The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019 (1st Quarter)

Even though we're a solid week into the second quarter, better late than never right? Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite songs of the last three months. To keep numbers manageable, I didn't include anything from any of my favorite albums list and prioritized songs I Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2019 (First Quarter)

Gah, I can't believe we're already 25% through 2019. That said, Spring is in the air, and we've enjoyed an excellent, diverse crop of music during these first three months. Have a look at some of my favorite LPs of the year so far in no particular order. Dawn Richard
 “New Read more

Chief Keef, "Ain't Gonna Happen"

Chief Keef "Ain't Gonna Happen" GloToven (Glo Gang / RBC) The Chicago stalwart's new project with the legendary Zaytoven is unsurprisingly full of weird and wacky sounds, moving in innumerable unexpected and exciting ways. Its most powerful moment is its starkest, as a heartbroken Keef floats freely over Zay's gorgeous piano. "Face dried Read more

Tierra Whack, "Only Child"

Tierra Whack "Only Child" Digital Single Tierra Whack's 2018 debut "Whack World" was one of the most promising debut albums I've heard in a very long time. However, I found it super hard to write about (and ultimately, fall in love with), because of her decision to chop all the tracks off Read more

CFCF, "Closed Space"

CFCF "Closed Space" Liquid Colours (out 03.01) Though I haven't listened to it as much as his ree-fucking-dick-u-lus J.Lo remix (aka: the best song of 2019 so far), the first single from Montreal mainstay Michael Silver's new album is an instant keeper. It kicks off with luxurious beds of neo-geo synths that Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Hot Jam of the Day (09.05.12): Flying Lotus, “Until The Quiet Comes”

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Flying Lotus
“Until the Quiet Comes” a Short Film By Kahlil Joseph
With music from Until The Quiet Comes (Warp, out 10/2)

Today’s Hot Jam of the Day isn’t really a jam at all, but when Flying Lotus releases any glimpses of new music, it qualifies. Accompanied by some arresting visuals courtesy of rising filmaker Kahlil Joseph, we get tastes of three new evocative FlyLo (né Steven Elliot) tracks. All three feature his signature impossibly layered arraignments, lush melodies, and spot-on drum patterns. They also all feature soulful, accesible vocal parts (one of which is by the great Erykah Badu). Though Elliot has worked with plenty of singers, it’s a bit surprising that all three tracks feature vocalists, as he has generally used them sparingly on his previous LPs. That said, a lot of my favorite of his tracks have singing, so I’m not mad if that’s the case. Either way, all three cuts serve as reminders that nobody does it quite like FlyLo. Don’t be surprised if Until the Quiet Comes is one of the albums of the year.

Hot Jam of the Day (09.04.12): How to Dress Well, “& It Was U”

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How to Dress Well
“& It Was U”
Total Loss (Tri Angle, out 9/17)

One of the great fallacies that surrounded ethereal R&B singer Tom Krell’s debut album, Love Remains, is that it was “depressing.” While it dealt with heavy issues (mostly the passing of Krell’s close friend) openly and bravely, How to Dress Well’s first LP had its fair share of playful, inspiring, and hopeful moments. The Colorado native has never hidden his love of saccharine radio R&B, and this cut is perhaps the clearest manifestation of this affinity to date. The buoyant, fingersnap-led devotional highlights his elastic falsetto and approachable disposition. Total Loss was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and with every single, I’m more sure that it’s going to live up to the brilliant Love Remains.

How to Dress Well: “& It Was U”


Hot Jam of the Day (08.02.12): Elite Gymnastics, “Andreja 4-Ever”

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Elite Gymnastics
“Andreja 4-Ever”
Digital Single

When Josh Clancy left Elite Gymnastics earlier this summer, sole remaining member James Brooks assured fans that the group’s sound wouldn’t be affected, as Clancy mostly contributed to group’s design. Based on this track alone, that statement rings false, and that actually might not be a bad thing. “Andreja 4-Ever” is easily the most accesible thing to be released under the Elite GZ moniker with much of their ever-present, chaotic wall of sound stripped away. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’m ready for an entire album of this, but as a one-off, it works. That said, I hope I haven’t seen the end of the Elite Gymnastics that I fell in love with over the last couple of years.

Elite Gymnastics: “Andreja 4-Ever”

Hot Jam of the Day (09.01.12): Sky Ferreira, “Everything Is Embarrassing”

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Sky Ferreira
“Everything is Embarrassing”
Ghost (EMI, out 10/2)

Everybody knows that a brilliant hook is essential to a great pop song. But what separates a great pop song from a special one? The bridge: the most under-appreciated, overlooked, difficult-to-nail facet of a truly satisfying four minutes. The best middle 8’s dive headlong into the spotlight, snatching it away from the prima donna choruses that they are surrounded by. Most of the best pop tracks — Wham’s “Careless Whisper” & Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” spring to mind — have barnstorming, explosive bridges that end up working like ancillary hooks, turning excellent songs into truly incredible ones.

Sky Ferriera’s new single isn’t quite one of those, but it’s certainly one of the best of the year, thanks largely to its gargantuan bridge. Like her model looks and public persona, “Everything is Embarrassing” is meticulously crafted, driven by a potent combo of breathy vocals, dear-diary lyrics, and razor-sharp production à la mode from Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion, Blood Oranges) and Ariel Rechtshaid (the dude who produced Usher’s “Climax”). After two seductive verses and a killer chorus, the track goes to another level thanks to an immense bridge, that sees the vocally-limited Angelino open it up a little and let her carefully styled blonde locks down. It’s not “BUT NOWWWW WHO’S GONNA DANCE WITH MEEEEE, PLEASE STAYYY,” life-affirming, but it’s not a million miles away.

