Sade, "The Big Unknown"


Sade "The Big Unknown" Windows Soundtrack (out now on Sony) Though she's only a few months shy of her 60th birthday, Helen Folasade Adu remains a force like nobody else. On the stunning "The Big Unknown," Sade proves that her quiet storm is still a Category 5, as she glides effortlessly over oceanic, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


Miya Folick "Thingamajig" Premonitions (out 10.26 on Terrible) With each new single, the talented LA vocalist is strengthening the case that her forthcoming LP could be one of the best debuts of the year. Her flexible vocals always stretch further than you expect, and she uses her seemingly unlimited range to exact maximum Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


Welp, this is embarrassing. The week I roll out a new round-up column, I respond by posting exactly zero times. My editorial staff (of one) was pretty slammed this week, but that's no excuse. Hopefully this piece can make up for it, dear readers. I'll do better this week, because, Read more

Since U Been Gone: The Best Of What I Missed Last Week


I was on vacay in England last week, and as I sat back down at my desk this morning, I realized that a massive amount of new music came out while I was gone. I'm going to try something new with quick one to two sentence recaps of some Read more

Lil Uzi Vert, "New Patek"


Lil Uzi Vert "New Patek" Digital Single Easily one of most joyful songs of the year, the hyperactive, hypertalented Philadelphian returns with six (6!) electric minutes of swirling, tuneful hip-hop. Over Dolan Beats' glorious crystallized piano keys and tiptoeing hi-hats, Uzi goes the fuck in as only he can, slaloming through the beat Read more

Images & Words: Drake, “Nice For What”

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Drake
“Nice For What”
Digital Single
At his heart, Drake is an actor. In recent years, he’s played convincing roles as artists from London, Kingston, The Bay, Santo Domingo, and of course, Houstalantavegas. For his next gig, Drizzy returns to the Big Easy to soak up the New Orleans sound we already know he loves. Just like many of his past blockbusters, the performance is electric, and he sounds incredibly comfortable over a bounce beat that is actually pretty faithful to the regional sound. Though being an “actor” used to be a dirty word in hip-hop (ask Jay-Z), Drake has turned his rare skill into a weapon and used it to build a body of work that is versatile and full of surprises.

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of The First Quarter

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To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s been a vintage first quarter for music, as I had fewer albums that I wanted to write about than usual. That said, there are some truly excellent albums on this list, and there’s a lot to look forward coming up soon.

Kacey Musgraves
“Golden Hour”
UMG Recordings
What: The country rising star’s transcendent, all-conquering third studio album
Where: Nashville, TN via Golden, TX
In a Tweet: A balanced, stunning collection of well-sung, beautifully written modern country. Simultaneously extremely consistent and full of highlights. An album to fall in love to, break up to, then get back together to. Kacey is a fucking star.
Start Here: “Space Cowboy” “Golden Hour”

O3 Greedo
“The Wolf of Grape Street”
Alamo
What: The uncompromising, exhilarating breakthrough project from the hyper-prolific MC
Where: Watts, CA
In a Tweet: Possibly the most exciting, unique talent since Young Thug. The 30 year-old is a true iconoclast, crafting emotional, unpredictable modern rap that twists and turns without warning. “Grape Street” is too long, but smart listeners will find absolute gold on this record.
Start Here: “Never Bend” “Zoning”

Bad Gyal
“Worldwide Angel”
Puro
What:
The new mixtape from the rising Spanish reggaeton innovator Alba Farelo
Where: Barcelona, Spain
In A Tweet: Over an electric array of modern, genre-fluid beats, Farelo ratchets up the heat with a sweltering new collection that further cements her unique sound and vital voice. Though it’s true to the sound of her excellent “Slow Wine” tape, it makes subtle upgrades and shows exciting growth.

Negative Gemini
“Bad Baby”
100% Electronica

What: An emotional 6-song EP from the experimental producer, Lindsay French
Where: Brooklyn, NY
In a Tweet: Good luck tagging a genre on this project. Whether its the breathy, deep synth-pop of the title track or the underwater power ballad, “My Innocence,” French is forever confounding but nails everything she does with aplomb. A true original who deserves a lot more shine than she gets.
Start Here: “Bad Baby” “You Weren’t There Anymore”

Tatsuya Shimazaki
“in my”
Self-Released
What:
A breathtaking ambient release from the Japanese composer
Where: Tokyo, Japan
In A Tweet: Though there isn’t much information about Shimazaki around, he’s got an extensive, excellent array of carefully crafted, therapeutic mood music to explore. His work combines delicate pianos, plucked ukulele, resonant synths, and little pangs of percussion — all used judiciously and subtly to extract maximum emotion.
Start Here: “remnent” “disposition

