Images & Words: SOPHIE, "It's Okay To Cry"


SOPHIE "It's Okay to Cry" Digital Single Every once in a while, somebody puts out something that takes your breath away. "It's Okay to Cry" is absolutely one of those moments. After spending her early career lurking behind faceless, chaotic, schizophrenic experimental dance music, the 32 year-old has stepped into the light and up to the microphone. The result is Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: King Krule, "Logos"


King Krule "Logos" The OOZ (out now on XL) Archy Marshall's excellent new album feels like a collection of those wonky dream states that exist somewhere in that nether region between being wake and sleep. Though I'm still digesting all 19 of its songs, the hypnotic, jazzy "Logos" immediately stuck out. Over languid jazz chords Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, "For Robin"


The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die "For Robin" Always Foreign (Epitaph) There are many, many awful things about addiction, but little is as insidious as the way it pushes its victims away from loved ones from their previous life and deeper into their illness. Anybody who has lost someone to Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "4PM in London"


Stormzy "4PM in London" Digital Single Turning freestyles into anthems is nothing new to the ultra-talented Londoner. And though the ravenous "4PM in London" was probably written, it feels alive in the same way that many of those aforementioned tracks did. Unlike Drake (the man who originally rapped on this beat), Stormzy's got the rare ability to Read more

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. 21 Savage Issa Album Slaughter Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Hot Jam of the Day: J Hus, “Common Sense”

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JHusJ Hus
“Common Sense”
Common Sense (Black Butter)
The wait is almost over. Though the East Londoner’s highly-anticipated proper debut LP drops on Friday, he graced us with another taster to hold us over. Though the lush, soulful instrumentation and live drums are a different look for the MC, it proves to be another monster single that highlights his underrated versatility. The beat feels a little bit 90’s, but Hus’ delivery is purely modern. And he shifts from rapping to singing with ease and delivers sticky bars with melodic hooks for days. One of the biggest talents in music today.

Hot Jam of the Day: Sinjin Hawke, “Onset”

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sinjin_hawke_188Sinjin Hawke
“Onset”
First Opus (out 06.10 on Fractal Fantasy)
Though the Canadian producer/DJ has been crafting relentlessly progressive club music for more than five years, he’s just getting around to dropping his first LP this summer. Its lead single, “Onset,” highlights Hawke’s tuneful, yet club-ready sound, pairing hyperactive droplets with pounding kick drums and his signature, triumphant horns.

Hot Jam of the Day: Ryan Adams, “The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 11.15.47 AMRyan Adams
“The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

Prisoner B-Sides
In much of the press surrounding his excellent 16th studio LP, the ever-prolific songwriter talked about writing nearly 100 songs for the album and struggling to cut it down to just 12. Last Friday, he proved he wasn’t lying when he surprise dropped 17 of those b-sides. And though they don’t all shine, it makes you appreciate how difficult it must be to make these cuts.

Two of its early standouts are a pair of acoustic tearjerkers: its closer “The Empty Bed” and “Broken Things.” When I initially heard that the record would deal with Adams’ divorce, I assumed that it would sound a lot more like this, rather than the 70’s stomp and Tunnel of Love vibes that permeate the disc. I get why he decided not to go that route, but it’s great to hear a couple of stripped down moments from the sessions.

Listen to the whole thing on Spotify.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mac Demarco, “One More Love Song”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.03.13 PMMac Demarco
“One More Love Song”

This Old Dog (out 05.05 on Captured Tracks)
Though he’s spent much of his career lapping up critical plaudits, the 26 year-old’s hipster goofball persona never resonated with me. Maybe I’m a killjoy, but I always struggled to find any real heart or heft in his music. However, his third LP’s pre-release tracks have been consistently excellent, and this windswept ballad is the best of the bunch.

The tears of the clown motif is old and tired, but it’s damn near impossible to avoid when writing about “One More Love Song.” Over languid jazzy chords and a timeless piano chorus melody, DeMarco examines the moment when the freedom of playing the field is replaced by a deep desire to find real connection. More than anything, he just sounds exhausted here — sick of the whole goddamn thing. And in my experience, that’s usually when you meet someone. So hang in there Mac, I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for soon.

