Mitski, "Two Slow Dancers"


Mitski "Two Slow Dancers" Be The Cowboy (out 08.17 on Matador) Every slow dance with someone you care about feels like a moment suspended in time. I mean, that's the point, right? Your hands are tied, your bodies are connected, and even your gaze is limited. Mitski, the fantastic New York songwriter, Read more

Future, "Hate the Real Me"


Future "Hate the Real Me" Beastmode 2 (out now on Epic) The peak of a quietly excellent year, Future goes super deep on his worthy follow-up to 2015's legendary "Beast Mode" tape. Of all its stirring moments, nothing emotionally hits harder than its last track, as Future pours his heart out over Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2018 (So Far...)


Somehow, some fucking way, 2018 is more than half over. And though it might feel like I always say this, I think this was the toughest list I've had to make yet. There's been an overwhelming number of exciting, vital new voices popping up and plenty of fantastic follow-ups Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "Give Yourself A Try"


The 1975 "Give Yourself A Try" A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (out in October on Dirty Hit) Though it's been out for about two weeks, I've listened to the Manchester quartet's new single roughly two million times. Compositionally, it's totally unremarkable. Built around a repetitive, simplistic guitar riff and three chords, Read more

Images & Words: The Rhythm Method, "Chin Up"


The Rhythm Method "Chin Up" Digital Single Every two years*, I get afflicted with the same illness. It usually starts up a few weeks before every major international football tournament and lasts until somewhere around the quarterfinals. Who knows how long my believesthatEnglandcanwinthewholething-itis will last for this year, but I'm hoping that Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Hot Jam of The Day (04.06.12): A$AP Rocky (f/ H-Town All-Stars), “Purple Swag” (Remix)

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A$AP Rocky (f/ Paul Wall, Bun B, Killa Kyleon)
“Purple Swag” (H-Town All-Stars Remix)
Live Love Purple

To deride Harlem’s rising star A$AP Rocky for leaning too much on a sound that isn’t his own would be missing the point completely. Harlem may be more than 2,000 miles away from Houston’s syrup-soaked south side, but in the internet age, it really doesn’t matter. If the world’s leading Chillwave scholar can reside in one of the most decidedly un-chill locales on the planet, A$AP can be inspired by whomever he wants. And while Rocky relies heavily on his influences, he is always quick to big up his inspirations. He shows love to three of his biggest inspirations by getting out of the way entirely, letting three of Clutch City’s most diverse voices get their shine on. You can’t be mad at that.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/40838550″ iframe=”true” /]

And just for the hell of it, here’s one of my favorite ever H-Town (by way of Port Arthur) tracks.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.06.12): Kanye West, “Theraflu”

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Kanye West
“Theraflu”
Unreleased

Most of what’s been written about Kanye’s scathing pre-G.O.O.D. Friday single centers around a throwaway line about a B-List reality star. However, those only interested in Kimye’s potential future are forgetting the most important thing: this cut is all about the past. On “Theraflu,” the Chicago MC is back to his rampant, ferocious pre-808’s best, spitting line after line of his patented “sophisticated ignorance.” As a rule, an angry Kanye is a good Kanye, and while he is capable of crafting some of the most fascinating conceptual work on the planet, nobody can deliver a fuck you track quite like him.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42276409″ iframe=”true” /]

And because it’ll probably get taken down in the next 18 minutes, here’s another example of new Kanye channeling old Kanye: 2011’s in-fucking-credible “Mama’s Boyfriend.”

Hot Jam of the Day (04.04.12): jj, “Beautiful Life”

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jj
“Beautiful Life”
jj n° 4 (2012)

It’s always a good morning when you wake up to an email from the Sincerely Yours folks. It means your day is going to start with a new, enigmatic slice of (mostly) Swedish pop magic. My excitement was magnified by the email I received this morning, thanks to its subject line: “l to the o to the.” Hoping it would be another warped take on a track by The-Dream — SY released Sail A Whale’s ghostly re-work of “Love King” a couple years ago — I (virtually) tore into it.

