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(s) of the Day (05.24.12): Ab-Soul, “ILLuminate” (f/ Kendrick Lamar) & “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown & Jhene Aiko)

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Ab-Soul
“ILLuminate” (f/ Kendrick Lamar) & “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown, Jhene Aiko)
Control System

Though he may be the only member of Kendrick Lamar’s hyper-buzzy Black Hippy crew without a WikiPedia page, South Central MC Ab-Soul’s druggy, claustrophobic new LP Control System should land him a page on the Free Encyclopedia pretty soon. As an MC, Soul seamlessly weaves wild conspiracy theories (the Illuminati references are rampant) with audacious boasts and reflective insights, often all in the same verse. Like the rest of the Black Hippies — Schoolboy Q & Jay Rock round out the group — he also has an impeccable ear for an emotive, atmospheric beat, which are evidenced by both of these tracks. The former pairs spacious, elegiac synths with an acoustic-sounding drum line, while the former sounds like it could be on the new SALEM album. In a genre that is occasionally short on cutting-edge new ideas, the Black Hippy crew is a huge breath of fresh air.

“ILLuminate”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45727419″ iframe=”true” /]

“Terrorist Threats”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.23.12): SoKo, “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow” (Video NSFW)

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SoKo
“We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”
I Thought I Was An Alien (Babycat)

If there’s one thing French singer-songwriter/actress Stéphanie “SoKo” Sokolinski understands, it’s how to find the beauty in the small things in life. Her recent single, the best track from her divisive debut I Thought I Was An Alien, is definitive proof of that. Over a spare arraignment with an impossibly delicate melody, Sokolinski delivers a spellbinding vocal performance. Don’t mistake her quiet voice for meekness. It’s quite the opposite. Over the song’s brief 155-second lifespan, she drops some incredibly fucking honest, arrow-through-the-heart sentiments about trying to enjoy your life and to love freely while we are still around. Some will write this off as twee, ultra-precious emotional pandering, but those people will be wrong. This is really, really great.

Video is NSFW.

Hot Jam of the Day (05.21.12): Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (Just Friends): “Avalanche”

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Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (aka Just Friends)
“Avalanche”
The 
Prism

I probably should kind of hate Nico Jaar. I’ve never met the man, but from the outside looking in, it seems like when he’s not DJing ultra-exclusive NYC club nights, playing sold-out shows, and being 194% more handsome than me, he’s making impossibly sexy jams with young Hollywood royalty. Coming off the back of his stunning collaboration with Scout LaRue Willis (Bruce and Demi’s daughter) “With Just One Glance,” he returns with a typically airy boner jam that features the breathy, alluring vocals of Sasha Spielberg (daughter of Steven and Kate Capshaw). While the studio version is only available on the pretty-damn-awesome Prism, this radio rip is indicative of why Jaar has amassed such an impressive library of work in such a short time. He has an incredible understanding of sonic space and can tactfully frame a vocal track with the touch and maturity of a seasoned producer. Did I mention that he’s still only 22? Ok, I think I hate him again….

NicoJaar+SashaSpielberg: “Avalanche”

Just in case you missed it, here’s “Just One Glance.”

Jaar+Willis: “With Just One Glance”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.18.12): Lemonade, “Softkiss”

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Lemonade
“Softkiss”
Diver (True Panther)

The same week we got a tasty video for the BK-via-SF 80’s-obsessed trio’s spellbinding slow jam, “Neptune,” they grace us with another slice of synth-slathered gold.  Though it’s a much more upbeat affair, it is cut from the same cloth as “Neptune” (one of the best ten songs of 2012 so far). Moody, expressive, and dripping with nostalgia, “Softkiss” again sees vocalist Callan Clendenin pinning over a lost lover. In the wrong hands, a refrain like “do you still wear my coat when you get cold?” would come off incredibly trite and callow, but Clendenin’s earnest croon turns it into an affecting rhetorical question that hits close to home. I thought their self-titled debut LP was forgettable, and their follow up EP, Pure Moods, was solid but unspectacular, but based off the two tracks I’ve heard, I think Diver might turn out to be an absolute gem. Watch this space.

