Images & Words: Chromatics, "Black Walls"


Chromatics "Black Walls" Dear Tommy (out PROLLY NEVER on Italians Do It Better) Goddamn it, Johnny Jewel. Just when I'd moved on from the idea that I'd ever hear "Dear Tommy," this guy drags me back in with a luscious new track and a (probably fictional) release date for Fall of 2018. "Black Read more

Snail Mail, "Let's Find An Out"


Snail Mail "Let's Find An Out" Lush (out 06.08 on Matador) Though I've somehow not written about them yet, I've been loving the Baltimore trio's pre-release singles for their hotly-anticipated debut LP. The stripped-back third single, "Let's Find An Out," is my favorite of the bunch, pairing songwriter Lindsey Jordan's plaintive vocals Read more

Rae Sremmurd: "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug)


Rae Sremmurd "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug) Swaecation Though I'm still processing the Mississippi superstars' excellent, new 27-song project, the free-flowing "Offshore" feels like an instant classic. Producer Mike Will is a genius at negotiating sonic space, and his gooey, descending synth chords leave plenty of room for Thug to play in. And Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April '18


Grouper “Grid of Points” Yellow Electric Though only 21 minutes, the haunting beauty of Liz Harris' eleventh studio LP will linger for many years to come. Penned and recorded in just 10 days, "Grid of Points" feels like a moment suspended in time — a distant memory that you just can't Read more

Images & Words: Oneohtrix Point Never, "Black Snow"


Oneohtrix Point Never "Black Snow" (f/ Anohni) Age of (out 06.01 on Warp) Though the Massachusetts native is probably best know for his otherworldly, chaotic experimental electro, some of his best tracks are his quietist. Whether it's his recent stunner with Iggy Pop or the beautiful Anohni-lead "Returnal," OPN (né Daniel Lopatin) Read more

Images & Words: Oneohtrix Point Never, “Black Snow”

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Oneohtrix Point Never
“Black Snow” (f/ Anohni)
Age of (out 06.01 on Warp)
Though the Massachusetts native is probably best know for his otherworldly, chaotic experimental electro, some of his best tracks are his quietist. Whether it’s his recent stunner with Iggy Pop or the beautiful Anohni-lead “Returnal,” OPN (né Daniel Lopatin) knows how to craft the kind of ballad that can suck all the air out of you.

Though “Black Snow” — the first single from his forthcoming eighth studio LP — is somewhat similar in feel to the aforementioned tracks, it differs in one significant way. Lopatin’s voice has never appeared this clearly before. Sure, it’s delivered in a dissociated robo-croon, but it is also one of the most direct lines to the man behind the music that we’ve ever recieved. Of course, we don’t know if it’s representative of the rest of the album, but it’s certainly a very exciting development.

Images & Words: Anna Leone, “My Soul I”

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Anna Leone
“My Soul I”

Wandered Away (out now on Half Awake)
Though this stirring ballad has been out since last year, it bears re-consideration, as it leads off the Swedish folk singer’s excellent, recently-released debut EP. Though the instrumentation is delicate, Leone’s voice has main-stage power that recalls her compatriot Lykke Li. That extra touch of drama elevates the five tracks on “Wandered Away” from simple, direct love songs to something rare and difficult to shake off.

Images & Words: Quando Rondo, “Project Kid”

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Quando Rondo
“Project Kid”

Life B4 Fame (out now, self-released)
One of the standouts from the rising Savanah rapper’s excellent new mixtape, “Project Kid” is an open-hearted slab of melodic Southern rap. In his tuneful, yet raspy delivery, Rondo unleashes evocative, insightful lyrics with a weariness that belies his youth. In a scene that is overflowing with young talent, this guy is one to keep an eye on.

Images & Words: Real Lies, “The Checks”

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Real Lies
“The Checks”

Digital Single
Longtime TP favorite and the trio behind my favorite song of 2014, London’s Real Lies are back with their first new music in a couple years. Few artists are as good at capturing the mood of being young and on your own in a big city like Real Lies, and “The Checks” is another intoxicating, nostalgic journey through the neon lights and rain-soaked streets of their (or, your) hometown. Recalling prime Pet Shop Boys and Underworld, this may not be what the DJs are playing on a night out anymore (at least, not in New York), but it definitely feels like the perfect soundtrack to the long ride home. Welcome back, guys. I’ve missed you.

Father John Misty, “Just Dumb Enough to Try”

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Father John Misty
“Just Dumb Enough To Try”

God’s Favorite Customer (out 06.01 on Sub Pop)
Though his last LP “Pure Comedy” had its moments, it was an overwritten project that was weighed down by grand, mostly superficial proclamations about the frivolity of modern life. His usually sharp pen often landed with a thud as it shot for insightful and landed closer to Abe Simpson.