Though it’s decidedly not Terius-related, I was pleased to hear a typically shimmering, expansive new cut from the label’s most famous artists, the mysterious jj. The duo continues with their American radio-rap obsession, vocalist Elin Kastlander celestially blows “dro in this bitch” (to the extent that such a thing is possible) over a trademark  Joakim Benon arraignment: carefree, sparse, and just-a-little-bit Balearic.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42001334″ iframe=”true” /]

Sail a Whale’s “Love (The-Dream) King”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/8048241″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (04.03.12): Dent May, “Best Friend”

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Dent May
Best Friend
Do Things (Paw Tracks)

Dent May seems like a fucking weirdo. Not like a check-out-how-weird-I-am/play-one-on-TV type weirdo. But, like a legitimately weird as fuck, weirdo. If the Jackson, Mississippi-based singer-songwriter owns less than six cats, it’s only because his mother doesn’t let him keep them in the house or it’s because he’s already set them on fire. Ok, that’s probably taking it a bit far, but his twisted take on 60’s pop-rock and  Sexy People-style promo photos make it hard not to draw those kinds of conclusions. He thrust himself into the pop music zeitgeist with one of 2009’s best songs, the glorious, piano-driven “Eastover Wives,” which doubled as a inch-perfect slice of Beach Boys-era nostalgia and a bizarrely cautionary tale about the dangers of women getting involved in sex and marriage too young. This, the first single from the long-awaited Do Things, is more of the same, an ode to a best friend that is so earnest and cheesy, I almost thing he’s fucking with us. But I doubt it.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41348119″ iframe=”true” /]


Hot Jam of the Day (04.02.12): Dirty Projectors, “Gun Has No Trigger”

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Dirty Projectors
“Gun Has No Trigger”
Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

These Brooklyn-based indie-rock experimentalists’ are the purveyors of one of the most anticipated albums of 2012. Their 2009 breakthrough Bitte Orca was a breathtaking, frenetic affair that highlighted the mufti-faceted collective’s inspiring, fascinating take on pop music. This, the lead single off said album, is the group at their glorious best. While sparse is never going to be considered the group’s primary M.O., they nail it here, as band leader/vocalist David Longstreth’s strained howl is perfectly framed by some impossibly mellifluous oooh’s from Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian and a naked-except-for-drums accompaniment. I don’t think it’s given us much of a clue about the album’s sonic direction, unless “awesome” counts.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41218921″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (03.30.12): Jai Paul, “Jasmine”

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Jai Paul
“Jasmine” (Demo)
From Upcoming Release on XL

Somebody forgot to tell soulful British crooner Jai Paul that this is the Internet age, and if you are a young artist with a bit of buzz, you are supposed to release new tracks music about every 3.6 seconds. It’s hard to believe that it’s taken Paul nearly two years to follow up on the buzz from his unfuckwitable (see what I’ve done there?) breakthrough single “BTSU” (which was actually written all the way back in 2007), but the wait was certainly worth it. “Jasmine” is a moody, groovy slow burner that comes as a less robotic take on Daft Punk’s classic “Something About Us.” Above anything, it shows that the enigmatic vocalist is no one-trick pony, and hopefully 2012 will be the year that we finally get to hear a full-length from him.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41479635″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (03.29.12): Elite Gymnastics, “Here, in Heaven 4 & 5” (CFCF Rework)

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Elite Gymnastics
“Here, in Heaven 4 & 5” (CFCF Rework)
Ruin 4

I can’t remember a track in recent years that has undergone as many fascinating incarnations, as “Here, in Heaven,” the ghostly centerpiece of the KPOP-obsessed Minneapolis natives’ breakthrough debut LP. “Here, in Heaven 1” is a chaotic, claustrophobic affair, while its second manifestation is a shadowy, murky slowjam that would make a perfect last dance at Morticia Addams’ first post-Gomez eHarmony marriage. We’ve heard How To Dress Well (né Tom Krell) lend his signature falsetto to a typically sparse, typically affecting version, and now we’re treated to Canadian synth-meister CFCF’s instrumental, ethereal re-work that builds to an impossibly beautiful climax.

