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 (07.25.12): Twin Shadow, “Run My Heart”

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Twin Shadow
“Run My Heart” (Live Session for Yours Truly)
Confess (Terrible)

This is the second best love song of 2012. Ironically, it deals with the exact same feelings as the year’s best love song, Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion.” “Run My Heart” is also about unrequited love, but it examines it from a completely different perspective. Where Ocean opines that he “could never make him love me,” Twin Shadow mainman George Lewis Jr. remains characteristically defiant, issuing the cocksure, brazen warning: “You don’t know my heart/So don’t you dare.” Make no mistake, this woman does know Lewis’ heart and has affected it deeply, all you need to do is listen to the conviction in his voice. But he simply refuses to give her the satisfaction of admitting the truth.

Somebody told me that the first step to getting over someone is simply telling yourself that you are over them, no matter how untrue that may be. This is the sound of a man trying to take that first step. He does such a good job of trying that if you’ve never been through heartbreak, you might actually believe him when he wails, “This isn’t love/I’m just a boy, and you’re just a girl.” But those of us who have, know better.

Finding one love song this penetrating is difficult enough; finding two in a matter of a few weeks is a godsend.


Hot Jam of the Day (07.24.12): Beat Connection, “The Palace Garden, 4 AM”

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Beat Connection
“The Palace Garden, 4AM”
The Palace Garden (Tender Age)

I remember legitimately being appalled at an MTV News break (remember those?) about the band Smashmouth. I was mostly offended when their portly, spikey-haired singer described their brand of brain-dead beach pop as “fun in the sun music.” So am I a hypocrite for lionizing this Seattle-based Balearic pop band, whose music is clearly fixated on the crashing waves and the sand? No, not really. I just kinda got older and got over it. Nowadays, I think I’d even agree that “Walkin’ on the Sun” is a pretty bitchin’ tune. Maybe that’s a little strong. Either way, The Palace Garden is a more than worthy follow-up to their fabulous debut Surf Noir (2011), and this is one of its strongest cuts.

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The video’s kinda cool too. Check it out!

Hot Jam of the Day (07.23.12): Goldroom, “Fifteen” (f/ Chela)

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“Fifteen” (f/ Chela)
Single (Self-Released)

Earlier today, I trolled through my recent posts to see if I had written about this shimmering, dreamy single from LA-based producer Josh Legg. Incredibly, I hadn’t — even though it’s been one of the absolute standout songs of the summer so far. Featuring gorgeous, gauzy vocals from Australian singer Chela, “Fifteen” is easily Legg’s most impressive, melodically rich effort to date. Plenty of artists aim for that 80’s nostalgia, “Somebody’s Baby”-type vibe, but very few nail it as expertly as Legg does here. I have no clue what a “slipstream” is, but whenever I listen to this song, I am definitely float back through it. And it feels so fucking good.


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Hot Jam of the Day (07.22.12): Bat For Lashes, “Laura”

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Bat for Lashes
The Haunted Man (Parlophone)

British singer Natasha Khan is always good for a stunning first single. “Daniel,” the lead single form her 2009 Mercury Prize-nominated LP Two Suns, is probably one of the best 100 pure pop songs I’ve ever heard, and while “Laura” lacks much of its energy, it lacks none of its soul, songwriting prowess, and bombast. Khan’s powerful, plaintive vocal absolutley soars over a contemplative piano line and a beautifully meandering string arraignment. It tells the story of a woman who refuses to relinquish her bachelorette-hood though all of her friends are dropping like flies. Instead of lamenting the life the proverbial “lonely spinstress,” the track triumphantly celebrates her audacious decision to hold on to her freedom and have her “name tattooed on every boy’s skin.” It’s a lovely “hello again” from an artist who still hasn’t quite created the flawless album her prodigious talent deserves. The Haunted Man drops October 15.

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Just in case you forgot, here’s “Daniel” in all its glory.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.19.12): Mirroring, “Drowning The Call”

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“Drowning The Call”
Foreign Body (Kranky)

I know I’m really late on this, but over the last few months, I have fallen headlong into this quiet gem of a collaboration from Portland multi-instrumentalist Grouper (né Liz Harris) and Tiny Vipers (né Jesy Fortino). Both artists cut their teeth in the Pacific Northwest carving out distinctive, ambient sounds, and they combine their styles to delicious effect on their sleepy, nostalgic LP. The best of it is “Drowning The Call,” a lonely, evocative number that sounds like Harris is calling out to you from a payphone millions of miles away. Lovely.

