Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"


Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"


The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"


Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter


Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)


As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Andy Stott, “Versi”

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Andy Stott
“Versi”
It Should Be Us (out now non Modern Love)

As you can tell, things have been a little slow in ThunderPenguin towers while I work on my Best of the Decade list. But when Andy fucking Stott puts out new music, you write about it. Those are the rules.

“Versi” — the lead track from his new club-focused EP — starts off dense and opaque before eroding into a warm, aqueous groove. He’s always been one of the most subtle producers around, and “Versi” is yet another direct hit from a man who will definitely find himself on my Best of the Decade list.

The 1975, “Frail State of Mind”

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The 1975
“Frail State of Mind”
Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.21.20 on Dirty Hit)

Though it has a very different vibe than the thundering “People,” the new 1975 track — the second proper single from their upcoming 4th LP — wields just as much emotional heft. Accompanied by twinkly synth droplets (think: “How to Draw / Petrichor,” “The Man Who Married a Robot”), Healy details how anxiety can hold a person back, clearly and powerfully. In a generation besieged by anxiety, Healy’s words are important reminders that though it can be an isolating feeling, it’s one that so many share.

Arthur Russell, “You Did It Yourself”

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Arthur Russell
“You Did It Yourself”
Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)
There’s something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist’s sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music that has defined this decade.

Like many of his best songs, “You Did It Yourself” defies categorization, featuring touches of dance, folk, pop, and indie. And even though he passed away almost 30 years ago, it still feels impossibly modern, underling what a genius he was and how impactful his art still is. Posthumous albums are always kind of dicey, but I can’t think of a better person to bookend this weird, wonderful decade of music.

City Girls, “JT First Day Out”

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City Girls
“JT First Day Out”
Digital Single

After the better part of two years, JT — one half of the electric Miami duo — is finally free. And from the sound of “JT First Day Out,” she’s coming back with a vengeance. Though it was clearly thrown together quickly (you can actually hear the cuts between bars), JT is a wonderful rapper, and it’s great to hear her back on wax and ready to resume her undeniable rise to the top.

Jenny Hval, “Ashes to Ashes”

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Jenny Hval
“Ashes to Ashes”
The Practice of Love (out now on Sacred Bones)

Though I haven’t written about the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist’s brilliant seventh album yet, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to it. Like just about all of her releases, The Practice of Love is best digested as an album, but centerpiece “Ashes to Ashes” is a good place to start. Hval washes her insightful lyrics and evocative voice is warm baths of synths and a gentle backbeat, bubbling along nicely and slowly rising to an emotional boil. A genius at work.

(Sandy) Alex G, “SugarHouse – Live”

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(Sandy) Alex G
“SugarHouse – Live”
House of Sugar (out now on Domino)

Tucked away at the end of his sprawling, wondrous new album from Philly phenom, (Sandy) Alex G is this transcendent slice of dive bar divinity. Over an Asbury Park sax and jazzy guitars, the 26 year-old pours his heart out, poignantly admitting “you never really met me, I don’t think anyone has.” His clever decision to record it live adds to the Wire (Season 2) vibes, and if you really focus, you can actually smell the cigarette smoke and stale Utz chips. Yum yum.

Mount Eerie With Julie Doiron, “Love Without Possession”

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Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron
“Love Without Possession”
Lost Wisdom pt. 2 (out 11.08 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)

Hide your feelings because Phil Elverum and Julie Doiron are coming for them with their follow up to 2008’s seminal, “Lost Wisdom.” Doiron’s gorgeous voice is a sharp foil to Phil’s quiet vocal, and they’re both beautifully framed by unexpected, shifting instrumentation on the disc’s first single. I doubt the disc will be an easy listen, but I’m sure it will be a rewarding one.

Caracara, “Dark Bells”

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Caracara
“Dark Bells”
Digital Single

A year on from their wonderful Better EP, the Philly alt-rockers are at it again with a crashing, evocative new single. Driven by pounding drums, Will Lindsey’s rich vocals, and some surprising 8-bit keyboards, “Dark Bells” feels both like a subtle, stylistic step forward without losing one inch of the urgency that made them so exciting in the first place.

Future, “What It Do”

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Future
“What It Do?”
Digital Single

Future Vandross is back in his bag on this low-key, seductive new loosey. Over a luxurious, spare piano arrangement, he hollers at his new girl, sounding legitimately giddy about spending time with her. With Fewtch, it’s hard to imagine that the good times will last, but I’m damn sure hoping they do.

Francis and the Lights, “Take Me to the Light”

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Francis and the Lights
“Take Me to the Light” (f/ Bon Iver, Kanye West)
Take Me to the Light (out soon)

I genuinely don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but I have to admit that I’m feeling some shame for loving this new song by Francis and the Studio Wizards. Only an absolute murderers’ row of producers (Francis, Kanye, Justin Vernon, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, BJ Burton, Caroline Shaw) could make a song with lyrics like “Tree gotta listen, tree gotta mind. It can feel the vibe. It can touch the sky” feel life affirming. But, goddamnit, they pull it off. They dial the synth warmth up to Icelandic spa levels and wash the Super Friends’ vocals in delicious filters. Maybe they’re empty calories, but they’re motherfucking delicious.

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