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

Hot Jam of the Day (01.21.12): Disclosure x AlunaGeorge, “White Noise”

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Disclosure x AlunaGeorge
“White Noise”
White Noise single (out 3/24 on PMR)

The hits just keep coming from the Howard brothers, and their new collab with fellow UK blogosphere favorites, AlunaGeorge, sounds exactly like you think it does: slinky, sexy, and utterly infectious. We are supposed to get debut LPs from both duos at some point this year, and if their back catalogs are anything to go by, they’ll be some of the best of the year. If you aren’t yet familiar, get familiar. This is what the new wave of dance music sounds like, and long may it continue.

Hot Jam of the Day (01.18.13): Blue Hawaii, “Try to Be”

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Blue Hawaii
“Try to Be”
Untogether (out 3/5 on Artbus Records)
B

BRAIDS frontwoman, Raph Standell-Preston, has always had the kind of voice that’s hard to shake. On “Try to Be,” we get to hear that voice front and center, as the duo deftly frames her nostalgic coo with gentle acoustic guitar and airy percussion. Blue Hawaii is the perfect name for her collaboration with fellow Canadian Alexander Cowan, as the group crafts beautiful, transformative soundscapes (the “Hawaii” part) that have just a sprinkle of melancholy (the “blue” part). If this contemplative number is any indication, expect Untogether to be a touching, evocative statement.

Hot Jam of the Day (01.17.13): Fear of Men, “Seer”

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Fear of Men
“Seer”
Early Fragments (out 2/12 on Kanine)

After a string of impeccable singles (“Mosaic” was my 13th favorite song of 2012), the wistful Brighton dream-pop quartet finally announced something of a debut LP. It looks like it will be made up of mostly the singles, but it will have some new stuff, including this beautiful mid-tempo daydream. In their short career, Fear of Men has always had a knack of packing maximum emotional punch into minimalist arraignments. A lot of that is thanks to vocalist Jessica Weiss, whose direct, heartfelt lyrics are a nice foil to many dream-pop groups’ emotionally nebulous, abstract modus operandi. Depending on how much new material makes the cut, Early Fragments could be one of my albums of the first quarter.

Because it’s brilliant, here’s the video for the affecting, “Mosaic.”

Starting V: Pitchfork Selector

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Earlier this week, Chicago Drill maniac Chief Keef caught a probation violation charge stemming from a redacted episode of Pitchfork’s Selector — a video series that features an MC freestyle rapping over beats from different producers — that pictures the 17 year-old shooting guns at a firing range. It’s amazing that this is what resulted in him catching a charge, instead of the hundreds of Instagrams and video clips he’s posted of him holding automatic weapons and smoking blunts, but I digress.

In honor of the #FREESOSA movement, I decided to countdown my top 5 Pitchfork Selectors. For a show that feels slapped together at the best of times, it has captured some pretty incredible performances.

5. Das Racist
An oldie but a goodie, this video was captured in the now-defunct Brooklyn trio’s heyday, all the way back in 2011. When DR was good, they were so fucking good.
Best Line: Heems, “Catch me at the bar, H Man, with like 90 girls. You feel me? And like 180 dudes too.”

Watch at Pitchfork.

4. RiFF RAFF
One of the rare selectors where the interview is as good as the freestlye, the delightfully bonkers Texan spends seven minutes free associating with the admirably game Selector host. Hilarious.
Best Line: “I mean koala hours, then we’re talkin’ pine cones. We’re talkin’ like Australian like, down under. Yea, Outback steakhouse, so it’s a lot of Bloomin’ Onions.”

3. Joey Bada$$ and Pro Ero
Anyone who is a fan of just a straight-up rhyme skills will love Joey and his crew’s Selector. Riding an old-school boom-bap beat, the Pro Era boys flow effortlessly. I feel like this could have gone on for 45 minutes.
Best Line: Too many to pick out just one. These kids have lines for days.

2. Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade
Somehow Danny Brown found three dudes who are as weird/excited about life as he is. It also scores extra points because the last MC sounds like a grown-up version of that kid who scream-raps near the end of “Hot Cheetos and Takis” (fast forward to 2:45). If these dudes ever get their shit together to make a full-length album, it’s gonna be incredible.
Best Line: “I’m the hulk on bath salts.”

1. A$AP Mob

Though their Lords Never Worry crew album was a bit of a disaster, their performance on Selector was nothing short of brilliant. The Harlem MC’s all have a ton of charisma, and it pours out of them as they take turns murdering the beat at a Laser Quest.
Best Line: “Put my hat on backwards, get on my Pokemon shit, you already know.”

