Sade, "The Big Unknown"


Sade "The Big Unknown" Windows Soundtrack (out now on Sony) Though she's only a few months shy of her 60th birthday, Helen Folasade Adu remains a force like nobody else. On the stunning "The Big Unknown," Sade proves that her quiet storm is still a Category 5, as she glides effortlessly over oceanic, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


Miya Folick "Thingamajig" Premonitions (out 10.26 on Terrible) With each new single, the talented LA vocalist is strengthening the case that her forthcoming LP could be one of the best debuts of the year. Her flexible vocals always stretch further than you expect, and she uses her seemingly unlimited range to exact maximum Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


Welp, this is embarrassing. The week I roll out a new round-up column, I respond by posting exactly zero times. My editorial staff (of one) was pretty slammed this week, but that's no excuse. Hopefully this piece can make up for it, dear readers. I'll do better this week, because, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


I was on vacay in England last week, and as I sat back down at my desk this morning, I realized that a massive amount of new music came out while I was gone. I'm going to try something new with quick one to two sentence recaps of some Read more

Lil Uzi Vert, "New Patek"


Lil Uzi Vert "New Patek" Digital Single Easily one of most joyful songs of the year, the hyperactive, hypertalented Philadelphian returns with six (6!) electric minutes of swirling, tuneful hip-hop. Over Dolan Beats' glorious crystallized piano keys and tiptoeing hi-hats, Uzi goes the fuck in as only he can, slaloming through the beat Read more

Hot Jam of the Day

Clara La San, “Unplanned”

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claralasan-1Clara La San
“Unplanned”

Good Mourning (out now on OCLONES)
I’m not proud of it, but somehow I completely missed the UK singer’s long-awaited debut mixtape when it dropped back in late November. So to make up for that oversight, I wanted to write about one of my favorite tracks on it — this emotional ode to mixing things up in a relationship. “Unplanned” highlights La San’s soft, evocative vocals and subtle songwriting, which are in abundance all over the exquisite, “Good Mourning.”

Chromeo, “Bedroom Calling” (f/ The-Dream)

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chromeo-color-1200x520Chromeo
“Bedroom Calling” (f/ The-Dream)
Head Over Heels (out soon on Atlantic)

It’s fitting that this track dropped the day after Bruno Mars swept the Grammys, because it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on “24K Magic.” To my ears, Chromeo has always been held back by the lack of a powerful, charismatic vocalist like Bruno, which would bring a human touch to their slick robo-pop. Luckily for us, the Canadian duo outsourced the vocals here, and King Terius delivers, coming through with a vintage, buoyant performance.

Mt. Si, “911”

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0006957000_10Mt. Si
“911”

911 (out 02.16 on Cascine)
Any project that features Kisses frontman Jesse Kivel and Michael David from Classixx is going to be smooth as all hell. Throw in the angelic vocals of Superhumanoids’ Sarah Chernoff, and you might as well just close your eyes and melt into your sonic beachside chaise lounge. New single, “911,” features remarkably deep and lush synths, which belie Chernoff’s lyrics which touch on anxiety in the digital age.

CFCF, “Self Service”

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cfcf_051614CFCF
“Self Service”

Self Service EP
Though much of Mike Silver’s work is quiet and piano-based, he’s always had a few house bangers in his locker, and new single “Self Service” is aimed straight at the dance floor. For six buoyant minutes, the cut bubbles and bobs along the surface with warm keys, a steady backbeat, and some well-played “oooh’s.”

Daniel Avery, “Slow Fade”

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Daniel Avery
“Slow Fade”

Slow Fade (out now on Phantasy Sound)
It’s been more than four years since the Bournemouth native dropped his gorgeous, dark techno debut LP, “Drone Logic,” but he’s finally back with a new EP that is sure to be a delight. Lead single, “Slow Fade,” is just the kind of sublime track that Avery made his name off. Built around aqueous synths and a low-key backbeat, it builds slowly before subtly resolving to engulfing climax. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this project.

Troye Sivan, “The Good Side”

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troye-sivanTroye Sivan
“The Good Side”

Digital Single
On his quietly excellent, autobiographical debut “Blue Neighborhood,” the Aussie made the jump from YouTube star to budding pop-star. The disc was an intimate look at first love — from the intoxicating early days to that unique brand of teenage heartbreak that sets in when it’s over. Though the record shot Sivan’s career into the stratosphere, what became of the man who inspired it?

“The Good Side” is Sivan’s attempt to reach back out to his first love and thank him for the part he played in Sivan’s life and recent success. No doubt, it’s an awkward situation, but the 22 year-old handles it with tenderness and grace, apologizing for the way he capitalized on their relationship without talking down to him. I’d imagine some will find this condescending, which is understandable. But to me, it’s a sincere attempt to reconcile that tricky moment when one’s art mirrors the difficult parts of life.

Mount Eerie, “Distortion”

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29-ogMount Eerie
“Distortion”
Now Only (out 03.16 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Less than a year since his stunning LP, “A Crow Looked At Me” (my 3rd favorite album of 2017), Phil Elverum is back with another project. And if its rambling, powerful lead single is anything to go off, it is going to be a doozy. Over beautiful but messy beds of classical guitar, the 39 year-old touchingly sings about his late wife, fears about fatherhood, an early pregnancy scare, his great grandfather, and countless other subjects in between. Though some have compared it to Mark Kozelek’s stream-of-consciousness recent work, to my ears it is a totally unique sound that makes its 11-minute runtime feel like it’s over in a snap. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the this album.

Jorja Smith, “Let Me Down” (f/ Stormzy)

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Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 11.02.27 AMJorja Smith
“Let Me Down” (f/ Stormzy)

Digital Single
Two of Britain’s biggest talents link up for a dramatic, yearning piano ballad. Though I’m never going to complain about a Stormzy verse, its the 20 year-old vocalist who is the star of the show, gliding dramatically over sedated, Adele-ish pianos. Smith wrote “Let Me Down” as her version of a Bond Theme, and my god, you can feel it. Her voice aches as she accepts her places as somebody else’s afterthought. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also triumphant.

Sufjan Stevens, “Tonya Harding”

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sufjan-stevens-stalkers-album-dumpster-mp3Sufjan Stevens
“Tonya Harding”

Digital Single
One of those songs that came out while I was writing my year-end list, I wanted to come back to Sufjan’s wonderful, heartfelt tribute to fellow Oregonian Tonya Harding. Though he seems like an interesting guy, Stevens excels at writing about others — approaching his subjects with a journalist’s eye for detail and a screenwriter’s narrative touch. There’s a palpable tenderness and love in those songs, and it’s clear that the 42 year-old goes to great lengths to get inside his characters, presenting them wholly… flaws and all.

River Tiber, “Patience”

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Tommy_Paxton-Beesley-e1438888595507River Tiber
“Patience”

Digital Single
It’s year-end list season at ThunderPenguin HQ, so I’ve been a little slow on new music. That said, this soulful new track from the Toronto R&B singer stopped me in my tracks. “Patience” begins as a smoky-room, late-night jazz ballad before building to a pair of unexpected, powerful crescendos.