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

The Round-Up

The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April ’18

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April ’18

Grouper
“Grid of Points”
Yellow Electric
Though only 21 minutes, the haunting beauty of Liz Harris’ eleventh studio LP will linger for many years to come. Penned and recorded in just 10 days, “Grid of Points” feels like a moment suspended in time — a distant memory that you just can’t shake off. The arraignments predominantly consist of just piano, voice, and ambient sounds captured during recording, most notably the passing train that closes the record. The way she uses the train to slice through the disc’s most gorgeous moment is such a microcosm of what makes Harris’ music so true and so alive. Instead of giving us a fully-realized closing ballad, she reminds us how ephemeral and precious beauty is by highlighting the way life can cut it short when you least expect it.
Start Here: Just listen to the whole thing.

Card B
“Invasion of Privacy”
Atlantic
When Cardi B defiantly declares “My little 15 minutes lasting long as hell, huh?” on the final track of “Invasion of Privacy,” you really believe her. And it’s not because of her looks, magnetic personality, or any marketing bullshit. It’s because she just proved that she’s one hell of an artist.

On her major label debut, she shows herself a clever, flexible MC and an impressive writer, capable of dropping LOL punchlines right next to penetrating insights from a life dogged by struggle. Oh, and she can sing a little too. You don’t have to believe me, but if you give this record a real chance, she’ll make a believer out of you. One of the best rap records of the last five years.
Start Here: “Get Up 10,” “Ring (f/ Kehlani)

Elysia Crampton
Elysia Crampton
Break World
People will tell you that originality is in short supply in 2018. Those people obviously aren’t listening to Elysia Crampton. Though she’s been mostly nomadic, Crampton’s roots are in Bolivia and Chile, and her fourth LP is another beguiling collection that bridges the ancient sound of her ancestors with the modern, experimental feel of today. The result is a totally unique sound that lives in its own mystical space.
Start Here: Again, just listen to the whole thing.

Nines
“Crop Circle”
XL

Never one to follow trends, the London MC melds his city’s lyrically-focused roots with the modern generation’s melodic mastery. On “Crop Circle,” Nines pulls from a seemingly limitless arsenal of bars, pairing engaging storytelling with subtle melodies. Though it seems to be short on pure singles, the consistent project is sure to delight his growing legion of and fans and should continue growing his rep as one of the UK’s most underrated young stars.
Start Here: “I See You Shining” “Rubber Bands” (f/ RAY BLK, Skrapz)

Pale Waves
“All The Things I Never Said”
Dirty Hit

The 1975-cosigned Manchester quartet cranks up the goth-pop drama on their super promising debut EP. Lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie feels like a star in the making, lacing undeniable vocal melodies over glistening beds of synth and razor-sharp riffs. Standout track, “My Obsession,” is pure stadium laser and cigarette lighter magic, beautifully highlighting their ambitious sound and boundless potential.
Start Here: “My Obsession”

J Cole
“KOD”
Dreamville
Though it’s never been less cool to love J. Cole, to my ears, the North Carolina rapper’s fifth LP is his best to date. Though it’s still too preachy too often, the second half of the disc features some jazzy, To Pimp A Butterfly-esque production, solid storytelling, and some interesting insight on the way addiction has touched Cole’s life. It’s not a game-changer, but it’ll definitely make me take a look back at some of his other work that I’d previously ignored.
Start Here: “Once An Addict – Interlude” “FRIENDS” (f/ kiLL edward)

The Aces
“When My Heart Felt Volcanic”
Red Bull

The Provo quartet’s breakthrough LP is a sharp collection of hook-laden power pop. Vocalist Cristal Ramirez is the star of the show, slathering her breathy vocals all over the taut guitar melodies and her sister’s pounding drums. Frankly, I’m surprised this album hasn’t made more of a dent, but it certainly feels like they are on the path to something big.
Start Here: “Volcanic Love” “Stay”

Tink
“Pain & Pleasure”
Machine / Winter’s Diary

After three years in a Timbaland-led label hell, Chicago’s most promising young artists is finally free. And though it’s not the big, sweeping statement some hoped for — that will likely be reserved for the forthcoming Winter’s Diary 5 — it’s a down-tempo, low-stakes affair that leans on the sensual, R&B side of her sound. It may not be a classic, but hopefully it’s a sign of more to come from the 23 year-old.
Start Here: “Faded” “Get You Home”

The Weekend
“My Dear Melancholy”
Republic

Though it’s not of the same quality, Abel is certainly back on his “House of Balloons” shit on this surprise EP. The disc was penned in the wake of a painful break-up either with Selena Gomez or the Hadid sister who isn’t with Zayn Malik, and cuts like “Wasted Times” and “I Was Never There” certainly serve up a lot of same intoxicating misery that made H.O.B. such a classic.
Start Here: “Wasted Times” “I Was Never There”

Quando Rondo
“Life B4 Fame”
Self-Released
One of the most promising new voices in music, the Savanah, Georgia’s proper debut project is teaming with emotional, heartfelt street rap. Unwilling to be pigeonholed by a single sound, Rondo switches effortlessly from rapper to singer — sometimes in a single line — sharing his passion and pain over an exquisite collection of melodic beats that still knock. Keep an eye on this guy.
Start Here: “Paradise” “I Remember” (f/ Lil Baby)

Aisha Badru
Pedulum
Nettwerk Music Group

The New York native’s beautiful debut is a testament to crafting beauty our of sorrow. Though it’s probably an unfair comparison, there’s a little bit of Bjork on this project. Like the Icelander, Badru pulls maximum emotion out of her gentle voice by framing it with stirring arrangements that seamlessly meld analog and digital instrumentation.
Start Here: “Bridges” “Mind on Fire”

Ross From Friends
“Aphelion”
Brainfeeder
You wouldn’t expect dudes with names like DJ Seinfeld, DJ Boring, and Ross From Friends to be cranking out emotional, expertly-crafted dance music, but this is 2018 and nothing makes sense anymore. “Aphelion” is the latter’s most accomplished work yet, featuring four slabs of engulfing deep house magic. Though vocal samples are at a premium, the South Londoner wields them to perfection, injecting humanity into every track.
Start Here: “There’s a Hole In My Heart”

Anna Leone
“Wandered Away”
Half Awake

Not to be confused with Australian DJ/Apple Music radio host Anna Lunoe, the 24 year-old Swedish singer-songwriter’s debut EP is an stirring collection of heartfelt of modern folk. Powerhouse voices like Leone’s are usually reserved for festival-friendly pop in 2018, but her spare arrangements are a refreshing, unexpected match for her rare vocal talent.
Start Here: “I Never Really”

Saba
“Care For Me”
Saba Pivot
The nimble, talented Chicago rapper offers brutal and beautiful look at loss and life on this stunning project, penned in the aftermath of the murder of his beloved cousin and rising rapper, Walter “dinnerwithjohn” Long Jr. Though he’s racked with sorrow, Saba refuses to let Long’s tragic, senseless death define him, sharing the joy and light that he brought into Saba’s life.
Start Here: “PROM / KING” “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME”

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The First Quarter

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The First Quarter

To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s been a vintage first quarter for music, as I had fewer albums that I wanted to write about than usual. That said, there are some truly excellent albums on this list, and there’s a lot to look forward coming up soon.

Kacey Musgraves
“Golden Hour”
UMG Recordings
What: The country rising star’s transcendent, all-conquering third studio album
Where: Nashville, TN via Golden, TX
In a Tweet: A balanced, stunning collection of well-sung, beautifully written modern country. Simultaneously extremely consistent and full of highlights. An album to fall in love to, break up to, then get back together to. Kacey is a fucking star.
Start Here: “Space Cowboy” “Golden Hour”

O3 Greedo
“The Wolf of Grape Street”
Alamo
What: The uncompromising, exhilarating breakthrough project from the hyper-prolific MC
Where: Watts, CA
In a Tweet: Possibly the most exciting, unique talent since Young Thug. The 30 year-old is a true iconoclast, crafting emotional, unpredictable modern rap that twists and turns without warning. “Grape Street” is too long, but smart listeners will find absolute gold on this record.
Start Here: “Never Bend” “Zoning”

Bad Gyal
“Worldwide Angel”
Puro
What:
The new mixtape from the rising Spanish reggaeton innovator Alba Farelo
Where: Barcelona, Spain
In A Tweet: Over an electric array of modern, genre-fluid beats, Farelo ratchets up the heat with a sweltering new collection that further cements her unique sound and vital voice. Though it’s true to the sound of her excellent “Slow Wine” tape, it makes subtle upgrades and shows exciting growth.

