Best of '17: The Best Songs of 2017


So that's it. 6 years of ThunderPenguin are in the books. As always, here's a round-up of my favorite songs of the year. This was one of the toughest lists I've ever made, and I hope something on this list brings you the light it brought me. Thanks so Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, "Textin' My Ex" (f/ Tiffany Evans)


T-Pain “Textin’ My Ex” (f/ Tiffany Evans) Oblivion Tomorrow, T-Pain drops his long-awaited fifth LP, the culmination of the most trying era of the R&B innovator’s career. Through no real fault of his own, Pain (né Faheem Najm) went from the jolly ringmaster of a multi-million dollar radio empire to a Read more

Images & Words: SOPHIE, "It's Okay To Cry"


SOPHIE "It's Okay to Cry" Digital Single Every once in a while, somebody puts out something that takes your breath away. "It's Okay to Cry" is absolutely one of those moments. After spending her early career lurking behind faceless, chaotic, schizophrenic experimental dance music, the 32 year-old has stepped into the light and up to the microphone. The result is Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: King Krule, "Logos"


King Krule "Logos" The OOZ (out now on XL) Archy Marshall's excellent new album feels like a collection of those wonky dream states that exist somewhere in that nether region between being wake and sleep. Though I'm still digesting all 19 of its songs, the hypnotic, jazzy "Logos" immediately stuck out. Over languid jazz chords Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, "For Robin"


The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die "For Robin" Always Foreign (Epitaph) There are many, many awful things about addiction, but little is as insidious as the way it pushes its victims away from loved ones from their previous life and deeper into their illness. Anybody who has lost someone to Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (05.25.12): How To Dress Well, “Ocean Floor For Everything”

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How To Dress Well
“Ocean Floor For Everything”
Total Loss (Acephale)

How to Dress Well — the alter ego of Chicago-based philosophy professor Tom Krell — was responsible for my favorite album of 2010: the ghostly, celestial Love Remains. Krell has one of most distinctive voices (literally and figuratively) in all of popular music, and his bizarre, singular take on R&B is equal parts hopeful and melancholic. This, the first single of his follow-up Total Loss, feels a little bit more like an idea than a whole thought, which isn’t surprising. Love Remains is one of the rare albums meant to be digested as a whole, and I can’t imagine this next one being any different. Either way, it’s a nice way for folks who haven’t heard him to get a taste of what he does.

How To Dress Well – “Ocean Floor For Everything”

And just cuz, here’s the video from Love Remains cut “Lover’s Start”….my 7th favorite song of 2010.

Hot Jam(s) of the Day (05.24.12): Ab-Soul, “ILLuminate” (f/ Kendrick Lamar) & “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown & Jhene Aiko)

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Ab-Soul
“ILLuminate” (f/ Kendrick Lamar) & “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown, Jhene Aiko)
Control System

Though he may be the only member of Kendrick Lamar’s hyper-buzzy Black Hippy crew without a WikiPedia page, South Central MC Ab-Soul’s druggy, claustrophobic new LP Control System should land him a page on the Free Encyclopedia pretty soon. As an MC, Soul seamlessly weaves wild conspiracy theories (the Illuminati references are rampant) with audacious boasts and reflective insights, often all in the same verse. Like the rest of the Black Hippies — Schoolboy Q & Jay Rock round out the group — he also has an impeccable ear for an emotive, atmospheric beat, which are evidenced by both of these tracks. The former pairs spacious, elegiac synths with an acoustic-sounding drum line, while the former sounds like it could be on the new SALEM album. In a genre that is occasionally short on cutting-edge new ideas, the Black Hippy crew is a huge breath of fresh air.

“ILLuminate”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45727419″ iframe=”true” /]

“Terrorist Threats”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.23.12): SoKo, “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow” (Video NSFW)

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SoKo
“We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”
I Thought I Was An Alien (Babycat)

If there’s one thing French singer-songwriter/actress Stéphanie “SoKo” Sokolinski understands, it’s how to find the beauty in the small things in life. Her recent single, the best track from her divisive debut I Thought I Was An Alien, is definitive proof of that. Over a spare arraignment with an impossibly delicate melody, Sokolinski delivers a spellbinding vocal performance. Don’t mistake her quiet voice for meekness. It’s quite the opposite. Over the song’s brief 155-second lifespan, she drops some incredibly fucking honest, arrow-through-the-heart sentiments about trying to enjoy your life and to love freely while we are still around. Some will write this off as twee, ultra-precious emotional pandering, but those people will be wrong. This is really, really great.

Video is NSFW.

Hot Jam of the Day (05.21.12): Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (Just Friends): “Avalanche”

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Nico Jaar+Sasha Spielberg (aka Just Friends)
“Avalanche”
The 
Prism

I probably should kind of hate Nico Jaar. I’ve never met the man, but from the outside looking in, it seems like when he’s not DJing ultra-exclusive NYC club nights, playing sold-out shows, and being 194% more handsome than me, he’s making impossibly sexy jams with young Hollywood royalty. Coming off the back of his stunning collaboration with Scout LaRue Willis (Bruce and Demi’s daughter) “With Just One Glance,” he returns with a typically airy boner jam that features the breathy, alluring vocals of Sasha Spielberg (daughter of Steven and Kate Capshaw). While the studio version is only available on the pretty-damn-awesome Prism, this radio rip is indicative of why Jaar has amassed such an impressive library of work in such a short time. He has an incredible understanding of sonic space and can tactfully frame a vocal track with the touch and maturity of a seasoned producer. Did I mention that he’s still only 22? Ok, I think I hate him again….