For me, Papa J. Misery is at his best on direct, confessional love songs like this one, a mid-tempo stunner from his upcoming fourth LP. This lovely ballad is the sound of Tillman coming out the other side of his excellent marriage LP, “I Love You, Honeybear.” Misty admits to being a shitty husband and underlines his commitment to make things right with his wife. It is an affecting and insightful track that hopefully signals that this new record will be driven more by the heart than the head.

Mazzy Star, “Quiet, The Winter Harbor”

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Mazzy Star
“Quiet, The Winter Harbor”
Still (out 06.01 on Rhymes of an Hour)
Though I was a little young for their heyday, like so many others, I fell in love with the Santa Monica group’s seminal, swooning “Fade Into You.” And though this new track will likely not hit the same dizzying heights, it packs much of the same hazy, mysterious beauty that the 1994 single did. Its simple step-wise piano melody and emotive slide guitars form the perfect canvas for Hope Sandoval’s dreamy, doleful vocals to carry you away. More like this, please.

Images & Words: Yxng Bane, “Vroom”

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Yxng Bane
“Vroom”
Digital Single
When I first wrote about the East Londoner back in July 2016, he didn’t even have CDQ versions of his tracks on SoundCloud. In less than two years, Bane’s career has grown like wildfire with multiple videos doing crazy numbers.

The hot streak looks set to continue with this hyper-catchy, wobbly heater. “Vroom” is a microcosm of how Bane’s sound has developed from the retro, Craig David-ish two-step of “Honest” to the essential Afro-swing/Afrobeats sound that has infiltrated the pop charts. Though we’re still waiting for a debut full-length project, Bane is proving to be an even move vital voice with every successive single.

Images & Words: slowthai, “North Nights”

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slowthai
“North Nights”

The Bottom / North Nights (out now on TOYITOYI)
Though this video’s been out for a while, I wanted to write it up anyway because I’m realizing that I’ve barely written about one of my favorite artists of the year so far. The Northampton rapper (né Tyrone Williams) is a thrilling, relentless grime MC who harkens back to the roots of the sound — where busy, unexpected flows trumped sticky vocal melodies. “North Nights” is a perfect example of this, as it completely eschews a chorus. Instead, ‘Thai cleverly hides a couple of repetitive hooks in his magnetic bars, which will leave you knowing all the words in no time.

Images & Words: Drake, “Nice For What”

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Drake
“Nice For What”
Digital Single
At his heart, Drake is an actor. In recent years, he’s played convincing roles as artists from London, Kingston, The Bay, Santo Domingo, and of course, Houstalantavegas. For his next gig, Drizzy returns to the Big Easy to soak up the New Orleans sound we already know he loves. Just like many of his past blockbusters, the performance is electric, and he sounds incredibly comfortable over a bounce beat that is actually pretty faithful to the regional sound. Though being an “actor” used to be a dirty word in hip-hop (ask Jay-Z), Drake has turned his rare skill into a weapon and used it to build a body of work that is versatile and full of surprises.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The First Quarter

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To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s been a vintage first quarter for music, as I had fewer albums that I wanted to write about than usual. That said, there are some truly excellent albums on this list, and there’s a lot to look forward coming up soon.

Kacey Musgraves
“Golden Hour”
UMG Recordings
What: The country rising star’s transcendent, all-conquering third studio album
Where: Nashville, TN via Golden, TX
In a Tweet: A balanced, stunning collection of well-sung, beautifully written modern country. Simultaneously extremely consistent and full of highlights. An album to fall in love to, break up to, then get back together to. Kacey is a fucking star.
Start Here: “Space Cowboy” “Golden Hour”

O3 Greedo
“The Wolf of Grape Street”
Alamo
What: The uncompromising, exhilarating breakthrough project from the hyper-prolific MC
Where: Watts, CA
In a Tweet: Possibly the most exciting, unique talent since Young Thug. The 30 year-old is a true iconoclast, crafting emotional, unpredictable modern rap that twists and turns without warning. “Grape Street” is too long, but smart listeners will find absolute gold on this record.
Start Here: “Never Bend” “Zoning”

Bad Gyal
“Worldwide Angel”
Puro
What:
The new mixtape from the rising Spanish reggaeton innovator Alba Farelo
Where: Barcelona, Spain
In A Tweet: Over an electric array of modern, genre-fluid beats, Farelo ratchets up the heat with a sweltering new collection that further cements her unique sound and vital voice. Though it’s true to the sound of her excellent “Slow Wine” tape, it makes subtle upgrades and shows exciting growth.

