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

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

A little bit late this year due to real-world commitments, but here is my annual list of the best songs of the first half of 2019. Look for my honorable mention coming later in the week. This year, instead of going with an actual ranking system, I'm going to Read more

Caroline Polachek, “Door”

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Caroline Polachek
Digital Single

The former Chairlift frontperson’s music just gets better and better. “Door,” the first track released under her name, is a expansive rumination on the way our reality shifts as we move into different spaces. Her voice is warm and confident, knitting together the swelling instrumentation and keeping things on track. Though we still don’t have any details, this is meant to be the first single from an upcoming solo project, and I cannot wait to hear it.

Julien Baker, “Red Door” & “Conversation Piece”

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Julien Baker
“Red Door” & “Conversation Piece”
Red Door / Conversation Piece (out now on Matador)

Julien Baker is back, and she’s here for your fucking soul. Few artists are capable of welding anything like the emotional heft that the 23 year-old so consistently delivers, and these two new tracks are as potent as they come. She has a wonderful way of crafting songs that begin stark and lonely before exploding into bold, life-affirming color.

Burial, “State Forest”

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“State Forest”
Claustro / State Forest ’12 (out now on Hyperdub)

Even by Burial’s standards, his new b-side single is a murky, foggy affair. A forlorn drone pops its head above dense layers of sonic mist and the distant crackle of fire. There’s no percussion and total darkness all around you, leaving the listener no choice but to hunker down and brace yourself for whatever comes next.

Images & Words: Bon Iver, “Hey, Ma”

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Bon Iver
“Hey, Ma”
Digital Single

The king of beautiful songs about ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is back with two new tracks. The pick of the pair is “Hey, Ma,” a sonic stunner that is ostensibly about his mother. Sure, it’s still got plenty of nonsensical Vernonisms (“Full time, you talk your money up / While it’s living in a coal mine”). But he also shares some sweet memories of his upbringing alongside the swelling arrangement, which like always, is the most compelling part of the Bon Iver experience.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: “Joy”

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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Tracing Back The Radiance (out 07.12 on Kemado/Mexican Summer)

Rejoice, a new JCL project this way comes! Today, the Brooklyn-based iconoclast announced a new album and delivered its first single — the sparse, forlorn, probably sarcastically-titled, “Joy.” A wandering horn meanders through a softly undulating vast tide of synths that could easily soundtrack either slipping into a warm bath or getting lost at sea. Haunting and comforting all at once.

Jai Paul, “Do You Love Her Now” / “He”

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Jai Paul
“Do You Love Her Now” / “He”
Do You Love Her Now / Her (out now on XL)

Aside from the music, the best part about the ultra-illusive Londoner’s return this week is the collective reminder that he was just as far ahead of his time as he seemed back when he first surfaced in 2011. Neither of these songs are even really new — both are b-sides from the famously leaked debut that never came out — but they sound hyper-futuristic even seven years on from when they were originally conceived.

“Do You Love Her Now” is warm and luxurious with its velvety jazz chords and Paul’s sweet, swooning falsetto. “He,” on the other hand, is frigid — all sharp edges and clean lines — with rolling palm-muted guitars and a chunky industrial thump. That said, they’re connected by their auteur’s songwriting touch and his evocative voice. It’s hard not to feel that we’re listening to a genius at work. Hopefully, this isn’t all we get from him, but when the tunes are this good, I’ll take whatever I can get.

Images & Words: Hot Chip, “Melody of Love”

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Hot Chip
“Melody of Love”
A Bath Full of Ecstasy (06.21 on Domino)

Though all of their members have been busy with myriad other (very good) projects, the London disco vets are back together and ready to unleash their 7th album on the world. Our first taste, “Melody of Love,” feels like vintage Hot Chip, as Alexis Taylor’s velvety tenor glides effortlessly over neon synths and a rock-solid backbeat. Best of all, it’s got a unique, gorgeous visual to go with it, as is their signature. Good to have you back, lads.

Clairo, “Bags”

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Immunity (out 08.02 on FADER)

Though I wasn’t super high on her buzzy, ultra-twee debut EP, “Bags” is the real damn deal. Over driving power chords and playful keys, the 20 year-old digs deeper emotionally than she has before, picking through the bones of a relationship that has gone stale. “I don’t wanna watch TV anymore,” she deadpans, mirroring those rudderless, restless words with her tone and adding the emotional heft that her early work struggled to deliver.

Images & Words: Skepta, “Bullet From a Gun”

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“Bullet From a Gun”
Ignorance is Bliss (out 05.31 on Boy Better Know)

The grime legend’s follow-up to 2016’s Mercury Prize winning “Konnichiwa” has crept up on me a little, but we’re just a few days away from getting to hear it in full. One of two pre-release singles, “Bullet From a Gun” is a sharp distillation of what makes Skeppy such a force, as he weaves a pair of taut, efficient verses that team with insight and clever wordplay. It’s not his boldest tune, but it certainly feels like a keeper.

Stream This Shit: Bill Callahan, “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” — Side 1″

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Bill Callahan
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest — Side 1
Drag City (full LP out 06.14 on Drag City)
Only a few weeks from announcing his long awaited, 20-track follow-up to 2013’s wonderful “Dream River,” the Austin-based singer-songwriter gave us a big taste of it in the form of this 6-song EP. The 52 year-old shared six beautifully stripped back strummers that perfectly frame his weary, yet sturdy vocals and insightful (as ever) lyrics. I can’t wait to hear the other 14 songs, but this will tie me over nicely until the 14th.