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: 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.

Images & Words: August Alsina, “Grindin'”

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August Alsina
“Grindin'”
Digital Single

September 15, 2014. Roughly two weeks after his 22nd birthday, August Alsina dropped the video for his “No Love” remix. Featuring a verse and appearance from one of the biggest stars on the planet, Nicki Minaj, the clip looked set to cap off the biggest year of his life and announce him as an A-List R&B talent. Instead, the best day of his career turned into one of the worst of his life. On the night of the 15th, the New Orleans native found himself fighting for his life. He was placed in a medically induced coma after collapsing on stage in New York.

After three days spent in a hospital bed suffering multiple seizures, Alsina was brought out of the coma, safe and happy to be alive. That kind of experience would shake and humble even the most confident individual, and according to this single and his recent appearance at the Breakfast Club, it’s certainly affected his perspective and lifestyle. “Grindin'” sees the upfront vocalist salute those who stuck with him in his time of need, while reminding naysayers that he’ll respond to this setback the same way he has to the myriad roadblocks he’s already encountered. Stronger, undeterred, and more focused than ever.

Images & Words: SOAK, “SHUVELS”

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SOAK
“SHUVELS”
B a noBody 7″ (out now on Rough Trade)

17 year-old Bridie Monds-Watson has been putting out personal, affecting folk music for a few years now, but this might just set a new benchmark for the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. Nothing she’s ever released has sounded like it could have been created by a teenager, and that’s never been more apparent than on this, her newest single. The Derry resident crafts songs that are mature in conception and construction — matching lyrics full of depth and insight with simple, yet developed arrangements and her curious, compelling voice. Listen up, because she has the raw materials to  go very, very far.

Images & Words: Jacques Greene, “1 4 Me”

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Jacques Greene
“1 4 Me”
After Life, After Party EP (out 11.11 on LuckyMe)

Just six months removed from releasing his best EP yet, Phantom Vibrate, the Montreal producer returns with an early Christmas present in the form of a surprise two-song (plus remixes from Suicideyear and Sei A) EP. Lead single, “1 4 Me,” is the kind of sublime, emotive quasi-deep house magic that we’ve come to expect from Greene (né Philippe Aubin-Dionne) over the years. I can’t wait to hear the title track and sink my teeth into those remixes.

Images & Words: FKA Twigs, “Two Weeks”

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FKA Twigs
“Two Weeks”
LP1 (out 08.12 on Young Turks)

The incredible, shape-shifting Tahliah “FKA Twigs” Barnett makes a strong claim for both song and video of the year with the gelatinous, alluring lead single from her full-length debut. Barnett’s spellbinding, EP2, announced her as one of the most fascinating, talented young artists in music. From the sound of this, it may have just been scratching the surface.

There is a clutch of interesting stuff going on here, but the variety of vocal melodies is especially impressive. Very few people can fit multiple memorable melodies into a pop song without it feeling disjointed (MJ and The-Dream spring to mind), but Barnett does it with ease here, moving gracefully with the amorphous, gauzy arrangement. She’s just a huge, huge talent.