Images & Words: SOPHIE, "It's Okay To Cry"


SOPHIE "It's Okay to Cry" Digital Single Every once in a while, somebody puts out something that takes your breath away. "It's Okay to Cry" is absolutely one of those moments. After spending her early career lurking behind faceless, chaotic, schizophrenic experimental dance music, the 32 year-old has stepped into the light and up to the microphone. The result is Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: King Krule, "Logos"


King Krule "Logos" The OOZ (out now on XL) Archy Marshall's excellent new album feels like a collection of those wonky dream states that exist somewhere in that nether region between being wake and sleep. Though I'm still digesting all 19 of its songs, the hypnotic, jazzy "Logos" immediately stuck out. Over languid jazz chords Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, "For Robin"


The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die "For Robin" Always Foreign (Epitaph) There are many, many awful things about addiction, but little is as insidious as the way it pushes its victims away from loved ones from their previous life and deeper into their illness. Anybody who has lost someone to Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "4PM in London"


Stormzy "4PM in London" Digital Single Turning freestyles into anthems is nothing new to the ultra-talented Londoner. And though the ravenous "4PM in London" was probably written, it feels alive in the same way that many of those aforementioned tracks did. Unlike Drake (the man who originally rapped on this beat), Stormzy's got the rare ability to Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The Third Quarter


As you may have noticed, I've done my annual "fall behind on a monthly column" thing over the last couple months. That said, that just gives me more ammo for a proper Q3 round up, featuring the best records of that period in alphabetical order. 21 Savage Issa Album Slaughter Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Jacques Greene, “1 4 Me”

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Jacques Greene
“1 4 Me”
After Life, After Party EP (out 11.11 on LuckyMe)

Just six months removed from releasing his best EP yet, Phantom Vibrate, the Montreal producer returns with an early Christmas present in the form of a surprise two-song (plus remixes from Suicideyear and Sei A) EP. Lead single, “1 4 Me,” is the kind of sublime, emotive quasi-deep house magic that we’ve come to expect from Greene (né Philippe Aubin-Dionne) over the years. I can’t wait to hear the title track and sink my teeth into those remixes.

Images & Words: FKA Twigs, “Two Weeks”

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FKA Twigs
“Two Weeks”
LP1 (out 08.12 on Young Turks)

The incredible, shape-shifting Tahliah “FKA Twigs” Barnett makes a strong claim for both song and video of the year with the gelatinous, alluring lead single from her full-length debut. Barnett’s spellbinding, EP2, announced her as one of the most fascinating, talented young artists in music. From the sound of this, it may have just been scratching the surface.

There is a clutch of interesting stuff going on here, but the variety of vocal melodies is especially impressive. Very few people can fit multiple memorable melodies into a pop song without it feeling disjointed (MJ and The-Dream spring to mind), but Barnett does it with ease here, moving gracefully with the amorphous, gauzy arrangement. She’s just a huge, huge talent.

Images & Words: Liu Bei, “Infatuation”

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Liu Bei
“Infatuation”
Infatuation (out now on Paradyse)

The rising London trio’s gorgeous, widescreen power ballad gets fitting visuals. The track sees vocalist Richard Walters’ beautifully chronicling the painful process of cleansing your life of a lost lover who, over time, has permeated every aspect of your life. Anyone who has gone through this type of break-up knows that it isn’t simply about finding someone new to fuck, watch Netflix with, or call before you go to bed (sorry, Ben). It’s about remembering how to live without that person, how to stand on your own two feet. It’s fucking hard, but it’s also fucking freeing, exciting, and empowering. “Infatuation” nails that dichotomy in a way that few records can.

Images & Words: Real Lies, “North Circular”

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Real Lies
“North Circular”
North Circular / Dab Housing (out this summer on Marathon Artists)

This is big one. The London trio’s affecting ode to the 25.7-mile stretch of road that borders the northern part of their city is a gently disarming number that beautifully meanders like the steady flow of midnight headlights. Reminiscent of Mike Skinner’s seminal “Weak Become Heroes” — still one of my 20 favorite tracks of all-time — “North Circular” feels like a massive achievement. It could be the incredibly rare song that distills experiences and feelings of a particular generation in the way that Skinner did 12 years ago.

