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

Lana Del Rey, "Doin' Time"

Lana Del Rey"Doin' Time"Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)If you grew up in California in the early 2000's, it was just about impossible to get in someone's car or go to a party that wasn't playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Read more

Images & Words: Roses Gabor, “I Could Be Yours”

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Roses Gabor
“I Could Be Yours”

Fantasy & Facts (out now on AllPoints)
The low-key London R&B boundary pusher dropped her long-awaited debut LP on Friday, and it’s a unsurprisingly fascinating project. Gabor’s slinky, seductive sound lives in the cracks between R&B and electro, and “I Could Be Yours” is perhaps the best example of just how potent her sound can be. A lot more people should really be talking about this project.

Laura Stevenson, “Value Inn”

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Laura Stevenson
“Value Inn”

The Big Freeze (out 03.29 on Don Giovanni)
Though the Long Island singer-songwriter has been at it for nearly 10 years, “Value Inn” is my first taste of the Laura Stevenson experience, and goddamn, it is a delicious one. “Value Inn” is a stark, brooding piece of electric folk that pairs her bewitching voice with reverb-soaked guitars that start as a drizzle before building into a dense storm. Recorded in her childhood bedroom, the track crackles with dark clouds of dread that are only parted by her piercing vocals. One to watch.

The National, “You Had Your Soul with You”

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The National
“You Had Your Soul With You”

I Am Easy to Find (out 05.17 on 4AD)
We millennials are fickle bastards, man. After releasing a trio of fantastic albums, it only took me one snoozer (2013’s “Trouble Will Find Me”) to basically write off the Ohio quintet as a spent force. I was shocked by how much I loved the back-half of 2017’s “Trouble Will Find Me,” and this jittery new single builds on the disc’s momentum. Over sporadic flourishes of electric guitar and stutter-stepping drums, Matt Berninger luxuriates in his misery declaring “I’ve got it worse than anyone.” With fans like me, maybe he’s got a point.

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.