared a full meal for us to sink our teeth into. The South London duo’s debut EP drops on June 4th on the label of burgeoning Berlin/London forward-thinking dance collective Greco-Roman. It’s led by this airy, surprisingly vocal-rich single that sounds a little bit like Burial remixing a particularly moody Araabmuzik track on a heavy dose of demerol. Like their influences (the aforementioned Burial, Mount Kimbie, early James Blake), the brothers have an impressive sense of sonic space and geometry, resulting in the kind of sparsly engulfing tracks that have allowed the uniquely British sound to resonate in car stereos and dancefloors around the world. Easily one of my most anticipated debuts of the year.

[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/disclosuremusic/boiling-feat-sinead-harnett”]

Hot Jam of the Day (04.12.12): Sean Blackthorn, “[One] Night”

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Sean Blackthorn
“[One] Night”

The man behind one of my favorite tracks of 2012 — the sparse, emotive “The Spirits” — is back with yet another sparse, stunning slow jam. When (not if) he blows up, he’ll inevitably be lumped in with progressive, bedroom R&B troubadours like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and to a lesser extent, How To Dress Well. While this is excellent company to be in, in Blackthorn’s limited work so far he has brought his own distinctive sound to the genre. It’s unclear what instruments he is playing (if any), but his work has a very live feel to it, while acts like the Weeknd and Frank Ocean feel very much like studio creations. Think of him as a sort of Maxwell to the Weeknd’s R. Kelly (stylistically, not sonically). Either way, “[One] Night” is another extremely powerful, soulful track from this young Canadian who looks set to have an incredible future ahead of him. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.09.12): Waka Flocka Flame, “I Don’t Really Care” (f/ Trey Songz)

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Waka Flocka Flame
“I Don’t Really Care”
Triple F Life: Friends, Fans, And Family

Waka Flocka Flame is the Tyson Chandler of hip-hop. Though both have recently attained superstar status, neither have changed their game at all and are more than happy to put on their hard hats and bang bodies down low. Even when he’s greeted with a radio-friendly club track like this (or 2010’s immortal “No Hands”), the young ATLien just can’t stop himself from going hard in the paint. That’s what makes this collaboration with Trey Songz — the NBA’s Ray Allen (all finesse, great teammate/set-up man, not quite good enough to win a title on his own) — so fulfilling. Waka’s lunchpail flow is a perfect foil to Songz’s sweet stroke, giving the crooner plenty of space to get his shine while holding it all together with two of his trademark, HAM verses. The result is a track that is smooth enough for the radio and hard enough for his core fans.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/39156813″ iframe=”true” /]

The Best 51 Tracks of 2011

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So here it goes. Better late than never, these are my favorite 51 songs of 2011. If you’ve read my previous work, you’ll know how this works. It’s basically a countdown from 51 to 1. Here’s a link to a Spotify playlist that will allow you to get all of the songs in one place. As always, I am incredibly grateful for anybody who reads my tiny corner of the interwebz, and hopefully there will be something new and interesting for everybody.

And without further ado…

51. Drake
“Look What You’ve Done”
Take Care (Young Money)

It feels fitting to start this list off with a track from the biggest commercial album of the year. I went back and forth a lot about what track to choose, but I settled on this one because it highlights Young Angel’s underrated storytelling and the disc’s dreamy, sublime production mostly courtesy of Noah “40” Shebib (the real star of Take Care), though this isn’t one of his tracks. Drake is at his best over these type of airy beats, as he has the rare ability to be easy to relate to, even though he lives a life we could never imagine. Remember, this is a dude who made having sex “four times this week” into a point of vulnerability, even though many of his listeners haven’t had sex four times in the past four years.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29801200″ iframe=”true” /]

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Hot Jam of The Day (04.06.12): A$AP Rocky (f/ H-Town All-Stars), “Purple Swag” (Remix)

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A$AP Rocky (f/ Paul Wall, Bun B, Killa Kyleon)
“Purple Swag” (H-Town All-Stars Remix)
Live Love Purple

To deride Harlem’s rising star A$AP Rocky for leaning too much on a sound that isn’t his own would be missing the point completely. Harlem may be more than 2,000 miles away from Houston’s syrup-soaked south side, but in the internet age, it really doesn’t matter. If the world’s leading Chillwave scholar can reside in one of the most decidedly un-chill locales on the planet, A$AP can be inspired by whomever he wants. And while Rocky relies heavily on his influences, he is always quick to big up his inspirations. He shows love to three of his biggest inspirations by getting out of the way entirely, letting three of Clutch City’s most diverse voices get their shine on. You can’t be mad at that.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/40838550″ iframe=”true” /]

And just for the hell of it, here’s one of my favorite ever H-Town (by way of Port Arthur) tracks.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.04.12): jj, “Beautiful Life”

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jj
“Beautiful Life”
jj n° 4 (2012)

It’s always a good morning when you wake up to an email from the Sincerely Yours folks. It means your day is going to start with a new, enigmatic slice of (mostly) Swedish pop magic. My excitement was magnified by the email I received this morning, thanks to its subject line: “l to the o to the.” Hoping it would be another warped take on a track by The-Dream — SY released Sail A Whale’s ghostly re-work of “Love King” a couple years ago — I (virtually) tore into it.