Sky Ferreira: “Everything Is Embarrassing”

Hot Jam of the Day (08.30.12): Angel Olsen, “Acrobat”

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Angel Olsen
Halfway Home (Bathetic, out 09/04)

Angel Olsen’s breathtaking debut LP is the kind of album that you dream of finding buried in some dusty cardboard box in the attic of your grandparent’s house. A beautiful, seminal folk LP from the late 50’s that somehow everybody else missed but you discovered. It, of course, isn’t, but it sure feels like it is. Halfway Home is the follow-up to St. Louis-bred, Chicago-based folk singer’s debut cassette (yes, they still make those), Strange Cacti, and it has more than realized the potential that she showed on that release. Olsen is both a powerhouse and delicate vocalist and her full-throated delivery is disarming and arresting. One of the most fascinating voices in new folk, Halfway House is a must-hear for anyone who dug Laura Marling’s new album or one of Joni Mitchell’s timeless, old ones. Brilliant.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.29.12): Jeremih, “Late Nights” (Chopped & Screwed)

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“Late Nights” (Chopped & Screwed)
Late Nights with Jeremih (Chopped & Screwed by Kp’da Truth)

The artist formerly (and probably still) known as Mr. Birthday Sex’s mixtape Late Nights with Jeremih has been one of my surprise releases of the year. Clearly taking cues from the new breed of experimental R&B artists (ie the Weeknd, Frank Ocean), the Chicago native unleashes a potent sound made up of his  traditional radio roots, seductive croon, palpable hip-hop edge, and the progressive influences of the aforementioned artists. Buoyed by a pair of undeniable singles — “Go to the Mo” and “773 Love” — the mixtape is solid all the way through and excellent in places, notably on the disc’s excellent de facto title track. Heady, atmospheric, and infectious, it’s among the best things he’s ever done and is easily one of the best R&B tracks of the year. Download the mixtape for free, here.

Jeremih: “Late Nights” [Chopped & Screwed]

Also, here’s the “Late Nights” video.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.28.12): Dan Bodan, “Aaron” (Video is NSFW)

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Dan Bodan
DP/Aaron Single (DFA)

Canadian-bed, Berlin-based Dan Bodan is the most exciting new DFA signing in recent memory, and his recently-released single features two romantic, graceful slabs of 80’s electro-lounge that have more than a hint of Bryan Ferry, Spandau Ballet, and Paul Weller’s group the Style Council. “Aaron” is a slick, lovelorn ballad that highlights Bodan’s easy, yet passionate delivery and provocative lyrics. It’ll be interesting to watch where Bodan goes from here, but he’s certainly off to a good start.

Here’s the A-side, “DP.”


Hot Jam of the Day (08.27.12): How to Dress Well, “Cold Nites” (Koreless Remix)

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How to Dress Well
“Cold Nites” (Koreless Remix)
Digital Single

I’ve written thousands of words about the admiration that I have for How to Dress Well’s fractured, lo-fi bedroom R&B, so I thought I’d focus a little on the Scottish teenager behind this remix. The 19 year-old Glaswegian burst on the scene with his pensive neo-dubstep meditation, “Lost in Tokyo” and a release on buzzy UK label, Pictures. His ability to craft emotive, drippy compositions makes him a natural partner for the perpetual heart-on-sleeve HTDW (né Tom Krell), and Koreless handles the delicate original with the utmost care. The single note melody sounds like falling rain and frames Krell’s crushing vocal beautifully. When the Chicago-based singer lets out “I pray for myself again,” it’s impossible not to feel it. Stunning.

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Bonus Track: Check out Jacques Greene’s sumptuous remix of “Lost in Tokyo” below.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.24.12): Holy Other, “Inpouring”

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Holy Other
Held (Tri Angle, out 8/28)

Who would have known that r&b and new age would have made such exquisite bedfellows? Listening to Holy Other makes me realize that I wasn’t totally insane for digging Enya and Boyz II Men in middle school. The Manchester-based producer’s debut EP was amongst my favorites of 2011, and his debut LP is shaping up as one of the releases of the year. Holy Other is a master of mood, consistently crafting tracks that are sensual and evocative, but what really sets him apart is his use of vocals. Instead of using words to convey meaning, he merely relies on vocal tonality. He rarely lets his vocal samples get out complete words (“Love Some1” and “With U” are notable examples), but that never gets in the way of his ability to tell affecting stories. More than anything, he’s created a sound that is all his own, and it’s definitely one of the most fascinating in electronic music at the moment.

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Stream the whole album, here.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.23.12): Chad Valley, “Fall 4 U” (f. Glasser)

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Chad Valley
“Fall 4 U” (f. Glasser)
Young Hunger (Cascine, out 10/30) 

Oxford-based producer Chad Valley has always been one of the standouts of the Balearic pop/chillwave scene that peaked a couple years ago, and it’s kind of amazing that he’s still yet to release a proper LP. That wait is nearing its end, and based on “Fall 4 U,” its breathtaking debut single, Young Hunger is going to be well worth the wait. Valley (né Hugo Manuel) enlists the ultra-smooth vocal stylings of the talented, mercurial Cameron Mesirow, and the duo effortlessly glide over a characteristically evocative, beachy soundscape. Think of it as the chillwave “You Don’t Send Me Flowers” with less eyebrows. This is gonna soundtrack some serious late summer, skinny-on-skinny dry humping, and I’m not mad about it.

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