Images & Words: Creek Boyz, "I'm The One"


Creek Boyz "I'm the One" Digital Single It's still very early in their career, but the soulful, melodic Baltimore County crew feel like one of the freshest new groups out. Following up their magnetic debut single, "With My Team," "I'm the One" is a triumphant, buoyant anthem that showcases their versatile talents as Read more

Images & Words: King Krule, "Czech One"


King Krule "Czech One" Digital Single I first covered the 22 year-old when he was just a random London teen named Zoo Kid. And while his potential was obvious, I doubt many predicted what an original and sonically restless artist Archy Marshall would become. In the four years follwing his excellent debut LP, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, Marshall released the excellent ambient-leaning, Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Julien Baker, "Appointments"


Julien Baker "Appointments" Turn Out the Lights (out 10.27 on Matador) "It's the hope that kills you," goes the old saying. But it can also be the thing that saves you and drives you through life's dark stretches. It's what the 21 year-old is reaching for on this breathtaking first single from her highly-anticipated second Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: Kelela, "LMK"


Kelela "LMK" Take Me Apart (10.06 on Warp) Our agonizing wait for the first taste of Kelela's proper studio debut* is finally over, and my GOD, our girl came through with a banger. In lieu of just typing 4,000 fire emojis, I'll just say that "LMK" is such a perfect distillation of what makes Read more

Images & Words: Jessie Ware, "Midnight"


Jessie Ware “Midnight” Digital Single In the years I’ve been covering music, I wrote more about Jessie Ware’s early career than just about anyone else. I first covered her back in 2011 and tracked her progression from a promising, mostly unknown, quiet storm prodigy to a true powerhouse who could command any room she was Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: MoStack, “Ussy Ussy”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.06.47 PMMoStack
“Ussy Ussy”

Digital Single
After dropping one of the songs of the year, the Londoner returns with another winning, Afrobeats-influenced cut. Like “Let it Ring,” the buoyant, undeniable “Ussy Ussy” features both memorable bars and hooky vocals that help cement MoStack in the class of rising stars like J Hus, Abra Cadabra, and Kojo Funds. If the summer sounds anything like this, we’re in for a great one.

Images & Words: Burna Boy, “Hallelujah”

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Burna-Boy-1-600x400Burna Boy
“Hallelujah”

Digital Single
Friday is always a great day to give thanks, and the 25 year-old’s new single is here to inspire you to do just that. Hailing from Nigeria’s poverty-stricken south coast, Burna Boy has spent the better part of seven years crafting electric afrobeat with touches of R&B and dancehall. Like many stateside, he first popped on my radar with his gorgeous, low-key 2016 EP, Redemption. Now, Burna has his sights set on world domination, and if he keeps dropping songs like this airy, lithe charmer, he’ll get there soon enough.

Hot Jam of The Day: Grizzly Bear, “Three Rings”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.41.54 PMGrizzly Bear
“Three Rings”
Digital Single
The sound of 2009 white guy indie rock is thriving in 2017. We aren’t even at the halfway point, and we’ve already heard new music from Fleet Foxes, the National, LCD Soundsystem, Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, and Animal Collective. And while it has basically ranged from -__- (see: Projectors, Dirty) to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, Ed Droste and co.’s first track in about five years is a gorgeous, haunting ballad. Droste’s voice floats beautifully here, but drummer Chris Bear steals the show here, as his off-kilter, busy drumming gives the track an syncopated touch and injects it with unexpected life. More than anything, “Three Rings” doesn’t fall into the same trap as many of their peers, as it is neither a rehash of old ideas nor an unnecessary stylistic u-turn. Rather, it’s the sound of a fantastic band evolving naturally and exploring new sonic space.

Hot Jam of the Day: J Hus, “Common Sense”

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JHusJ Hus
“Common Sense”
Common Sense (Black Butter)
The wait is almost over. Though the East Londoner’s highly-anticipated proper debut LP drops on Friday, he graced us with another taster to hold us over. Though the lush, soulful instrumentation and live drums are a different look for the MC, it proves to be another monster single that highlights his underrated versatility. The beat feels a little bit 90’s, but Hus’ delivery is purely modern. And he shifts from rapping to singing with ease and delivers sticky bars with melodic hooks for days. One of the biggest talents in music today.

Hot Jam of the Day: Sinjin Hawke, “Onset”

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sinjin_hawke_188Sinjin Hawke
“Onset”
First Opus (out 06.10 on Fractal Fantasy)
Though the Canadian producer/DJ has been crafting relentlessly progressive club music for more than five years, he’s just getting around to dropping his first LP this summer. Its lead single, “Onset,” highlights Hawke’s tuneful, yet club-ready sound, pairing hyperactive droplets with pounding kick drums and his signature, triumphant horns.

Hot Jam of the Day: Ryan Adams, “The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 11.15.47 AMRyan Adams
“The Empty Bed” / “Broken Things”

Prisoner B-Sides
In much of the press surrounding his excellent 16th studio LP, the ever-prolific songwriter talked about writing nearly 100 songs for the album and struggling to cut it down to just 12. Last Friday, he proved he wasn’t lying when he surprise dropped 17 of those b-sides. And though they don’t all shine, it makes you appreciate how difficult it must be to make these cuts.