Negative Gemini
“Bad Baby”
100% Electronica

What: An emotional 6-song EP from the experimental producer, Lindsay French
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In a Tweet: Good luck tagging a genre on this project. Whether its the breathy, deep synth-pop of the title track or the underwater power ballad, “My Innocence,” French is forever confounding but nails everything she does with aplomb. A true original who deserves a lot more shine than she gets.
Start Here: “Bad Baby” “You Weren’t There Anymore”

Tatsuya Shimazaki
“in my”
Self-Released
What:
A breathtaking ambient release from the Japanese composer
Where: Tokyo, Japan
In A Tweet: Though there isn’t much information about Shimazaki around, he’s got an extensive, excellent array of carefully crafted, therapeutic mood music to explore. His work combines delicate pianos, plucked ukulele, resonant synths, and little pangs of percussion — all used judiciously and subtly to extract maximum emotion.
Start Here: “remnent” “disposition

Haley Heynderickx
“I Need To Start a Garden”
Mama Bird
What:
The gentle, woodsy debut from the graceful-voiced singer-songwriter
Where: Portland, OR
In a Tweet: Though you’d probably file it under “folk,” Heynderickx’s excellent LP is delightfully difficult to categorize. She mixes bits of garage rock, indie, and Americana in here — all deftly held together by her elastic voice and nimble guitarwork.
Start Here: “The Bug Collector” “Show You A Body”

Camp Cope
“How To Socialise & Make Friends”
Run For Cover

What: The Sophomore LP from the young sometimes noisy / sometimes quiet Aussie trio
Where: Melbourne, Australia
In a Tweet: A worthy successor to their crushing, beautiful self-titled debut. Vocalist Georgia Maq is one of the bravest, most insightful artists around, and she tackles topics like death, sexual abuse, and loneliness with a directness that will strike you in the head and the heart.
Start Here: “The Face Of God” “I’ve Got You”

Lil Durk
“Just Cause Y’all Waited”
Only The Family Entertainment
What:
The 25 year-old’s first post-Def Jam release
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Now that he’s free from a major label deal that never really made sense for him, Durk sounds rejuvenated here. Though there are better rappers and crooners out there, not many do both as well as Durk, and he strikes a potent balance between them on this consistent, heartfelt project.
Start Here: “How I Know” (f/ Lil Baby) “Instigator”

DJ Taye
“Still Trippin’”
Hyperdub
What:
The long-awaited Hyperdub debut LP from the legendary Teklife crew’s biggest young talent
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Released a month short of the 4-year anniversary of his mentor DJ Rashad’s death, “Still Trippin’” is the kind of frenetic, exhilarating project that would have made Rashad smile. Though deeply rooted in footwork, Taye beautifully stretches the boundaries of the sound in fresh ways.
Start Here: “I Don’t Know” (f/ Fabi Reyna) “2094”

Soccer Mommy
“Clean”
Fat Possum
What:
The breakthrough project from 20 year-old prolific bedroom singer-songwriter Sophie Allison
Where: Nashville, TN
In a Tweet: “chill but kinda sad” goes Allison’s self-deprecating bio, and it’s actually a pretty apt (if understated) synopsis of this record. “Clean” is full of the kind of broken-winged, yet open-hearted feelings (#feels) that color your early 20s… and, for some of us, early 30s too. 😄
Start Here: “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” “Scorpio Rising”

awakebutstillinbed
“what people call low self​-​esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you”
Tiny Engines

What: As the album suggests, this shit is obviously emo
Where: San Jose, CA (woooooo)
In a Tweet: An emotional cyclone of an album led by the raw, honest songwriting of Shannon Taylor. Across nine noisy, but super melodic tracks, Taylor shrieks, shouts, and shares her innermost feelings and struggles, finding solace and strength in the chaos around her. Though not an easy listen, it’s a rewarding one.
Start Here: “floor” “opener”

American Pleasure Club
“A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This”
Run For Cover
What:
The eclectic new album from Sam Ray’s (Ricky Eat Acid) band
Where: Baltimore, MD
In a Tweet: After jettisoning one of the worst band names in music, Teen Suicide, Ray crafted the best album of his career. There’s fuzzy stoner rock, sweetboi ballads, and even a track with a breakbeat. In short, it’s all over the place, but somehow it works, which is a testament to Ray’s taste.
Start Here: “this is heaven & id die for it” “all the lonely nights in your life”

Kalle J
“Aros Catering”
Emotion
What:
The Swedish-language solo debut of Karl X Johan’s Kalle Jönsson
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
In a Tweet: I’ve been waiting years for a Karl X Johan debut, but this melodramatic project from ‘Karl’ will suffice. Though I kind of wish it was sung in a language I speak, the cracked power ballads, sweeping melodies, and dramatic, gauzy arrangements are tasty in any dialect. Get out your lighters.
Start Here: “Strand” “BDSM”

The Round-Up: The Best Tracks of January and February

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Tracks of January and February

I’ve been a little slow to get cranked back up in 2018, but I quickly realized that a shitload of great music has dropped in January and February. Here’s a quick wrap-up of a few of my favorites.

Bad Gyal
“Internationally”
Worldwide Angel (out now on Puro)
It sounds hyperbolic, but I could have picked almost any song from the Catalan reggaeton alchemist’s recent mixtape. So I’ll go with the one that banged hardest when I saw her in Brooklyn last week. Bad Gyal is a huge star in the making, and I can’t wait to see how far she goes.

Mabel
“Fine Line” (f/ Not3s)
Digital Single
Jorja Smith isn’t the only young, hugely talented British singer who’s poised to take over the world. After a super promising 2017, the Londoner went to the next level with the breezy, intoxicating “Fine Line,” a legit smash that has made waves on both sides of the Atlantic.

Creek Boyz
“Trap Digits” / “Loco”
Digital Single
Baltimore’s most inspirational group are back with a pair of sticky sing-alongs. Though they haven’t quite blown up like “With My Team” did, both cuts deliver the same electric elements, bursting with melodic gang vocals and emotional bars. 2018 needs a Creek Boyz album so bad.

Slowthai
“T N Biscuits”
Digital Single
Though UK rap has never been bigger, there’s a bit of a dearth of promising, traditional-ish grime MCs. Enter, Northampton’s Slowthai. More interested in tounge-twisting wordplay and rhythmic versatility than catchy melodies, this cut highlights why Thai is buzzing so much right now.

Sevdaliza
“Human Nature”
Digital Single
It’s been under a year since the Iranian-Dutch vocalist released her gorgeous, labyrinthine debut LP. But she’s back at it with this bewitching, trip-hop ballad. Her voice is slathered in effects, but her humanity bleeds through, forming one of the most arresting songs of 2018.

Dave
“Hangman”
Digital Single
Not a lot of artists can speak to the youth quite like Santan Dave. Whether he’s talking city politics (“Question Time”) or mental health (“Panic Attack”), Dave has that rare ability to craft conscious, thought-provoking music that isn’t preachy or contrived (sup, Logic).

03 Greedo
“Substance”

The Wolf of Grape Street (out now on Alamo)
Addiction is everywhere in 2018. It’s in every community — in our families, friend groups, offices, and increasingly, our art. 03 Greedo’s yearning “Substance” is a visceral, affecting view into the insidious ways drugs invade users’ psyches and dominate their thoughts.

Kacey Musgraves
“Space Cowboy”
Golden Hour (out 03.30 on Mercury)
If the Texan megastar’s inch-perfect farewell ballad doesn’t break your heart, you haven’t got anything in there. Musgraves is an incisive, insightful writer with a pristine, spotless voice. At her best, she’s capable of timeless tracks like this.

Tink
“Breakin’ Me”
Digital Single
The most important part of “Breakin’ Me” isn’t the music. It’s the fact that it coincides with her release from Timbaland’s dastardly clutches. Now that Tink is finally free, she can get back to being one of the most vital, unique voices in music today. Ay fuckin’ men.

Lauren Auder
“These Broken Limbs Again Into One Body”
Who Carry’s You (out 03.16 on True Panther)
The 19 year-old French goth-pop miserablist turns up the drama on his breakthrough single. His evocative baritone mopes through dense layers of guitars and synths, dripping with the kind of existential, teenage angst that hurts so good.

BlocBoy JB & Drake
“Look Alive”
Digital Single
Youthful energy is contagious, and Drake sounds revitalized on this electric collab with rising Memphis rapper, BlocBoy JB. 10 years his junior, JB is half man, half spark-plug, bouncing off the walls and inspiring Drake to drop the tough-guy facade, let his hair down, and just have some fucking fun.

SOB x RBE
“Carpoolin'”
Gangin (Empire)
The first few times I heard the Vallejo crew’s “Carpoolin’,” it felt like it was stuck on 1.5 speed. That said, once my brain caught up with the beat, I fell in love. It reminds me of when your first friend got their license, and you’d just mob around the city with all your boys. *single tear*

Soccer Mommy
“Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”
Clean (out now on Fat Possum)
The best moment from Sophie Allison’s excellent new LP is about seeing your future with somebody who can’t see theirs with you. And then, once you step back from them, you have the sweet realization that they were never right for you from the start. Lucky you.

Gunna
“Almighty” (f/ Hoodrich Pablo Juan)
Drip Season 3 (out now on YSL)
The Young Thug protégé dropped one of the strongest rap records of the first few months. And this slithering slow-burner is a good indication of the hazy delights on the disc. Gunna is a tuneful, charismatic rapper, and he tip-toes through the beat like a young Thugger here.

Camp Cope
“Last One”
How To Socialise & Make Friends (out now on Run for Cover)
I wrote a ton about the Melbourne trio’s beautiful 2016 debut, and their follow-up is more of the same. Its final track, “Last One,” is a beautiful farewell to songwriter Georgia Maq’s late father that is full of insight and emotion. Just an unreal talent.

YBN Nahmir
“Bounce Out With That”
Digital Single
The Birmingham native’s tracks are over so quickly, it’s impossible to only listen to them once. Similar to his break-out single, “Rubbin Off The Paint,” this track is two minutes of pure, lean ear candy. It’s easy to see why he’s one of the hottest young rappers in America.

Haley Heynderickx
“The Bug Collector”
I Need To Start A Garden (out now on Mama Bird)
The Portland folkie’s debut LP is one of the best of the year, and “The Bug Collector” is a perfect example of her nimble guitarwork, warm voice, and unique songwriting. Over descending, arpeggiated guitars, she sings about protecting a loved one from dangers, real and imagined.

Migos
“Supastars”
Culture II (out now on QC)
Though the Internet mostly decided that “Culture II” was a letdown, I beg to differ. Sure, it’s inconsistent. Find me a Migos project that isn’t. It’s still full of that special sauce that only they can cook up.

Off-kilter, intoxicating melody
Glorious wordplay
Inch-perfect percussion

Jens Lekman
“Who Really Needs Who”
Correspondence (With Annika Norlin)
On the first of the Swedish sweeties once-monthly singles series, Lekman writes about friendship and loneliness with the deft touch that only he has. The other two tracks are also worth checking out. So much more to come from this one.

Listen to the whole project, here.