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Hot Jam of the Day (07.18.12): Airbird, “Free Mind”

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“Free Mind”
Romance Layers (Legitmix)

Everyone has those musicians who they just roll with. MC Dirty Dawg has a new polka EP coming out next week? Buying it. The Lazy Sunsets are charging $62.50 for their gig at the Wichita State Fair? I’ll work it out. I think I’m getting to that point with Joel Ford. I’m pretty sure I’ve basically liked everything he’s ever put out, and unsurprisingly, the lead single from his Airbird project’s second EP of the year is fucking killer. Over about 7 minutes, the NYC-based producer runs Mariah Carey’s “Prisoner” through a synth-slathered wormhole. What emerges from the other side is a life-affirming disco banger that brings the classic boner jam to new heights. Ford’s musical DeLorean has always had its coordinates set for the late 80’s/early 90’s, and “Free Mind” is yet another example of his ability to bring that era — that most bodacious of eras — into the 21st century.

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And just because it rules, here’s a video from his LP with Daniel Lopatin.

Hot Jam of the Day (7.17.12): Danny Brown x Araabmuzik, “Molly Ringwald”

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Danny Brown x Araabmuzik
“Molly Ringwald”
Single (Yours Truly)

“Just found out that my name is synonymous with “ecstasy” in hip-hop circles. Proof to my parents that I’ve accomplished something in my life.” — @MollyRingwald

Any song that inspires the woman who played Claire Standish to Tweet this (and inexplicably put quotes around the word ecstasy) is already a win in my book. And while the Tweet was amazing, it doesn’t hold a candle to this super dope collaboration between the country’s hottest young(ish) rapper and its hottest young producer. Over a characteristically ambient, bulldozer of a beat from the Providence-based producer, Detroit’s finest goes the only way he knows: hard as fuck. Brown and Araab (né Abraham Orellana) are perfect bedfellows because both have been able to maintain their experimental spirits, while staying incredibly consistent and digging out original, distinctive sounds. In other words, you’ll never know what either will do next, but you know it’s going to be dope. There aren’t a lot of artists you can stay that about.

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Check out a video of them making the track. I fuckin’ love Danny. It’s also amazing to watch Araab’s creative process; dude makes it look so easy.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.16.12): Holy Other, “Held”

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Holy Other
Held (TriAngle)

Of the many things I love about Holy Other, I think my favorite thing about him is his incredible use of vocals. In recent times, nobody has been able to touch Burial’s ability to use broken up vocal samples to tell affecting, fully-formed stories, but this Mancunian is getting closer. His music has always worked in movements, and like much of his best work (especially Held‘s first single, “Love Some1”), “Held” resolves itself in a stunning final stanza that packs an emotional wallop. Its punch is largely due to its undulating, suffocating vocals. It’s just about a month until we get to hear his debut LP in its entirety, and I cannot wait.

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Hot Jam of the Day (07.15.12): The XX, “Angels”

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The XX
Coexist (Young Turks)

Finally, the wait is over. I recently wrote about my hopes/thoughts/expectations for the South Londoners ultra-anticipated sophomore LP, and if you missed it, I’m really fucking excited about it. Yesterday, we got our first real taste of Coexist, in the form of this characteristically vulnerable, crushing new love song. Driven by Romy Madley Croft’s delicate vocal and a single-string guitar line, “Angels” captures much of what made the trio’s debut resonate with so many people in such a penetrating, enduring fashion. While the XX is never going to be a singles band, thanks to the subtly of their work, this is one of the singles that excited me most this year — predominantly because it signals that Coexist is likely going to bark up the same tree as XX, which is one of my favorite albums of the last five years. Roll on September 11.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.14.12): Teengirl Fantasy, “End”

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Teengirl Fantasy
Tracer (True Panter/R&S)

It goes without saying that great instrumental music taps into the same real estate that is set off by the evocative lyrics to the songs that we love. Phillip Glass can say things with 52 keys that not even the greatest lyricist can when they are armed with hundreds of thousands of combinations of letters. That said, it takes real talent to hit that mark — talent that Brooklyn electro duo, Teengirl Fantasy, has always shown they have. This, the second single from their follow-up to 2010’s scintillating 7AM, highlights the group’s ability to write emotive, affecting tracks that are also inherently danceable. Though this falls on the decidedly reflective end of the Teengirl Fantasy experience (probably not one to spin at the party), there’s an enduring, sensual groove just below the surface, which makes it ideal for after-party festivities (should you be lucky enough to find someone to have them with).

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