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

Matt Kivel, “l.a. coliseum”

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Matt Kivel
“l.a. coliseum”
last night in america (out 05.10 on Cascine)
Our first taste of the LA singer’s debut LP for Cascine is a dreamy, low-light rumination on the early days of a relationship. Kivel’s voice is soft but affecting, and it gently bobs along the layers of soft synths and meandering electric guitar. It’s a track that really feels like falling in love in LA,  and it leaves me seriously jonesing for those technicolor sunsets and warm, evening breezes.

Chief Keef, “Ain’t Gonna Happen”

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Chief Keef
“Ain’t Gonna Happen”
GloToven (Glo Gang / RBC)
The Chicago stalwart’s new project with the legendary Zaytoven is unsurprisingly full of weird and wacky sounds, moving in innumerable unexpected and exciting ways. Its most powerful moment is its starkest, as a heartbroken Keef floats freely over Zay’s gorgeous piano.

“Face dried up, from all of the tears I done cried up,” he laments, namedropping late friends and family members like Fredo Santana, Big Glo, and Capo. In just 23 years, he’s encountered a staggering amount of loss, but in classic style, he soldiers on, pushing boundaries and continuing to cement his legacy as one of the most important, influential rappers of his generation.

Channel Tres, “Brilliant N***a”

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Channel Tres
“Brilliant N***a”
Digital Single
The man behind one of my favorite songs of 2018 returns with a silky new slice of the indefinable deep house/jazz/rap sound that he started cooking up on his incredible, self-titled debut EP. Over a meandering flutes, airy toms, and droning synths, the artist born Sheldon Young glides effortlessly across proceedings, dropping adhesive, charismatic couplets by the dozen. Hopefully, a proper debut LP beckons.

Images & Words: Xanman, “Kane”

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Xanman
“Kane”
Hey Shootah Vol 2. (self-released)
This song has been out for a minute, but I just realized that I still haven’t written about the super talented DMV native yet. Considering that I’ve probably listened to more Xanman than any other rapper so far in 2019, it feels like it’s time to change that.

Like most of his tracks, “Kane” feels like it’s over before it even stars, imploring you to run it back (at least) a couple more times as soon as it finishes. At his most frenetic, Xanman basically eats the end of his bars (pun extremely intended), jamming in as many as possible and thumbing his nose at the beat. But he’s far from a one-trick pony, as he highlights by shifting into a cut-time, sing-song flow midway through the track. It’s the kind of melody lesser rappers would build an entire song around, but Xanman tosses it out in under 15 seconds, just because he can.

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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Nivhek
“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.