NicoJaar+SashaSpielberg: “Avalanche”

Just in case you missed it, here’s “Just One Glance.”

Jaar+Willis: “With Just One Glance”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.18.12): Lemonade, “Softkiss”

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Lemonade
“Softkiss”
Diver (True Panther)

The same week we got a tasty video for the BK-via-SF 80’s-obsessed trio’s spellbinding slow jam, “Neptune,” they grace us with another slice of synth-slathered gold.  Though it’s a much more upbeat affair, it is cut from the same cloth as “Neptune” (one of the best ten songs of 2012 so far). Moody, expressive, and dripping with nostalgia, “Softkiss” again sees vocalist Callan Clendenin pinning over a lost lover. In the wrong hands, a refrain like “do you still wear my coat when you get cold?” would come off incredibly trite and callow, but Clendenin’s earnest croon turns it into an affecting rhetorical question that hits close to home. I thought their self-titled debut LP was forgettable, and their follow up EP, Pure Moods, was solid but unspectacular, but based off the two tracks I’ve heard, I think Diver might turn out to be an absolute gem. Watch this space.

Lemonade: “Softkiss”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.17.12): Lil’ B, “3 Stacks”

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Lil’ B
“3 Stacks”
Unreleased 

I’LL NEVER LET GO BASED GOD! #TYBG

Hot Jam of the Day (05.16.12): Yeasayer, “Henrietta”

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Yeasayer
“Henrietta”
Unnamed Upcoming LP (Secretly Canadian) 

Oh Sayers of Yea, it’s so nice to have you back. Your bizzaro, vaguely-ethnic pop feels like an old sweater on our creaking bones, and it feels so long since you sprinkled your Odd Blood upon us and bludgeoned us into submission with All Hour Cymbals. Oh you benevolent Brooklynites, enchant us again with your delectable vocal harmonies and sonorous shapeshifting. My fair mates and I have spent countless hours lost in your majestic meadow of musical madness and look forward to many more moons of malarky.

Translation: I love Yeasayer. I listened the absolute shit out of their last two albums, and I am unbelievably stoked to have them back. I can’t wait for their new album. It’s late, and I need to go to bed. I’ve never read Shakespeare (in case you hadn’t noticed).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/46512446″ iframe=”true” /]

Terius Tuesday: “Fancy”

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A lot of people ask me why I love The-Dream so much. The answer is simple; Terius “The-Dream” Nash is a pop music Jedi, and I fuckin’ love pop music. Every Tuesday, Thunder Penguin will celebrate and examine one of his best songs, for no other reason than to get a little more Terius in our lives.

The-Dream
“Fancy”
Love vs Money (Radio Killa, 2009)

We begin our journey through Terius Town with his finest work: the swirling, expansive centerpiece of his near-perfect sophomore LP, Love vs Money.  Though its contemplative spine makes it sonically atypical of Nash’s work, “Fancy” is the perfect introduction to Nash’s world (“trips to Monaco/designer nails from head to toe”). Beginning with a ruminative piano melody, it unfolds into a sprawling devotional to the one woman that not even Nash — the colossal cassanova — can resist, the “dream of a billion men.” In a genre known for the objectification of women, Nash prefers to deify them, a predilection nevermore apparent than on this track.

Over the next six and a half minutes, Nash’s vocals glide effortlessly over an undulating, lush arraignment that builds to an absolutely devastating climax. He’s always had a knack for a grand, unexpected finale (see: “Yamaha,” “Fuck My Brains Out”), and when he adds that pounding kickdrum, it makes for his grandest of all. Simply put, “Fancy” is a stellar introduction to Nash’s unbelievable ability as a songwriter. Easily one of the best ten songs of the decade.

The-Dream: Fancy

Hot Jam of the Day (05.15.12): The Tallest Man on Earth, “1904”

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The Tallest Man on Earth
“1904”
There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)

Ok, people. It’s officially time to start taking Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson seriously. The whole Dylan rip-off criticism needs to be put to bed. In a relatively short five years, he has cultivated an army of excellent folk songs and has crafted his own signature sound. On this, the first single from his upcoming third album There’s No Leaving Now (due out June 11), the diminutive Swede flexes his songwriting muscle, matching a light, meandering guitar line with his earnest, full-throated vocals. Like all the best folk artists, Matsson’s music has a knack for cultivating rich, transportive canvases that swallow up the listener and bring them into his reality, and “1904” is no different. One of the most distinctive and important voices in the genre today.

The Tallest Man on Earth: “1904”

Hot Jam of the Day (05.14.12): Twin Shadow, “Five Seconds”

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Twin Shadow
“Five Seconds”
Confess (4AD)

I must confess (yuk yuk yuk) that I’ve been a little slow posting this because I simply can’t quite tell whether I like it or not. Like so many others, I absolutely fell in love with artist officially known as George Lewis Jr’s hyper-slick 2010 debut, Forget, and while this undoubtedly still sounds like Twin Shadow, it still feels different to me. There are a ton of ideas living in this track, which feels like it weighs it down just a bit. That said, I love its driving backbeat, punchy 80’s guitars, and Lewis’ trademark powerful delivery. It sounds like something that could have been on the Dazed & Confused soundtrack, and frankly, I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not. Hopefully, once I hear it in the context of the album, I’ll be a little bit more sure. I’m a little worried, but still confident that I’ll love it.

Twin Shadow: “Five-Seconds”

And just because it’s awesome, here’s the hilarious video for Forget’s “Slow.”