Payroll Giovanni & Cardo Got Wings
“Thing Or 2”(f/ Jade Djones)
Big Bossin Vol. 2 (Def Jam)
Payroll & Cardo bring the 90’s back with this air-tight collection of throwback bangers. Though the whole album is worth your time, this lithe, easy hustler’s anthem is indicative of the potent sound this duo always seems to cook up together.

Yxng Bane
“Corner” (f/ Maleek Berry)
Digital Single
Very few artists have paired the sound of Africa with the UK more seamlessly than the East Londoner with Congolese and Angolan roots. “The Corner” is his strongest cut yet, boasting a floaty hook and melodic verses that will stick in your head. The sky’s the limit for Yxng Bane.

Mount Eerie
“Distortion”
Now Only (out 03.16 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)
A key, rarely discussed element of grief is the confusion that it brings. That feeling is highlighted by this rambling, freeform track that sees Phil Elverum remembering his late wife by touching on everything from a youthful pregnancy scare to the first time he saw a dead body.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of October 2017

Posted on by TP1.COM in Columns, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of October 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.34.52 PMKelela
Take Me Apart
Warp Records
The album I was most excited to hear this year, the 34 year-old’s Warp debut simultaneously delivered the goods and left me a little lukewarm. The more time I’ve spent with it, the more I realize that any disappointment I had was my fault, not hers.

“Take Me Apart” is unarguably excellent — a futuristic R&B odyssey that deftly amps up her pop ambitions without alienating the alternative club sound that made her so exciting in the first place. That said, after her stunning debut “Cut 4 Me” (my favorite mixtape of 2013) and TMA’s incredible first single, “LMK,” I was definitely guilty of overstanning and saddling the disc with unrealistic expectations. That said, the further I get away from the hype, the more I fall in love with this record. Get back to me in December.

Hottest Jams: “LMK” “Frontline”

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.28.31 PMGrizzle
Consort
Liminal Sounds
The most exciting instrumental grime debut since MssingNo’s classic 2013 EP, “Consort” is a delirious, 20 minute funhouse ride, dripping with adhesive melodies and pounding, nimble rhythms. Each track undulates gracefully in between movements, deftly building to monstrous crescendos that creep up behind you. Rising Tottenham MC ShaqyDread also comes through with a couple of tasty verses on “Sermon,” which proves that the Manchester producer’s stellar sound is just as potent with a vocalist in the mix.

Hottest Jams: “Consort” “Eleusis”


kelsea-ballerini-smile-press-2016-billboard-1548Kelsea Ballerini

Unapologetically
Black River
To my ears, the 24 year-old is the biggest young talent in country music. Preaching a bold, uncompromising message in a genre dogged by the Nashville scene’s misogynistic roots, “Unapologetically” gleefully shits on lame dudes (“Get Over Yourself,” “Miss Me More”) without letting them sabotage her joy (“Roses”) or stop her from telling her own, unique story (“In Between”). Easily one of the best country records of the year.

Hottest Jams: “Roses” “In Between”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.45.59 PMJulien Baker
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
The 22 year-old’s long-awaited second LP lived up to every ounce of the hype. It is a gorgeous, heartbreaking collection of carefully-crafted, subtle indie folk. She sings about mental illness, heartbreak, and loss with a clarity and incisiveness that is truly rare. And though darkness is around every corner, she always manages to let just enough light in, often in the form of stunning, late-song climaxes. Just an incredible talent.

Hottest Jams: “Appointments” “Sour Breath”

offset-21-savage-metro-boomin21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin
Without Warning

Slaughter Gang
Instead of sitting back and riding the waves of their brilliant recent LPs, the Atlanta MCs got back at it and dropped a surprise project, guided by the steady hand of Metro Boomin. The 24 year-old’s skeletal style is the ideal canvas for the pair, and Offset’s nimble, loquacious flow is the perfect foil for 21’s minimalist raps.

Hottest Jams: “Ghostface Killers” (f/ Travis Scott) “Darth Vader”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.52.37 PMThe Weather Station
The Weather Station

Paradise of Bachelors
When you think about folk music, what adjectives come to mind? Calming, windswept, pastoral, therapeutic. Tamara Lindeman brand of folk has traces of all those things, but it’s also much different. It’s fierce, rugged, and powerful — more Ani DiFranco than Cat Stevens. The Toronto native’s fantastic fourth album is the most impressive of her career, outfitting her gorgeous, warm vocals with an arsenal of sticky melodies, fingerpicked guitars, swelling strings, and thought provoking lyrics.

Hottest Jams: “Thirty” “Power”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.54.03 PMSlaughter Beach, Dog
Birdie

Lame-O
Jake Ewald’s main band, Modern Baseball, has had a tumultuous 18 months, and you can hear it on his pleasant, soft solo album. An intoxicating brew of sweetness, sadness, and safety (think: coming home for summer from college), “Birdie” is built around Ewald’s kind, warm vocals and considerate songwriting. It’s the kind of record that is so relatable that it’s almost guaranteed to transport you back to some specific moment of your young life.

Hottest Jams: “Phoenix” “Acolyte”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 5.58.39 PMKing Krule
The OOZ

True Panther
King Krule played two nights in Brooklyn last week, and secondary market tickets were going for about $400. That’s an insane price for a guy who is making legitimately fucking weird, genre-less music. The OOZ is easily his strangest project yet, pairing behind-the-beat jazz chords and lonely synths with howling vocals and lyrics so opaque it’s hard to tell whether they’re poetry or pure gibberish. Somehow, it all works, and the more time you spend with it, the easier it is to see what all the fuss is about.

Hottest Jams: “Logos” “Lonely Blue”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.03.30 PMColleen
A flame my love, a frequency

Thrill Jockey
The specter of death looms large over the shapeshifting French composer’s excellent sixth album. She was in Paris on the night of the horrifying 2015 terror attacks and worked on much of this album while a loved one was battling a crippling illness. Her deep lyrical examinations are balanced by her soothing vocals and fields of oceanic, ambient synths, which swell to capture the fear that envelops our modern times and recede to highlight the isolation.

Hottest Jams: “Winter Dawn” “Separating”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.02.07 PMFuture x Young Thug
Super Slimey
Epic
Though it disappointingly didn’t make much of a dent in today’s uber-saturated market, Thugger and Future’s collaborative LP is far from a throwaway (get it? get iiiit?). Thug, especially, sounds rejuvenated here (Future’s been pretty consistent recently), which isn’t surprising considering that both artists tend to bring out the best in each other (think: 2014’s classic “Chanel Vintage”). Standout track “Three” is the best example of this, as they both snap on their verses with Thug recapturing some of the unpredictable magic that made his early work so compelling.

Hottest Jams: “Three” “Cruise Ship”



Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.04.44 PMCircuit Des Yeux
Reaching For Indigo
Drag City
Nobody, I mean nobody, sings like Haley Fohr. Her expressive baritone toes the line between emotive and performative — constantly flirting with community theater melodrama without ever falling into it. “Reaching for Indigo” is arguably her most direct effort yet, pairing experimental folk instrumentation with legitimately catchy hooks (see: lead single, “Black Fly”) and overwhelming crescendos. A true one-off.

Hottest Jams: “Black Fly” “Paper Bag”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.10.36 PMLil Durk
Signed To The Streets 2.5
Only The Family
Admittedly, this isn’t Durk’s most vital project of the this year, but this tape is worth writing about because it underlines what an incredible 2017 the Chicago MC is having. Along with a handful of excellent loosies, STTS2.5 is his third quality project of the year and is a reminder that very few artists are making better melodic street rap in 2017 than the 25 year-old.

Hottest Jams: “Make it Out” “India”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.12.58 PMJessie Ware
Glasshouse

PMR
A welcome bounce back from 2014’s uninspiring, “Tough Love,” “Glasshouse” recaptures much of the magical quiet storm of her glorious early work. Now 33 with a family of her own, Ware writes about the joy and melancholy of growing into a real-life adult with insight and emotion. Her voice is still a rare instrument, especially when it’s given room to operate. And thankfully, “Glasshouse” is gleefully short of the overcooked arrangements that bogged down her last record.

Hottest Jams: “First Time” “Midnight”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.16.57 PMCitizen
As You Please
Run For Cover
Though they tend to get lumped into the fourth-wave emo crowd, to my ears, the Ohio group’s excellent third LP sounds a lot more like the 90’s radio-rock that I grew up on than Mineral or Rites of Spring or something. I mean, its pre-release singles lifted melodies from Nirvana and the Primitive Radio Gods; it doesn’t get much more mid-90’s MTV than that. Label it however you want, but the record is an impressive collection of rock-solid, guitar-driven songwriting, elevated by Mat Kerekes’ muscular vocals.

Hottest Jams: “In The Middle of It All” “World”

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.19.35 PMTy Dolla Sign
“Beach House 3”

Atlantic
Though he still hasn’t really found the mega-smash single to elevate him to the very top level as a solo artist, the 32 year-old is still one of the most consistent R&B singers around. I like Ty best as a mid-tempo balladeer, as his slightly raspy voice adds a nice touch of edge to ultra-smooth production. Tracks like “Droptop in the Rain” and “All The Time” scratch that itch and provide a nice balance to the rest of the club-friendly setlist.

