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: Stormzy, “Scary”

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Digital Single
As thrilling as a new Stormzy single always is, the most exciting part of his new clip for “Scary” comes right at the beginning when “THE ALBUM IS COMING” scrolls across the screen. A lot has changed for the Londoner since 2014, when he dropped his only proper project, Dreamers Disease. With success comes pressure, but the big man seems gleefully impervious to any of it, rapping with the same ravenous, joie de vivre flow that he came in the game with. He’s basically the musical version of that one dickhead friend who is so clever that he can make you laugh, even as he’s roasting you in front of everyone. That mischievous, playful spirit is essential to the Stormzy experience, and his commitment to being himself is one of the main reasons that I’m so excited to hear his forthcoming debut LP.

Images & Words: Reeko Squeeze, “Normal Dude” / “Like That” (f/ AJ Tracey)

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Reeko Squeeze
“Normal Dude” / “Like That” (f/ AJ Tracey)
Digital Single
The former member of rising South London crew Section Boyz has been on fire recently, dropping a handful of bangers over the last year or so. Stylistically, Reeko’s aggressive, uncompromising style feels more influenced by Southside Chicago than North London, and his rolling flow is at home alongside spare keys and trap hi-hats. His low-key charisma makes the adhesive  “Normal Dude” one of my favorite hip-hop singles of the year, and his flow is the perfect companion for fellow Londoner AJ Tracey’s effortless delivery. Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting young talents around.

Images & Words: ERAS, “Angels” (f/ Grace Hall)

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“Angels” (f/ Grace Hall)
Purified (out 05.27 on Track Number)
Two Angelinos link up for a harrowing journey through a place as dark as death. Producer Nathaniel Eras’ gloomy waves of synth wash over the Skin Town vocalist, leaving her no choice but to repeat the mantra “it’s really dark outside.” “Angels” highlights the simultaneously disquieting and soothing nature of darkness in a visceral way that’s hard to shake.

Images & Words: Fear of Men, “Island”

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Fear of Men
Fall Forever (out 06.03 on Kanine)

Anxiety has always been a core ingredient of the Fear of Men experience. From their name to their sound, the Brighton trio’s previous work is dripping with concern. Anxiety is a relatable emotion, but it’s also a self-sabotaging one. And as cozy and affecting as their early work is, it always felt like they were holding something back, self-conscious about trying to do too much or play too loudly.

For that reason, the first line from their second album’s lead single feels especially powerful. “I’m like an island, I don’t need to feel your arms around me” sings vocalist Jess Weiss, her vocals newly high in the mix and confident. What follows is the group’s most ambitious single to date, featuring a stirring guitar-line and a lush earworm of a chorus that recalls the Cranberries’ seminal “Dreams.” As the song moves and they really go for it, you can feel the anxiety melt away and all the light come streaming in.

Images & Words: Rostam, “Gravity Don’t Pull Me”

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“Gravity Don’t Pull Me”
Digital Single
Since he announced his departure from Vampire Weekend back in January, Rostam Batmanglij has been busy, dropping a pair of new singles that will hopefully lead to his debut LP as a solo artist. The second of those, “Gravity Don’t Pull Me,” is a potent combination of musical opacity and lyrical directness. Over waves of kaleidoscopic synths, the 32 year-old expresses his deep regret about a failed relationship. Even though the relationship has been over for years, he admits that there are still some days where his ex drags on his thoughts. His candor and vulnerability are impossible not to relate to and be affected by. If Batmanglij’s storytelling continues to be on the same level as his unarguable musicianship and songwriting, his debut could be one of the best of 2016.

Images & Words: ANOHNI, “Drone Bomb Me”

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“Drone Bomb Me”
HOPLESNESS (out 05.06 on Secretly Canadian)

We got the first taste of the new ANOHNI (FKA Antony) LP late last year with her uncompromising look at climate change, “4 Degrees.” While it was one of the best songs of last year, it still felt like the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). And yesterday, we got a little closer to the disc’s core with the stunning, heartbreaking clip for second single, “Drone Bomb Me.”

