Hot Jam of the Day: Jae Stephens, "24k"

Jae Stephens "24k" Digital Single Fuck one of the best debuts of the year. The LA-based newcomer just dropped one of the best songs of the year out of thin air. Featuring inch-perfect production from Jam City, Stephens weaves a devastating slow jam that captures the growth of a relationship from anxious first Read more

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. J Hus Common Sense Black Butter When I looked at the release schedule Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Lil Durk, "Pressure"

Lil Durk “Pressure” Digital Single Five years into his career, the Chicago native seems to be at a crossroads. After kicking off his career with a string of devastating mixtapes (including my favorite song of 2013), the 24 year-old has been a bit up and down of late, crafting a slew of Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Kommode, "Fight or Flight or Dance All Night"

Kommode “Fight or Flight or Dance All Night” Analog Dance Music (out June 2017 on Random Two Syllable Word) Good things come to those who wait, and Kings of Convenience fans have been waiting for the debut from Eirik Glambek Bøe’s side project for more than 10 years. Since announcing this project Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Jlin, "Holy Child"

Jlin "Holy Child" Black Origami (out 05.19 on Planet Mu) Though there's only one more day until the Gary, Indiana footwork innovator's second LP drops, this brilliant and beguiling cut is more than worthy of standing on its own. Like her masterful debut, Dark Energy, this track features multiple, intricate polyrhythms that collide freely without Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Hot Jam of the Day: Linda Perhacs, “The Dancer”

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Linda Perhacs
“The Dancer”
Digital Single

I rarely think about contributing to Kickstarters for people I do not know — especially ones by musicians — but Linda Perhacs’ recent campaign has me considering a change of tune. Besides the fact that she seems like such a lovely woman, the LA resident’s story is the kind you’d want to support. After releasing her psychedelic folk debut, Parallelograms, back in 1970, she disappeared from music for years working as a dental hygienist. She only found out about the disc’s cult following after she was contacted by a small Brooklyn label following a near-fatal case of pneumonia in 2000.

It took another 14 years for Parallelograms to get its worthy successor: 2014’s beautiful, The Soul of All Natural Things, put out by Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty. And it appears that she still has a lot of music in her. She’s working on a follow-up, led by finger-picked lead single, “The Dancer.” Now well into her seventies, Perhacs’ voice has a warmth and softness that seems to get more affecting as she ages.

If she can raise 16k in the next six weeks, she’ll be able to finish the album, and we’ll be able to hear it. That sounds like a cause I can get behind.

Contribute to her Kickstarter and learn more, here.

Hot Jam of the Day: PartyNextDoor, “Come and See Me” (f/ Drake)

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“Come and See Me” (f/ Drake)
P3 (OVO Sound, release date TBA)
Count me as one of the skeptics of Drake’s current tough-guy/faux Roadman stage. To my ears, the 6 God is at his best when he’s chilling in his slippers with a reflective 40 beat, nursing a half-full glass of red wine and trolling through texts from his exes. Thankfully, he’s back in his comfort zone on this lovely single from his trusty wingman, PartyNextDoor. PND’s warbling and 40’s sparse piano chords set the table perfectly for Drizzy to deliver a vintage sadboi verse, which reminds us that while more rappers are in their feelings than ever before, few are capable of packing the emotional heft of the Godfather of the #feels. More like this please.

Hot Jam of the Day: Dawn, “Not Above That” (Deadboy Remix)

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“Not Above That” (Deadboy remix)
Not Above That single (out now on Location)
I’m always on the hunt for Dawn Richard remixes and am constantly frustrated by the paucity of them knocking around. So you can imagine my excitement when one of the best in the game got his teeth into her empowering new single. Deadboy’s trademark, emotional keys form a beautiful new canvas for Richard’s vocal, delivering the anthemic original from a jam-packed dancefloor into a quiet, bedroom moment.

Hot Jam of the Day: Chelsea Wolfe, “Hypnos”

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Chelsea Wolfe

Hypnos/Flame 7″ (out 03.25 on Sargent House)

Admittedly, I’m not real familiar with 32 year-old’s brand of gothic folk meets noise rock, but this haunting dirge makes me want to get caught up. A B-side from her well-received 2015 release, Abyss, “Hypnos” strips Wolfe’s evocative voice mostly bare, entrusting it to a forlorn, fingerpicked acoustic guitar. The result is a disarming, intimate four minutes where she plays the role of protector consoling a loved one. “Oh honey, I’ll put up a fight with death. He’s never coming near my love again.” Her voice may be weary, but it’s resolute, expressing the kind of devotion that’s rare in life and in music.

