Images & Words: Real Lies, "The Checks"


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 Read more

Father John Misty, "Just Dumb Enough to Try"


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 Read more

Images & Words: Yxng Bane, "Vroom"


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Kacey Musgraves, "Golden Hour"


Kacey Musgraves "Golden Hour" Golden Hour (out now on UMG) At this point, you probably already know that the 29 year-old Texan’s new album is something special. The disc is a stunning collection of impeccably sung and written modern country tunes, all of which deserve your time. However, I wanted to Read more

Images & Words: 03 Greedo, “Never Bend”

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https_cdn.evbuc.comimages354975762160791799801originalO3 Greedo
“Never Bend”

Money Changes Everything (out now on Golden Grenade Empire)
Not gonna lie, I slept on 03 Greedo last year, but I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. The Watts rapper is one of the most unique, exciting new voices rising today, pairing soulful crooning and sticky bars for a sound that is as bluesy as it is joyous. My favorite track, “Never Bend,” is a perfect example of that dichotomy, as Greedo revels in his resilience without running away from the pain that revealed it. One of the most exciting young artists around.

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.

Images & Words: KAMI, “Payload”

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Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 5.00.44 PMKAMI
“Payload”
Superstar (Self-Released)
Not sure how I missed the Chicago native’s 2017 EP, Superstar, but I’m damn glad I found it. The Savemoney affiliate just graced the disc’s second track with a similarly energetic video. Kami is one of those rappers who doesn’t save hooks for choruses, and his bars are teaming with melodies that will get stuck in your head. Definitely one to watch in 2018.

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.

Best of 17: My Favorite Albums of 2017

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kendrick-lamar-variety-hitmakers31. Kendrick Lamar
DAMN.
Aftermath/Interscope
After pouring so much — sonically and emotionally — into his masterful, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” it’s understandable that Kendrick followed it up with the most stripped-down record of his career. Though nowhere near as essential as TPAB (or even “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”), there’s a ton to like on the back half of this disc, from ridiculous feats of storytelling (“FEAR.” “DUCKWORTH.”) to a pair of tender, insightful love songs (“LOVE.” “LOYALTY.”).

Start With: “LOYALTY.” (f/ Rihanna) / “LOVE.” (f/ Zacari)

30. Ryan Adams
Prisoner
PAX-AM
It was a weird year to be a Ryan Adams fan. After nearly a decade of critical apathy, his Mandy Moore break-up LP suddenly started garnering legitimate buzz, like it was 2005 again. The truth is, the biggest difference between the Springsteen-obsessed disc and the rest of his secretly solid recent work is the easily digestible narrative. “Prisoner” isn’t a game-changer, but it is a well-made collection of mid-tempo, heartfelt rock songs by one of the best craftsmen working in the genre today.

Start With: “Shiver and Shake” / “We Disappear”

29. Sorority Noise
You’re Not As _____ As You Think
Triple Crown
The Connecticut emo/alt-rock quartet’s third album is a really impressive record that’s also reeeealllly tough to listen to. Death, fear, lost faith, and despair are around every corner here, bravely and insightfully chronicled by 24 year-old singer/songwriter Cameron Boucher. Though it is certainly uncomfortable at times, it’s one of those rare records that has become a very important album to a great deal of young people, and much of that is owed to Boucher’s gutsy decision to open up and let the world in.

Start With: “Second Letter From St. Julien” /  “No Halo”
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