Hot Jam of the Day (01.14.13): Justin Timberlake, “Suit & Tie”

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Justin Timberlake
“Suit & Tie” (f/ Jay-Z)
The 20/20 Experience (due out in 2013 on RCA)

It’s hard to believe that it has been seven whole years since JT released his watershed sophomore LP, FutureSex/LoveSounds. Considering how quickly pop culture moves on these days, the fact that the record still sounds so next level is remarkable, and you could easily argue that nobody has been able to touch it since its release. For that reason, Timberlake has been welcomed back into music with all the excitement of a Vince Young Wednesday night trip to the Cheescake Factory. Once the album was announced, some questioned whether he still had it, after seven, long years away. It takes Timberlake about 43 seconds to dispel that worry, as he weaves his effortless falsetto over an airy, brassy Timberland masterclass. If I was setting odds for album of the year, JT on the money line would officially be off the board. Unless, of course, Lance Bass’ long-awaited solo album, Japanese Theocracy, finally sees the light of day.

Hot Jam of the Day (01.13.12): Frank Ocean, “Pink Matter” (Remix) (f/ Big Boi + Andre 3000)

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Frank Ocean
“Pink Matter” (Remix) (f/ Big Boi + Andre 3000)
Digital Single (Def Jam)

As much as I’d love it to be, this isn’t really an Outkast reunion track. That said, if anybody could reform the greatest hip-hop group of my lifetime, it would be someone with the awesome power of Mr. Ocean. The “Pink Matter” remix does highlight one thing that made Outkast great: their totally different perspectives. While most hip-hop groups generally see the world the same way, Big Boi and Dre’s tracks always worked so well because they would consistently found the diametric opposite sides of the same coin. While Andre’s verse is a brokenhearted lament to an absent girlfriend who was “made for cuddlin’,” the playful Big Boi gets his T-Pain on, pining for an exemplary stripper who was “the perfect hoe.” Considering how different they seem, it’s kind of amazing they were able to co-exist for four near-perfect albums and two pretty alright ones. Hopefully, the rumors of an Outkast reunion come to fruition, and if they do because of this collaboration, Frank Ocean deserves the Noble Peace Prize. Seriously.

Hot Jamz of the Year: The Best Tracks of 2012

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A couple of people have asked me why I still take the time to do this every year, even after the magazine I used to write for shut down. It’s two things. For one, I’m a pop music anorak. I love taking the time to explore the year’s trends (alternative R&B, future garage) and the genres that have faded by the wayside (witch house, chillwave). Pop music is so ephemeral in the Internet Age, and it only takes going over a few past year-end lists to see that. Secondly, I love having these lists as timestamped overview of my year. It’s a great way for me to reflect and add context to the year that I’ve just experienced.

On to the songs. As every year, I have a few rules that I try to stick to so that this list doesn’t get completley impossible to make.

1. Mostly attempt to stick to the “singles,” whenever possible, just to make it a bit easier.
2. Only pick one song from each artist.
3. Try to avoid picking remixes.
4. Try to avoid picking Nickleback songs.

Listen to most of it on a Spotify Playlist , especially if Soundcloud is being wonky. You will miss some tracks though.

51. Inc.: “5 Days” from 5 Days Single
We kick the list off with one of the sexiest songs of the year. The Prince-obsessed Angelinos’ drop their debut on 4AD in February. It should be special.

50. Lemonade: “Neptune” from Diver
Brooklyn synth-pop heartthrobs wax lyrical about drunk dialing. (Lena Dunham voice) You know, what? They just get me. (Giant spoonful of ice cream). They. Just. Get. Me.

49. John Talabot: “Destiny” (f/ Pional) from fin
An exquisitely-crafted swirling slab of Balearic joy from the Spanish producer’s long-awaited first LP. #popthemollyimsweatin

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The Best Singles of 2012, Honorable Mention

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It’s that time of year again. Where I spend a solid four days trying to work out (read: obsessing over) what my favorite songs of the year are, and by extension, what said songs say about the year I’ve just had.

Hopefully, the actual list will be out sometime this week, but my staff (of one) is a little behind this year…just like every other year. As always, I hope you enjoy reading and listening to this list as much as I enjoy creating it. It was an incredible year of music, and I appreciate getting the chance to share it with you all.