Though it’s decidedly not Terius-related, I was pleased to hear a typically shimmering, expansive new cut from the label’s most famous artists, the mysterious jj. The duo continues with their American radio-rap obsession, vocalist Elin Kastlander celestially blows “dro in this bitch” (to the extent that such a thing is possible) over a trademark  Joakim Benon arraignment: carefree, sparse, and just-a-little-bit Balearic.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42001334″ iframe=”true” /]

Sail a Whale’s “Love (The-Dream) King”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/8048241″ iframe=”true” /]

Album Review: Chromatics, Kill For Love

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Chromatics
Kill For Love
Italians Do It Better (2012)

Johnny Jewel and his suddenly red-hot label Italians Do It Better have never been big on minimalism. His recently-released Scenes From An Imaginary Film that was, wasn’t, definitely was, totally wasn’t could have been the original soundtrack to the Gos’ Academy Award-nominated Drive clocks in at a cool 37 tracks, and his label’s flagship group, Glass Candy, are known for their slinky, frenetic nu-wave cuts that often come run north of the 7-minute mark. So it came as no surprise to anybody that the full version of Night Drive, the I.D.I.B. debut from the Portland-based quartet, Chromatics, came in at Metallica-esque 79 minutes and 33 seconds.

While many (myself included) thought Night Drive dragged in places, it didn’t stop the quartet from biting off another huge mouthful with their 80-minute follow-up, Kill For Love, a particularly risky move considering that the Internet has given us the attention spans of amoebas. Incredibly, it’s an altogether engaging, listenable affair that is filler-free and coherent. They’ve always had a knack for genre bending, but they take it to the next level here. Striking a potent balance between sexy 80’s darkwave (the superlative title track, “Lady”), moody down-tempo melancholia (“Into the Black,” “Candy”), driving 80’s guitar rock (“The Page”), and left-fielders (the instrumental “The Eleventh Hour,” “Running From The Sun”), the album expertly toes the line between sounding fresh and exciting without being disjointed.

While vocalist Ruth Radelet’s confident, alluring coo is one of the album’s key driving forces, she takes a back seat on its most fascinating track, the sparse, detached “These Streets Will Never Look the Same.” It’s indicative of what makes Chromatics so special; just as soon as you think you’ve got their sound pinned, they hit you with a sprawling, auto-tuned slow burner that manages to sound nothing like the group, while simultaneously sounding like something only they could have made.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41479829″ iframe=”true” /]

It may have taken the group five long years to unleash a successor to Night Drive, but after a few spins through the LP, you’ll know why. They could have released a nicely-packaged, 10-song synth-pop album, and nobody would have complained. But that just wouldn’t be Chromatics, Johnny Jewel, or Italians Do It Better. It also wouldn’t have been this versatile, this enigmatic, or this remarkable. It also certainly wouldn’t have been one of the best albums of 2012.

Full Album Stream After the Jump.

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Hot Jam of the Day (04.02.12): Dirty Projectors, “Gun Has No Trigger”

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Dirty Projectors
“Gun Has No Trigger”
Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

These Brooklyn-based indie-rock experimentalists’ are the purveyors of one of the most anticipated albums of 2012. Their 2009 breakthrough Bitte Orca was a breathtaking, frenetic affair that highlighted the mufti-faceted collective’s inspiring, fascinating take on pop music. This, the lead single off said album, is the group at their glorious best. While sparse is never going to be considered the group’s primary M.O., they nail it here, as band leader/vocalist David Longstreth’s strained howl is perfectly framed by some impossibly mellifluous oooh’s from Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian and a naked-except-for-drums accompaniment. I don’t think it’s given us much of a clue about the album’s sonic direction, unless “awesome” counts.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41218921″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (03.29.12): Elite Gymnastics, “Here, in Heaven 4 & 5” (CFCF Rework)

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Elite Gymnastics
“Here, in Heaven 4 & 5” (CFCF Rework)
Ruin 4

I can’t remember a track in recent years that has undergone as many fascinating incarnations, as “Here, in Heaven,” the ghostly centerpiece of the KPOP-obsessed Minneapolis natives’ breakthrough debut LP. “Here, in Heaven 1” is a chaotic, claustrophobic affair, while its second manifestation is a shadowy, murky slowjam that would make a perfect last dance at Morticia Addams’ first post-Gomez eHarmony marriage. We’ve heard How To Dress Well (né Tom Krell) lend his signature falsetto to a typically sparse, typically affecting version, and now we’re treated to Canadian synth-meister CFCF’s instrumental, ethereal re-work that builds to an impossibly beautiful climax.

Vegas has the over-under at 8 versions of this song by February 2013, and I’m pounding the over. And, honestly, as long as artists this creative and talented keep tackling it, I’ll keep listening.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/40739134″ iframe=”true” /]

Check out HTDW’s stunning version. Originals after the jump.

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Hot Jam of the Day (03.28.12): Princeton, “Florida”

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Princeton
“Florida”
Remembrance of Things to Come (Hit City USA, 2012)

It’s fitting that this Santa Monica-bred, Eagle Rock-based chamber pop quartet is named after a place (Princeton St. in Santa Monica, not the University), because frontman Jesse Kivel’s lyrics constantly revolve around feeling particular ways in particular places. Their breakthrough EP was called “Bloomsbury” — after the district of London that was once home to Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf Kivel and where Kivel and his bass-playing brother Matt lived in during college. There was their breezy 2010 single “To The Alps.” There was their debut album’s best track, “Stunner Shades in Heaven,” that saw Kivel wax lyrical about “summer nights in San Sebastian,” San Diego, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

All of Kivel’s work (he is also the lead singer of one of 2010’s best new bands, Kisses) is so reminiscent of Jens Lekman, and it’s not just because of his warm blanket of a voice. Lekman is a master of matching detailed, honest descriptions of very personal moments in his life in particular locales (see: “Friday Night at the Drive in Bingo” & “The Cold Swedish Winter”) with relatable, over-arching truths and evocative, sweeping melodies, leaving you feeling nostalgic for moments that you may have never had. “Florida” is full of snapshots of a life that probably isn’t yours (“driving drunk home from a local club”), but is probably just a bit like yours. And it’s hard not to get swept away.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35150477″ iframe=”true” /]