Haley Heynderickx
“I Need To Start a Garden”
Mama Bird
What:
The gentle, woodsy debut from the graceful-voiced singer-songwriter
Where: Portland, OR
In a Tweet: Though you’d probably file it under “folk,” Heynderickx’s excellent LP is delightfully difficult to categorize. She mixes bits of garage rock, indie, and Americana in here — all deftly held together by her elastic voice and nimble guitarwork.
Start Here: “The Bug Collector” “Show You A Body”

Camp Cope
“How To Socialise & Make Friends”
Run For Cover

What: The Sophomore LP from the young sometimes noisy / sometimes quiet Aussie trio
Where: Melbourne, Australia
In a Tweet: A worthy successor to their crushing, beautiful self-titled debut. Vocalist Georgia Maq is one of the bravest, most insightful artists around, and she tackles topics like death, sexual abuse, and loneliness with a directness that will strike you in the head and the heart.
Start Here: “The Face Of God” “I’ve Got You”

Lil Durk
“Just Cause Y’all Waited”
Only The Family Entertainment
What:
The 25 year-old’s first post-Def Jam release
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Now that he’s free from a major label deal that never really made sense for him, Durk sounds rejuvenated here. Though there are better rappers and crooners out there, not many do both as well as Durk, and he strikes a potent balance between them on this consistent, heartfelt project.
Start Here: “How I Know” (f/ Lil Baby) “Instigator”

DJ Taye
“Still Trippin’”
Hyperdub
What:
The long-awaited Hyperdub debut LP from the legendary Teklife crew’s biggest young talent
Where: Chicago, IL
In A Tweet: Released a month short of the 4-year anniversary of his mentor DJ Rashad’s death, “Still Trippin’” is the kind of frenetic, exhilarating project that would have made Rashad smile. Though deeply rooted in footwork, Taye beautifully stretches the boundaries of the sound in fresh ways.
Start Here: “I Don’t Know” (f/ Fabi Reyna) “2094”

Soccer Mommy
“Clean”
Fat Possum
What:
The breakthrough project from 20 year-old prolific bedroom singer-songwriter Sophie Allison
Where: Nashville, TN
In a Tweet: “chill but kinda sad” goes Allison’s self-deprecating bio, and it’s actually a pretty apt (if understated) synopsis of this record. “Clean” is full of the kind of broken-winged, yet open-hearted feelings (#feels) that color your early 20s… and, for some of us, early 30s too. 😄
Start Here: “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)” “Scorpio Rising”

awakebutstillinbed
“what people call low self​-​esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you”
Tiny Engines

What: As the album suggests, this shit is obviously emo
Where: San Jose, CA (woooooo)
In a Tweet: An emotional cyclone of an album led by the raw, honest songwriting of Shannon Taylor. Across nine noisy, but super melodic tracks, Taylor shrieks, shouts, and shares her innermost feelings and struggles, finding solace and strength in the chaos around her. Though not an easy listen, it’s a rewarding one.
Start Here: “floor” “opener”

American Pleasure Club
“A Whole Fucking Lifetime of This”
Run For Cover
What:
The eclectic new album from Sam Ray’s (Ricky Eat Acid) band
Where: Baltimore, MD
In a Tweet: After jettisoning one of the worst band names in music, Teen Suicide, Ray crafted the best album of his career. There’s fuzzy stoner rock, sweetboi ballads, and even a track with a breakbeat. In short, it’s all over the place, but somehow it works, which is a testament to Ray’s taste.
Start Here: “this is heaven & id die for it” “all the lonely nights in your life”

Kalle J
“Aros Catering”
Emotion
What:
The Swedish-language solo debut of Karl X Johan’s Kalle Jönsson
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
In a Tweet: I’ve been waiting years for a Karl X Johan debut, but this melodramatic project from ‘Karl’ will suffice. Though I kind of wish it was sung in a language I speak, the cracked power ballads, sweeping melodies, and dramatic, gauzy arrangements are tasty in any dialect. Get out your lighters.
Start Here: “Strand” “BDSM”

Grouper, “Driving”

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Grouper
“Driving”
Grid of Points (out 04.27 on yellow electric)
We’re only a few weeks away from hearing the legendary Liz Harris’ eleventh solo LP, and it’s shaping up to be one of her best projects. Following the haunting, “Parking Lot,” “Driving” is also a piano-led affair that sees Harris’ doleful vocals way up in the mix. And though it’s impossible to make out what she’s saying, her voice is transportive. I’m not sure where it’ll take you, but this song pulls me far from the city to someplace quieter, foggier, and along the Northern Pacific Coast.