Hottest Jams: “Droptop in the Rain” (f/ Tory Lanez) “All The Time”

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The Third Quarter

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The Third Quarter

As you may have noticed, I’ve done my annual “fall behind on a monthly column” thing over the last couple months. That said, that just gives me more ammo for a proper Q3 round up, featuring the best records of that period in alphabetical order.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.48.01 PM21 Savage
Issa Album
Slaughter Gang
What: The heartfelt, personal debut solo studio LP from the sharp-tongued MC
Where: Atlanta, GA
In a Tweet: Issa adds more deft, subtle melody to his singular, nihilistic, uncompromising sound. 21 is ready for prime-time. On God.
Start Here: “Nothin New” “Famous” “Bank Account”

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 11.55.47 AMBruno Major
A Song For Every Moon
July Records
What: The velvet-voiced, cheeseball crooner’s debut LP, built off one year of monthly singles
Where: London, UK
In a Tweet: Journey deep into the heart of a modern softboi. He matches R&B and adult contempo influences with a jazzy heart.
Start Here: “Cold Blood” “Second Time” “On Our Own”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.49.41 PMDJ Python
Dulce Compañia
Incienso
What: Brian Piñeyro’s first LP under this moniker. You might know him as DJ Wey, Luis, or Deejay Xanax.
Where: Queens, NY
In a Tweet:
The kind of gentle, deep house that’s easy to get lost in with just enough touches of reggaeton and dembow to maybe dance to. So well balanced.
Start Here: “You Ran (Do)” “Todo Era Azul – Siempre Dub” “Acostados”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.50.46 PMJapanese Breakfast
Soft Sounds From Another Planet
Dead Oceans
What: Michelle Zauner’s follow-up to her gorgeous, dream-pop debut, “Psychopomp” (2016)
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In a Tweet: MZ drags her dreamy sound even deeper into space. Slinky pop jams collide with heart-crushing ballads. A writer with rare honesty.
Start Here: “Machinist” “This House” “Road Head”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.52.02 PMJay Boogie
Jesus Loves Me Too
Self-Released
What: The new mixtape from Jay Boogie, his first since 2015’s “My H.O.E.”
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In A Tweet: Sonically versatile and adventurous, Boogie’s breakout LP is modern and magnetic, driven by his melodic flow and exuberant storytelling.
Start Here: “Malandrina” “Venti”(f/ Lily The Body) “Featherweight”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.52.42 PMJim-E Stack
It’s Jim-ee
Self-Released
What: The EP is the LA producer’s first project since his 2014 breakthrough, Tell Me I Belong
Where: LA via SF
In A Tweet: Driven by a break-up, it’s a taut, sharp collection of emotional dance music. Beautiful exploration of how club music can heal the heart.
Start Here: “I Did The Best I Could” “Moments Noticed” “Deadstream”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.53.36 PMKodak Black
Project Baby 2
Atlantic
What: The follow-up to his breakthrough Project Baby mixtape from late 2013
Where: Pompano Beach, FL
In A Tweet: The walls are closing in on the troubled 20 y/o, but PB2 hints that he knows that he must change if he is to fulfill his infinite potential.
Start Here: “Change My Ways” “Versatile” “Transportin'”

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 5.37.31 PMKommode
Analog Dance Music
Random Two Syllable Word
What: The guy from Kings of Convenience who isn’t Erlend Øye’s long-awaited side project
Where: Bergen, Norway
In A Tweet: Romantic, luxurious dance(ish) music with the voice of a Scandinavian man-angel. Beautiful, sharp, languid, and disastrously underrated.
Start Here: “Not The Bigger Picture” “Fight or Flight or Dance All Night” “Lady-Logic”

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 6.05.33 PMLil Durk x Lil Reese
Supa Vultures – EP
OTF/EMPIRE
What: A collaborative project featuring two of the key members of Chicago’s mid-10’s drill scene
Where: Chicago, IL / Atlanta, GA
In a Tweet: Two of drill’s core innovators link up for an EP that’s much more than a nostalgic exercise. Both sound fresh and compliment each other so well.
Start Here: “Distance” “Unstoppable” “Nobody Knows”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.59.16 PMLomelda
Thx
Double Double Whammy
What: The second LP from wistful singer/songwriter Hannah Read
Where: Silsbee, Texas
In A Tweet: Heartsick, imperfect guitar pop from Smalltown, USA. Captures the loneliness of outgrowing your hometown but also the fear of leaving.
Start Here: “Out There” “From Here” “Only World”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 3.17.31 PMMhysa
Fantasii
Halcyon Veil
What: The experimental, proper debut LP from the multi-platform artist
Where: Philadelphia, PA
In a Tweet: Arty and seductive deconstructed R&B that dips its toe in many sonic pools. That said, listeners will get more the deeper they dive in.
Start Here: “Bb” “Spectrum” “Strobe”

Moneybagg-YoMoneybagg Yo
Federal 3X
N-Less

What: The third installment of the 26 year-old’s Federal mixtape series
Where: Memphis, TN
In a Tweet: We already knew that Moneybagg has bully bars for days. But on F3X, he spices them up with extra understated hooks and melody. Tasty.
Start Here: “Important” “Blog” “Mind Frame”

la-et-ms-moses-sumney-20150729Moses Sumney
Aromanticism
Jagjaguwar
What: The critically-acclaimed debut from the genre-fluid mystical singer/songwriter
Where: San Bernardino, CA
In A Tweet: Good luck categorizing this LP. He pairs his unforgettable falsetto with indie, chamber pop, blues, soul, and about 4,000 other sounds.
Start Here: “Self-Help Tape” “Plastic” “Lonely World”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.08.21 PMThe National
Sleep Well Beast
4AD
What: The seventh studio LP from the road-weary, stately indie rock quartet
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In a Tweet: The best of the recent indie-rock old guys revival, SWB is boosted by a gorgeous, heartfelt B-side. A big upgrade from their last effort.
Start Here: “Carin at the Liquor Store” “Dark Side of the Gym” “I’ll Still Destroy You”

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 1.11.12 PMPhoebe Bridgers
Stranger in the Alps
Dead Oceans
What: The debut LP from the promising, young singer/songwriter
Where: Los Angeles, CA
In a Tweet: A spooky, heartbreaking collection of folk dirges that are granted levity by her gentle, gorgeous voice and tender guitarwork.
Start Here: “Smoke Signals” “Funeral” “You Missed My Heart”

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 10.32.40 AMTurnover
Good Nature
Run For Cover
What: The post-emo trio’s follow-up to 2015’s much beloved Peripheral Vision
Where: Virginia Beach
In a Tweet: Or, how an angsty east-coaster moved to Cali, fell in love, went vegan, got into Real Estate*, and crafted a heartfelt, optimistic guitar-pop masterclass.
Start Here: “Pure Devotion” “Breeze” “Super Natural”
*the band, not like flipping houses

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 12.59.53 PMTyler, The Creator
Flower Boy

Columbia
What: A softer, more mature follow-up to 2015’s noisy, frustrating Cherry Bomb
Where: Los Angeles, CA
In a Tweet: Though he isn’t screaming anymore, his voice has never yielded more power. Over gooey, delicious beats, Tyler speaks his truth with stunning results.
Start Here: “See You Again” (f/ Kali Uchis) “911/Mr. Lonely” (f/ Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy) “Garden Shed” (f/ Estelle)

the-war-on-drugs-tickets_10-05-17_17_591203405f659The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding
Atlantic
What:
Adam Granduciel and co.’s all-conquering successor to 2014’s “Lost in a Dream”
Where: Philadelphia, PA
In a Tweet: The LP that saw the stringy-haired sadsacks take over indie-rock. Granduciel is a master of making unspecific ennui feel life-affirming.
Start Here: “In Chains” “Pain” “Clean Living”

waxahatchee_wide-75076e668c79e2e0c496c3eb67963bb1d5ed0f0b-s6-c30Waxahatchee
“Out In The Storm”

Merge
What: The fourth LP from Katie Crutchfield’s alt-rock project, mostly dealing with the end of a relationship
Where: Philadelphia, PA
In a Tweet: Their quietest and most affecting LP yet. Crutchfield picks through the bones of her relationship, writing honestly and singing forcefully.
Start Here: “Recite Remorse” “A Little More” “Sparks Fly”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 12.55.02 PMYoungBoy Never Broke Again
AI YoungBoy
Self-Released
What:
The 17 year-old’s first project since his breakthorough 2016 mixtape “38 Baby”
Where: Baton Rouge, LA
In a Tweet: One of the most promising young talents in music. He raps with the poise, versatility, and precision of artists twice his age. Don’t sleep.
Start Here: “Untouchable” “Left Hand Right Hand” “No Smoke”

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 12.53.16 PMYves Tumor
Experiencing The Deposit of Faith
Self-Released
What: A new compilation from the shadowy ambient-leaning producer. His first since 2016’s exquisite “Serpent Music”
Where: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In A Tweet:
Few create sonic worlds as engulfing as Yves. This mantric, confounding collection is his best and hardest to pin down yet.
Start Here: “Ayxita, Wake Up” “My Nose My Lips Your Head Shape” “E. Eternal”

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2017, So Far…

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2017, So Far…

Rating albums at the mid-point of the year, just to re-rate them in six months seems dumb, so I decided to go with an NBA Draft-style tier system to pick out a few of my favorites so far.

TIER 1: THE FAVORITE

_91353679_stormzy976_paStormzy
Gang Signs and Prayer
#Merky
The Londoner’s debut LP is an epic in every sense of the word. Gang Signs and Prayer very much feels like that special kind of debut that took an artist’s whole life to make. From the powerful opener “First Things First,” where Stormzy (né Michael Omari) unloads on topics like racial profiling, mental health, and respectability politics with a depth and maturity that belies his 23 years.

Like many others, I fell in love with his charismatic, highly quotable bangers like “Shut Up” and “Know Me From,” but I was floored by GSAP’s many reflective, emotional moments. Whether he’s toasting to his mother (‘Mumzy) on the touching “100 Bags” (my favorite track of the year), looking to the heavens (“Blinded by Your Grace”), or letting himself fall in love (“Velvet”), Omari knocks just about every kind of track out of the park. Unlike some of his more heralded peers (*cough* Chance *cough*), none of it feels forced or constructed; it’s simply a man pouring his heart out to the world.

He might be in his feelings a lot on this album, but don’t get it twisted, there’s still plenty of old school Stormzy here, in the form of delirious, fun grime tracks like “Cold,” “Big For Your Boots,” and “Mr Skeng.” They balance the record beautifully and highlight what a rare talent he is. If there’s gonna be a better album this year, I can’t wait to hear it.

