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

Images & Words

Images & Words: Chromatics, “Dear Tommy”

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Chromatics
“Dear Tommy”
Dear Tommy (hopefully out soon on Italians Do It Better)
It’s fitting that in the week we finally got the album formerly known as Boys Don’t Cry, another long-awaited project looks set to poke its head out. The Johnny Jewel-fronted quartet famously announced that their follow-up to 2012’s beloved Kill For Love would be out in time for Valentine’s Day…in 2015. Now 18 months later, we still don’t have a release date, but we have a tracklist — A TRACKLIST! — and its gorgeous, amorphous title track.

This is is the sixth of 17 songs we’ve heard from the record, and along with “Just Like You” (one of the best songs of last year), it’s one of the strongest of the lot. The best Chromatics songs are their most dramatic and cinematic ones. And “Dear Tommy” sounds like it should be soundtracking a Wilder or Polanski movie with its palatial keyboards, slow-mo bassline, and Jewel’s evocative falsetto. We may not have a release date yet, but as Frank taught us this week, good things come to those who wait.

Images & Words: Frank Ocean, “Nikes”

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Frank Ocean
“Nikes”
Blonde (out now on Boys Don’t Cry)
About two minutes into his long-awaited new album, Frank Ocean’s pitched-up vocal hangs in the air and sings “RIP Trayvon. That n**ga look just like me.” With that simple lyric, Ocean humanizes a young man whose life was taken in the most inhumane way possible before being dehumanized repeatedly by media vultures and the uniformed, endless social media echo chamber. Throughout his career, the 28 year-old has consistently demonstrated this ability to nonchalantly craft disarming, truly powerful poetry in layman’s prose — rewriting the rules of engagement with a shrug of the shoulders. It’s perhaps the most valuable and rarest of his very many talents.

In many ways, Blonde feels like his best work yet, surpassing the hugely underrated Nostalgia, Ultra. That said, I want to sit with it for a week before I make a judgement, but early returns are incredibly impressive.

Images & Words: Camp Cope, “Done”

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Camp Cope
“Done”
Camp Cope (out now on Poison City)
I completely whiffed on the Melbourne trio’s excellent self-titled LP when it dropped back in June, so you can consider this my apology. Driven by singer-songwriter Georgia Maq, the eight-song project is full of cathartic, intimate songwriting and jangly, sticky guitar melodies. And while lead single, “Done,” isn’t quite at the top of my list of standout songs (I’d go for “Song for Charlie” or “Flesh and Electricity“), it is an effective primer for the record and a fantastic window into Maq’s unique, fascinating perspective.

Images & Words: How to Dress Well, “Lost Youth / Lost You”

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How to Dress Well
“Lost Youth / Lost You”
Care (out 09.23 on Domino)

“Lost Youth / Lost You” is the first taste of the longtime TP favorite’s forthcoming fourth LP. It’s a lush, emotional love song that continues his progression from ambient, weirdo lo-fi toward direct, powerful adult contempo-inspired pop. I’m getting light Celine Dion/Jon Secada/Everything But the Girl vibes from this one and even hearing little touches of “Drops of Jupiter” in the chorus. If that sounds like it’s up your alley (it’s WAY up mine), then you’ll enjoy getting swept away by this one.

NOTE: Video is borderline NSFW.

Images & Words: Kodie Shane, “Losing Service”

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Kodie Shane
“Losing Service”
Little Rocket (self-released)

A member of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team crew, Atlanta singer/rapper Kodie Shane is rapidly cementing herself as a compelling artist in her own right. “Losing Service,” the standout from her excellent recent EP, highlights her romantic, hyper-melodic sound. Over syrupy keys and rolling hi-hats (courtesy of DJ Spinz, Matty P, and D. Clax), Shane gleefully laces a modern day sonnet about a lover, capturing that special swoon that summer love brings.

Images & Words: Chairlift, “Crying in Public”

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Chairlift
”Crying in Public”
Moth (Columbia)
Everybody has cried in public at least once. Chairlift’s gorgeous ballad reminds me of riding the subway to work a few years ago, while reading the last third of Junot Diaz’s beautiful, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The book had brought me to tears a few times, but I’d mostly kept it together. However, one particularly gut-wrenching passage just crushed me one afternoon, and my silent, choked-back tears morphed into an emotional tsunami. And in an instant, I was that guy, blubbering on the train in front of everyone. I hopped off at the first available station and spent the next ten minutes composing myself for the rest of the ride home, where I could finish the book and weep like a 5 year-old in the privacy of my own apartment.

Images & Words: Francis and The Lights, “Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)

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Francis and The Lights
“Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)
Digital Single
I have a lot of questions about this song/video:

*Who is actually singing?
*What is Kanye doing?
*Why is that Francis guy is trying to Esco Step?
*Which piece of Justin Vernon’s outfit is most appalling?
*When/how did this song burrow this deep into my brain?

Images & Words: Blood Orange, “Augustine”

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Blood Orange
“Augustine”
Freetown Sound (out now on Domino)
Late last night, Dev Hynes dropped his third record under the name Blood Orange: the massively-anticipated Freetown Sound. While I’m not even close to digesting all 17 tracks, its lead single is an example of why so many have been looking forward to this thing. It pairs an elastic arrangement with an adhesive hook and solemn, heartfelt lyrics in a way that is uniquely Hynes. Excellent as this is, it feels like it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Images & Words: Ian Isiah, “247”

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Ian Isiah
“247”
Digital Single
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the NYC, experimental R&B crooner, but his lovelorn new single is well worth the wait. Isiah’s underrated 2013 LP, The Love Champion, emitted much of the same sultry, romantic vibes of “247” — most notably in the stunning single, “Freak U Down” (one of my favorite songs of that year). Isiah’s tender vocal glides over a warped piano melody from the always brilliant Sinjin Hawke, resulting in a ballad that feels both fresh and nostalgic. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a big year for Isiah.

Images & Words: Danny L Harle, “Ashes of Love” (f/ Caroline Polachek)

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Danny L Harle
“Ashes of Love” (f/ Caroline Polachek)
Digital Single

I’ve mostly been lukewarm on the whole PC Music Crew, but this ecstatic slab of future pop tickles all of my brain’s pleasure centers. On “Ashes of Love,” Harle manages to gaze into the excessive, bombastic 80’s looking glass without falling down the self-indulgent rabbit hole that many of his label-mates reside in. The Europop, trance synths are here, but they aren’t overwhelming. And they’re balanced nicely by Chairlift front woman Caroline Polachek emotional, starry-eyed vocals. Polachek is such an underrated artist, and she’s such a force when she is scratching all of her kitschiest, poppiest itches. This track is definitely that. And that is great.