On its face, the concept of a white British artist writing a song about drone warfare from the perspective of a young Afghan girl sounds dicey. But the 44 year-old has always been a deeply empathetic artist, and she succeeds in giving a heart and voice to the myriad victims of modern war. Drone warfare is designed to be clandestine and inhuman, and they’re built to move like street sweepers, coming in the night to dispose of unwanted people like litter in the gutter. It is an unimaginably cruel, often random fate that is a tragic fact of life for a rising population. Any effort to bring that horrific truth to light should be valued, and when it’s this penetrating and powerful, it deserves to be lauded.

Images & Words: Julianna Barwick, “Nebula”

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Julianna Barwick
Will (out 05.06 on Dead Oceans)
As I’m writing this, Donald Trump just won two more states in the primary. If there’s any time in human history that the world needs the healing properties of a new Julianna Barwick album, it’s now. Luckily for our undeserving asses, Barwick announced her third album today with this beautiful, restorative first single to hold us over until May 6.

While her trademark layered, celestial vocals retain their prominence, a haunting, mantric synth melody drives the song in a way that feels different to much of her vocal-led canon. The difference is subtle but apparent, and it hints that Will might be a slight shift in approach for one of the most distinctive, affecting voices in modern music. I cannot wait to find out if that’s the case.

Images & Words: FKA Twigs, “Good To Love”

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FKA Twigs
“Good to Love”
Digital Single

Tahliah “FKA Twigs” Barnett knows that stripping things out is often the way to make the biggest statements. Visually, musically, and lyrically, the 28 year-old deals in simplicity and directness, giving a rare, powerful intimacy to her music. Ambiguity is easy, and we’re overstocked with lyricists using a lot of words to not say much.

True to form, her most recent single, “Good to Love,” says a hell of a lot, as she plaintively asks her partner to move past their baggage and let her in. The arrangement is spare and her voice unwavering; there are no distractions. For the next four minutes, Twigs assuages his fear while asserting her own power. “It’s not your fault that I’m loved to my limit. I’ve had plenty so I know you’re mine” is as stunning a lyric as we’ve heard this year, morphing past sexual experiences from a source of jealousy into one of strength. It’s something that anybody who has ever been in a relationship can relate to and an example of how real empathy can break down the barriers that keep us apart.

Images & Words: Raider, “4 In The Morning”

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“4 In The Morning”
Digital Single

The Wolverhampton hard-hitter returns with an introspective new clip. A grime veteran who hasn’t gotten the shine that his consistent work deserves, Raider laces muscular, no-frills bars over a spare piano sample and buoyant percussion. Hopefully, grime’s recent international revival will highlight some of the genre’s solid contributors rather than just lifting up a few big stars (i.e. Stormzy, Skepta). That said, Raider seems like he’ll continue doing him regardless, mainstream recognition or not.

Images & Words: Jeff Buckley, “I Know It’s Over”

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Jeff Buckley
“I Know It’s Over”
You & I (out 03.11 on Legacy)

While it doesn’t hold a candle to the live version from the mid 90’s, it’s still nice to hear one the best singers of all-time sing one of the best songs of all-time by one of the best bands of all-time (especially on one of the best blogs of all-time). Joking aside, I’m a little unsure about how I feel about the fact that we’re still tilling the soil for unfinished, JB demos, nearly twenty years since his tragic death.

Sure, it’s great to hear Buckley’s pure, innocent vocal and strummed acoustic guitar give levity to one of the Moz’s most crushing songs. However, it’s hard to imagine that he would have actually wanted any of these songs seeing the light of day. And as much as I want to be open to these releases, part of me feels like the still-perfect Grace, the nearly as good Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, and the random live bootlegs are way more than enough.