Stream it on Spotify.

TIER 2: THE STRONG CONTENDERS

Mr MitchScreen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.33.01 PM
Devout
Planet Mu

The Londoner’s stunning debut LP is all about growth. First, there’s his growth as an artist. Devout is the sound of a production wizard stepping out from behind the safety of the boards and into the spotlight. His signature prog-grime production is all over this thing, but he supplements that with sharp songwriting, well-chosen guest vocalists, and for the first time ever, his own voice.

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s about his personal growth. Mitch recently had his second child, and the disc is a love letter to his growing family. He begins the record by serenading his partner (“Do you remember when we made our love?”) and ends it waiting to meet his second son, Oscar. They are beautiful bookends to an album that is filled with stunning, deeply human moments.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.46.38 PMJulie Byrne
Not Even Happiness
Ba Da Bing
The rising folk singer’s second LP is a gorgeous travelogue, crafted by a weary nomad who is seeking a home that is right for her. She lays out the disc’s mission statement on the first song, singing, “To me, this city’s hell, but I know you call it home. I was made for the green, made to be alone.” From there, she explores this complex issue, wondering why she can’t settle anywhere and questioning whether she’d even really want to.

There are far more questions than answers, because, of course, there are no answers to the kinds of questions she asks. And by the time she gets to her stunning final song (which actually sounds kind of like Enya*), “I Live Now as a Singer,” she accepts her current situation and revels in the home that music can provide.

*This is a complement.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.42.57 PMVince Staples
Big Fish Theory
Def Jam
Still only a few years into his career, the Long Beach native is building one of the most versatile catalogs in hip-hop. His debut, Hell Can Wait, was a sharp, tight collection of updated G-funk, while his breakthrough Summertime ’06 was a sprawling double LP that often featured skeletal, claustrophobic beats.

For his third album, Staples zagged again, drawing inspiration from sweaty UK club nights. Leadoff track, “Crabs in a Bucket,” features house vocals, rave keys, and a two-step backbeat. “Alyssa Interlude” is a down-tempo number that almost sounds like Burial and Jamie Woon, while “BagBak” features a bassline that you’d expect to hear on a techno white label, rather than a rap record. The new sounds are well balanced by the classic West Coast swing of tracks like “Big Fish” and the magical, twinkling keys of “745.” As always, the disc is knitted together by Staples’ multifaceted flow, penetrating storytelling, and sharp social commentary, which allows him to explore new spaces without losing his roots.

Stream it on Spotify.

i-want-to-make-music-that-means-something-that-lifts-the-spirit-j-hus-talks-us-through-his-debut-common-sense-1493747911J Hus
Common Sense
Black Butter
It only took a few spins of the Londoner’s 2015 debut mixtape, The 15th Day, to realize that the kid was going to be special. Blessed with a crazy ear for melody and a razor sharp tongue, the disc featured a delicious blend of afrobeat, grime, American street rap, and just a teeny bit of pop to create a unique sound that was catchy enough for the club and mean enough for the road.

On Common Sense, Hus basically amped up of the elements that made its predecessor so great. The hooks are catchier (“Did You See,” “Good Time”), the bars cut deeper (“Who You Are,” “Claritin”), and Hus’ is better able to communicate his unique perspective — all the joy, sorrow, humor, and love — on his life in London.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.57.02 PMSevdaliza
Ison
Twisted Elegance

It may be because I live with an Iranian woman (hi boo!), but I have long been fascinated by the Tehran-born, Dutch-bred artist’s shapeshifting sound and unique point of view. On her early EPs, The Suspended Kid and Children of Silk, she beautifully touched on her complex identity and the duality of having roots in a country with traditional value systems but feeling at home in a modern, progressive world.

Ison goes far, far deeper, and across its 16 songs, Sevdaliza (né: Sevda Alizadeh) crafts heartfelt tracks that touch on a variety of relatable topics in fresh, affecting ways. Even though she doesn’t really sound like any of them, her work belongs alongside iconoclasts like Bjork, FKA Twigs, Beth Gibbons, and Kelela. Just a huge talent.

Stream it on Spotify.

1161195Arca
Arca
XL
It only takes about 45 seconds of listening to realize that this isn’t your typical Arca album. For his third LP, Alejandro “Arca” Ghersi stepped far outside the confines of the experimental electro/IDM sound that he was known for, dug deep into his soul, and stepped to the mic for the first time. His haunting, dramatic vocal is the star of the show here — quivering, stretching, and aching over skeletal, orchestral soundscapes.

Standout tracks like “Anoche,” “Piel,” and “Sin Rumbo” are insane mixtures of ranchera music, gospel hymns, and operatic arias. These stunning ballads are balanced by his signature, swirling instrumentals (“Casteration,” “Urchin”), which give the disc an even more cinematic feel. Listeners who speak Spanish will be even more rewarded by the richness and depth of the lyrics, which match the beauty and heft of the voice that delivers them.

Stream it on Spotify.

TIER 3: THE FRINGE CONTENDERS

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.52.28 PMKendrick Lamar
DAMN.
Aftermath
Though not as sprawling or grandiose as the seminal, To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN. is another impressive, substantive statement from an artist who is used to making the extraordinary seem ordinary. At a tight 14 songs, DAMN. is meant to be lapped up in one go, but I keep finding myself on its impeccable b-side. It’s a near-perfect run, from the superlative duet with Rihanna (“Loyalty.”) to its dizzying closer “Duckworth,” which features a twist ending that would make Vince Gilligan drool with jealousy. It’s the rare album that will consistently reveal new elements of itself, months after first listen.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.24.54 PMMoStack
High Street Kid
MizerMillion
Every time I start to believe that UK rappers are starting to get the respect they deserve over here, something like High Street Kid happens. The Londoner has a fresh sound, a legitimate hit single in the UK, and the strongest debut album of the year, but can’t even get an American publication to review it. Frustrating as it is, it hasn’t slowed the young MC down at all, riding high on this excellent LP’s wave.

The disc is an airtight collection of breezy, melodic songs that are influenced by the music of Africa, the Caribbean, and the multi-cultural metropolis that he calls home. He’s the newest member of the incredible run of second-generation Londoners with African roots and the ears of the city on lock. If you’ve read this site before, names like MoStack, J Hus, Abra Cadabra, and Kojo Funds aren’t new to you. And if there’s any fairness in the world, they won’t be new to the rest for that much longer.

Stream it on Spotify.

Mount EerieScreen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.01.13 PM
A Crow Looked at Me
P.W. Elverum & Sun
“Death is real. Someone’s there and then they’re not. It’s not for singin’ about. It’s not for making into art” sings Phil Elverum in the first seconds of his ode to his late wife Geneviève. It’s a sobering statement that reminds us just how little the things we value (music, music websites, lists on music website, etc) matter in the face of cold, unforgiving fate.

That synopsis drives the disc’s unflinching nature. Directness takes precedence over prose and clarity over melody. Sure, it’s incredibly artful at times, but communication is the real goal here. Phil’s reminding us to value the shit out of the ones we love while we have them, because once we don’t, it becomes hard to value much of anything.

Stream it now on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.26.35 PMBedouine
Bedouine
Spacebomb
Azniv Korkejian’s low-key, gorgeous folk debut is one of the real hidden gems of the year. Her voice may be quiet, but the statement is anything but. Though her voice has some Joni to it, her music and aesthetic really harkens back to the British pastoral folk of people like Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. The record also has a real rambling, road feel to it, which is driven by her restless lyrics and rolling, dusty arrangements. It’s the kind of album that may not bowl you over at first but will grow on you with every single listen.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.06.30 PMFuture
HNDRXX / FUTURE
Freebandz
I don’t know how it happened so quickly, but all of a sudden early last year, it started to feel like Future really needed a hit record. As preposterous as it was considering he’d just ripped off a legendary streak of mixtapes and dropped two solid LPs in 2016, there was a vibe that his blazing streak might be starting to simmer a little.

Just like he did after Honest got a lukewarm response, the 33 year-old came out swinging, dropping back to back monster projects that let us know he wasn’t planning on going anywhere. Instead of taking them individually, I’ve tended to mash them together, making one fantastic collection that features him at its most melodic (“Incredible,” “Fresh Air,” “Use Me”) and muscular (“Poppin’ Tags,” “Mask Off,” “POA”). Still one of the driving forces in modern music.

Stream HNDRXX and FUTURE on Spotify.

TIER 4: THE STRONG PLAYOFF TEAMS

fjmmainFather John Misty
Pure Comedy
Sub Pop
Way way way way too many words have been written about Father John Misty, his third album, and his marmite personality, so I’ll keep it brief. I initially struggled with the one-paced Pure Comedy, as it felt bloated and overwrought compared to its predecessor — the lovely wedding LP, I Love You Honeybear.

At first, I was stuck on the fact that were nowhere near enough ideas in here to satisfy its 74-minute runtime. But the more time I spent with it, the less I cared. Sure, it’s hard to tell which languid piano ballad is which (see: “Birdie,” “The Memo,” “Smoochie,” “So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain”). But my god, they are beautifully sung and well-written. And that’s got to count for something.

Stream it now on Spotify.