Images & Words: Laurel Halo, “Jelly”

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download (1)Laurel Halo
“Jelly”
Dust (out 06.23 on Hyperdub)
The lead single from the Berlin-via-Michigan producer/vocalist’s forthcoming third LP is one of the poppiest and most direct tracks of her career. I mean, it’s Laurel Halo, so it’s fucking weird. But it features a mostly clean, surprisingly smooth vocal line that guides the listener through the off-kilter drum patterns and eclectic instrumentation. The result is an exciting, unexpected trip that isn’t a drag to get through.

Hot Jam of the Day: How to Dress Well, “Strong Enuff”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 5.13.02 PMHow to Dress Well
“Strong Enuff”

Our First 100 Days (for Stereogum)
To this day, there’s still nothing that sounds like Tom Krell’s early, pre-Love Remains work. And though his development has been extremely impressive, it’s nice to hear him lurking back in those sonic swamps on this gorgeous Sheryl Crow cover. Krell has always been a wizard at reinterpreting pop songs and dragging them to unexpected emotional places. “Strong Enuff” is another example of this, fitting in well with other magical versions of R. Kelly’s “I Wish,” Janet’s “Again,” and Smog’s “Teenage Spaceship,” among others.

Hot Jam of the Day: War on Drugs, “Thinking of a Place”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 7.39.30 PMWar on Drugs
“Thinking of a Place”
Digital Single
“Thinking of a Place” is first new piece of original music from the Philly group since Lost in the Dream — one of the best albums of 2014. And, my god, was it worth the wait. An expansive and beautiful mid-tempo ballad, it features some of Adam Granduciel’s richest and most melodic songwriting.

Over windswept acoustic strums and a restorative lead riff, Granduciel yearns for a fading connection with an affecting restlessness and melancholy. You can feel him reaching for something that he can’t quite grab and trying to find his way back to a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Most rock songs have no right to go on for 11 minutes, but this one could go on for twice as long. Just stunning.

The War On Drugs – Thinking Of A Place from Record Store Day on Vimeo.

Hot Jam of the Day: Julianna Barwick, “Wade In”

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new-web-juliannabarwick_0Julianna Barwick
“Wade In”
Our First 100 Days (for Stereogum)
Though Julianna Barwick’s music tends to glide ethereally above the clouds, this cut feels grounded, anchored down tightly and rooted in concrete. It isn’t surprising that she wrote a song like this for a compilation about the president. And it’s easy to imagine her sitting at her piano, shaken but not defeated. Though “Wade In” is heavy and doleful, there’s still hope and beauty seeping through the cracks. As there always is.

Hot Jam of the Day: Playboi Carti, “Magnolia”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.47.07 AMPlayboi Carti
“Magnolia”
Playboi Carti (Interscope)
It’s mid-April. The weather’s warming up. And it’s about that time we start thinking about songs of the summer. “Magnolia” — the best moment from the 21-year old rising star’s debut LP — is an early candidate for the crown. For three exhilarating minutes, Carti rides a magical wave of delayed synths, provided by the previously unknown Pierre Bourne. What he lacks as a lyricist, Carti makes up for in raw charisma, dropping a handful of quotable bars that I’m looking forward to hearing blasting out of windows all summer long.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mount Kimbie, “We Go Home Together” (f/ James Blake)

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Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.50.13 PMMount Kimbie
“We Go Home Together” (f/ James Blake)
Digital Single
It’s been nearly five years. But the highly influential Londoners are back with their ol’ pal James, and they brought a gorgeous, organ-kissed love song with them. Though it doesn’t feature their signature, innovative percussion, it boasts one of the duo’s strongest ever melodies. And Blake sounds revitalized here, pushing his tenor into its upper register and pulling all of the emotion out of it. Hopefully, a third LP beckons.