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

Concert Review: Frankie Rose Live at the Brick and Mortar, SF

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This review originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, you can read the original here.

Live Review:
Frankie Rose w/ Dive
The Brick and Mortar Hall, San Francisco
April 21

In case you hadn’t noticed, Frankie Rose’s got the Internet goin’ nutz. The 33 year-old has served time in two super buzzy groups of girls (Dum Dum & Vivian) and NYC critical darlings the Crystal Stilts and is about to kick off a tour with Real Estate.

The blogosphere’s thickest rims have been falling over themselves to praise her sparkling sophomore LP, Interstellar (Slumberland, 2012), and on Saturday night, Rose took herself and that buzz (I hear it needs its own van) to a sold-out Brick and Mortar Music Hall for an brief yet enthralling 10-song set.

She was supported by fellow Brooklyn-based dream popsters, Dive, a band with a fair bit of indie cred of its own. Featuring sometime Beach Fossil Zachary Cole Smith and ex-Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt, the group banged out a jangly, wistful set that was heavy on reverb, sepia-tinged melodies, and (just-the-right-kind-of) awful haircuts.

Though watching young men gaze at their shoes is generally a surefire way to kill an early Saturday evening buzz, Smith and his bandmates cut energetic, engaging figures, bee-bopping along with their very blog-friendly, Beach Fossil-y tracks. Judging from this performance and the success of their pre-release singles, I’d wager that we’ll be seeing them headlining their own tour in the coming months.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/28357786″ iframe=”true” /]

30 minutes of sweet, easily digestible Dive jams provided the perfect appetizer for Rose’s main course, as she took the stage to rapturous applause. Upon surveying her minions, the diminutive frontperson flashed a sheepish, toothy grin and kicked directly into Interstellar‘s celestial penultimate track, “Moon in My Mind.” Flanked by a lean four-person band, Rose rattled off an incredibly tight set that struck a nice balance between her most recent LP and her 2010 stunner, Frankie Rose and the Outs.

And though her old cuts still sound fresh (“Candy” was a particular stand-out), Saturday night was really a celebration of the triumphant Interstellar. This was most evident during a four-song run that featured “Gospel/Grace,” the title track, “Daylight Sky,” and the undeniable “Know Me” – probably the best four songs on the record.

The run highlighted Rose’s uncanny ability to craft cathartic, introspective songs that are also incredibly danceable and full of pop hooks. She also has a devastating ear for dynamics, especially evident in her gauzy guitar lines. Though simple technically, they add so much depth to the tracks’ bones, which are basically just rock-solid pop-rock songs. Rose didn’t do a ton of talking, but when she did, she showed a humble, disarming sense of humor that made her instantly likable.

Throughout her catalog, Frankie Rose has a keen sense of when it’s time to say goodnight — that the best things are always over too soon — which is why only two of Interstellar’s tracks clock in at over four minutes. So while we all could have probably done with a few more, Rose hopped off stage after only ten songs, signing off with an inspired rendition her most expansive work to date, “Save Me.”

Unfortunately, unlike Spotify, I couldn’t start the whole thing over again, but if I could have, I definitely would have, and I surely wouldn’t have been the only one.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.27.12): Javeon McCarthy, “Precious”

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Javeon McCarthy
“Precious”
Precious (PMR)

For whatever reason, I’ve always thought of R&B as a very American genre. Of course, it’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of excellent R&B performers from outside the 50 that aren’t named Craig Fucking David. In recent years, our transcontinental cousins are enjoying quite the R&B renaissance thanks mostly to a handful of fascinating young artists putting their own unique spins on the genre. Artists like Jessie Ware, Sampha, bedroom R&B producer Holy Other, and Kwes have been churned out plenty of great tracks, and now it’s time to add another name to the list, Javeon McCarthy.

The Bristol native first broke ground in January with the dreamy, jilted “Lost Time,” which pits his graceful tenor next to a choppy, decidedly English backing track. While “Precious” is more direct and accessible, it’s just as eccentric and fresh-sounding. Of the aforementioned artists, his delivery is most reminiscent of Sampha’s thanks to his vocals that are simultaneously alluring and tinged with just the right amount of melancholy and his production, which always just has that little hint of dub-step (not the Skrillex kind). He’s got a huge, huge future.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42758484″ iframe=”true” /]

Download This Shit: The Weeknd, Live for This (Live At Coachella)

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Five reasons to download the Weeknd’s new bootleg, Live for This, captured at his performance at Coachella.

1. The performance put a perfect cap on a head-spinning 12 months for The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye, the runaway winner of Thunder Penguin’s ultra-prestigious award for 2011’s newcomer of the year.

2. It’s the probably the only way you’ll get to hear the Weeknd live anytime soon, unless you’ve got 150 bucks lying around.

3. You get to hear Tesfaye’s incredibly channel Michael Jackson in about 45 seconds of “Dirty Diana.”

4. You get to hear the drummer try to break the Guiness World Record for most uses of the crash cymbal per minute (currently held by the dude from Stryper).

5. Above all else, you get to hear an incredible feat of self-awareness from the Coachella crowd. After absolutely belting out the first few lines of “Crew Love,” the crowd suddenly clams up when they realize the next lines is, “this ain’t a fuckin’ singalong, so girl what you singin’ for.” Hearing an entire crowd realize that they are doing exactly what the song is mocking and changing their behavior because of it is just priceless.

Download it for free, here.

