Wet, "There's A Reason"

Wet “There’s a Reason” Digital Single I’ve gone back and forth about the subtle stylistic shift that the Brooklyn group has made on their first single as a duo. After enjoying widespread acclaim early in their career, their debut LP was met with tepid reviews, which mostly complained about their dogged commitment Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Tracks of January and February

I've been a little slow to get cranked back up in 2018, but I quickly realized that a shitload of great music has dropped in January and February. Here's a quick wrap-up of a few of my favorites. Bad Gyal “Internationally” Worldwide Angel (out now on Puro) It sounds hyperbolic, but Read more

Grouper, "Parking Lot"

Grouper "Parking Lot" Grid of Points (out 04.27 on Kranky) Every time Liz Harris drops a new track, it's up to us to savor it and appreciate it for the little miracle that it is. It may sound like hyperbole, but everything she's put our since her wonderfully shut-in 2007 LP Cover the Read more

Swae Lee, "Hurt To Look" (f/ Rae Sremmurd)

Swae Lee "Hurt To Look" Swaecation (out soon on Ear Drummers) Sremm Season is rapidly approaching, and on Wednesday, the venerable Mississippi brothers treated us to the first three tasters from their upcoming triple disc. Each of the three deserve some shine. "Powerglide" is the kind of airy, hyperactive banger that they Read more

Kacey Musgraves, "Space Cowboy"

Kacey Musgraves “Space Cowboy” Golden Hour (out 03.30 on UMG) Very few country artists can crush my heart like the 29 year-old Texan. Whether it’s the swooning, wedding-worthy, “Late To The Party” (one of my Top 5 Songs of 2015) or the heartfelt, sad-sack tale about small-town life “Merry Go ‘Round,” Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (07.07.12): Frank Ocean, “Sweet Life”

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Frank Ocean
“Sweet Life”
Channel Orange (Def Jam)

It may have been one of the best albums of 2011, but Frank Ocean’s nostalgia, ultra was also just a mixtape. It’s easy to forget that while you are listening to it, but after listening to his recently-released stuff, it dawned on me how far he’s come in the last year or so and how truly terrifying that must be for other R&B singers. If a Frank Ocean mixtape is that good, how good can a proper Frank Ocean LP be? Early returns say it’s probably gonna be pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty fucking amazing. So far, we’ve heard three songs off Channel Orange: the simultaneously heartbroken and seductive “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You,” the all sorts of Stevie Wonder “White,” and the audacious, 10-minute epic “Pyramids.” The first is a testament to his hit-making ability and penchant for articulate, emotive lyrics. The second is a celebration of his dulcet, resonant tenor. The third is a demonstration of the true scope of his vision, evidence of his fiercely independent spirit, and probably the best song released this year by anybody.

Now we get to meet “Sweet Life.” An adopted Angelino by way of New Orleans, Ocean has never shied away from writing about his adopted hometown. Buoyed by a jazzy, soulful arraignment, Ocean lets his hair down and cruises effortlessly through his lightest, most playful song yet. A sort of half condemnation/half celebration of Tinseltown excess, Ocean tells us the story of a pampered socialite who is consumed by the pills, pools, and palm trees of Ladera Heights (aka the Black Beverly Hills). Honestly, this track feels so good that when Ocean croons “so why see the world, when you got the beach,” I can’t help picturing myself sinking into one of those floaty rafts with a Pacifico and begin asking myself if I should give up the grey San Francisco summer and move back to LA, though I know it’s meant to be a critique.

That feeling is indicative of Ocean’s ability to transport the listener into the story he is telling, and I think it’s the main reason he writes such powerful love songs. And it’s one of the reasons why I would wager that Channel Orange is going to end up being the best album of the year. Obviously, there’s still a hell of a long way to go, but it’s the current leader in the clubhouse.