Lemonade: “Softkiss”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.17.12): Lil’ B, “3 Stacks”

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Lil’ B
“3 Stacks”
Unreleased 

I’LL NEVER LET GO BASED GOD! #TYBG

Hot Jam of the Day (05.16.12): Yeasayer, “Henrietta”

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Yeasayer
“Henrietta”
Unnamed Upcoming LP (Secretly Canadian) 

Oh Sayers of Yea, it’s so nice to have you back. Your bizzaro, vaguely-ethnic pop feels like an old sweater on our creaking bones, and it feels so long since you sprinkled your Odd Blood upon us and bludgeoned us into submission with All Hour Cymbals. Oh you benevolent Brooklynites, enchant us again with your delectable vocal harmonies and sonorous shapeshifting. My fair mates and I have spent countless hours lost in your majestic meadow of musical madness and look forward to many more moons of malarky.

Translation: I love Yeasayer. I listened the absolute shit out of their last two albums, and I am unbelievably stoked to have them back. I can’t wait for their new album. It’s late, and I need to go to bed. I’ve never read Shakespeare (in case you hadn’t noticed).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/46512446″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (05.15.12): The Tallest Man on Earth, “1904”

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The Tallest Man on Earth
“1904”
There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)

Ok, people. It’s officially time to start taking Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson seriously. The whole Dylan rip-off criticism needs to be put to bed. In a relatively short five years, he has cultivated an army of excellent folk songs and has crafted his own signature sound. On this, the first single from his upcoming third album There’s No Leaving Now (due out June 11), the diminutive Swede flexes his songwriting muscle, matching a light, meandering guitar line with his earnest, full-throated vocals. Like all the best folk artists, Matsson’s music has a knack for cultivating rich, transportive canvases that swallow up the listener and bring them into his reality, and “1904” is no different. One of the most distinctive and important voices in the genre today.

The Tallest Man on Earth: “1904”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.13.12): Best Coast, “How They Want Me To Be”

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Best Coast
“How They Want Me To Be”
The Only Place (Mexican Summer)

Without a doubt, no album has taken me off guard this year like the shimmering sophomore LP from the divisive Eagle Rock duo. As I’ll get into more when I review The Only Place later this week, it’s just such a huge step forward for the group. Channeling one of her heroes, Stevie Nicks, oft-derided vocalist/songwriter Bethany Cosentino dials back the reverb and really lets her voice shine, and the result is absolute magic. Cosentino paints an articulate, affecting reflection of what it’s like being a reluctant Internet celebrity. When she sings, “cuz when I wake up in the morning or the middle of night, I wonder who’s there and what they’ve said. But when I wake up in the morning or the middle of the night, I look at you and I know it’s alright,” it gives us an insight into who she is in a way that nothing she’s ever done has. An absolute standout from an incredibly special album.

Best Coast: “How They Want Me To Be”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.12.12): Jacques Greene & Ango, “Untitled

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Jacques Greene & Ango
“Untitled”
Unreleased

Montreal-based post-dubstep producer Jacques Greene has made a career of creating moods rather than songs. Airy, spacious cuts like “Another Girl” bubble and build in a way that pop songs just don’t. All of this makes his recent collaboration with mercurial Canadian vocalist Ango all the more spellbinding, as it is a decidedly non-pop take on the traditional typical pop/R&B formula. Driven by Ango’s smooth vocal and a typically urbane drum machine line, it starts out as another (admittedly potent) example of the bedroom R&B that is blowing up right now. About halfway through, it takes a totally unexpected left turn, which is pure Jacques Greene. Superb.

Jacques Greene: “Untitled”

And, the brilliant “Another Girl”…..

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11100445″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (05.11.12): Ice Choir, “Teletrips”

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Ice Choir
“Teletrips”
Afar (Underwater Peoples)

This, the first single from Brooklyn synth-pop outfit Ice Choir’s debut LP, jives well with the fantastic “Two Rings” 7″ that was released earlier this year. Led by the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s Kurt Feldman, Ice Choir lionizes a totally different part of 80’s pastiche than TPOBPAT, focusing on the warm, keyboard-driven sounds of pop radio instead of the moody, shoegazey alternative sound of the time. Like the devastating “Two Rings,” “Teletrips” pairs a rock-solid bass riff and plenty of twinkling synth filigree with a dreamy vocal melody and Feldman’s classic tenor. If you aren’t a fan of 80’s pop, you should probably skip this, but if you are, you’ll love Ice Choir.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45947349″ iframe=”true” /]

And, “Two Rings”.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29284983″ iframe=”true” /]