Images & Words: Jamie Isaac, "Doing Better"


Jamie Isaac "Doing Better" Digital Single After a year or so away, the low-key Croydon singer-songwriter returns with the first song from his forthcoming sophomore LP. "Doing Better" is another tasty slab of the bleary-eyed, late-night soul that made his debut, "Couch Baby," my 14th favorite album of 2016. Isaac is blessed Read more

Images & Words: Mabel x Not3s, "Fine Line"


Mabel x Not3s "Fine Line" Digital Single Mabel and Not3s both appeared on my "Best Songs of 2017" list as solo artists, so it's not surprising that their second single together is an absolute heater. "Fine Line" has more crossover potential than anything either artist has released before, bringing an anthemic, radio-ready chorus to go with their signature, lithe, Read more

Images & Words: 03 Greedo, "Never Bend"


O3 Greedo "Never Bend" Money Changes Everything (out now on Golden Grenade Empire) Not gonna lie, I slept on 03 Greedo last year, but I'm not going to make the same mistake twice. The Watts rapper is one of the most unique, exciting new voices rising today, pairing soulful crooning and sticky bars for a Read more

Best of '17: The Best Songs of 2017


So that's it. 6 years of ThunderPenguin are in the books. As always, here's a round-up of my favorite songs of the year. This was one of the toughest lists I've ever made, and I hope something on this list brings you the light it brought me. Thanks so Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, "Textin' My Ex" (f/ Tiffany Evans)


T-Pain “Textin’ My Ex” (f/ Tiffany Evans) Oblivion Tomorrow, T-Pain drops his long-awaited fifth LP, the culmination of the most trying era of the R&B innovator’s career. Through no real fault of his own, Pain (né Faheem Najm) went from the jolly ringmaster of a multi-million dollar radio empire to a Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Hot Jam of the Day: Grizzle, “Sermon” (f/ ShaqyDread)

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Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 6.08.28 PMGrizzle
“Sermon” (f/ ShaqyDread)
Consort (out 10.20 on Liminal Sounds)
The shadowy architect of one of the best songs of last year drops the first taste of his solo debut EP. Like the spellbinding, “Entreaty,” “Sermon” is monstrous, unique slab of neo-grime that aims for the body and the heart. The London/Manchester producer gets an assist from rising Tottenham MC, ShaqyDread, who matches the beat’s intensity, ducking in and out of the neon synths and staccato percussion with ease.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jesse Kivel, “Endless”

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Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 5.26.14 PMJesse Kivel
“Endless”
Content (out 10.6 on New Feelings)
The former Kisses/Princeton frontman drops the second single from his debut solo EP. On “Endless,” the Santa Monica native amps up the adult contempo vibes, marrying lonely sax with twinkling piano. Don’t think of it as Yacht Rock; think of it as ‘Lost at Sea on a Pontoon’ Rock. Gorgeous.

Hot Jam of the Day: Bruno Major, “Cold Blood”

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Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 11.55.47 AMBruno Major
“Cold Blood”

A Song for Every Moon (July Records)
Over the past year, the talented North Londoner dropped a new song every month, resulting in an engaging 12-song collection of jazz-influenced pop songs that recall talented (and alliterative) folks like Jamie Woon, Jamie Isaac, and James Blake. My favorite of the bunch came out in August. “Cold Blood” is a perfect example of Major’s subtle songwriting and powerful voice, as he glides over a spare arrangement that feels both classic and modern.

Hot Jam of the Day: Kodak Black, “Change My Ways”

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Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 3.29.19 PMKodak Black
“Change My Ways”

Project Baby 2 (self-released)
Still just 20 years old, Dieuson “Kodak Black” Octave has already seen enough highs and lows to fill twenty lifetimes. His powerful, underrated new mixtape, “Project Baby 2,” features the most honest and frank introspection that we’ve ever heard from him. On “Change My Ways,” Octave sounds exhausted — beaten down by a lifetime of trying to outrun his own disastrous decisions and an unrelenting spotlight that glows brighter with each court case and social media story. Moreover, he sounds legitimately contrite, explaining the brutal environment that he came from without skirting responsibility. As crushing as it is, there’s still hope there. Now, it’s up to Octave to back up his words with actions.

