Images & Words: The 1975, "Give Yourself A Try"

The 1975 "Give Yourself A Try" A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (out in October on Dirty Hit) Though it's been out for about two weeks, I've listened to the Manchester quartet's new single roughly two million times. Compositionally, it's totally unremarkable. Built around a repetitive, simplistic guitar riff and three chords, Read more

Images & Words: The Rhythm Method, "Chin Up"

The Rhythm Method "Chin Up" Digital Single Every two years*, I get afflicted with the same illness. It usually starts up a few weeks before every major international football tournament and lasts until somewhere around the quarterfinals. Who knows how long my believesthatEnglandcanwinthewholething-itis will last for this year, but I'm hoping that Read more

Images & Words: Chromatics, "Black Walls"

Chromatics "Black Walls" Dear Tommy (out PROLLY NEVER on Italians Do It Better) Goddamn it, Johnny Jewel. Just when I'd moved on from the idea that I'd ever hear "Dear Tommy," this guy drags me back in with a luscious new track and a (probably fictional) release date for Fall of 2018. "Black Read more

Snail Mail, "Let's Find An Out"

Snail Mail "Let's Find An Out" Lush (out 06.08 on Matador) Though I've somehow not written about them yet, I've been loving the Baltimore trio's pre-release singles for their hotly-anticipated debut LP. The stripped-back third single, "Let's Find An Out," is my favorite of the bunch, pairing songwriter Lindsey Jordan's plaintive vocals Read more

Rae Sremmurd: "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug)

Rae Sremmurd "Offshore" (f/ Young Thug) Swaecation Though I'm still processing the Mississippi superstars' excellent, new 27-song project, the free-flowing "Offshore" feels like an instant classic. Producer Mike Will is a genius at negotiating sonic space, and his gooey, descending synth chords leave plenty of room for Thug to play in. And Read more

Hot Jams of the Day (08.22.12): Frank Ocean Remix Trifecta

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Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” remains one of my favorite albums of 2012, and to celebrate it, I rounded up a few of the best FO remixes for your listening pleasure. 

Frank Ocean: “Pyramids” (Kastle Remix)

The San Francisco-based producer’s expansive, just-a-little-bit-screwed remix of the best song of the year is about to join his Infinite City EP on heavy rotation in Thunder Penguin’s Bionic Igloo (read: my bedroom). He absolutely nails the emotive feel of the song, while giving it a little added edge. The 8-bit synth in the bridge is worth the price of admission by itself. Crazy.

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Frank Ocean: “Thinking About You” (Ryan Hemsworth Edit)

Our next remix comes from the blogosphere’s producer du jour, the talented Ryan Hemsworth. The Canadian obviously has a serious background in hip-hop, and he takes the original out of your bedroom and into your ride…even though it still works great in your bedroom.

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Frank Ocean: “Thinking About You” (Nite Jewel+Nicholas Krgovich ReWork)

Last up, we’ve got a pensive take from Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez and Canadian, velvet-voiced troubadour Nicholas Krgovich. I haven’t heard every remix from Channel Orange, but I’ll happily wager that this is the only one that prominently features a flute. Would have loved to hear Gonzalez really open it up here, but it’s still a nice, breezy version of it.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.21.12): King Krule, “Rock Bottom”

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King Krule
“Rock Bottom”
Rock Bottom 7″ (Rinse, out 08/25) 

King Krule’s music is the audio equivalent of Greg Oden. I’m not talking about the bad knees, awful beard, or gigantic peni… er, hands. Oden is still in his mid-twenties, but he’s looked like he’s about 41 since he was in high school. The artist formally known as Zoo Kid (né Archy Marshall) is still a couple of years away from his 20th birthday, but he sounds and writes like a 60-some-odd year-old Mississippi Delta blues man. For the better part of three years, he’s been crafting affecting, musically progressive gutter soul, and he just continues to get better.

