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: The National, “I’ll Still Destroy You”

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the-national.graham-macindoe.4366_wide-2c5d8eef9bddef8bffb630b84ec075ecfe72d043-s1900-c85-1504652399-640x360The National
“I’ll Still Destroy You”
Sleep Well Beast (out now on 4AD)
Frankly, I’m shocked by how much I’ve grown to love the Brooklyn vets’ seventh LP. After 2013’s tepid “Trouble Will Find Me,” I’d sort of assumed that their misery porn had reached its zenith, now ten years on from the seminal “Boxer.” However, “Sleep Well Beast” finds the band regaining their emotional heft, nowhere more evident than this stunning rumination on escapism, be it by drugs, dreams, or nostalgia. Looking more than a little bit like Heisenberg, vocalist Matt Berninger gets lost in nights and dreams gone by, reveling in their narcotic power, while despairing at the knowledge that no matter how he tries, those harsh lights are going to come on before he knows it.

Images & Words: Mayorkun, “Mama”

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MayorkunMayorkun
“Mama”

Digital Single
Already a big hit in his native Nigeria, “Mama” is a gorgeous swoon of a love song that beautifully matches soca and R&B. It’s the latest in a string of impressive singles for the 23 year-old. Blessed with a pure, easy tenor, Mayorkun manages to capture the silly way falling headlong in love can make you feel without coming off jokey or insincere. Delish.

Images & Words: SOPHIE, “It’s Okay To Cry”

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Screen-Shot-2017-10-19-at-9.05.23-AM-1508418344-640x328SOPHIE
“It’s Okay to Cry”

Digital Single
Every once in a while, somebody puts out something that takes your breath away. “It’s Okay to Cry” is absolutely one of those moments. After spending her early career lurking behind faceless, chaotic, schizophrenic experimental dance music, the 32 year-old has stepped into the light and up to the microphone. The result is pure magic.

Built around a twinkling, celestial piano melody, “It’s Okay To Cry” plays out like a tender, ultra-modern Disney ballad. Her voice is sweet and confident, as she consoles a heartbroken loved one. The depth and power of the message is ratcheted up by the stunning visuals, which depict Sophie as an angelic figure. More than being Sophie’s first public appearance, it’s also the first time she’s clarified which pronouns (she/her) she’s using. It’s a massive statement in so many ways, and truly one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.

Images & Words: Julien Baker, “Turn Out the Lights”

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Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 5.11.37 PMJulien Baker
“Turn Out the Lights”

Turn Out the Lights (out 10.27 on Matador)
We are officially two weeks away from the 22 year-old’s hugely anticipated second LP, and it’s second single hits just as hard as the confessional, heart-crushing “Appointments.”

“Turn Out the Lights” opens as a sparse and haunting take on isolation, as Baker wonders “so why is it easy for everyone else?” The truth is, of course, it isn’t. And when its skyscraping crescendo hits, a sense of hope and community joins her solitary vocal, reminding us that we’re never truly alone.

Images & Words: Stormzy, “4PM in London”

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Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 6.43.10 PMStormzy
“4PM in London”
Digital Single
Turning freestyles into anthems is nothing new to the ultra-talented Londoner. And though the ravenous “4PM in London” was probably written, it feels alive in the same way that many of those aforementioned tracks did. Unlike Drake (the man who originally rapped on this beat), Stormzy’s got the rare ability to make any line feel like a hook, so he doesn’t need a chorus or a sticky melody to make a track stick. “4AM in Calabasas” was about as memorable as a 72° day in the Valley, but Big Mike’s delicious, adhesive bars makes you want to run it back again and again. All hail.

Images & Words: Phoebe Bridgers, “Funeral”

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Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 1.11.12 PMPhoebe Bridgers
“Funeral”
Stranger in the Alps (09.22 on Dead Oceans)
Not sure a folk dirge about death is the best way to get into that #ThursdaySpirit, but Phoebe Bridgers’ crushing new single is beautiful enough for it not to matter. The 23 year-old is on the eve of dropping her long-awaited debut LP, and its third single is a beautiful representation of her emotional sledgehammer songwriting and haunting voice. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it tomorrow.

Images & Words: Creek Boyz, “I’m The One”

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Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 2.47.40 PMCreek Boyz
“I’m the One”

Digital Single
It’s still very early in their career, but the soulful, melodic Baltimore County crew feel like one of the freshest new groups out. Following up their magnetic debut single, “With My Team,” “I’m the One” is a triumphant, buoyant anthem that showcases their versatile talents as singers, rappers, and songwriters. Though their sound is hard to put your finger on, their nearest sonic analogue is probably Philly’s PNB Rock, a man who hails from about two hours north on I-95. It’s an exciting early statement for the group and for an increasingly promising regional rap scene.

Images & Words: Káryyn, “Moving Masses”

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tumblr_mxwe17lAJ61qzx2qxo1_500Káryyn
“Moving Masses”

Digital Single
One of the brightest and most vital new voices I’ve heard this year, the Syrian-American musician follows up her fabulous, two-part QUANTA series with an arresting vocal-led single. Somewhat reminiscent of Julianna Barwick’s timeless early work, “Moving Masses” is a dense mosaic of layered vocals that build to an overwhelming crescendo. The lyrics aren’t decipherable here, but her words still carry weight. And as the track unravels, it slowly beckons you further out to sea, untill there’s nothing you can do but let the waves overtake you.

Stream the beautiful QUANTA series at Spotify.

Images & Words: Samantha Urbani, “Hints & Implications”

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20160322-sxsw-samantha-urbani-23Samantha Urbani
“Hints & Implications”

Policies of Power EP (out now on Lucky Number)
Though the buzz has been pretty tepid, Samantha Urbani’s solo debut EP is a rock-solid collection of elastic, 80’s-inspired pop rock. The songwriting on the record is as sharp and effective as anything you’d find on Carly Rae’s last record, for example. And lead single, “Hints & Implications,” is indicative of that, pairing chunky barre chords with reverb-drenched electro drums and neon synths. It’s really an album that more people should be talking about.

Images & Words: LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”

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screen-shot-2016-01-02-at-8-46-37-pmLCD Soundsystem
“Tonite”

American Dream (out 09.01 on DFA)
Let’s be real, no matter how good ‘American Dream’ turns out to be, it’s always going to kinda be a bummer. Nothing will change that. Then again, good tunes trump good narratives, and “Tonite” is firmly in that camp. The strongest pre-release single yet, it’s got all the hallmarks of prime-era LCD: a repetitive through line, quasi-intellectual cool bro lyrics, taught guitars, sneaky little hooks. I’m not sure I’ll actually want to dance to this, but it’s not a total disaster, which is more than I was realistically expecting from this record.