Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, "Textin' My Ex" (f/ Tiffany Evans)

T-Pain “Textin’ My Ex” (f/ Tiffany Evans) Oblivion Tomorrow, T-Pain drops his long-awaited fifth LP, the culmination of the most trying era of the R&B innovator’s career. Through no real fault of his own, Pain (né Faheem Najm) went from the jolly ringmaster of a multi-million dollar radio empire to a Read more

Images & Words: SOPHIE, "It's Okay To Cry"

SOPHIE "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 Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: King Krule, "Logos"

King Krule "Logos" The OOZ (out now on XL) Archy Marshall's excellent new album feels like a collection of those wonky dream states that exist somewhere in that nether region between being wake and sleep. Though I'm still digesting all 19 of its songs, the hypnotic, jazzy "Logos" immediately stuck out. Over languid jazz chords Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, "For Robin"

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die "For Robin" Always Foreign (Epitaph) There are many, many awful things about addiction, but little is as insidious as the way it pushes its victims away from loved ones from their previous life and deeper into their illness. Anybody who has lost someone to Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "4PM in London"

Stormzy "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 Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Chairlift, “Crying in Public”

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”Crying in Public”
Moth (Columbia)
Everybody has cried in public at least once. Chairlift’s gorgeous ballad reminds me of riding the subway to work a few years ago, while reading the last third of Junot Diaz’s beautiful, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The book had brought me to tears a few times, but I’d mostly kept it together. However, one particularly gut-wrenching passage just crushed me one afternoon, and my silent, choked-back tears morphed into an emotional tsunami. And in an instant, I was that guy, blubbering on the train in front of everyone. I hopped off at the first available station and spent the next ten minutes composing myself for the rest of the ride home, where I could finish the book and weep like a 5 year-old in the privacy of my own apartment.

Images & Words: Francis and The Lights, “Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)

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Francis and The Lights
“Friends” (f/ Kanye West, Bon Iver)
Digital Single
I have a lot of questions about this song/video:

*Who is actually singing?
*What is Kanye doing?
*Why is that Francis guy is trying to Esco Step?
*Which piece of Justin Vernon’s outfit is most appalling?
*When/how did this song burrow this deep into my brain?

Images & Words: Blood Orange, “Augustine”

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Blood Orange
Freetown Sound (out now on Domino)
Late last night, Dev Hynes dropped his third record under the name Blood Orange: the massively-anticipated Freetown Sound. While I’m not even close to digesting all 17 tracks, its lead single is an example of why so many have been looking forward to this thing. It pairs an elastic arrangement with an adhesive hook and solemn, heartfelt lyrics in a way that is uniquely Hynes. Excellent as this is, it feels like it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Images & Words: Ian Isiah, “247”

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Ian Isiah
Digital Single
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the NYC, experimental R&B crooner, but his lovelorn new single is well worth the wait. Isiah’s underrated 2013 LP, The Love Champion, emitted much of the same sultry, romantic vibes of “247” — most notably in the stunning single, “Freak U Down” (one of my favorite songs of that year). Isiah’s tender vocal glides over a warped piano melody from the always brilliant Sinjin Hawke, resulting in a ballad that feels both fresh and nostalgic. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a big year for Isiah.

Images & Words: Danny L Harle, “Ashes of Love” (f/ Caroline Polachek)

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Danny L Harle
“Ashes of Love” (f/ Caroline Polachek)
Digital Single

I’ve mostly been lukewarm on the whole PC Music Crew, but this ecstatic slab of future pop tickles all of my brain’s pleasure centers. On “Ashes of Love,” Harle manages to gaze into the excessive, bombastic 80’s looking glass without falling down the self-indulgent rabbit hole that many of his label-mates reside in. The Europop, trance synths are here, but they aren’t overwhelming. And they’re balanced nicely by Chairlift front woman Caroline Polachek emotional, starry-eyed vocals. Polachek is such an underrated artist, and she’s such a force when she is scratching all of her kitschiest, poppiest itches. This track is definitely that. And that is great.

Images & Words: Stormzy, “Scary”

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Digital Single
As thrilling as a new Stormzy single always is, the most exciting part of his new clip for “Scary” comes right at the beginning when “THE ALBUM IS COMING” scrolls across the screen. A lot has changed for the Londoner since 2014, when he dropped his only proper project, Dreamers Disease. With success comes pressure, but the big man seems gleefully impervious to any of it, rapping with the same ravenous, joie de vivre flow that he came in the game with. He’s basically the musical version of that one dickhead friend who is so clever that he can make you laugh, even as he’s roasting you in front of everyone. That mischievous, playful spirit is essential to the Stormzy experience, and his commitment to being himself is one of the main reasons that I’m so excited to hear his forthcoming debut LP.

Images & Words: Reeko Squeeze, “Normal Dude” / “Like That” (f/ AJ Tracey)

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Reeko Squeeze
“Normal Dude” / “Like That” (f/ AJ Tracey)
Digital Single
The former member of rising South London crew Section Boyz has been on fire recently, dropping a handful of bangers over the last year or so. Stylistically, Reeko’s aggressive, uncompromising style feels more influenced by Southside Chicago than North London, and his rolling flow is at home alongside spare keys and trap hi-hats. His low-key charisma makes the adhesive  “Normal Dude” one of my favorite hip-hop singles of the year, and his flow is the perfect companion for fellow Londoner AJ Tracey’s effortless delivery. Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting young talents around.

Images & Words: ERAS, “Angels” (f/ Grace Hall)

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“Angels” (f/ Grace Hall)
Purified (out 05.27 on Track Number)
Two Angelinos link up for a harrowing journey through a place as dark as death. Producer Nathaniel Eras’ gloomy waves of synth wash over the Skin Town vocalist, leaving her no choice but to repeat the mantra “it’s really dark outside.” “Angels” highlights the simultaneously disquieting and soothing nature of darkness in a visceral way that’s hard to shake.

Images & Words: Fear of Men, “Island”

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Fear of Men
Fall Forever (out 06.03 on Kanine)

Anxiety has always been a core ingredient of the Fear of Men experience. From their name to their sound, the Brighton trio’s previous work is dripping with concern. Anxiety is a relatable emotion, but it’s also a self-sabotaging one. And as cozy and affecting as their early work is, it always felt like they were holding something back, self-conscious about trying to do too much or play too loudly.

For that reason, the first line from their second album’s lead single feels especially powerful. “I’m like an island, I don’t need to feel your arms around me” sings vocalist Jess Weiss, her vocals newly high in the mix and confident. What follows is the group’s most ambitious single to date, featuring a stirring guitar-line and a lush earworm of a chorus that recalls the Cranberries’ seminal “Dreams.” As the song moves and they really go for it, you can feel the anxiety melt away and all the light come streaming in.

Images & Words: Rostam, “Gravity Don’t Pull Me”

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“Gravity Don’t Pull Me”
Digital Single
Since he announced his departure from Vampire Weekend back in January, Rostam Batmanglij has been busy, dropping a pair of new singles that will hopefully lead to his debut LP as a solo artist. The second of those, “Gravity Don’t Pull Me,” is a potent combination of musical opacity and lyrical directness. Over waves of kaleidoscopic synths, the 32 year-old expresses his deep regret about a failed relationship. Even though the relationship has been over for years, he admits that there are still some days where his ex drags on his thoughts. His candor and vulnerability are impossible not to relate to and be affected by. If Batmanglij’s storytelling continues to be on the same level as his unarguable musicianship and songwriting, his debut could be one of the best of 2016.