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

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.

The-Dream: “It’s Yo Birthday”

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The-Dream-press-cr-Miguel-Starcevich-2017-billboard-1548The-Dream
“It’s Yo Birthday”

Digital Single
Yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of The-Dream’s classic debut, “Love Hate.” And to celebrate, San Terius dropped with sleepy, low-key bedroom cut that feels like it could have been a B-side from those sessions. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for the 40 year-old who has long been hinting that a new project is on the way.

Nicolas Jaar, “Wildflowers”

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71359ce3d2ae34368b6545fc5479aee7Nicolas Jaar
“Wildflowers”

Sirens (Deluxe Edition) (out now on Other People)
One of the new tracks from the re-up of his excellent 2016 album Sirens, “Wildflowers” is a perfect distillation of Jaar’s rare ability to craft a singular sound that’s both recognizable and amorphous. In other words, his sound is impossible to explain, but you also know it when you hear it. Built around aqueous guitar chords, drippy percussion, and his faraway falsetto, the track meanders through layers of sonic haze before resolving with an emotional crescendo.

Prins Thomas, Å (Pional Piano Mix)

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Prins_Thomas_promo_1000x664Prins Thomas
“Å” (Pional Piano Mix)
Prins Thomas 5 (out now on Prins Thomas Musikk)
On Friday, the Norwegian vet dropped a tasty new collection of his trademark spacey disco. Though the record is totally worth your time, my favorite song from the project actually wasn’t even on it. This sweltering remix from Spanish producer Pional raises the excellent “Å” to rapturous new heights with some languid, super effective piano work. Like the best house music, this track builds gradually, rising and receding deftly before building to an ecstatic climax.

Hot Jam of the Day: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Dead in the Water”

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landscape-original-noel-gallagher-december-esquire-43-jpg-292eb7dbNoel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
“Dead in the Water”

Who Built the Moon? (out now on Sour Mash)
I’m not sure I’ll love Noel’s experimental, psych-influenced third post-Oasis LP, but I’ll always be a sucker for a good Gallagher ballad. Tacked on at the end of the disc, “Dead in the Water” has all the hallmarks of the stripped down, sing-along strummers that made Oasis one of the greatest bands of the 90’s. Vague melancholic nostalgia? Check. A knockout chorus melody? Check. A reimagined Beatles lyric? Check fucking mate. While I suppose it’s somewhat admirable that Noel isn’t spending his time trying to recreate past glories, I really like it when he does… even just for a few minutes.