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: Jlin, “Holy Child”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 11.42.25 AMJlin
“Holy Child”

Black Origami (out 05.19 on Planet Mu)
Though there’s only one more day until the Gary, Indiana footwork innovator’s second LP drops, this brilliant and beguiling cut is more than worthy of standing on its own. Like her masterful debut, Dark Energy, this track features multiple, intricate polyrhythms that collide freely without ever tripping over themselves. It also features one of her strongest, most coherent melodies — thanks to operatic samples and undulating synths — which help elevate “Holy Child” to incredible heights.

Hot Jam of the Day: Dawn, “Break Me”

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dawn-richard-plaidDawn
“Break Me”

Digital Single
For the better part of five years, Dawn Richard has been dutifully blessing us with a consistent stream of progressive, beautiful music that lurks in the grey area between R&B, dance music, pop, and a host of other micro-genres. “Break Me” is the second of her collaborations with promising bounce(ish) producer and fellow New Orleans-native Leonce. It highlights her affecting writing and vocals, as she spills tears all over Leonce’s spare synths and carefully crafted percussion.

Hot Jam of The Day: Grizzly Bear, “Three Rings”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.41.54 PMGrizzly Bear
“Three Rings”
Digital Single
The sound of 2009 white guy indie rock is thriving in 2017. We aren’t even at the halfway point, and we’ve already heard new music from Fleet Foxes, the National, LCD Soundsystem, Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, and Animal Collective. And while it has basically ranged from -__- (see: Projectors, Dirty) to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, Ed Droste and co.’s first track in about five years is a gorgeous, haunting ballad. Droste’s voice floats beautifully here, but drummer Chris Bear steals the show here, as his off-kilter, busy drumming gives the track an syncopated touch and injects it with unexpected life. More than anything, “Three Rings” doesn’t fall into the same trap as many of their peers, as it is neither a rehash of old ideas nor an unnecessary stylistic u-turn. Rather, it’s the sound of a fantastic band evolving naturally and exploring new sonic space.

Hot Jam of the Day: J Hus, “Common Sense”

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JHusJ Hus
“Common Sense”
Common Sense (Black Butter)
The wait is almost over. Though the East Londoner’s highly-anticipated proper debut LP drops on Friday, he graced us with another taster to hold us over. Though the lush, soulful instrumentation and live drums are a different look for the MC, it proves to be another monster single that highlights his underrated versatility. The beat feels a little bit 90’s, but Hus’ delivery is purely modern. And he shifts from rapping to singing with ease and delivers sticky bars with melodic hooks for days. One of the biggest talents in music today.

Hot Jam of the Day: Sinjin Hawke, “Onset”

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sinjin_hawke_188Sinjin Hawke
“Onset”
First Opus (out 06.10 on Fractal Fantasy)
Though the Canadian producer/DJ has been crafting relentlessly progressive club music for more than five years, he’s just getting around to dropping his first LP this summer. Its lead single, “Onset,” highlights Hawke’s tuneful, yet club-ready sound, pairing hyperactive droplets with pounding kick drums and his signature, triumphant horns.

Hot Jam of the Day: Ryan Adams, “The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 11.15.47 AMRyan Adams
“The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

Prisoner B-Sides
In much of the press surrounding his excellent 16th studio LP, the ever-prolific songwriter talked about writing nearly 100 songs for the album and struggling to cut it down to just 12. Last Friday, he proved he wasn’t lying when he surprise dropped 17 of those b-sides. And though they don’t all shine, it makes you appreciate how difficult it must be to make these cuts.

Two of its early standouts are a pair of acoustic tearjerkers: its closer “The Empty Bed” and “Broken Things.” When I initially heard that the record would deal with Adams’ divorce, I assumed that it would sound a lot more like this, rather than the 70’s stomp and Tunnel of Love vibes that permeate the disc. I get why he decided not to go that route, but it’s great to hear a couple of stripped down moments from the sessions.

Listen to the whole thing on Spotify.

Hot Jam of the Day: Mac Demarco, “One More Love Song”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.03.13 PMMac Demarco
“One More Love Song”

This Old Dog (out 05.05 on Captured Tracks)
Though he’s spent much of his career lapping up critical plaudits, the 26 year-old’s hipster goofball persona never resonated with me. Maybe I’m a killjoy, but I always struggled to find any real heart or heft in his music. However, his third LP’s pre-release tracks have been consistently excellent, and this windswept ballad is the best of the bunch.

The tears of the clown motif is old and tired, but it’s damn near impossible to avoid when writing about “One More Love Song.” Over languid jazzy chords and a timeless piano chorus melody, DeMarco examines the moment when the freedom of playing the field is replaced by a deep desire to find real connection. More than anything, he just sounds exhausted here — sick of the whole goddamn thing. And in my experience, that’s usually when you meet someone. So hang in there Mac, I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for soon.

Images & Words: Laurel Halo, “Jelly”

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download (1)Laurel Halo
“Jelly”
Dust (out 06.23 on Hyperdub)
The lead single from the Berlin-via-Michigan producer/vocalist’s forthcoming third LP is one of the poppiest and most direct tracks of her career. I mean, it’s Laurel Halo, so it’s fucking weird. But it features a mostly clean, surprisingly smooth vocal line that guides the listener through the off-kilter drum patterns and eclectic instrumentation. The result is an exciting, unexpected trip that isn’t a drag to get through.

Hot Jam of the Day: How to Dress Well, “Strong Enuff”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 5.13.02 PMHow to Dress Well
“Strong Enuff”

Our First 100 Days (for Stereogum)
To this day, there’s still nothing that sounds like Tom Krell’s early, pre-Love Remains work. And though his development has been extremely impressive, it’s nice to hear him lurking back in those sonic swamps on this gorgeous Sheryl Crow cover. Krell has always been a wizard at reinterpreting pop songs and dragging them to unexpected emotional places. “Strong Enuff” is another example of this, fitting in well with other magical versions of R. Kelly’s “I Wish,” Janet’s “Again,” and Smog’s “Teenage Spaceship,” among others.

Hot Jam of the Day: War on Drugs, “Thinking of a Place”

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Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 7.39.30 PMWar on Drugs
“Thinking of a Place”
Digital Single
“Thinking of a Place” is first new piece of original music from the Philly group since Lost in the Dream — one of the best albums of 2014. And, my god, was it worth the wait. An expansive and beautiful mid-tempo ballad, it features some of Adam Granduciel’s richest and most melodic songwriting.

Over windswept acoustic strums and a restorative lead riff, Granduciel yearns for a fading connection with an affecting restlessness and melancholy. You can feel him reaching for something that he can’t quite grab and trying to find his way back to a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Most rock songs have no right to go on for 11 minutes, but this one could go on for twice as long. Just stunning.

The War On Drugs – Thinking Of A Place from Record Store Day on Vimeo.