Hot Jam of the Day: Julien Baker, “Appointments”

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Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 6.50.48 PMJulien Baker
“Appointments”
Turn Out the Lights (out 10.27 on Matador)
“It’s the hope that kills you,” goes the old saying. But it can also be the thing that saves you and drives you through life’s dark stretches. It’s what the 21 year-old is reaching for on this breathtaking first single from her highly-anticipated second LP. Baker has the ultra-rare ability to distill life’s most complex and difficult moments into gorgeous, insightful songs that often tell you more about your life than hers.

“Appointments” is the next in a long line of stunning, stripped-back guitar ballads from the Memphis native. Over a lonely, reverb-drenched single-string riff, Baker tries desperately to old on to the hope that she knows she needs. Baker confesses all this to a disappointed lover, admitting that she’s reached a point where there’s nothing she can do but believe in the process, even though she is far from convinced that it will work. Unbelievably moving.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jae Stephens, “Every Time”

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Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 1.37.01 PMJae Stephens
“Every Time”

Digital Single
After dropping one of the best singles of 2017, the LA singer returns with a low-key follow up that continues to hint at her massive potential. “Every Time” is a sweltering love letter to her hometown, from her roots in Studio City to the packed freeways that connect its residents to a wealth of possibilities. Buoyed by the pulsing, soulful production of London singer-songwriter, Burno Major, Stephens captures the excitement and anxiety of exploring an endless maze that offers a million different ways to come back home.

Hot Jam of the Day: Car Seat Headrest, “War is Coming (If You Want It)”

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car-seat-headrest-will-toledoCar Seat Headrest
“War is Coming (If You Want It)”

Digital Single
If you aren’t worried about what is happening on this planet, you aren’t an actual human. Will Toldeo is a certified human and a very talented songwriter, and he displays both on this this world-weary new single. During a tight, tuneful three and a half minutes, Toldeo decries a number of popular, corrosive views that are currently polluting the globe and calls out a need for healing. The message may not be particularly novel, but we need as many positive voices as we can in these troubled times.

Hot Jam of the Day: Jesse Kivel, “LA Story”

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kisses-03Jesse Kivel
“LA Story”
Content (out 10.06 on New Feelings)

After a couple years away, the Kisses/Princeton frontman returns with a gorgeous, slow-burning solo single. It’s unclear whether the 1991 Steve Martin film of the same name inspired this track, but the seductive keys, jazzy fretless bass-line, and massive horn chorus melody makes sure it wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack. Kivel’s warm tenor is as smooth as ever, gliding high above the lush arrangement and capturing the city’s beauty and ennui.

Hot Jam of the Day: Kelela, “LMK”

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KelelaKelela
“LMK”

Take Me Apart (10.06 on Warp)
Our agonizing wait for the first taste of Kelela’s proper studio debut* is finally over, and my GOD, our girl came through with a banger. In lieu of just typing 4,000 fire emojis, I’ll just say that “LMK” is such a perfect distillation of what makes her such a special artist. The track lives in that ambiguous space between the club, the bedroom, and the radio. And the D.C. native devouring a club-ready Arca production and turning it into a slick, intoxicating slab of ultra-modern R&B.

And though everything about it sounds pristine, Kelela’s lyrics are never mere empty calories. She effortlessly deconstructs modern ghosting culture, reminding your local neighborhood fuckboi (or girl) that the main thing most people are looking for in the early going is honesty.

*Let’s be real, Cut 4 Me is an album

Hot Jam of the Day: Turnover, “Sunshine Type”

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Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 10.32.40 AMTurnover
“Sunshine Type”
Good Nature (out 08.25 on Run for Cover)
The second track from the Virginia trio’s upcoming third LP is a delicious slice of subdued, humid, mid-tempo soft rock. Interestingly, both of Good Nature’s pre-release singles have lacked the urgency of 2015’s excellent Peripheral Vision. Instead, they have been languid and dreamy, which could be indicative of a shift from the angst of your early 20’s to the ennui of your mid 20’s. Or, maybe I just haven’t heard the whole record yet, and I should chill out on the predictions. Either way, I’m counting down the days until the 25th.