Mitski, "Two Slow Dancers"


Mitski "Two Slow Dancers" Be The Cowboy (out 08.17 on Matador) Every slow dance with someone you care about feels like a moment suspended in time. I mean, that's the point, right? Your hands are tied, your bodies are connected, and even your gaze is limited. Mitski, the fantastic New York songwriter, Read more

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

Hot Jam of the Day

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.

Grouper, “Parking Lot”

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Grouper
“Parking Lot”
Grid of Points (out 04.27 on Kranky)
Every time Liz Harris drops a new track, it’s up to us to savor it and appreciate it for the little miracle that it is. It may sound like hyperbole, but everything she’s put our since her wonderfully shut-in 2007 LP Cover the Windows and the Walls, has been teeming with delicate, ghostly beauty. Best of all, her songs grow and develop like living organisms, subtly revealing new layers of their beauty with each successive listen.

For all those reasons, there was much rejoicing at Thunder Penguin HQ* (aka, my desk) when Harris announced her follow-up to the incredible “Ruins” — my third favorite LP of 2014. Lead track “Parking Lights” contains the same bewitching intimacy that’s in much of her best work. Built around a forlorn piano melody, the Oregonian brings her haunting vocals up way up in the mix. And though it’s difficult to make out her words, the tone of her voice says more than enough.

The countdown to April 27th starts today.

Christina Vantzou: “Some Limited and Waning Memory”

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Christina Vantzou
“Some Limited and Waning Memory”
no.4 (out 04.06 on Kranky)
The lead track from the Kansas City-born, Brussels-based composer’s fourth LP is a ghostly, gorgeous piece that balances haunting strings with a delicate, meandering piano line. Film and photography has always been at the heart of her work, and this track is sure to evoke strong visuals and distant memories of days long gone.

Swae Lee, “Hurt To Look” (f/ Rae Sremmurd)

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Swae Lee
“Hurt To Look”

Swaecation (out soon on Ear Drummers)
Sremm Season is rapidly approaching, and on Wednesday, the venerable Mississippi brothers treated us to the first three tasters from their upcoming triple disc. Each of the three deserve some shine. “Powerglide” is the kind of airy, hyperactive banger that they built their name on, and Slim Jxmmi absolutely snaps on his electric debut solo single, “Brxnks Truck.”

But, as an eternal sucker for smooth R&B, Swae Lee’s solo single was the one that really stood out to me. Lee doesn’t sing, he glides. His vocals are effortless, and they just cruise over any arrangement he encounters, especially mid-tempo, luxurious Mike Will beats like this one. On “Hurt To Look,” he plays the role of a jilted lover, looking sadly over at what could have been. It’s a role he was born to play, and I cannot wait to hear what he does with an entire album of his own.

Kacey Musgraves, “Space Cowboy”

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Kacey Musgraves
“Space Cowboy”
Golden Hour (out 03.30 on UMG)
Very few country artists can crush my heart like the 29 year-old Texan. Whether it’s the swooning, wedding-worthy, “Late To The Party” (one of my Top 5 Songs of 2015) or the heartfelt, sad-sack tale about small-town life “Merry Go ‘Round,” Musgraves has that rare ability to capture the beauty or pain of a moment and distill it into four empathic, gorgeous minutes.

Now we can add “Space Cowboy” — the first single from her third proper LP — to that list. A touching ode to the moment you realize that no matter what you do, the person you love will never truly commit to you. It hurts like hell, but there’s also a freedom that goes with it — a realization that it’s finally okay to let go and find someone who will appreciate you. A little part of you is relieved. And Musgraves captures both of those emotions masterfully here. One of the best songs I’ve heard this year.

Bad Gyal, “Internationally”

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Bad Gyal
“Internationally”
Worldwide Angel (out now on Puro)

Though I haven’t yet written about it, the Catalan reggaeton alchemist’s new record has been in heavy rotation in 2018. A lean, 8-song collection, “Worldwide Angel” sees Alba “Bad Gyal” Farelo working on a grander scale than she ever has before. Of course, I’m not saying it’s better than her breakthrough “Slow Wine” tape, only time will tell. But she’s unarguably shooting for the fences more than ever before.

The disc’s towering leadoff track is a perfect example of that. Boasting production from two of the hottest around, Jam City and Dubbel Dutch, “Internationally” is Farelo at her most potent, switching between languages and deftly slithering through the beat. Though the it’s a bigger statement, much of the immediacy and intimacy of her work remains. Or in other words, there’s more people at the club, but it still feels like she’s only singing to you.

Frank Ocean, “Moon River”

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Frank Ocean
“Moon River”

Digital Single
Every time Frank Ocean puts out a new song, it feels like an event, no matter what it is. Case in point: this loose, simple cover of a song from the original Breakfast at Tiffany’s Soundtrack basically shut down the Internet when it dropped on Valentine’s Day. Reminiscent of his cover of the Isley Brothers-penned Aaliyah classic “At Your Best (You Are Love),” it’s a pretty faithful rendition that mostly works because of that rare, beguiling quality of his once-in-a-lifetime voice.