Pure Bathing Culture: “Ivory Coast”
WHAT: 
The lovely, lazy single from Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille of Vetiver’s self-titled debut EP.
WHERE: 
Portland, OR
WHY: 
I’m a sucker for dreamy, languid guitar pop, and few did it better this year than thees indie-pop vets.

 

Schoolboy Q x A$AP Rocky: “Hands on the Wheel”
WHAT: The second most famous Black Hippy’s ode to “weed and brews.”
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA (with a little help from that pretty muthafucka from Harlem)
WHY: That sample. While I wasn’t as high on Q’s debut LP as many, I can’t deny his ubiquitous breakout single. Definitely one of the earworms of the year.

Julia Holter: “In The Same Room”
WHAT: The standout from the Nite Jewel-collaborator’s brilliant 2nd LP, Extasis.
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA
WHY: Oft compared to Beach House’s lo-fi early work, but she has much more in common with hyper-experimental artists like Grouper and Julianna Barwick — without really sounding like either. Though her music isn’t particularly accessible at first glance, if you give it some time, her dusty sound will wriggle its way into your heart.

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2012 Year-End List: People of the Year

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10. Kevion “KeVante1” Barkley
One of the most interesting things about the Internet is it gives people the platform to do basically whatever the fuck they want. And while this isn’t always a good thing (see: Nazis, gay bashers, Verizon Wireless), Kevion Barkley’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel is an example of this phenomenon at its best. I know absolutely nothing about this guy, except that he is a big fan of progressive emoticons, Jodeci-frontman Devante Swing, and slowwww jams (dude’s YouTube channel is called SLOWJAMZ-4-LIFE!!!!!!!!!!). His feeds are full of his “SLOWJAM” music videos, which are basically super obscure R&B and gospel jams that he slows down just a touch. I may be the only person on the planet who is following these feeds, but I am sure happy that I do. Majestic can go fuck itself.

9. Robin Carolan (Tri Angle Records)
A couple years ago, Tri Angle Records rose as one of the driving forces in independent electronic music. Fallaciously pegged as the first label of Witch House, 2011 was an incredible year for label, scoring massive success with releases from artists du jour like How to Dress Well, Balam Acab, and Clams Casino. And though witch house fell away as quickly as it came, Carolan adjusted with the times and consolidated Tri Angle’s status as one of indie music’s foremost tastemakers with progressive releases from AlunaGeorge, Evian Christ, and Holy Other.

 

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Images & Words: Weekly Video Round-Up, 11.18

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When MTV stopped playing music videos, many prognosticators claimed that the music video would go the way of the dodo. How wrong they were. Nowadays, music videos are better than they’ve ever been, and every weekend, I’m going to round up the best music videos released that week.

Note: Please read all of the blurbs in a sultry, Daisy Fuentes accent.

5. Miguel, “The Thrill” (Live For Yours Truly)
I know it’s not a real music video, but when a new clip is released of Miguel doing Miguel things, I make an exception. A truly seismic performer at the peak of his powers. Perfect.

4. Flight Facilities (f/ Christine Hoberg): “Claire De Lune”
After cooing everyone’s clothes off with their unfuckwitable 2011 single “Crave You,” the randy Australians’ are back with a single that’s a little less dancy but no less sultry. The etherial cut gets a beautifully shot video, courtesy of Dave Ma, who has worked with the Horrors, Foals, and many others.

3. Purity Ring, “Lofticries”
I have no clue what’s happening, but it’s pretty dope. I’m talking about the video, but the exact same can be said about the Canadian duo’s mercurial, excellent debut, released earlier this year.

2. Foals, “Inhaler”

Truth be told, the video is basically stock rock video fare, but it’s still awesome to hear a new track from the Oxford quintet. Holy Fire — the follow-up to their brilliant sophomore LP, Total Life Forever — is out in early 2013, and based on this, it sounds like it’s going to be an explosive affair. Color me stoked.

1. King Krule, “Rock Bottom”
A year on from releasing the near-perfect, “The Noose of Jah City” (my third favorite track of 2011), the teenaged South Londoner returned with the devastating “Rock Bottom.” While it might not hit the top 3, it’s definitely one of my ten favorite tracks of the 2012, and Archy “King Krule” Marshall is rapidly becoming one of the most fascinating artists on the planet right now. Its video sums up everything that I love about his music; it is brooding, disorienting, and dark, while maintaining a exploratory, youthful spirit and a twisted sense of humor. Brilliant.