It beautifully sums up the possibility and the ennui of growing up in suburban sprawl — the melancholy joy of cruising down your streets with your people with fuck all to do. Topped off with a shuffling backbeat, graceful synths, and a far-away guitar line, “North Circular” is the perfect soundtrack for the muted euphoria of a late-night drive through the a-road pubs, petrol stations, and suicide bridges of our suburban childhoods. While my streets may lay more than 5,000 miles to the west, for these 4-and-a-half minutes, the North Circular certainly feels like home.

Images & Words: Alexis Taylor, “Without a Crutch (2)”

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Alexis Taylor
“Without a Crutch (2)”
Await Barbarians (out June 10 on Domino)

Throughout his nearly 15-year career with Hot Chip, Alexis Taylor has penned a glut of gorgeous, lovelorn ballads. Whether the romantic “We’re Looking for a Lot of Love” or my personal favorite, “Alley Cats,” Taylor’s delicate, evocative falsetto is simply built for the kind of breathtaking life-affirmers that leave you searching for either your lighter or your phone to text your ex. All those years on, the Londoner is finally ready to unleash his debut LP, and judging by its two pre-release singles, Taylor is aiming Await Barbarians straight at your heartstrings. History proves he knows exactly you keep them.

Images & Words: Vic Mensa, “Down on My Luck”

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Vic Mensa
“Down on My Luck”
Digital Single

The 20 year-old Chicago native’s surprisingly punchy foray on to the dance-floor gets some delightfully Groundhog Day-ish visuals. While Mensa’s omnivorous previous work suggested that he wasn’t interested in being your everyday rapper, “Down on My Luck” is still a startling left turn for him. That said, it is executed to absolute perfection, and it has to be considered a potentially star-making move for the XXL Freshman Class of ’14 member. Very few rappers are able to toe the electro line this skillfully, and Mensa manages to channel the best of Disclosure without losing his voice. This could be one of the biggest songs of the summer.

Images & Words: Ramona Lisa, “Dominic”

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Ramona Lisa
“Dominic”
Arcadia (out now on Terrible)

Caroline Polachek’s daring solo LP is one of the most underrated of discs of the year. Crafted entirely on a laptop, the Chairlift frontwoman weaves her mellifluous, athletic vocals over swirling collages of MIDI synths and drum loops, creating a compelling clash between the natural and the digital. The disc’s third single — the gorgeous break-up ballad, “Dominic” — gets a similarly handsome treatment, as the Brooklyn resident rows a lonely boat through what looks like the Louisiana swamps. It may seem a strange setting for her pristine, pastoral sound, but as someone who has spent time in those very swamps, I can say that the isolated environment makes a lot of sense for a rumination on the “perfect disaster” that is falling in love.

Images & Words: How to Dress Well, “Repeat Pleasure”

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How To Dress Well
“Repeat Pleasure”
What is this Heart? (out 06.23 on Weird World)

The video for what is probably my favorite song of 2014 got visuals today, and they’re exactly what you’d expect from the emotional, cerebral vocalist. “Repeat Pleausre” is the first in the three part series which will evidently feature a clip for “Words I Don’t Remember” and an another unreleased track.

Tom Krell has always had a knack for crafting compelling visuals, all the way back to the early Jamie Harley-directed clips, which led myself and many others to fall in love with his music in the first place. Curious to see where the story goes from here…

Images & Words: The-Dream, “Black”

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The-Dream
“Black”
Digital Single

Any time the patron saint of Thunder Penguin drops a surprise track, it’s a day for celebration. Any time the the track is this powerful, topical, and evocative, it should be a national fucking holiday. Coming off the back of the weakest solo album of his bulletproof career, IV Play (2013), Nash returns with a forceful statement on the state of race in America — wrapped in a hopeful, soulful ballad, reminiscent of the great Marin Gaye. The track feels especially poignant as the ubiquitous Donald Sterling case swirls. Above all else, Sterling’s quotes served as a sad reminder how much further we must go to achieve a state of true civil equality, and Nash addresses that sad reality with trademark perspective and fearlessness.

Images & Words: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Live in NYC”

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“Live in NYC”
Songs taken from Days of Abandon (out 05.13 on Slumberland)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart treated a small group of lucky people to a preview of their third LP, rolling through six new tracks. Judging by these cuts, Kip Berman and co. are about to unleash the best work of their career, and the new songs absolutely nail the balance beetween buoyant and melancholy that makes so much of the source material (80s shoegaze, 90s alt-rock) so timeless. Special mention for their rendition of outstanding second single, “Eurydice,” as it’s one of the most inarguable songs the group has ever written. I’m officially looking forward to hearing Days of Abandon in full.