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: Memoryhouse, “Get Back”

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Memoryhouse
“Get Back”
Taken from NPR’s World Cafe

Since 2010, there are very few artists that I have devoted more words to than this resplendent Ontario-based dream-wave duo. Simply put, their near-perfect, celestial debut EP, The Years, is one of my favorite albums of the last five years. Its follow-up, The Slideshow Effect, didn’t glitter in quite the same gauzy way, as the group opted for a more upbeat approach, resulting in a slightly uneven effort. That said, I continue to have incredible hope for the duo, and this cut (and the other new ones played at World Cafe) show that The Years may have just been the sound of a young group scratching the surface.

Listen to the whole session, over at NPR.

Images & Words: Arcade Fire, “Afterlife”

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Arcade Fire
“Afterlife”
Reflektor (out now on Merge)

First thing’s first, I like Arcade Fire. I do. However, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to get excited about their critically-acclaimed, fourth album. Yesterday, my good friend and old roommate (who has stubbornly refused to let me ignore Reflektor) finally sent me something that has made me sit up and take notice. “Afterlife” is the kind of engrossing, epic (vomit) statement that made me fall in love with their earlier work, and the video is as disarming and emotive as the track. Hopefully, it will be the foothold that I need to get into the (supposed) majesty of this record, but even if it doesn’t turn out to be, at least there’s now a part of the front-runner for Album of the Year that I understand.

Images & Words: Sampha, “Too Much”

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Sampha
“Too Much”
Too Much/Happens 7″ (out 11/12 on Young Turks)

Fresh off the quality, Dual EP, the Central-ish Londoner takes over the Nothing Was the Same track that he guested on. It’s a gorgeous, spare take on the original (which, he stole the show on) that highlights his distinct, evocative vocals. On repeat.

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.