“Crew Love”

Hot Jam of the Day (04.26.12): Simian Mobile Disco, “Put Your Hands Together”

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Simian Mobile Disco
“Put Your Hands Together”
Unpatterns
(Wichita Recordings)

In anticipation of the weekend, check out this undulating, hypnotic new single from the UK electro heavyweights’ third album, due out May 14. Built around a repetitive, staccato piano melody, the duo (as they’ve done so many times throughout their brilliant career) expertly drops a vocal sample on top that builds to a stunning climax. Hands in the sky.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.25.12): Daughn Gibson, “A Young Girl’s World”

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Daughn Gibson
“A Young Girl’s World”
All Hell (White Denim)

Ok, this isn’t really a hot jam. In fact, it’s probably the furthest thing ever from a hot jam, but there’s something I really love about this. A little backstory: Gibson used to play drums in the stoner metal band Pearls and Brass, he used to be a truck driver, and his recently released debut is a pretty fascinating tip of the cap to the golden age of country music crossed with some bizarre, James Blake-y kinda electronics. This reminds me of Dirty Beaches’ incredible 2010 LP Badlands, where an artist seemingly out of nowhere rides his complete obsession with a particular musical figure into a strange, totally fascinating new sound. Gibson’s music doesn’t sound like Johnny Cash any more than Dirty Beaches’ sounds like Roy Orbison, but aesthetically both artists just go for it actually really works. I don’t love this as much as DB, but he’s got my attention. And that piano line…. Mmmhmm.

Hot Jam of the Day (04.24.12): Purity Ring, “Obedear”

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Purity Ring
“Obedear”
Shrines (4AD)

While it’s a little unclear who exactly does what in mercurial Canadian duo Purity Ring, whoever handles their production deserves a fucking medal (or, at the very least, a big ass cookie). The group (vocalist Megan James and multi-instrumentalist Corin Roddick) describes their sound as future pop, which sounds about right, as it fits in snuggly alongside the weird-yet-exquisitely-crafted space pop of buzzy artists like Grimes, Frankie Rose, and NZCA/Lines. However, Purity Ring stands out from those aforementioned acts, thanks mostly to their production’s undeniable gritty (er, grimey) roots, which give them just that little bit more edge than their peers. Their debut Shrines is out July 24th and should be one of the albums of the summer.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/43682510″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (04.23.12): NZCA/Lines, “Okinawa Channel”

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NZCA/Lines
“Okinawa Channel”
NZCA/Lines (Woodwork Music)

One of Record Store Day’s real gems came in the form of the vinyl release of the debut LP from enigmatic Londoner Michael Lovett. Released in digital and CD form early this year, NZCA/Lines chronicles one man’s attempt to write exquisitely crafted pop songs that are accessible and digestible, as well as bizarre and quirky. Taking cues from legendary synth driven groups of the past (New Order) and the present (Hot Chip), Lovett carves out an effective new sound that is best summed up by this simmering single.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/32291103″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Hot Jam of the Day (04.20.12): The Walkmen, “Heaven”

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The Walkmen
“Heaven”
Heaven
(Fat Possum)

I admit that I’m a little late on this one, and honestly it’s because it has taken me a few days to figure out whether I actually like this song. Don’t get me wrong, over the last decade the very well dressed NYC via DC quartet have carved out a unique sound, delivered countless spellbinding shows (note: if you aren’t sure whether you like the Walkmen, go see them live. You’ll get it), and wrote one of the best songs of my lifetime. I’m a fan. But I’ve never really been able to quite figure out where I’m supposed to put them in the Pantheon. I keep being told that they are transcendent, but they’ve never spoken to me in the way that groups like the National, Beach House, and LCD Soundsystem do, which is actually the problem I have with them.

For whatever reason, they’ve been portrayed as game changers, when really they are just a very good rock band with an interesting sound that was never quite able to capture the generation in the way that many thought they would. They seemed to have mellowed with age, but, like the best parts of their pretty-damn-good last album Lisbon, “Heaven” is a competent performance from a band whose 75% is better than most other’s best.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41162024″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jams of the Day (04.20.12): Jesse Boykins III & Full Crate “See With Me” and “Her Throne”

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Jesse Boykins III & Full Crate
“Come See Me”/”Her Throne”
Single (KilaWattMusic)

Like the Weeknd? You in to Frank Ocean? If you are a sentient being under the age of 39, I’m assuming the answer to both questions is yes. You should meet Jesse Boykins III. I think you guys will get along great. The Chicago-cum-Brooklyn troubadour joins forces with Dutch down-tempo R&B producer Full Crate (see: his excellent work with fellow Oranjeman, Mar) for a swoon inducing two song set. Boykins’ emotive falsetto is  reminiscent of British singer Sampha and is a perfect match for Crate’s dreamy, suffocating synths. Both are simply too talented to be toiling under the radar for much longer, but even if the mainstream never wakes up, you feel pretty confident that both parties will continue cranking out progressive, fascinating baby makin’ music. Exquisite.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42995426″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42995261″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (04.19.12): Jessie Ware, “110%”

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Jessie Ware
“100%”

This alluring, soulful South London native wriggled her way into my earbuds early last year via her collaboration with SBTRKT mouthpiece Sampha, the devastating “Valentine’s Day.” Though she hasn’t yet achieved the stateside notoriety that Sampha has, it became clear that she wasn’t a one-off when she released the impossibly sexy, simmering “Running,” a few months ago. Excellent as they both were, neither can touch this track. Ware’s effortlessly sexy, (dare I say?) Aaliyah-ish delivery is a perfect match for the beat’s spacey synths, busy hi hats, and screwed vocal sample. Ware has all the tools to be a big, huge, gigantic star, and if this and “Running” are anything to go by, her debut LP is going to be one to remember.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42986441″ iframe=”true” /]

Also check out “Running”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/36508318″ iframe=”true” /]