Frank Ocean: “Sweet Life”


Hot Jam of the Day (07.06.12): Scuola Furano, “Danceteria” (f/ Fiorious)

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Scuola Furano
“Danceteria” (f/ Fiorious)
108 (Nano Rec)

Scuola Furano is the alter ego of producer Borut Viola, a native of Gorizia, a small town in Northeastern Italy. After a string of scintillating singles, remixes, and edits (and a debut album that I frankly haven’t heard), we finally get a full entrée in the form of his exquisite sophomore LP, 108. Easily one of the top dance records of the year, Viola’s music lives somewhere in between disco, house, techno, and pop, and it’s kinda like a musical version of that friend who is constantly pulling your arm, trying to drag you to the dancefloor. And when this is on the stereo, the dancefloor is really the only place to be.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/48920569″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.05.12): Citizen, You Give Me That Something (f/ Sean Alto)

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“You Give Me That Something” (f/ Sean Alto)
Room Service (Love Fever)

This is the kind of track that the term “hot jam” is made for. Oh my god. This, the final track on London producer Laurence “Citizen” Blake’s upcoming EP, is the kind of cut built for a summer night in some dilapidated basement filled with twice as many people as it can hold. You know, one of the best nights of your life. Deep, sexy, energetic, and virile as all hell, “You Give Me That Something” is another win for the Love Fever crew, and something tells me it won’t be the last. Extra points for the velvet vocals of Sean Alto.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51066613″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.03.12): Jessie Ware, “Wildest Moments” (Star Slinger Remix)

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Jessie Ware
“Wildest Moments” (Star Slinger Remix)
Devotion (PMR)

I’ve spent much of 2012 singing this silky London vocalist’s praises, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s still batting 1.000 for the year. One of the many things I love about Jessie Ware is her incredible versatility. In her short career, we’ve heard her slinky and understated (“Running”); bouncy and twee (“Valentine”); and most recently, we heard her get her full-throated queen diva on via her debut album’s third single, the dramatic power ballad “Wildest Moments.” And on its remix, we get to hear yet another side of Ms. Ware, thanks to a bubbling, down-tempo remix from remixer extraordinaire, Star Slinger. Reminiscent of fellow TP-favorite Disclosure’s remix of “Running,” the remix highlights Ware’s powerful, Sade-ish voice while adding an entirely new feel to the song. Now we’ll have to sit tight and wait till Devotion drops on August 20. Should be special.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51808992″ iframe=”true” /]

Check out the video for “Wildest Moments”

Hot Jams of the Day (07.01.12): Sean Blackthorn, Bedtime​|​Sleepless EP

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Sean Blackthorn
Bedtime​|​Sleepless EP

The second half of 2012 got off to a gorgeous start, thanks to a new EP from TP-favorite and Toronto-native Sean Blackthorn. Oft-compared with the new breed of indie R&B (hate that term), the talented troubadour’s newest work feels alive in a way that very few tracks do nowadays. He’s always favored stark, piano-driven arraignments, and Bedtime​|​Sleepless isn’t any different, highlighting the raw power of Blackthorn’s falsetto. In a genre that tends to favor inch-perfect auto-tune and flawless production, Blackthorn’s naked, stark music feels incredibly human and perfectly imperfect (shout out to Cee-Lo). His arraignments leave no place to hide, and listening to Blackthorn crack, strain, and stretch his emotive voice to the limit is truly a thing of beauty. Wow.

The Hottest Jams of the Year So Far… (In 140 characters or less)

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To save myself from TLDR, I decided to keep all my ramblings under 140 characters. Instead of trying to choose my absolute favorite songs, I stuck to only songs that were released as singles, just for my own sanity. Also, the list is in alphabetical order — no rankings. I also limited to one track per artist. If you hate Twitter-speak, fragments, and hashtags, soz. LOL im nt soz.

Though Spotify is missing a lot of stuff, here’s a link to a playlist with a bunch of the tracks on this list. LINK.

Ab-Soul: “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown, Jhené Aiko)
Paranoia that the Geto Boys could be proud of. The only Black Hippy w/o a WikiPedia page breaks out. Danny with another genius verse.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/42243084″ iframe=”true” /]

Animal Collective: “Honeycomb”
Can you think of any other band that always sounds so new yet so familiar? Can’t wait for Centipede Hz

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45162527″ iframe=”true” /]

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Thunder Penguin’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2012

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1. The-XX: Coexist
September 11th, XL

I’m not quite sure why, but the XX’s fragile, incredibly beautiful self-titled debut always felt like a one-off to me. I’m not sure whether it was their seemingly reclusive personalities, vocalist Romy Madley Croft threats of never making another record, producer Jamie XX’s bubbling solo career, or the true distinctiveness of the album, but I always kinda assumed that it would the only real statement we’d get from the shadowy London trio. Earlier this year, we started to hear rumblings about a new album, and those rumors were actualized by their performance at this year’s Primavera. Though I tried to avoid it, it would have taken Hannibal Lecter-style restraints to keep me from pouring over the low-quality crowd footage that popped up on YouTube. Unless the songs sound way better on someone’s iPhone than they do in the studio, that second statement is gonna be one to remember.

