Hot Jam of the Day: Julien Baker, "Appointments"


Julien Baker "Appointments" Turn Out the Lights (out 10.27 on Matador) "It's the hope that kills you," goes the old saying. But it can also be the thing that saves you and drives you through life's dark stretches. It's what the 21 year-old is reaching for on this breathtaking first single from her highly-anticipated second Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Kelela, "LMK"


Kelela "LMK" Take Me Apart (10.06 on Warp) Our agonizing wait for the first taste of Kelela's proper studio debut* is finally over, and my GOD, our girl came through with a banger. In lieu of just typing 4,000 fire emojis, I'll just say that "LMK" is such a perfect distillation of what makes Read more

Images & Words: Jessie Ware, "Midnight"


Jessie Ware “Midnight” Digital Single In the years I’ve been covering music, I wrote more about Jessie Ware’s early career than just about anyone else. I first covered her back in 2011 and tracked her progression from a promising, mostly unknown, quiet storm prodigy to a true powerhouse who could command any room she was Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2017, So Far...


Rating albums at the mid-point of the year, just to re-rate them in six months seems dumb, so I decided to go with an NBA Draft-style tier system to pick out a few of my favorites so far. TIER 1: THE FAVORITE Stormzy Gang Signs and Prayer #Merky The Londoner's debut LP is an Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Jae Stephens, "24k"


Jae Stephens "24k" Digital Single Fuck one of the best debuts of the year. The LA-based newcomer just dropped one of the best songs of the year out of thin air. Featuring inch-perfect production from Jam City, Stephens weaves a devastating slow jam that captures the growth of a relationship from anxious first Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Freddie Gibbs, “Eastside Moonwalker”

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Freddie Gibbs
“Eastside Moonwalker”
ESGN — Evil Seeds Grow Naturally (out now on ESGN)

Somehow, I totally missed the Gary, IN-native’s quality debut LP when it dropped in June, but as they say, better late than never. Admittedly, the album suffers from its bloated tracklist (nobody needs to hear 19 songs by anybody), but its many highlights remind us that when the uber-underrated, combative MC is on top form, not too many can touch him. The devastating, twinkling key-kissed “Eastside Moonwalker” is a perfect example of the 31 year-old at his superlative best.

Images & Words: Julianna Barwick, “Ash Day” (A Take Away Show)

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Julianna Barwick
“Ash Day” (A Take Away Show)

The Brooklyn-based purveyor of ethereal, sweeping ultra-gorgeousness performs a new song that is as beautiful as the serene streets of Iceland where it was filmed. Standing on a chilly-looking urban avenue, the Missouri-native graciously passes out candy to passing children while she performs a celestial, layered hymn, as only she can. Sah-wooooon.

Images & Words: Wet, “You’re The Best”

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Wet
“You’re The Best”
Wet (out now on Neon Gold)

Every once in a while, a band comes along that you just kind of want to paint your flag on. That’s currently happening for me with this downtempo, unGoogleable Brooklyn trio. Their debut EP is an affecting collection of simple, direct songs that dig their little fingers into you and simply refuse to let go. Vocalist Kelly Zutrau’s haunting vocals and plaintiff lyrics are deftly framed by swaths of reverb-soaked guitars and electro-percussion. Lyrically, “You’re the Best” stands in stark contrast to much of the rest of the heartbroken album, but sonically, it’s a great example of what makes them so special. Catching them at CMJ cemented my belief that in a year or so these guys are going to be huge. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon now; hop on before it gets too full.

Images & Words: Kwes, “36”

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Kwes
“36”
ilp. (out 10/15 on Warp)

The South London R&B dreamer’s debut LP drops tomorrow and is one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Its undeniable second single, “36,” gets an adorable, touching treatment, dealing with a high school love in a way that everyone can relate to. All hail, King Kwes!

Images & Words: Majical Cloudz, “This is Magic” (Live Pitchfork Session)

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Majical Cloudz
“This is Magic” (Live Pitchfork Session)

Original appears on Impersonator (out now on Matador)

There really hasn’t been an artist I’ve felt more unsure about this year than Montreal’s Majical Cloudz. My old roommate (whose opinions I value incredibly highly) has been singing Impersonator‘s praises since it came out, but I just could never quite get into it. I decided to go see them live last Friday, as a last chance for me to really understand the album.

In short, I was shattered by their sheer presence and passion. Vocalist Devon Welsh is an imposing, unsettling performer who writes starkly honest, intimate stories and sings through clenched teeth and a vulnerable spirit. He is flanked by the calming, meditative synths of Matthew Otto, the perfect foil to the wound-up Welsh. Together, they form a devastating pair, crafting music that is so different to the pop music out today. I was a little late to the party, but I’m sure glad they still let me in.

Images & Words: Kingdom, “Bank Head” (f/ Kelela)

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Kingdom
“Bank Head” (f/ Kelela)
Vertical XL (Fade to Mind)

One of the sexiest tracks of the year gets a fitting video. Kelela, the LA-based vocalist looks incredible over a shadowy, evocative backdrop. If you missed this track (and the excellent, Vertical XL), it’s not too late to hop on the bandwagon.

Images & Words: Mutya Keisha Siobhan, “Flatline”

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Mutya Keisha Siobhan
“Flatline”
From Upcoming 2014 LP

The founding members of the Sugababes’ undeniable, Dev Hynes-assisted summer jam finally gets a visual treatment. Though it looks like it was shot on Instagram, the video captures the carefree, breezy feel of the cut, which is undoubtedly one of the songs of the summer.

Images & Words: Jacques Greene, “On Your Side” (f/ How to Dress Well)

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Jacques Greene
“On Your Side” (f/ How to Dress Well)
On Your Side (out 07/01 on LuckyMe)

Check out the fascinating interactive video from Canadian production whiz, Jacques Greene, and fractured, R&B crooner, Tom Krell (aka How to Dress Well). The track itself is fire, melding Greene’s moody, celestial production with Krell’s emotive falsetto, but the video is very cool as well. Watch it out on Greene’s website and stream the track below.

Images & Words (NSFW): Action Bronson, “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” // ASAP Ferg, “Work” (f/ A$AP Rocky, Trinidad James, Schoolboy Q, French Montana)

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A couple of NYC’s best dropped videos this week. The first is your typical Action being Action clip, and the second is your classic NYC crew cut. The AB one is probably NSFW.

Action Bronson
“Strictly 4 My Jeeps”
Saaab Stories (out in June)

A$AP Ferg
“Work” (f/ A$AP Rocky, Trinidad James, Schoolboy Q, French Montana) (Remix)
Original Appears on Lord$ Never Worry (out now on Polo Grounds)

Images & Words: Sohn, “Bloodflow”

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Sohn
“Bloodflow”
Bloodflow 12″ (out in June on 4AD)

Thunder Penguin has been crushing on the sensually mournful sounds of this British/Austrian future R&B troubadour, since he dropped his carefully crafted debut EP late last year. His dreamlike debut video highlights the isolation and beauty of his work, pairing vignettes of a lone, still woman standing in front of beautiful, living landscapes.

Also, check out Sohn’s beautiful remix of Rhye’s similarly beautiful, “Open.”