Mitski, "Two Slow Dancers"


Mitski "Two Slow Dancers" Be The Cowboy (out 08.17 on Matador) Every slow dance with someone you care about feels like a moment suspended in time. I mean, that's the point, right? Your hands are tied, your bodies are connected, and even your gaze is limited. Mitski, the fantastic New York songwriter, Read more

Future, "Hate the Real Me"


Future "Hate the Real Me" Beastmode 2 (out now on Epic) The peak of a quietly excellent year, Future goes super deep on his worthy follow-up to 2015's legendary "Beast Mode" tape. Of all its stirring moments, nothing emotionally hits harder than its last track, as Future pours his heart out over Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2018 (So Far...)


Somehow, some fucking way, 2018 is more than half over. And though it might feel like I always say this, I think this was the toughest list I've had to make yet. There's been an overwhelming number of exciting, vital new voices popping up and plenty of fantastic follow-ups Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "Give Yourself A Try"


The 1975 "Give Yourself A Try" A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (out in October on Dirty Hit) Though it's been out for about two weeks, I've listened to the Manchester quartet's new single roughly two million times. Compositionally, it's totally unremarkable. Built around a repetitive, simplistic guitar riff and three chords, Read more

Images & Words: The Rhythm Method, "Chin Up"


The Rhythm Method "Chin Up" Digital Single Every two years*, I get afflicted with the same illness. It usually starts up a few weeks before every major international football tournament and lasts until somewhere around the quarterfinals. Who knows how long my believesthatEnglandcanwinthewholething-itis will last for this year, but I'm hoping that Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Carly Rae Jepsen, “Run Away With Me”

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Carly Rae Jepsen
“Run Away with Me”
E•MO•TION (out in the USA 09.21 on Interscope)

I’ll keep writing about Carly Rae’s triumphant third LP until it gets every ounce of credit its pop perfection deserves. Following in the footsteps of the inch-perfect title track and the ubiquitous “I Really Like You,” the disc’s fourth single is an undeniable, life-affirming number that sees a rising pop star at the peak of her power. The Canadian’s vocal is confident and effortless. The arrangement is taut and efficient. The hook is soaring and infectious. While it may be a tried and true blueprint, it’s exceedingly difficult to nail it like this, and anyone who loves pop music knows how precious it is when everything comes together like it is for Carly Rae right now. Absolutely, one of the best albums of the year.

Images & Words: Oscar Key Sung, “Brush”

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Oscar Key Sung
“Brush”
Altruism (out now on Warner)

The standout from the low-key Melbourne native’s recent EP gets striking visuals. The spot-on styling and choreography helps tell Key Sung’s relatable, affecting tale of wanting to approach someone in a club but getting cold feet. It’s a feeling that anyone who’s ever gone dancing has experienced, and it’s expressed impossibly gracefully in this clip.

Images & Words: Future, “Blow a Bag”

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Future
“Blow a Bag”
Dirty Sprite 2 (out 07.17 on Freebandz)

The #FutureHive is abuzz since last Friday, when the ATLien announced the long-awaited successor to his classic, 2011 mixtape, Dirty Sprite. DS2 appears to be the most ambitious of the four triumphant projects he’s put out this year, and its dynamic first single does nothing but fuel those lofty expectations. “Blow a Bag” is pure, turnt-up Future, along the lines of summer anthem “Fuck Up Some Commas” and recent burner “Real Sisters.” Any track that boasts production credits from Metro Boomin, Southside, and Sonny Digital is going to be a banger, and the 31 year-old’s hyper-melodic flow is the perfect match for the Dream Team’s rolling hats and interstellar synths. Future has absolutely owned 2015 so far, and it doesn’t look like he’s planning on relinquishing control of the back half of the year either.

