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: Tory Lanez, “Say It”

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Tory Lanez
“Say It”
Digital Single

If we’re being all the way real, the Ontario native should be exponentially percent more poppin’ than he currently is. Maybe he doesn’t have an Internet ready look like Post Malone or the co-sign of someone like PartyNextDoor, but the artist born Daystar Peterson has been cranking out a steady stream of some of the sharpest, strongest R&B out right now. On his recent heater, “Say It,” the 23 year-old gets extra sentimental, smearing his graceful tenor over a delicious flip of Brownstone’s classic “If You Love Me.” It’s basically the musical equivalent of the heart eyes emoji, and if there’s any fairness in the music world (hint: there isn’t), it should turn into a massive hit.

Images & Words: Club Cheval, “Discipline”

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Club Cheval
Discipline (out later this year on Parlophone)

After the laid-back deep house vibes of debut single, “From the Basement to the Roof,” the French production supergroup of Canblaster, Sam Tiba, Myd, and Panteros666 return with a sweltering, mid-tempo banger. Built around soulful vocals and a delicious bassline, “Discipline” is the kind of crossover single that feels equally at home on the dancefloor as it does on your earbuds. It’s poppy and catchy enough to have serious Duke Dumont/Disclosure crossover potential, but the group’s pedigree hints that mainstream attention effect their sound.

Images & Words: Troye Sivan, “WILD”

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Troye Sivan
WILD (out now on Universal Australia)

I first heard about the Australian YouTuber turned pop-star when I read Alex Frank’s excellent piece for the ever-reliable, Fader Magazine. Among other things, the 20 year-old stressed the importance of writing and speaking openly about LGBT relationships and issues in mainstream pop music, saying “I just wanted to write normal pop songs, and when the time comes to use a pronoun, I’ll use the word ‘he.'” It’s a simple yet powerful statement from a young artist who seems entirely unafraid of his sexuality impacting his ambitions as a pop-star.

That confidence is apparent on the powerful, affecting new clip for the title-track from debut EP. “WILD” captures the youthful innocence and abandon of falling into first love. It’s the kind of pop song that people have been fawning over for decades — a love-story that everybody can relate to. Musically, it’s equally inarguable, from its expertly moody pre-chorus to its earworm of a hook to Sivan’s devastating vocal. “WILD” has all the essentials of those timeless pop ballads that remind us that we are the same — hopeless romantics, looking for someone to love us. It’s that message of implied unity that makes Sivan’s music so radically human and his huge success so encouraging.

Images & Words: Mas Ysa, “Margarita”

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Mas Ysa
Seraph (out now on Downtown)

In an indie music landscape increasingly focused on restraint, Thomas Arsenault has no chill. His booming voice and powerful presence stand in stark contrast to much of the ‘less is more’ aesthetic that currently populates the buzz blogosphere. His affecting debut LP, Seraph, will likely appeal to fans of fellow chill-free emotionalists Majical Cloudz, Sean Nicholas Savage, and Autre Ne Veut. My favorite moment on it, “Margarita,” gets stunning visuals, courtesy of director Kris Moyes and the beautiful volcanoes, beaches, and waterfalls of the Big Island of Hawai’i. Get swept away.

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
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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“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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“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.