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.27.49 PMG Perico
All Blue
So Way Out
Though YG is still the king of LA rap, the South Central MC is easily the city’s biggest rising star. All Blue is the 28 year-old’s proper debut album, and it paints a vivid picture of Perico’s current life, which is buoyed by a promising, glamorous career but still fraught with peril. Behind every flex, there’s a warning. Before every party, there’s a precaution. And instead of focusing solely on what’s around him, he does a beautiful job on reporting on what’s going on inside — touching on the heavy emotional toll his surroundings have had on him. It’s all set to a glittering, bouncy West Coast soundtrack that keeps things ticking over and the wheels moving.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.30.22 PMMigos
Culture
Quality Control
Culture is one of those rare albums where commercial superstardom is driven by true, artistic originality. There are no imported pop stars, manufactured narratives (ahem, 4:44), or hired gun songwriters; there’s just three ridiculously creative and talented young artists, staying true to their sound and cooking up a sonic stew that only they can. It goes without saying, but the rapping on this thing is incredible. Each member has his own strengths and distinctive voices, but they are happy to interchange with each other, sacrificing their individual spotlight to bring the song to the next level. That interplay guarantees that no matter how much they are imitated (the most), the clones will always fall short.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.10.53 PMSZA
Ctrl
Top Dawg
The thing that sticks out most about the St. Louis vocalist’s proper debut is her bravery. Never one to sugarcoat her failings or insecurity, she goes deeper than many artists do, sharing her compelling story over a versatile smattering of neo soul arrangements. As the disc moves, it becomes clear that her strength comes from that vulnerability and the power that total honesty can deliver.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.18.14 PMRyuichi Sakamoto
async
KAB
Over the last few years, the legendary composer has enjoyed an incredible purple patch. The 65 year-old put out two incredible soundtracks last year (The Revenant and Nagasaki: Memories of My Son) and followed them up with his first solo effort since 2012. Unbound by the need to fit in with a film, Sakamoto is free to go where he pleases, and he pairs signature, contemplative numbers (“ubi,” “ZURE”) alongside peculiar, experimental tracks with unexpected instrumentation (“walker,” “async,” “tri”). The result is a fascinating, well-balanced LP that proves that even 40+ years into his career, Sakamoto is still breaking new ground.

Stream it on Spotify.

Chief-Keef-ig-firstChief Keef
Thot Breaker
Glo Gang
After teasing his “singing” record for more than two years, Keef finally dropped it early this summer. (You probably won’t) Believe me…. it was well worth the wait. The 21 year-old has long been underrated by the *listens to “Don’t Like” once* crowd, not getting the credit he deserves for being an innovator, explorer, and influencer (see: Soundcloud rap). On Thot Breaker, he is in full Jacques Cousteau mode, trying his hand at trop pop (“Can You Be My Friend”) and druggy R&B (“Drank Head”). He even tosses in a couple straightforward love ballads in for good measure. Like most of Keef’s recent projects, it’s a sensory feast and full of pure, unadulterated joy.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.22.48 PMJacques Greene
Feel Infinite
LuckyMe
Full-length dance LPs are notoriously tough to craft, and the Canadian waited more than 7 years to finally drop his own. Unlike many producers, Greene keeps guests to a minimum — the only vocal feature is from long-time collaborator How to Dress Well — but that doesn’t mean the project lacks a voice. Green is a master at pulling maximum emotion out of vocal samples, whether he’s flipping a singer from the past (the legendary Mary Wells) or present (Tinashé). The result is a rare, R&B-influenced dance record that is cohesive but not repetitive.

Stream it on Spotify.

Others Receiving Votes: Lil Yachty: Teenage Emotions //Kollaps: Duprass // JLin: Black Origami // Sampha: Process // Nightlands: I Can Feel The Night Around Me // Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now // Ryan Adams: Prisoner // The XX: I See You // Young Thug: Beautiful Thugger Girls // Jean-Michel Blais x CFCF: Cascades

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of May 2017

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of May 2017

After a pair of phenomenal months of music, May’s slate looked decidedly more low-key. However, now as I look back at it, there was still a handful of solid releases that deserve your time. Here are a few of my favorites.

untitled-article-1444923100J Hus
Common Sense
Black Butter

When I looked at the release schedule back in April, the Londoner’s proper debut was the only thing that really jumped off the page. Unsurprisingly, Hus came through with a classic — a diverse, razor sharp collection of the kind of worldly, melodic bangers that made him one of the UK’s real rising stars.

Every one of the disc’s 17 tracks features at least a couple of tasty hooks, and Hus effortlessly handles a dizzying array of beats that touch on Afrobeats, grime, dancehall, 90’s American rap, and pure pop (to name a few). His voice can shift from booming to soothing in an instant. And lyrically, he’s also impressive, speaking on all elements of his life with his tone changing from playful to serious to menacing to grateful. In short, he does just about everything well and is a true original who is only just getting started.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 3.59.01 PMLil Yachty
Teenage Emotions
Quality Control
Speaking of originals, let’s talk about the 19 year-old Atlanta native. His debut “studio album” (whatever that means) picks up where his excellent mixtapes left off, digging deeper into the gleeful, creative world that he built for himself and his friends. Besides the music, the best thing about Teenage Emotions is that Yachty simply refuses to change — to bow to naysayers, gatekeepers, or major label demands. If anything, he’s even weirder, more sincere, and making more divisive music than ever before.

From ecstatic opener, “Like a Star” to heartfelt closer “Momma,” he charges headfirst into a variety of styles and ideas with reckless abandon. Many of them work. Some do not. I think it’s pretty obvious which songs fit into each category. While many have opted to focus on the latter batch, I prefer to focus on the former. I promise it’ll be a hell of a lot more fun if you do.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.08.13 PMJlin
Black Origami

Planet Mu
To my ears, the Gary, IN footwork deconstructor’s second LP is even more powerful than her critically-acclaimed debut, Dark Energy. Along with being rhythmic savant, Jerrilynn “Jlin” Patton’s melodic chops have grown so much. On standouts like “Kyanite,” “Holy Child,” and “Nandi,” the harmonic interplay between the samples and synths are actually just as engaging and unexpected as her signature percussive magic. And though there still aren’t really “hooks” in any traditional sense, there are more footholds in this project than previous ones, which hopefully will open even more people’s ears to her fascinating, singular sound.

Stream it on Spotify.


c9f7938b
Slowdive
Slowdive
Dead Oceans
After more than 20 years away, the legendary British shoegazers returned with their fourth album. The disc is beautiful and sprawling, and it showcases their rare ability to use a few, simple parts to craft moods that stick with you long after the music stops. Its haunting closer, “Falling Ashes,” best sums up that quality, as the groups repeats a simple piano melody and a soothing vocal mantra (“thinking about love”) for more than eight minutes. Somehow, it doesn’t feel one second too long and gently carries you away.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.15.38 PMForest Swords
Compassion
Ninja Tune
The experimental club producer has kept a pretty low profile since his excellent 2013 debut, Engravings. However, the understated Liverpool native’s second LP was well worth the wait, expounding on his abstract, stripped sound. Though few tracks stand out, they combine to form an affecting statement that both mirrors the uncertainty of our world and demonstrates the power of human compassion.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.31.14 PMJohnny Jewel
Windswept

Italians Do It Better
Let’s be real, Dear Tommy is probably never coming out. Sure, JJ teased us with some news about it recently, but I’ve basically given up hope at this point. However, as a goodwill gesture, the ever-slippery producer dug into his archives and tossed us this hodgepodge collection of goodies. And while more than half of it is sort of aimless synth riffing, there’s some tasty neon, Italo morsels on here.

The stylish, heartfelt ballad “Saturday” is one of my favorite IDIB tracks of recent years, and “Missing Pages” and “Slow Dreams” are two of Jewel’s most lyrical instrumental pieces. Plus, we get an updated version of Ruth Radelet doing Elvis, which is always fun. In short, it’s an inconsequential collection that Jewel probably scrounged together after dinner one night, but when your archives are as strong as his, you’re bound to find something that sticks.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.21.06 PMNite Jewel
Real High

Gloriette
From one Jewel to another, the always under-appreciated Ramona “Nite Jewel” Gonzalez’s second LP of the last 12 months is a strong collection of slick electro-pop that is made more for the bedroom than the dancefloor. Always an explorer, Gonzalez digs deep into classic R&B and quiet storm. And those kinds of arrangements fit her graceful, potent vocals to a T. Tracks like “Obsession” and “Part of Me” are more seductive and emotionally raw than much of her previous work, highlighting her power and vulnerability in equal measure.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.37.44 PMSun Kill Moon / Jesu
30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth
Caldo Verde
Being a Mark Kozelek fan is a simultaneously frustrating and rewarding experience. Since 2013, the 50 year-old has cranked out more than 10 releases. Three of them — Perils from the Sea, Benji, and Mark Kozelek & Desertshore — are legitimate classic albums and incredible feats of songwriting and storytelling. On the other hand, two of them — Universal Themes and Common as Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood — are horribly uneven with borderline unlistenable songs. The rest range somewhere between “meh” and “alright, I guess.”

Though its inconsistency keeps 30 Seconds far from the classic category, its highlights elevate it above much of his recent output. “A Dream of Winter” is a gorgeous, nylon-stringed love song that feels like something from 2010’s Admiral Fell Promises, and “You Are Me and I Am You” is a powerful rumination about how we become our parents. And the meandering, Red House Painters-recalling guitarwork of “Twenty Something” will give any long-time Koz fan some warm fuzzies. It’s far from his best work, but he’s also not the joke many make him out to be.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.29.51 PMThunder Dreamer
Capture

6131
In a musical landscape obsessed with quick characterization, the Evansville, IN quartet doesn’t play ball. Mixing traces of heartland indie rock, second wave emo, folk, and 90’s alt-rock, Thunder Dreamer’s sounds is both familiar and difficult to put your finger on. The disc’s eight tracks are ultra-tuneful and full of hooks yet still retain a little bit of edge. The interplay between the dual guitars and Steven Hamilton’s strained, dulcet vocals is the disc’s standout quality, resulting in a collection that is consistently compelling and full of sonic footholds.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.27.57 PMNightlands
I Can Feel the Night Around Me

Western Vinyl
While his main band, the War on Drugs, was whipping up one of the most-anticipated albums of 2017, David Hartley quietly released this gorgeous collection of windswept dream-pop. His third LP as Nightlands features some of TWOD’s nostalgic, AM radio tendencies, but Hartley’s ultra-lithe falsetto gives the disc an even more wistful feel. The vocal harmonies are also insanely rich and often recall groups like the Beach Boys and the Eagles.