Negative Gemini
“Bad Baby”
100% Electronica

What: An emotional 6-song EP from the experimental producer, Lindsay French
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In a Tweet: Good luck tagging a genre on this project. Whether its the breathy, deep synth-pop of the title track or the underwater power ballad, “My Innocence,” French is forever confounding but nails everything she does with aplomb. A true original who deserves a lot more shine than she gets.
Start Here: “Bad Baby” “You Weren’t There Anymore”

Tatsuya Shimazaki
“in my”
Self-Released
What:
A breathtaking ambient release from the Japanese composer
Where: Tokyo, Japan
In A Tweet: Though there isn’t much information about Shimazaki around, he’s got an extensive, excellent array of carefully crafted, therapeutic mood music to explore. His work combines delicate pianos, plucked ukulele, resonant synths, and little pangs of percussion — all used judiciously and subtly to extract maximum emotion.
Start Here: “remnent” “disposition

Haley Heynderickx
“I Need To Start a Garden”
Mama Bird
What:
The gentle, woodsy debut from the graceful-voiced singer-songwriter
Where: Portland, OR
In a Tweet: Though you’d probably file it under “folk,” Heynderickx’s excellent LP is delightfully difficult to categorize. She mixes bits of garage rock, indie, and Americana in here — all deftly held together by her elastic voice and nimble guitarwork.
Start Here: “The Bug Collector” “Show You A Body”

Camp Cope
“How To Socialise & Make Friends”
Run For Cover

What: The Sophomore LP from the young sometimes noisy / sometimes quiet Aussie trio
Where: Melbourne, Australia
In a Tweet: A worthy successor to their crushing, beautiful self-titled debut. Vocalist Georgia Maq is one of the bravest, most insightful artists around, and she tackles topics like death, sexual abuse, and loneliness with a directness that will strike you in the head and the heart.
Start Here: “The Face Of God” “I’ve Got You”

Lil Durk
“Just Cause Y’all Waited”
Only The Family Entertainment
What:
The 25 year-old’s first post-Def Jam release
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Now that he’s free from a major label deal that never really made sense for him, Durk sounds rejuvenated here. Though there are better rappers and crooners out there, not many do both as well as Durk, and he strikes a potent balance between them on this consistent, heartfelt project.
Start Here: “How I Know” (f/ Lil Baby) “Instigator”

DJ Taye
“Still Trippin’”
Hyperdub
What:
The long-awaited Hyperdub debut LP from the legendary Teklife crew’s biggest young talent
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Released a month short of the 4-year anniversary of his mentor DJ Rashad’s death, “Still Trippin’” is the kind of frenetic, exhilarating project that would have made Rashad smile. Though deeply rooted in footwork, Taye beautifully stretches the boundaries of the sound in fresh ways.
Start Here: “I Don’t Know” (f/ Fabi Reyna) “2094”

Soccer Mommy
“Clean”
Fat Possum
What:
The breakthrough project from 20 year-old prolific bedroom singer-songwriter Sophie Allison
Where: Nashville, TN
In a Tweet: “chill but kinda sad” goes Allison’s self-deprecating bio, and it’s actually a pretty apt (if understated) synopsis of this record. “Clean” is full of the kind of broken-winged, yet open-hearted feelings (#feels) that color your early 20s… and, for some of us, early 30s too. 😄
Start Here: “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” “Scorpio Rising”

awakebutstillinbed
“what people call low self​-​esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you”
Tiny Engines

What: As the album suggests, this shit is obviously emo
Where: San Jose, CA (woooooo)
In a Tweet: An emotional cyclone of an album led by the raw, honest songwriting of Shannon Taylor. Across nine noisy, but super melodic tracks, Taylor shrieks, shouts, and shares her innermost feelings and struggles, finding solace and strength in the chaos around her. Though not an easy listen, it’s a rewarding one.
Start Here: “floor” “opener”

American Pleasure Club
“A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This”
Run For Cover
What:
The eclectic new album from Sam Ray’s (Ricky Eat Acid) band
Where: Baltimore, MD
In a Tweet: After jettisoning one of the worst band names in music, Teen Suicide, Ray crafted the best album of his career. There’s fuzzy stoner rock, sweetboi ballads, and even a track with a breakbeat. In short, it’s all over the place, but somehow it works, which is a testament to Ray’s taste.
Start Here: “this is heaven & id die for it” “all the lonely nights in your life”

Kalle J
“Aros Catering”
Emotion
What:
The Swedish-language solo debut of Karl X Johan’s Kalle Jönsson
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
In a Tweet: I’ve been waiting years for a Karl X Johan debut, but this melodramatic project from ‘Karl’ will suffice. Though I kind of wish it was sung in a language I speak, the cracked power ballads, sweeping melodies, and dramatic, gauzy arrangements are tasty in any dialect. Get out your lighters.
Start Here: “Strand” “BDSM”