Hot Jam of the Day: Rihanna, “Work” (DJDS remix)

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“Work” (DJDS remix)
Digital Single

Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL don’t remix songs; they completely reimagine songs, finding their hearts and sucking every ounce of emotion out of them. Their best remixes are the ones where that core is the hardest to find, as it is with Rihanna’s flat, lifeless recent single, “Work.” At first, I was skeptical that they’d be able to find any magic in there, but after about 30 seconds, I realized that I was wrong. Pitting a couple of repeated vocal snippets over step-wise piano chords, DJDS turn “Work” into the kind of ecstatic house(ish) anthem that they built their name on.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mutual Benefit, “Not for Nothing”

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Mutual Benefit
“Not for Nothing”
Skip a Sinking Stone (out 05.20 on Mom + Pop)

It’s been nearly three years since we’ve heard from singer/songwriter/feeling-haver Jordan Lee. His beautiful breakthrough record, 2013’s Love’s Crushing Diamond, recalled Sufjan Stevens’ gentle, doe-eyed early lo-fi folk. His new single treads similar ground, pairing his personable vocals with strummed acoustic guitar and rootsy strings. While he obviously isn’t breaking new sonic ground, there’s a specific warmth and humanity to Lee’s music that makes these feel more than mere “beardy white dude sings campfire songs.” It’s hard for me to put my finger on it, but it’s there.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mikey Dollaz, “Commas”

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Mikey Dollaz
Picture Me Rollin (out now)

One of the great, unexpected collaborations of 2016, Chicago drill spitta Mikey Dollaz teams up with London grime(ish) trio Silk Road Assassins. The rising Dollaz is blessed with a booming, imperious vocal, and his instrument is perfectly balanced by a trademark SRA beat. Their emotional, crystalline synths and sporadic percussion leaves plenty of space for the hyperactive MC to move into, and he obliges with a gloriously unhinged performance. There isn’t a huge track record of grime producers teaming with American rappers (or vice versa), and hopefully this is just the first step of a longterm partnership.

Grab all of, Picture Me Rollin, for free here.

Hot Jam of the Day: ZAYN, “It’s You”

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“It’s You”
Mind of Mine (out 03.25 on RCA)

As we hear more of Zayn Malik’s solo singles, it’s becoming more clear why the 23 year-old decided to leave the group that made him famous. Press originally reported that he left One Direction to pursue a radically different, Drake-inspired sound. But this gorgeous, cinematic ballad and his smoldering debut single, “Pillowtalk,” hint that he actually left the group for much simpler reasons — he wanted to sing the kind of love songs that are super awkward to sing with your friends.

In general, boy bands don’t have a great track record of putting out successful songs about real love and sex. Sure, they can hint at it or talk about it in general terms, but like watching porn or hooking up, overtly sensual music often gets pretty weird when you throw five young men or women into the mix at once. “It’s You” is the kind of direct, personal break-up track that is best sung by one, and Malik shines on it. Unencumbered by other voices or perspectives, he pours his tender falsetto over a luxurious, Lana-ish arrangement — his voice simultaneously pining for a past love and reveling in his newfound freedom.

Hot Jam of the Day: The 1975, “Somebody Else”

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The 1975
“Somebody Else”
I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (out 02.26 on Dirty Hit)

So little of the chatter around the divisive Manchester four-piece has anything to do with what they sound like. The group’s ridiculously-titled second album has ignited myriad Twitter #hottakes and commenter bitchfests, focusing on who vocalist Matthew Healy is or isn’t fucking, what he’s doing with his hair, and whether music this poppy is fit for the indie blogosphere. It would all be a bit dull in the hands of another band, but the five pre-release singles they’ve dropped have highlighted what a thrilling, unpredictable band they’ve become. And any time a shitload of people are talking about a band who is taking real chances, it’s a good thing for music.

The best of the five is the warm, moody new-wave ballad, “Somebody Else.” While the post-chillwave Small Black/Washed Out vibes are legitimate, nobody in that scene had this level of arena-ready songwriting chops or the graceful power of Healy’s voice. And while much of that music was inspired by the kind of songs that could captivate big rooms, Healy and co. truly aspired to do it. And just three years removed from their debut, they are heading out on a massive tour to do it for real. I’ll be there, and it will be glorious.

Also, check out their SNL performance of the ecstatic, “The Sound.”

Hot Jam of the Day: All Saints, “One Strike”

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All Saints
“One Strike”
Red Flag (04.08 on London Records)

Not gonna lie, writing about All Saints in 2016 feels pretty damn good. Like many other 80s babies, the slinky, London four-piece has a little place in my heart (and high school mixtapes). And while I tend to favor their ballads (i.e. “War of Nerves” and “Never Ever“), the energetic, mid-tempo “One Strike” is a tasty return to form, pairing spectral synths with chunky guitars and their still youthful four-part harmonies. In the last little while, we’ve heard solid comeback tracks from Craig David, members of Sugababes, and now All Saints. All I need are new Take That and Spice Girls songs, and it’ll be 1998 all over again.

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