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.29.09 PMCroatian Amor
Finding People

Posh Isolation
Throughout Danish producer/musician Loke Rahbek’s career, he’s been nearly impossible to tie down. He’s made dark synth-pop with Lust For Youth, droning industrial noise with Damien Dubrovnik, and deconstructed dance music with Croatian Amor. The latter is my favorite LK project, and this recent four song EP is the most cohesive of his career. Finding People has many of the nuts and bolts of dance music, but they are rearranged in a totally unexpected order. Percussion dips in and out, and vocal samples pop up in strange places. The resulting world is often disorienting but always worth stumbling deeper into.

Stream it on Spotify.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of March & April

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Albums of March & April

I skipped last month’s album Round-Up to bang out the My Favorite Tracks of the First Quarter list. So this month’s album list features my picks from March and April. Possibly the strongest batch of the year so far, 2017 is shaping up to be another incredible year in music.

mounteerie-600-5Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me
P.W. Elverum & Sun
I can’t remember two albums released back-to-back that provide such stark, unflinching looks at death as Mount Eerie’s incredible, A Crow Looked at Me, and Sorority Noise’s brutal You’re Not As ____ As You Think.

And while I can relate to some of the tragedies that color the Sorority Noise LP, I cannot even begin to fathom the loss that Phil Elverum chronicles on his ode to his late wife Geneviève Castrée, who passed away from pancreatic cancer at the impossibly early age of 35. Elverum was always crafted deeply affecting songs, but he was also an intensely private figure who seemed to craft albums from some faraway galaxy.

Well, on A Crow Looked At Me, Elverum eschews every inch of that privacy. He lets us all into the deepest crevices of his life — from their bedroom to moments with their daughter to uncomfortable conversations at the grocery store to the life they shared deep in the Washington woods. Though the arraignments are skeletal in the extreme — mostly consisting of Elverum’s strained vocals and meandering, nylon string guitars — each of the eleven tracks are incredibly rich. Not with just information about the characters, but with legitimately insightful, universal wisdom that only this kind of grief can leave behind. An absolute masterpiece.

Listen to it on Spotify.


sorority-noise-pr-photo-pat-nolanSorority Noise
You’re Not As ___ As You Think
Triple Crown
While Elverum penned his record about losing the one you love, the Sorority Noise album is about the especially unsettling feeling that takes place when you are young and lose multiple friends in quick succession. When you feel like every time the phone rings, you will be confronted by another tragedy that you won’t be equipped to deal with. When you start to believe that death is around every corner.

“Just this year I lost a basketball team to heaven” sings Cam Boucher on “Disappeared.” Artists tend to wrap loss in metaphor to soften the blow, but Boucher (like Elverum) is not here to make you comfortable. There are a number of moments on the record that are physically unsettling, as if you are reading someone’s deeply personal journal behind their backs.

It’s not a walk in the park, but as the album moves, little rays of hope start to cut through the clouds. Much of that comes from their raw, yet tuneful riffs and Boucher’s sneaky catchy choruses. It also comes from the knowledge that as the days go by and the shock wears off, it becomes easier to remember your friends as they were in life, not in death.

Listen to it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 4.58.22 PMMr Mitch
Devout
Planet Mu
On the total other end of the spectrum comes the longtime TP-favorite’s second LP. Absolutely teaming with life, the disc is bookended by two gorgeous love-letters. The first is to his partner, which features Mitch’s young sons on vocals. And its heartfelt closer sees Mitch singing to his second son while he was still in the womb.

These are just two of the truly heartfelt, affecting moments on this special album. Mitch has always been a master of building hyper-melodic, emotional soundscapes that drive miles beyond the parameters of grime. But the songwriting on Devout far surpasses anything else he’s put out in his already glittering, genre-redefining career. Probably my favorite album of the year so far.

Stream it now on Spotify.

Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of the First Quarter

Posted on by TP1.COM in Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: The Best Songs of the First Quarter

It’s insane that 2017 is already one quarter over, but it’s been a tremendous three months of music. Here are a few of the best tracks I’ve heard this yera. For both of our sakes, I’m going to (try to) keep my write-ups Tweet length (LOL).

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 11.27.55 AMStormzy
“100 Bags”
Gang Signs & Prayer (#Merky)
“Dear Mama” for the year 2017, “100 Bags” is a rare beacon of unobstructed light in these turbulent times. The Londoner makes the song cry for four breathtaking minutes, sharing the boundless, genuine love he has for his Mumzy. “Take a selfie, show ’em how you look mum. Flex on ’em, let ’em know that we’re good mum” is easily my favorite line of the year and makes you root so hard for both of them.

Frank Ocean
“Chanel”
Digital Single
In a world increasingly obsessed with living in black and white, ambiguity is rarer and more important than ever. On “Chanel,” Frank refuses to adhere to anybody’s labels or expectations, gleefully weaving together macho flexes, references to gay sex, drug talk, and ernest affirmations of love without breaking a sweat. It’s subtle but unflinching, inviting listeners to dig a little deeper and not turn away from the grey areas that color all of our lives.

OMB Peezy
“Lay Down”

Digital Single
Born in Alabama but based in Northern California, OMB Peezy takes cues from both regions to cook up a hell of a stew. “Lay Down” matches Bay Area slap with a Southern drawl for a throwback sound that is also purely modern.

Jens Lekman
“How Can I Tell Him”
Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)
The Swede’s gorgeous fourth LP is full of affecting storytelling, but nothing hits quite as close to home as his struggle to reconcile his love for a friend with outdated, damaging notions of masculinity.

future-net-worth-getty_573x300Future
“Fresh Air”
HNDRXX (FreeBandz)
It came out in February, but “Fresh Air” is pure NYC summer. It’s a crackling anthem, built to bump out of cars, apartments, and sweaty ass clubs. God knows we need as many of those as we can get.


MoStack
“Let It Ring”
Digital Single
The next name to know in the popping UK rap scene. MoStack’s breakthrough single glides like a summer breeze, bridging Afrobeats, dancehall, and the North London sound with ease.

RunTown
“Mad Over You”
Digital Single
As African influence spreads across the music world, don’t forget to check out the source. The 27 year-old Nigerian’s gorgeous, sashaying love song has a palpable warmth that is hard to find in modern music.

J Hus 
“Did You See”
Common Sense (out 05.12)
He kept it low-key last year, but the Londoner is primed to drop his proper debut (even though, oh my god, download The 15th Day) and take over 2017. Already getting love on both sides of the Atlantic, his earworm flow and wavey melodies should be the sound of the summer.

Khalid
“American Teen”
American Teen (RCA)

While I’m not sure I love the record as much as many do, its lead single is a heavenly bit of nostalgic pop. The El Paso singer’s pristine vocal captures the freedom and fear of being young.

Don-E ft. Nado
“You Alright Yeah?”
Digital Single
Sunshine in a bottle, the anonymous Londoner’s first single features a nuclear hook that will dig its hook into your brain and leave you asking everyone you see, “You alright, yeah? How’s your mum? She good, yeah?” It just feels so goddamn good.

KWAYE
“Cool Kids”

Digital Single
The best debut pop single of the year, the London vocalist slides through an ultra-slinky, guitar-driven quiet storm, making a strong statement about acceptance in a truly stylish manner.

DaVido
“If”
Digital Single
Already a mega-star in Africa and Europe, the Nigerian vocalist looks poised to make the jump across the Atlantic. “If” is yet another example of the boundless joy his sound delivers.

Chief Keef
“Reload” Feat. Tadoe & Ballout
Digital Single
Though the blogosphere is mostly ignoring him these days, the 21 year-old continues to crank out esoteric, experimental work for his loyal army of fans. On “Reload,” Keef turns the trap house into a Super Mario Bros ghost house, riding triumphantly through dramatic, off-kilter church organs.

Dave
“Samantha” (f/ J Hus)
Digital Single
The rising Londoners link up for a gospel-tinged ballad that pairs Zeytoven-ish piano noodling with the duo’s trademark melodic vocals and personal bars. Though they seem like quite different characters, they sound perfect together.

Jacques Greene
“True” (f/ How to Dress Well)

Feel Infinite (out now)
The MTL producer’s debut LP is full of highlights, but nothing tops his reunion with longtime collaborator, Tom Krell. The Chicago vocalist sounds back to his best, floating over a slice of characteristically emotional house.

Sampha
(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
Process (Young Turks)
The most aesthetically perfect song of 2017, this beautiful track is more than an homage to the first piano Sampha ever ran his fingers over; it’s a testament to the way that music can help you find your identity and figure out who you are.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-12-at-13.43.27-970x550Mr. Mitch
“VPN” (f/ Palmistry)

Devout (out 04.21 on Planet Mu)
While I remain undecided about dancehall tourist/weepy softboi, Palmistry, “VPN” is all about the glorious synth arrangement, courtesy of the always innovative Mr. Mitch. Devout is shaping up to be one of the albums of the year.

Ryan Adams
“Shiver and Shake”
Prisoner (PAX AM)
“Shiver and Shake” is the most powerful moment from his best record in more than a decade. Adams is at his lowest point, grappling to rebuild a life that heartbreak has reduced to rubble, as “Tunnel of Love” plays in the background.

Father John Misty
“Pure Comedy”
Pure Comedy (Sub Pop)
FJM is A LOT, and somehow the record is even more. But “Pure Comedy” is a powerful distallation of how sharp his pen can be and how strong his voice almost always is.

Jean-Michel Blais & CFCF
“In a Landscape – Rework”
Cascades (Arts & Crafts)
The two Montrealers’ collaborative EP is full of minimalistic, contemplative piano interplay. Their take on John Cage’s modal masterpiece reinterprets the cinematic splendor of the timeless original.

