Future, "Hate the Real Me"


Future "Hate the Real Me" Beastmode 2 (out now on Epic) The peak of a quietly excellent year, Future goes super deep on his worthy follow-up to 2015's legendary "Beast Mode" tape. Of all its stirring moments, nothing emotionally hits harder than its last track, as Future pours his heart out over Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2018 (So Far...)


Somehow, some fucking way, 2018 is more than half over. And though it might feel like I always say this, I think this was the toughest list I've had to make yet. There's been an overwhelming number of exciting, vital new voices popping up and plenty of fantastic follow-ups Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "Give Yourself A Try"


The 1975 "Give Yourself A Try" A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (out in October on Dirty Hit) Though it's been out for about two weeks, I've listened to the Manchester quartet's new single roughly two million times. Compositionally, it's totally unremarkable. Built around a repetitive, simplistic guitar riff and three chords, Read more

Images & Words: The Rhythm Method, "Chin Up"


The Rhythm Method "Chin Up" Digital Single Every two years*, I get afflicted with the same illness. It usually starts up a few weeks before every major international football tournament and lasts until somewhere around the quarterfinals. Who knows how long my believesthatEnglandcanwinthewholething-itis will last for this year, but I'm hoping that Read more

Images & Words: Chromatics, "Black Walls"


Chromatics "Black Walls" Dear Tommy (out PROLLY NEVER on Italians Do It Better) Goddamn it, Johnny Jewel. Just when I'd moved on from the idea that I'd ever hear "Dear Tommy," this guy drags me back in with a luscious new track and a (probably fictional) release date for Fall of 2018. "Black Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Mazzy Star, “Quiet, The Winter Harbor”

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Mazzy Star
“Quiet, The Winter Harbor”
Still (out 06.01 on Rhymes of an Hour)
Though I was a little young for their heyday, like so many others, I fell in love with the Santa Monica group’s seminal, swooning “Fade Into You.” And though this new track will likely not hit the same dizzying heights, it packs much of the same hazy, mysterious beauty that the 1994 single did. Its simple step-wise piano melody and emotive slide guitars form the perfect canvas for Hope Sandoval’s dreamy, doleful vocals to carry you away. More like this, please.

Grouper, “Driving”

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Grouper
“Driving”
Grid of Points (out 04.27 on yellow electric)
We’re only a few weeks away from hearing the legendary Liz Harris’ eleventh solo LP, and it’s shaping up to be one of her best projects. Following the haunting, “Parking Lot,” “Driving” is also a piano-led affair that sees Harris’ doleful vocals way up in the mix. And though it’s impossible to make out what she’s saying, her voice is transportive. I’m not sure where it’ll take you, but this song pulls me far from the city to someplace quieter, foggier, and along the Northern Pacific Coast.

Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”

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Kacey Musgraves
“Golden Hour”

Golden Hour (out now on UMG)
At this point, you probably already know that the 29 year-old Texan’s new album is something special. The disc is a stunning collection of impeccably sung and written modern country tunes, all of which deserve your time. However, I wanted to give one of its most low-key moments a little extra shine: this gorgeous ode to the simple pleasures of spending time with the person you love.

Kacey’s always been so adept at making little moments feel momentous (see: my all-time favorite, “Late to the Party“). And at its heart, “Golden Hour” is about appreciating the way our partners ground us, how they give us someone to rely on in an unceasingly unreliable world. Sure, it’s simple. Sure, it’s cheesy. But, it’s true. And, it’s yet another example of Musgraves’ uncanny ability to highlight the beauty in her everyday life, then distill it into a song that can help us appreciate that beauty in our own.

Westerman: “I Turned Away”

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Westerman
“I Turned Away”
Confirmation Single (out now on Blue Flowers)
I’ve been curious about the young London songwriter (and Tottenham fan) for most of this year, but his low-key, experimental pop hadn’t quite grabbed me fully until I heard this beautiful, wistful track. Though it’s drawn Arthur Russell comparisons, it oddly reminds me of some of Springsteen’s quieter moments on “Nebraska” and “Tunnel of Love.” Maybe it’s the consistent backbeat or the way the reverb-soaked guitar resonates, but “I Turned Away” has the same haunting quality of those records.