Check out its lead single, “Angels.”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53400606″ iframe=”true” /]

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The Best Albums of 2012 (So Far)

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It’s been a solid, if unspectacular start first half of the year, and before we get into what should be a special, special second half of 2012, I wanted to look back at some of the albums that have stood out from the rest. All of these are available to stream from Spotify, except the Evian Christ and Joey Bada$$ mixtapes, which are available to download for free. Just check the link. I had to kill comments after getting heavily trolled by Ukrainian SpamBots, but if you think there’s something on here that I missed, feel free to shoot me an email. Hope you’ve had a beautiful 2012 so far!

1. Chromatics
Kill For Love
Italians Do It Better

Simply put, Chromatics’ expansive, audacious Kill For Love is an album, not a collection of songs. While that may seem trivial, it is absolutely the one underlying trait that separates it from most of the records released this year. Bands have written better songs, but nobody has delivered a collection of songs this cohesive, this engaging, this consistently brilliant in 2012. The 16 tracks that make up Kill For Love are all connected symbiotically and are essential to the statement Johnny Jewel and co. were trying to make. That’s not to say that there aren’t some killer singles on here. By my count, it has six songs that could absolutely hold their own as A-sides (“Kill For Love,” “Candy,” “These Streets Will Never Look The Same” (my personal favorite), “The Page,” “Back From the Grave,” and “Birds of Paradise”) and plenty of others that could stand on their own. Kill For Love is a throwback — an album that is perfectly balanced and demands to be listened to in one setting — of immense magnitude and vision. Just about perfect.

Hottest Jams: “Kill For Love” / “These Streets Will Never Look The Same”

“These Streets Will Never Look The Same”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45373870″ iframe=”true” /]

“Kill For Love”

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Thunder Tape: Everyday Is Like Sade (June 2012)

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Just in time for summer, it’s my pleasure to share another mixtape with you guys.

May you spend the summer with the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair.

Everyday is Like Sade (Side A)

Everyday Is Like Sade (Side B)

side a:
cassie:king of hearts(richard x rmx)
mario:let me love you(lapalux rmx)
jessie ware:running(disclosure rmx)
purity ring:obedear
gang colours:fancy restaurant
giselle:silk(cosmic kids rmx)

side b:
jyrome good:where i left off
shlohmo/r. kelly/ nico jaar:rained the whole time (hemsworth blend)
javeon mccarthy:precious
bondax:only you know
ciara:ride (masterpiece rmx)
just friends (jaar+spielberg):avalanche

You can also download it all as one file here.

Hot Jam of the Day (06.18.12): Joey Badass, “Waves”

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Joey Bada$$
1999 (Self-Released)

While it’s easy to roll your eyes at his gauche moniker, one spin of the 17 year-old Flatbush-MC’s stunning debut mixtape will make even the biggest skeptic a believer. He may be young, but Bada$$’ music is rooted in Brooklyn’s rich hip-hop history. Rhyming mostly over jazzy breaks, boom-bap backbeats, and soulful melodies, the loquacious youngster flows with incredible grace and effortlessness. While it’s tough to pick a favorite from the consistently excellent LP, “Waves” highlights his first-class wordplay, hopeful exuberance, and exquisite storytelling. Simultaneously relentless and breezy, it’s impossible to listen to 1999 without thinking of another prodigiously talented 17-year old — Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt — and while the LA-native might edge Bada$$ on pure flow, Sweatshirt can’t touch the Brooklynite’s original, fascinating perspective and lyrical content. I would say the kid’s gonna be special, but he already is. Remember the name.

Joey Bada$$: “Waves”