Phoebe Bridgers
“Smoke Signals”
Digital Single (Pax Am)
The rising LA folk singer’s breakthrough single captures the darkness and light of old Hollywood monster movies, telling a story that is both spooky and alluring.

Migos
“T-Shirt”
Culture (Quality Control)
The jewel of the standout commercial rap release of 2017, “T-Shirt” highlights the group’s unmatched lyrical interplay and Quavo’s underrated hook-writing chops.

AJ x Deno
“Ride or Die”
Digital Single
Like an increasing number of young artists, it all started for 14 year-old Londoner Deno Driz on Instagram. Unlike many others, his youthful, elastic tenor (think: early Chris Brown) works just as well in a real recording studio as it does on social media. A young star in the making.

The XX
“Replica”
I See You (Young Turks)
In recent interviews, bassist/vocalist Oliver Sim has bravely disclosed his struggles with hereditary alcoholism. And he sums it up beautifully on this heartrending track, asking “do I chase the night or does the night chase me?”

grouper-ws-710-385Grouper
“I’m Clean Now”
Paradise Valley (YELLOWELECTRIC)
At the end of one of the most chaotic years in recent history, the angel Liz Harris came down from on high to bless us with one of the most peaceful, soothing songs of her career. If only 2017 sounded like this.

Calvin Harris
“Slide” (f/ Frank Ocean, Migos)
Digital Single
The Scot’s first two albums are two of my guiltiest pleasures, so I can’t say “Slide” is a total surprise. That said, I did not see Harris being the man behind one of the strongest pop tracks of the year so far.

RaeLynn
“Love Triangle”

WildHorse
T. Swift probably isn’t ever coming back to Nashville, but there’s a ton of talented young singers who are here to fill that void. The 22 year-old’s debut LP is full of polished, sharp songwriting like this windswept, heartfelt ballad about divorce.

SahBabii
“Pull up with ah Stick” (f/ Loso Loaded)
Digital Single
One of the stickiest, sweetest melodies of the year, the Atlanta native’s breakout single is yet another example of the positive way Young Thug has impacted the sound of the city’s young creators.

(Sandy) Alex G
“Bobby”
Rocket (out 05.19 on Domino)
I’ve never really been an Alex G guy, but his recent pivot toward a dustier, less noisy sound has worked a treat for me. “Bobby” is a cutting look at the way neuroses can keep people from the ones they love.

SamHuntSam Hunt
“Drinkin’ Too Much”

Digital Single
“Marvin’s Room” with a twang. I don’t know exactly what the former quarterback/current fuckboi is up to here, but it certainly sounds like nothing else coming out of Nashville.

The Round-Up: 10 Albums Released in February That You Must Hear

Posted on by TP1.COM in Columns, Featured, The Round-Up | Comments Off on The Round-Up: 10 Albums Released in February That You Must Hear

We just said goodbye to an incredible month of music. One with the strongest slate of releases that I can remember in a really long time. Of all the interesting releases that dropped this month, ten stood out above the rest. Here’s my round-up of them.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.05.00 PMStormzy
Gang Signs & Prayer
#Merky
In a month that yielded a clutch of excellent LPs, nothing could touch the South London MC’s gorgeous, gospel-tinged epic. Over 16 diverse, consistent tracks, the big man (né Michael Omari) vacillates between sticky, booming bangers (“Big For Your Boots,” “Mr Skeng,” “Cold”), heart- wrenching confessionals (“Lay Me Bare,” “100 Bags”), and even a few gooey love songs (“Velvet,” “Cigarettes & Cush”). The result is an impressive, fully-formed statement that leaves you feeling closer to the artist and reeling from his incredible talent and storytelling. An early favorite for Album of the Year.

Hottest Jams: “100 Bags,” “Big For Your Boots,” “Lay Me Bare”

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.14.53 PMFuture
FUTURE // HNDRXX
Freebandz / Epic
After enjoying one of the all-time hot streaks from the middle of 2014 through the end of 2015, the indomitable Atlanta native was showing signs of slowing down last year. However, he came through with a pair of triumphant projects this month. Though the first is a solid, yet uneven effort, HNDRXX is an exhilarating return to form. Melodic, confessional, and full of earworms, it feels like his most well-rounded, focused work since his legendary trilogy of Monster, Beast Mode, and 56 Nights. Future Vandross > All.

Hottest Jams: “Fresh Air,” “Incredible,” “Solo” (HNDRXX)
“Mask Off,” “Feds Did A Sweep,” “Draco” (FUTURE)

Stream HNDRXX on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.14.08 PMJens Lekman
Life Will See You Now
Secretly Canadian
On most other months, the venerable Swede’s fourth LP would have topped a list like this, but timing has never been his strong suit. That said, Life Will See You Now is a phenomenal feat with ten tracks that could only be penned by a master storyteller. Whether he’s dealing with the perils of masculinity (“How Can I Tell Him”), crippling anxiety (“Postcard #17), or a struggling friend (“Hotwire the Ferris Wheel”), he always writes with a rare empathy, offering penetrating insight into the lives of his characters and, often, his listeners as well.

Hottest Jams: “How Can I Tell Him,” “Dandelion Seed,” “Wedding in Finistére”

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.13.24 PMSampha
Process
Young Turks
This month has produced so many great records that it’s almost hard to remember that the 28 year-old’s beautiful debut dropped back on February 3rd. Process was a couple years in the making, and you can tell. He begins the record exhausted and anxiety-ridden, feeling like a plastic bag that is melting in the summer sun. Longing for home, he takes us on the road with him to his new life as an adult and shares nostalgic daydreams about the piano he grew up with. It’s a beautiful, affecting journey that ends as they often do… back home at the place where it all started.

Hottest Jams: “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” “Plastic 100°C,” “What Shouldn’t I Be?”

Stream it on Spotify.

rs-ryan-adams01-4b269365-c7e6-47af-82f7-d2b9388ffe9bRyan Adams
Prisoner
PAX-AM
The strongest Ryan Adams record in a decade, Prisoner finds the 42 year-old writing himself out of the post-divorce rubble, inspired by Tunnel of Love, Tom Petty, and Johnny Marr. Though Prisoner has a clutch of the kind of crushing, quiet moments you’d expect from an Adams break-up record (“Shiver and Shake,” “We Disappear”), they are well-balanced by mid-tempo tunes (“Haunted House,” “Prisoner”) and noisey AM radio rockers (“Do You Still Love Me?,” “Anything I Say to You”). In fact, the latter tracks are kinda the most intriguing part of Prisoner. As he sounds surprisingly refreshed and primed for the next phase of his life and career. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Hottest Jams: “Prisoner,” “Shiver & Shake,” “Haunted House”

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.19.18 PMTeen Daze
Themes For Dying Earth
Flora
Jamison Isaak’s sixth album is one of the most surprising efforts of the year. I’d really only ever known him as a sort of chillwave also-ran, but Themes for a Dying Earth is a gorgeous collection of lush, affecting ambient indie-pop with hushed but heartfelt vocals. The record sounds like a foggy morning in the mountains, inspired by the perma-hazy British Columbia wilderness it was recorded in. It’s both a tribute to the beauty of Isaak’s surroundings and also a quiet warning about what’s at stake as we continue to bury our heads in the sand as our planet suffers.

Hottest Jams: “First Rain” (f/ S Carey), “Cycle,” “Dream City”

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.23.49 PMVagabon
Infinite Worlds
Father/Daughter
Lætitia Tamko’s proper debut is fresh, vibrant, and packed with affecting and daring songwriting. From its gut-wrenching leadoff track, “Embers,” that explores power dynamics in relationships to its heartbreaking finale, “Alive and A Well,” Infinite Worlds is a powerful collection from an artist with a unique and necessary voice. The disc’s eight tracks feature an interesting mix of piercing, fingerpicked folk, alongside crashing rock moments and electronic touches. Tamko is one of an exciting new batch of young female singer-songwriters like Julien Baker, Georgia Maq, Mitski, and Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast). It’s a generation of artists who don’t fit into old ideas about what folk is supposed to sound like and who is allowed to make it.

Hottest Jams: “Fear & Force,” “Embers,” “Alive And A Well”

Hear it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.26.39 PMElbow
Little Fictions
Polydor
Ryan Adams isn’t the only old favorite who dropped a rejuvenated effort this month. The Manchester crooners are coming up on their 20th year in existence, and they toasted the anniversary with one of the strongest albums of their career. They’ve always been at their best when they’re balancing melancholia with hope, crafting weirdly anthemic ballads that work as well in a quiet pub as the Glastonbury Festival. Tracks like “Magnificent (She Says)” and “All Disco” feel like they hit that mark and hint that they’re not content to continue as a mere nostalgia act.

Hottest Jams: “Gentle Storm,” “Magnificent (She Says),” “Kindling”

Kingdom-RotatorKingdom
Tears in the Club
Fade to Mind
The Fade to Mind mainman has been an important member of the LA club scene for the better part of a decade, but Tears in Club still feels like a maiden statement. The disc is 50%  pop-oriented tracks that feature exciting young vocalists like SZA, Syd, and Shacar, and 50% instrumental, hyper-melodic dance tracks. Though I tend to gravitate to the former, they are well framed by the latter, resulting in a compelling, versatile body of work.

Hottest Jams: “Down 4 Whatever” (f/ SZA), “Nothin” (Club Mix)” (f/ Syd), “What is Love” (f/ SZA)

Stream it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 3.30.44 PMVermont
II
Kompakt
We’ll finish off the list with a lovely ambient effort from Danilo Plessow and Marcus Worgull. II is packed with warm, swirling synths that set a placid, wintery mood. Though percussion is at a minimum, you can really hear Balearic influences in the synth melodies, and it’s easy to picture yourself looking out the window in Vermont and dreaming of warmer climes.

Hottest Jams: “Norderney,” “Demut,” “Chanang”

Stream it on Spotify.