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

Snail Mail, "Let's Find An Out"


Snail Mail "Let's Find An Out" Lush (out 06.08 on Matador) Though I've somehow not written about them yet, I've been loving the Baltimore trio's pre-release singles for their hotly-anticipated debut LP. The stripped-back third single, "Let's Find An Out," is my favorite of the bunch, pairing songwriter Lindsey Jordan's plaintive vocals Read more

Rae Sremmurd: "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug)


Rae Sremmurd "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug) Swaecation Though I'm still processing the Mississippi superstars' excellent, new 27-song project, the free-flowing "Offshore" feels like an instant classic. Producer Mike Will is a genius at negotiating sonic space, and his gooey, descending synth chords leave plenty of room for Thug to play in. And Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Mt. Si, “911”

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0006957000_10Mt. Si
“911”

911 (out 02.16 on Cascine)
Any project that features Kisses frontman Jesse Kivel and Michael David from Classixx is going to be smooth as all hell. Throw in the angelic vocals of Superhumanoids’ Sarah Chernoff, and you might as well just close your eyes and melt into your sonic beachside chaise lounge. New single, “911,” features remarkably deep and lush synths, which belie Chernoff’s lyrics which touch on anxiety in the digital age.

CFCF, “Self Service”

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cfcf_051614CFCF
“Self Service”

Self Service EP
Though much of Mike Silver’s work is quiet and piano-based, he’s always had a few house bangers in his locker, and new single “Self Service” is aimed straight at the dance floor. For six buoyant minutes, the cut bubbles and bobs along the surface with warm keys, a steady backbeat, and some well-played “oooh’s.”

Daniel Avery, “Slow Fade”

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Daniel Avery
“Slow Fade”

Slow Fade (out now on Phantasy Sound)
It’s been more than four years since the Bournemouth native dropped his gorgeous, dark techno debut LP, “Drone Logic,” but he’s finally back with a new EP that is sure to be a delight. Lead single, “Slow Fade,” is just the kind of sublime track that Avery made his name off. Built around aqueous synths and a low-key backbeat, it builds slowly before subtly resolving to engulfing climax. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this project.

Troye Sivan, “The Good Side”

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troye-sivanTroye Sivan
“The Good Side”

Digital Single
On his quietly excellent, autobiographical debut “Blue Neighborhood,” the Aussie made the jump from YouTube star to budding pop-star. The disc was an intimate look at first love — from the intoxicating early days to that unique brand of teenage heartbreak that sets in when it’s over. Though the record shot Sivan’s career into the stratosphere, what became of the man who inspired it?

“The Good Side” is Sivan’s attempt to reach back out to his first love and thank him for the part he played in Sivan’s life and recent success. No doubt, it’s an awkward situation, but the 22 year-old handles it with tenderness and grace, apologizing for the way he capitalized on their relationship without talking down to him. I’d imagine some will find this condescending, which is understandable. But to me, it’s a sincere attempt to reconcile that tricky moment when one’s art mirrors the difficult parts of life.

Mount Eerie, “Distortion”

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29-ogMount Eerie
“Distortion”
Now Only (out 03.16 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Less than a year since his stunning LP, “A Crow Looked At Me” (my 3rd favorite album of 2017), Phil Elverum is back with another project. And if its rambling, powerful lead single is anything to go off, it is going to be a doozy. Over beautiful but messy beds of classical guitar, the 39 year-old touchingly sings about his late wife, fears about fatherhood, an early pregnancy scare, his great grandfather, and countless other subjects in between. Though some have compared it to Mark Kozelek’s stream-of-consciousness recent work, to my ears it is a totally unique sound that makes its 11-minute runtime feel like it’s over in a snap. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the this album.

Jorja Smith, “Let Me Down” (f/ Stormzy)

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Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 11.02.27 AMJorja Smith
“Let Me Down” (f/ Stormzy)

Digital Single
Two of Britain’s biggest talents link up for a dramatic, yearning piano ballad. Though I’m never going to complain about a Stormzy verse, its the 20 year-old vocalist who is the star of the show, gliding dramatically over sedated, Adele-ish pianos. Smith wrote “Let Me Down” as her version of a Bond Theme, and my god, you can feel it. Her voice aches as she accepts her places as somebody else’s afterthought. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also triumphant.

Sufjan Stevens, “Tonya Harding”

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sufjan-stevens-stalkers-album-dumpster-mp3Sufjan Stevens
“Tonya Harding”

Digital Single
One of those songs that came out while I was writing my year-end list, I wanted to come back to Sufjan’s wonderful, heartfelt tribute to fellow Oregonian Tonya Harding. Though he seems like an interesting guy, Stevens excels at writing about others — approaching his subjects with a journalist’s eye for detail and a screenwriter’s narrative touch. There’s a palpable tenderness and love in those songs, and it’s clear that the 42 year-old goes to great lengths to get inside his characters, presenting them wholly… flaws and all.

River Tiber, “Patience”

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Tommy_Paxton-Beesley-e1438888595507River Tiber
“Patience”

Digital Single
It’s year-end list season at ThunderPenguin HQ, so I’ve been a little slow on new music. That said, this soulful new track from the Toronto R&B singer stopped me in my tracks. “Patience” begins as a smoky-room, late-night jazz ballad before building to a pair of unexpected, powerful crescendos.

The-Dream: “It’s Yo Birthday”

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The-Dream-press-cr-Miguel-Starcevich-2017-billboard-1548The-Dream
“It’s Yo Birthday”

Digital Single
Yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of The-Dream’s classic debut, “Love Hate.” And to celebrate, San Terius dropped with sleepy, low-key bedroom cut that feels like it could have been a B-side from those sessions. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for the 40 year-old who has long been hinting that a new project is on the way.

Nicolas Jaar, “Wildflowers”

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71359ce3d2ae34368b6545fc5479aee7Nicolas Jaar
“Wildflowers”

Sirens (Deluxe Edition) (out now on Other People)
One of the new tracks from the re-up of his excellent 2016 album Sirens, “Wildflowers” is a perfect distillation of Jaar’s rare ability to craft a singular sound that’s both recognizable and amorphous. In other words, his sound is impossible to explain, but you also know it when you hear it. Built around aqueous guitar chords, drippy percussion, and his faraway falsetto, the track meanders through layers of sonic haze before resolving with an emotional crescendo.