Images & Words: Jamie Issac, “Wings”

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Jamie Isaac
“Wings”

(04:30) IDLER (out 04.30 on Marathon Artists)
It’s nice to see the talented South Londoner start to get the press he deserves in the build-up to his second LP. Judging by its first two singles, the disc is set to follow in the footsteps of his wonderful debut, “Couch Baby.” In many ways, “Wings” is a classic Issac tune — pairing his sleepy, restless vocals with inch-perfect, jazzy instrumentation. Best of all, he’s never been a singles artist, so I’m sure it’ll sound even better in its proper context.

Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”

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Kacey Musgraves
“Golden Hour”

Golden Hour (out now on UMG)
At this point, you probably already know that the 29 year-old Texan’s new album is something special. The disc is a stunning collection of impeccably sung and written modern country tunes, all of which deserve your time. However, I wanted to give one of its most low-key moments a little extra shine: this gorgeous ode to the simple pleasures of spending time with the person you love.

Kacey’s always been so adept at making little moments feel momentous (see: my all-time favorite, “Late to the Party“). And at its heart, “Golden Hour” is about appreciating the way our partners ground us, how they give us someone to rely on in an unceasingly unreliable world. Sure, it’s simple. Sure, it’s cheesy. But, it’s true. And, it’s yet another example of Musgraves’ uncanny ability to highlight the beauty in her everyday life, then distill it into a song that can help us appreciate that beauty in our own.

Westerman: “I Turned Away”

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Westerman
“I Turned Away”
Confirmation Single (out now on Blue Flowers)
I’ve been curious about the young London songwriter (and Tottenham fan) for most of this year, but his low-key, experimental pop hadn’t quite grabbed me fully until I heard this beautiful, wistful track. Though it’s drawn Arthur Russell comparisons, it oddly reminds me of some of Springsteen’s quieter moments on “Nebraska” and “Tunnel of Love.” Maybe it’s the consistent backbeat or the way the reverb-soaked guitar resonates, but “I Turned Away” has the same haunting quality of those records.

Images & Words: Future, “Absolutely Going Brazy”

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Future
“Absolutely Going Brazy”
Digital Single
The first rapper of ThungerPenguin is quietly having an impressive year, and this atmospheric new single is the best of the bunch. Low-BPM Future tends to be the best Future, and he’s on top form here, smearing his melodic, pained vocals over late-night keys and skittering percussion. The track beautifully walks the line between glory and anguish, simultaneously celebrating getting fucked up in fancy foreign countries and admitting that “xans (are) taking over all (his) thoughts.” That dichotomy is essential to the Future experience and highlights the kind of moral ambiguity in all of us that only the best storytellers can illustrate.

Images & Words: BlocBoy J, “Rover 2.0”

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BlocBoy JB
“Rover 2.0” (f/ 21 Savage)
Digital Single
An early Drake feature can go one of two ways for a young artist. For every Migos and the Weeknd, there’s a Ramriddlz and Makonnen. The next test case is hyperactive Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB, who is currently riding the wave of an Aubrey-assisted Top 10 single, the electric “Look Alive.” For his crucial follow-up, he revisited an older track and recruited 21 Savage. And though the low-key Atlanta native may seem an odd choice, the two balance each other perfectly, combining on a catchy, solid second single that bodes well for BlocBoy’s longevity and should keep his voice blasting out of speakers all summer long.

Mr. Mitch, “Creep (Take You Home)”

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Mr. Mitch
“Creep (Take You Home)”
Digital Single
The London producer digs into the smarminess of many men’s attitude toward approaching women on this low-key track. Like much of Mitch’s best work, “Creep” builds slowly and carefully around a repetitive, hypnotic sample. In this case, however, the refrain is grating, unsettling, and mildly threatening, aiming to recreate the feeling that many women deal with every single day.

Tracey Thorn, “Air”

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Tracey Thorn
“Air” (f/ Shura)
Record (out now on Unmade Road Ltd)
At 55 years old, the former Everything But The Girl frontwoman could have easily rested on her laurels and impressive back catalog. However, the Hertfordshire native sounds rejuvenated on her excellent fifth solo LP, especially on this sashaying disco stunner.  Alongside rising pop vocalist Shura, Thorn sings beautifully about feeling overlooked in her youth and searching for warmth in a cold world.