Coming off the back of his excellent self-titled 2011 EP (and its a-fucking-mazing lead single “The Noose of Jah City”), “Rock Bottom” has all the hallmarks of a Marshall classic: razor-sharp guitar stabs, reflective lyrics, and his dropdead vocals, which lie somewhere between Joe Strummer after ten packs of Marlboro reds and a feral coyote. To top it off, he throws in a nod to a key song on one of my favorite albums of all time. Imagine how good he’ll get when he can legally drink!

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And just because it’s still that fucking brilliant, check out “The Noose of Jah City,” my third favorite track of 2011.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.20.12): Gang Colours, “Fill Me In”

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Gang Colours
“Fill Me In”
Digital Single

Great covers come in many forms. That said, they generally are at their best and most enduring when an artist so stamps their authority and style on the original that it almost comes off as an entirely new track. Such is British down-tempo producer Gang Colours’ take on Craig David’s seminal middle-school slow jam. Over a moody keyboard line, drippy percussion, and ambient filigree, the Southampton native (né Will Ozanne) retells David’s classic story of hooking up with the girl next door in his delicate, alluring tenor. It’s so good that even if you hated the original, you still might like this. However, if you are like me and already love the original, you’ll dig this and end up falling back in love with Craig’s version: the ultimate sign of a great cover.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.18.12): Brother Ali, “Mourning In America”

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Brother Ali
“Mourning in America”
Mourning in America, and Dreaming in Color (Rhymesayers, out 09/18) 

For many years, I considered Minneapolis-MC not only one of my favorite rappers on the planet, but also one of my favorite overall musicians. While I still hold his trifecta — 2003’s Shadows on the Sun, 2004’s Champion EP, and 2007’s The Undisputed Truth — in ridiculously high esteem, nothing he’s released since has hit me that hard. At his best, Ali (né Jason Newman) is an incisive writer, blessed with incredible insight and a razor-sharp sense of humor. He can write about brutal, honest truths without having it feel like a history lesson, an ability lost on most of his backpack-toting brethren. That grace was conspicuously absent on 2009’s preachy, politically-obsessed Us, which ended up feeling like a hard slog. This — the leadoff single of his ominously titled fifth LP — finds Ali still in “fight the power”-mode. While I appreciate the importance of politically conscious music (especially in an election year), I hope it won’t be the only topic Ali touches on. He’s way too interesting to pigeonhole himself.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.17.12): Husky, “Did You Forget”

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“Did You Forget?”
Transition One EP (Zip Sound Recordings, out now)

Every once in a while, I’ll come across something I love that I know nothing about. Usually a few Google searches or a press release will answer my questions, but I couldn’t find any info on this rising producer. Basically, I know he’s American, signed to an Atlanta-based label called Zip Sound Recordings, shares my love of Pretty Ricky, and made one of my favorite EPs of the summer. On Transition One, Husky serves up a tasty amalgam of neo-dubstep, R&B, and hip-hop, very much in the vein of TP-favorites like Disclosure and Kastle. Though I was immediately sucked in by its opening track — a fire remix of Pretty Ricky’s unfuckwitable “Grind on Me” — I quickly fell for the rest of album’s three tracks, particularly the moody, evocative “Did You Forget.” The soulful vocal sample combines with the jazzy, airy back track to form a devastating cut that begs repeat listens. I have no idea who this dude is, but I predict big things.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.16.12): How to Dress Well, “Again”

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How to Dress Well
Ocean Floor for Everything 7″

We’ve heard How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell kill covers before — his stunning version of R. Kelly’s seminal “I Wish” and his re-imagination of Ready for the World’s “Love You Down” spring to mind. His sparse, lo-fi version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 smash-hit, “Again,” is similarly potent. Though it is stripped of the original’s lush string arraignment, Krell stays mostly true to the original in his trademark, heart-on-his-sleeve style. When it comes to his music, “irony” is simply not in the Chicago-based vocalist’s vocabulary, and Krell’s passionate falsetto is stirring and affecting. His sophomore LP drops in a little less than a month (9/21), and it looks set to live up to its incredible successor, which I rated as the best album of 2010. Can’t wait.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.13.12): Jessie Ware, “Sweet Talk”