Mr. Mitch, “Creep (Take You Home)”

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Mr. Mitch
“Creep (Take You Home)”
Digital Single
The London producer digs into the smarminess of many men’s attitude toward approaching women on this low-key track. Like much of Mitch’s best work, “Creep” builds slowly and carefully around a repetitive, hypnotic sample. In this case, however, the refrain is grating, unsettling, and mildly threatening, aiming to recreate the feeling that many women deal with every single day.

Tracey Thorn, “Air”

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Tracey Thorn
“Air” (f/ Shura)
Record (out now on Unmade Road Ltd)
At 55 years old, the former Everything But The Girl frontwoman could have easily rested on her laurels and impressive back catalog. However, the Hertfordshire native sounds rejuvenated on her excellent fifth solo LP, especially on this sashaying disco stunner.  Alongside rising pop vocalist Shura, Thorn sings beautifully about feeling overlooked in her youth and searching for warmth in a cold world.

Now, Now: “AZ”

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Now, Now
“AZ”

Saved (out 05.18 on Trans- Records)
It’s taken me nearly a month to make my mind about the buzzing Minneapolis duo’s new single. At first, I struggled with the “klopp” snare drum sound and the track’s pace, which felt a bit plodding compared to their lithe, aerodynamic best stuff. However, the more I listened to it, the more “AZ” grew on me. I’m realizing that the slow pace makes the two synth-fueled climaxes feel even bigger, especially when the pitch-shifted vocals come in at the end, which has become one of my favorite moments in music in 2018.

Though following music on the Internet is great in a lot of ways, I do think I often give tracks less time than I should. And “AZ” is a great example of that. Sorry Now, Now; I’ll never doubt you again.

Sam Buck, “Redo”

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Sam Buck
“Redo”
Borderline (out 05.04 on JMC Aggregate)
Though he isn’t the first openly gay country artist, Sam Buck’s music naturally challenges all sorts of stereotypes. His lovely new single, “Redo,” is about Buck wasting his time dating frustrating men who won’t leave their wives and fully commit to him. Though the lyrics may make some country fans uncomfortable and hit very close to home for others, the story is relatable to anybody who’s ever been a side piece (let’s be real, we’ve all been there). Plus, it’s delivered in an exquisite, sharp musical package (the drums are subtly impressive) that should appeal to any fan of the genre. This guy has a ton of potential.

Lolina, “The River”

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Lolina
“The River”

The Smoke (out now, self-released)
The ever-chameleonic Inga Copeland is back with a bizarre, but beautiful new album.  On ” The River,” the former Hype Williams vocalist refuses to be boxed, deadpanning through disorienting keyboards and pounding, tribal drums. Like any Copeland project, it’s going to take some time to decipher what the fuck is going on. But once you do, you’ll rarely be let down.

Wet, “There’s A Reason”

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Wet
“There’s a Reason”
Digital Single

I’ve gone back and forth about the subtle stylistic shift that the Brooklyn group has made on their first single as a duo. After enjoying widespread acclaim early in their career, their debut LP was met with tepid reviews, which mostly complained about their dogged commitment to their stripped-down, simplistic mope-pop. As someone who fell in love with their original sound, the critics didn’t move me, because I hadn’t come to them for lush, complex arrangements in the first place.

“There’s a Reason” feels like a bit of a response to those dissenting voices. It features one of their peppiest, fullest choruses with swelling strings and and busy drumming. Of course, we’ve heard similar elements in the climaxes of tracks like “Weak” and “Move Me,” and we don’t know how this song fits into the context of the LP. That said, my favorite parts of this song are its sparsest, most Wet-ish bits; the verses and bridge give vocalist Kelly Zutrau plenty of sonic space to emotionally connect with the listener.

I like it, but I’m not sure I’d like a whole album that sounds like this. And though every group must evolve, I hope they don’t lose the parts that made them so special to being with.