Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"

Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"

The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"

Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter

Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)

As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Images & Worods: Hand Habits, “What Lovers Do”

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Hand Habits
“What Lovers Do”

placeholder (out now on Saddle Creek)
Though Solange’s massive new album will dominate the day, don’t miss the ever-understated Meg Duffy’s wonderful second LP. The upstate New York singer-songwriter sits at the intersection of windswept Americana and confessional folk. Early standout, “What Lovers Do,” explores the distance between two lovers, who seem on the edge of either splitting apart or coming back together. There’s no clear resolution to their story, because like in real life, there never is.

Nivhek, “After Its Own Death: Side A”

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“After Its Own Death: Side A”

After Its Own Death / Walking In a Spiral Towards The House (out now on YELLOWELECTRIC)
Though it feels odd to pull out a single song from Liz Harris’ beguiling new album, its spectral opener is just too good to pass up. For 16 spellbinding minutes, the Oregon-based composer smears layers and layers of her doleful vocals across four different movements that include droning guitars, cinematic wind-chimes, and finally, a murky buzzing that sounds like something from the new season of True Detective. It is a witchy, engulfing experience, and yet another example of why there’s just nobody else making music like Ms. Harris.

Tierra Whack, “Only Child”

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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 at the 60-second mark. It felt like it could have been so much more.

Luckily, “Only Child” makes it all the way to 240 seconds, and my god, it’s nice to hear a new, fully fleshed-out song from her. I heard a lot of early Frank Ocean on “Whack World,” in the uncanny way she could dance through multiple genres, sometimes in the same song. And though the arrangement feels a bit more straightforward than we’re used to from her, she’s uses her voice in such a clever way, effortlessly shifting from a playful coo to lower-register emoting to a nimble, punchy rap verse to close things out. She’s got all the tools to be an absolute star, and it’ll be fascinating where she decides to take her ultra-rare talent from here.

LUCKI, “4 – U – City Girl”

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“4 – U – City Girl”

Freewave 3 (out now, self-released)
The rising Chicago native’s new tape is a freewheeling, affecting ride through the psyche of a young man who is on the cusp of success beyond his wildest dreams but continues to be dogged by addiction and sorrow. And those feelings aren’t just expressed in his words. Lucki has this unique way of fully submerging his voice in the music, mirroring the way that those kind of issues can drag you down. The effect can be narcotic and disorienting at first, but the more you listen, the more you’ll find the flow and the more “Freewave 3” will reveal to you. You can write him off as another mumble rapper, but you shouldn’t.

Jessica Pratt, “As The World Turns”

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Jessica Pratt
“As The World Turns”

Quiet Signs (out now on Kemado)
“Quiet Signs” is the perfect title for the new album from the forever low-key San Franciscan who rarely raises her voice above a gentle coo. But if you listen closely, the disc is a treasure trove of subtly majestic, pastoral folk. Leadoff track, “As the World Turns,” highlights the way Pratt’s voice creeps around the arrangement. Like a daddy longlegs crawling across a Laurel Canyon ceiling, it never overpowers its setting, but it’s also impossible to take your eyes (er, ears) off it.

Chromatics, “Time Rider”

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“Time Rider”

D**r T**my (out never on Italians LOL it better)
At this point, I’ve kinda exhausted the “Dear Tommy is never fucking coming out jokes,” so I’ll just say this. “Time Rider” is yet another gorgeous, evocative slab of neon, taut synth balladry from the Portland quartet. Whether or not it ever appears on a full-length album that is or isn’t called “Dear Tommy” is up for debate, but its quality isn’t. IDIB 4ever.

default genders, “when it’s over” (ft. no rome)

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default genders
“when it’s over” (f/ no rome)
main pop girl 2019 (out now, self-released)
File this one under: “did not see this one coming.” But my goodness, James Brooks (formerly of Elite Gymnastics) just put out a fucking stunner. Though I’ve liked bits and pieces of his post-Elite-GZ solo work (mostly just this track), “main pop girl 2019” feels like a watershed album for him — fusing breakbeats with evocative samples, cleverly-pitched vocals, and affecting lyrics about Midwestern misery — the project feels unique and utterly modern. Though many tracks that grabbed me on first listen, this gooey, gorgeous, No Rome-assisted daydream is a great place to start and a worthy introduction to a truly exciting LP.

Images & Words: LOM Rudy x Bandgang Masoe, “Died Right Now”

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LOM Rudy x Bandgang Masoe
“Died Right Now”
Digital Single
Two talented Detroit newcomers team-up for a poignant and heartfelt street-rap ballad that underlines both men’s desire to succeed and make something better of their lives. Over delicate plunks of Spanish guitar and a sticky flute melody, the pair worry about what will happen to their loved ones if they don’t make it and how their names will be remembered if they die young. It’s a heavy, sobering tune that pushes back against the dangerous young death fetish pushed by certain segments of modern rap.

CFCF, “Closed Space”

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“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 wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pure Moods comp before kicking in with a hyperdrive break-beat that drives the track to an unexpected conclusion. I don’t think I’ve heard a CFCF record that I didn’t love, and “Liquid Colours” doesn’t look likely to change that any time soon.

Better Oblivion Community Center, “Dominos”

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Better Oblivion Community Center
Better Oblivion Community Center (out now on Dead Oceans)
Though I’m not hugely familiar with Connor “Bright Eyes” Oberst’s work, his melancholy folk feels like a great match for Phoebe Bridgers on their surprise joint LP. The disc’s final track is lonely, but beautiful mope-fest. For four spellbinding minutes, the pair embark on the long trudge to Nowheresville accompanied only by languid, reverb-soaked guitars, a little bit of piano, and, crucially, each-other. It’s unclear whether this duo is built to last, but it’s clear they’ve found solace in one another.