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Jessie Ware
“Sweet Talk”
Devotion (PMR, out 8/21)

One more week. That’s all that’s left until we finally get to hear the debut album from London-based siren, Jessie Ware. I’ve spent so much of this year writing about her that I’m running out of superlatives, so let’s keep this one short. “Sweet Talk” is the fourth single from Devotion, and it sees the sultry, versatile vocalist slide into some seriously Sade-esque territory. Earlier this year, she stated that she was interested in making music that worked at home or on a night out, a la Chaka Khan and the aforementioned Ms. Adu. It’s safe to say she’s achieved that and a hell of a lot more. The best new artist of 2012 by a country mile.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.12.12): Jens Lekman, “I Know What Love Isn’t”

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Jens Lekman
“I Know What Love Isn’t”
I Know What Love Isn’t (out 9/4) 

I’m going to make declaration here, and it might be hyperbolic, short-sided, or downright insane, but I’m going to make it anyway. Jens Lekman is the best pure singer/songwriter of his generation. Armed with an irresistible wit, advanced melodic/compositional chops, an impossibly easy tenor, and the ability to write frankly and emotively about life, the 31 year-old Swede brings so, so much to the table. That said, it could be argued (though not particularly convincingly) that he is yet to write a true masterpiece (2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala qualifies for me and many others).

But even that flimsy argument is set to be put to bed by the impending I Know What Love Isn’t. Penned in the wake of a dissolved relationship (a citizenship-based marriage), Lekman’s third proper LP is an arresting, breathtaking exploration of love, loss, and moving on. The disc’s title track highlights his rare ability to simultaneously write about the minutiae of everyday life (first verse) and the most important moments (second verse) with the same understated grace and in a way that is totally relatable to the listener. It’s one of the main things that sets him apart from other songwriters; he knows that the devil is in the details, and oftentimes the most trivial aspects of our lives say as much as our biggest. Should be one of the albums of the year, if not the album.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.11.12): Teengirl Fantasy, “EFX” (f/ Kelela)

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Teengirl Fantasy
“EFX” (f/ Kelela)
Tracer (True Panther, out 8/21)

Upon first listen, this track didn’t knock me out. But after listening to the Brooklyn-based duo’s second LP, Tracer, I looked at it totally differently. Their debut, 7AM, featured a few of the best songs of 2010 (the inexorable “Cheaters” and the sultry “Dancing in Slow Motion) but was uneven and a little incoherent. The duo — Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss — have never been short on ideas, and Tracer is the sound of their best ideas coming to fruition. While none of the songs stood out quite like their aforementioned hits, it works incredibly well as an album and seems to hint at could hopefully be the future of dance music. Really one of the discs to look out for in the coming weeks.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.08.12): Wild Nothing, “Paradise”

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Wild Nothing
Nocturne (Captured Tracks, out 8/28) 

After listening to “Paradise” for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how much Blacksburg, VA-native Jack Tatum has grown as a songwriter since his impressive debut Gemini dropped two years ago. I remember playing Gemini for my ex, and her response was “if I wanted to listen to the Cure, I’ll just go listen to the Cure.” While I disagreed, she certainly wasn’t wrong. We got a taste of his progression on 2010’s lovely Golden Haze EP — the one that really made me fall in love — but nothing on that feels as fully realized what we’ve heard so far from Nocturne.

Tatum’s voice is still as Breakfast Club-y as ever, and the Cure/Smiths references are still very much intact, but this is no hollow pastiche. At some point, people got over the fact that m83’s Anthony Gonzalez loved John Hughes movies, and just started appreciating his starry-eyed, earnest celebration of that moment for what it was: fucking brilliant. And I feel like people should/are going to start doing the same for Wild Nothing. We may have heard this sound before, but we’ve never heard this voice before. Now that Tatum seems to have truly found his, it’s up to all of us to sit up and pay attention.

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Check out Nocturne‘s first single, “Shadow.”

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