Vegas has the over-under at 8 versions of this song by February 2013, and I’m pounding the over. And, honestly, as long as artists this creative and talented keep tackling it, I’ll keep listening.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/40739134″ iframe=”true” /]

Check out HTDW’s stunning version. Originals after the jump.

Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (03.28.12): Princeton, “Florida”

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Princeton
“Florida”
Remembrance of Things to Come (Hit City USA, 2012)

It’s fitting that this Santa Monica-bred, Eagle Rock-based chamber pop quartet is named after a place (Princeton St. in Santa Monica, not the University), because frontman Jesse Kivel’s lyrics constantly revolve around feeling particular ways in particular places. Their breakthrough EP was called “Bloomsbury” — after the district of London that was once home to Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf Kivel and where Kivel and his bass-playing brother Matt lived in during college. There was their breezy 2010 single “To The Alps.” There was their debut album’s best track, “Stunner Shades in Heaven,” that saw Kivel wax lyrical about “summer nights in San Sebastian,” San Diego, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

All of Kivel’s work (he is also the lead singer of one of 2010’s best new bands, Kisses) is so reminiscent of Jens Lekman, and it’s not just because of his warm blanket of a voice. Lekman is a master of matching detailed, honest descriptions of very personal moments in his life in particular locales (see: “Friday Night at the Drive in Bingo” & “The Cold Swedish Winter”) with relatable, over-arching truths and evocative, sweeping melodies, leaving you feeling nostalgic for moments that you may have never had. “Florida” is full of snapshots of a life that probably isn’t yours (“driving drunk home from a local club”), but is probably just a bit like yours. And it’s hard not to get swept away.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35150477″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jams of the Day(s) (03.27/8.12): Air France, “Collapsing Outside Your Doorstep” & “No Excuses”

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Air France
“Collapsing Outside Your Doorstep” & “No Excuses”
No Way Down (Sincerely Yours, 2008) 

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/10455212″ iframe=”true” /]

“It’s like a dream, isn’t it?”
“No, better.”

I can’t think of a better way to describe Swedish duo’s seminal (yeah, I said it) second EP than by borrowing the cherubic sample that permeates the song that made me fall in love with the group in the first place. Though it sounds strange to call an album influential only four years after its release, this is this Internet age and this is what’s happening now. Along with criminally underrated fellow Swedes, Boat Club, nobody was more responsible for the rise of today’s hugely popular airy, Balaeric-twinged pop — and its red-headed bastard child, Chillwave — than Air France. While they weren’t the first, they were certainly the best at marrying the blissed-out Ibizan dancefloor sound with a strong pop sensibilities.

For that reason, there was a staggering outpouring of praise and disappointment when the group announced they would be splitting on Monday. The group’s members — Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt — stated an inability to match the quality of the devastating No Way Down, and while that is ostensibly understandable, it’s also surprising because their brilliant, undulating 2011 single, “It Feels Good To Be Around You” suggested huge things for the group in 2012.

While it’s tough to say goodbye, we’ll always have the memories, and in Air France’s case, they’re particularly spectacular (so fitting for a group that made music dripping with nostalgia). Besides helping shape the sound of countless breakout artists (Toro y Moi, Washed Out, jj, etc) and launching the most interesting record label of the last five years, No Way Down is truly special because of its wide-eyed, unbelievably lush six tracks. It’s the perfect collection — an incredible set of anthemic, blissful Balearic pop earworms, ready to wriggle their way into your heart and get your head dreaming of “wamer climes” (sorry, had to). For someone who grew up over 5,000 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, it opened me up into an entirely new sound.

Whether or not this is really the end remains to be seen, but whatever happens, I’ll continue to be grateful to Karlsson and Markstedt — not only for forming one of my three favorite bands of the last five years — but for all the music they turned me on to and all the excellent (and not-so-excellent) bands they influenced.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/555111″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (3.23.12): Ice Choir, “Two Rings”

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The debut single from the 80’s-influenced, moody Brooklyn synth-pop duo, this is fucking excellent. Listen to it.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/36079974″ iframe=”true” /]