Images & Words: Kehlani, “You Should Be Here”

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Kehlani
“You Should Be Here”
You Should Be Here (out now)

While there’s a lot to love about the rising Oakland singer’s debut mixtape, Kehlani Parrish’s ability to simultaneously exude confidence and vulnerability sticks out the most. There’s real stakes to her music, but she refuses to let them overwhelm her. Her voice has the power and bombast of a Ariana Grande with the world weary, lived-in melancholic tinge of someone like Dawn Richard. Lyrically, she tells piercing, fractured loved stories that are heavyhearted and self-critical, while maintaining an eye toward a brighter future and undying belief in the self. Compositionally, her music is direct enough to be radio-friendly, but nuanced and versatile enough to blaze its own path. Basically, its a hell of an achievement for anyone, let alone a 20 year-old artist who is still getting started. I can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

Images & Words: The Square, “Lewisham McDeez”

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The Square
“Lewisham McDeez”
Digital Single

Though the South London collective dropped this song late last year, the delirious crew cut finally gets a proper release and some Macky D’s-heavy visuals. Novelist may be the biggest name in the Square, but each of its members brings the goods here, lacing memorable verse after memorable verse over staccato hi-hats and an earworm bassline. No word on whether “Lewisham McDeez” will be a part of a follow-up to 2014’s mixtape, The Formula, but it’s yet another window into the group’s bright future.

Images & Words: Hot Chip, “Need You Now”

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Hot Chip
“Need You Now”
Why Make Sense? (out 05.19 on Domino)

Though a good portion of their recent dance floor focused material leaves me a little cold, I am — and will always be — a sucker for a Hot Chip ballad. From Alexis Taylor’s beautiful, 2014 solo cut “Without a Crutch (2)” to 2012’s devotional, “Let Me Be Him,” to one of my all-time favorites, 2010’s “Alley Cats,” the Londoners’ last few records have been littered with heartfelt, transportive ballads that deliver just the right amount of cheez. They get the balance right again here, matching Taylor’s gorgeous tenor with a slinky, deep house-influenced arrangement. In classic HC style, the song is matched by an excellent video, highlighting the way we tend to beat ourselves up in the wake of a failed relationship.

Images & Words: Deadboy, “It Did Not Feel Right”

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Deadboy
“It Did Not Feel Right”
It Did Not Feel Right (single) (out now on CrazyLegs)

The Southeast Londoner returns with a lovely flip of 90s fave Tamia’s, “Tell Me Who.” The ever-consistent producer frames the pitched up vocal with viscous, cinematic synths that are oddly reminiscent of a slowed-down water level on Donkey Kong Country. #sadboi as it may be, the way the arrangement is sort of suspended in space around an emotional vocal hits me straight between the ribs, forcing me to come to grips with the depth of my #sadboiosity.

Images & Words: Tobias Jesso Jr., “How Could You Babe”

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Tobias Jesso Jr.
“How Could You Babe”
Goon (out March 17 on True Panther)

Another new single, another timeless piano ballad from the rising Canadian crooner. While neither the subject matter nor the execution are particularly novel, this is the kind of weepy, anthemic piano ballad that speaks to the starry eyes and broken hearts in all of us. We’re not all going through brutal break-ups like the one Jesso sings about here, but we all have, and “How Could You Babe” is so good that it kind of makes you happy that you did, just so you can relate to a song with emotions this strong.

Images & Words: Novelist x Mumdance, “1 Sec”

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Novelist x Mumdance
“1 Sec”
1 Sec EP (out now on XL)

Coming off a monster 2014, Kojo “Novelist” Kankam celebrated his 18th birthday by releasing his debut EP for XL, along with some cinematic visuals for the project’s devastating title track. 1 Sec sees the Lewisham MC rekindling his fruitful partnership with fellow Londoner, Mumdance, who provides him with a characteristically challenging arrangement to annihilate. Novelist gleefully accepts and weaves rapid-fire couplets that move like Frogger, maneuvering through the treacherous terrain with the greatest of ease.

Images & Words: SD, “Circles”

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SD
“Circles”
Truly Blessed (out now on Truly Blessed)

Long one of the most distinctive voices coming out of a Chicago hip-hop scene filled with distinctive, creative voices, Sadiki “SD” Thirston has consistently defied trends and co-signs, breaking ground as a solo artist and carving out his own lane. After a string of quality mixtapes and his move away from Chief Keef’s GBE Imprint, the 20 year old recently dropped his long-awaited debut studio LP, Truly Blessed. While I’m still not all the way through the record, its palatial, mantric lead single “Circles” has been on heavy rotation since it dropped last month, and it finally gets similarly unbalanced, wonky visuals.