Two of its early standouts are a pair of acoustic tearjerkers: its closer “The Empty Bed” and “Broken Things.” When I initially heard that the record would deal with Adams’ divorce, I assumed that it would sound a lot more like this, rather than the 70’s stomp and Tunnel of Love vibes that permeate the disc. I get why he decided not to go that route, but it’s great to hear a couple of stripped down moments from the sessions.

Listen to the whole thing on Spotify.

Images & Words: Rostam, “Gwan”

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Rostam
“Gwan”

Digital Single
Anybody who has ever lived in New York knows the restorative power of an aimless stroll through the city. On the clip for his new string-driven, chamber pop single, the former Vampire Weekend man enjoys one of those long meanders, heading toward a destination that is unclear both for the viewer and the walker. Though we still don’t have details, it’s starting to feel like his long-awaited album is just around the corner, and if it sounds anything like the rest of the pre-release singles, it should be a classic.

Images & Words: DJ Khaled, “I’m The One” (f/ Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)

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dj-khaled-lil-wayne-justin-bieber-chance-the-rapper-quavo-shoot-music-video-for-im-the-one-malibu2DJ Khaled
“I’m The One” (f/ Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)

Digital Single
At this point, DJ Khaled’s tracks are basically musical text chains between the biggest artists on the planet. It’s kinda like he just puts out late-night mass “U Up?” text to his entire contact list, and the first four that respond get a verse. It’s a high variance strategy. But it works for him, because as easy as it is to discard the songs that don’t pop, it’s impossible to avoid the ones that do.

This airy, trop-housey summer tune is one of the latter, evidenced by its 42 fucking million views in four days. And those numbers are no surprise, because it’s got all the hallmarks of a Khaled classic. Intoxicating, catchy chorus? Check. Tuneful, sticky verses? Check. Khaled ad libs? Obvi. Most importantly, it got the green light from the greatest young A&R man in the business, Asahd Khaled. Bless up.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of March & April

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I skipped last month’s album Round-Up to bang out the My Favorite Tracks of the First Quarter list. So this month’s album list features my picks from March and April. Possibly the strongest batch of the year so far, 2017 is shaping up to be another incredible year in music.

mounteerie-600-5Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me
P.W. Elverum & Sun
I can’t remember two albums released back-to-back that provide such stark, unflinching looks at death as Mount Eerie’s incredible, A Crow Looked at Me, and Sorority Noise’s brutal You’re Not As ____ As You Think.

And while I can relate to some of the tragedies that color the Sorority Noise LP, I cannot even begin to fathom the loss that Phil Elverum chronicles on his ode to his late wife Geneviève Castrée, who passed away from pancreatic cancer at the impossibly early age of 35. Elverum was always crafted deeply affecting songs, but he was also an intensely private figure who seemed to craft albums from some faraway galaxy.

Well, on A Crow Looked At Me, Elverum eschews every inch of that privacy. He lets us all into the deepest crevices of his life — from their bedroom to moments with their daughter to uncomfortable conversations at the grocery store to the life they shared deep in the Washington woods. Though the arraignments are skeletal in the extreme — mostly consisting of Elverum’s strained vocals and meandering, nylon string guitars — each of the eleven tracks are incredibly rich. Not with just information about the characters, but with legitimately insightful, universal wisdom that only this kind of grief can leave behind. An absolute masterpiece.

Listen to it on Spotify.


sorority-noise-pr-photo-pat-nolanSorority Noise
You’re Not As ___ As You Think
Triple Crown
While Elverum penned his record about losing the one you love, the Sorority Noise album is about the especially unsettling feeling that takes place when you are young and lose multiple friends in quick succession. When you feel like every time the phone rings, you will be confronted by another tragedy that you won’t be equipped to deal with. When you start to believe that death is around every corner.

“Just this year I lost a basketball team to heaven” sings Cam Boucher on “Disappeared.” Artists tend to wrap loss in metaphor to soften the blow, but Boucher (like Elverum) is not here to make you comfortable. There are a number of moments on the record that are physically unsettling, as if you are reading someone’s deeply personal journal behind their backs.

It’s not a walk in the park, but as the album moves, little rays of hope start to cut through the clouds. Much of that comes from their raw, yet tuneful riffs and Boucher’s sneaky catchy choruses. It also comes from the knowledge that as the days go by and the shock wears off, it becomes easier to remember your friends as they were in life, not in death.

Listen to it on Spotify.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 4.58.22 PMMr Mitch
Devout
Planet Mu
On the total other end of the spectrum comes the longtime TP-favorite’s second LP. Absolutely teaming with life, the disc is bookended by two gorgeous love-letters. The first is to his partner, which features Mitch’s young sons on vocals. And its heartfelt closer sees Mitch singing to his second son while he was still in the womb.

These are just two of the truly heartfelt, affecting moments on this special album. Mitch has always been a master of building hyper-melodic, emotional soundscapes that drive miles beyond the parameters of grime. But the songwriting on Devout far surpasses anything else he’s put out in his already glittering, genre-redefining career. Probably my favorite album of the year so far.

Stream it now on Spotify.

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Images & Words: HEAVEN, “It’s Not Enough”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.57.52 AMHEAVEN
“It’s Not Enough

Digital Single 
It doesn’t take a musicologist to hear producer Johnny Jewel’s fingerprints on this romantic, slow-burning new single from the newest signing to his label, Italians Do It Better. Though details about the artist remain scarce, this luxurious, stylish ballad is a strong enough statement to stand on its own and hints that we may be hearing a lot more about her (them?) in the future.