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

The Round-Up: The Best Albums from April '18


Grouper “Grid of Points” Yellow Electric Though only 21 minutes, the haunting beauty of Liz Harris' eleventh studio LP will linger for many years to come. Penned and recorded in just 10 days, "Grid of Points" feels like a moment suspended in time — a distant memory that you just can't Read more

Images & Words: Oneohtrix Point Never, "Black Snow"


Oneohtrix Point Never "Black Snow" (f/ Anohni) Age of (out 06.01 on Warp) Though the Massachusetts native is probably best know for his otherworldly, chaotic experimental electro, some of his best tracks are his quietist. Whether it's his recent stunner with Iggy Pop or the beautiful Anohni-lead "Returnal," OPN (né Daniel Lopatin) Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (07.22.12): Bat For Lashes, “Laura”

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Bat for Lashes
“Laura”
The Haunted Man (Parlophone)

British singer Natasha Khan is always good for a stunning first single. “Daniel,” the lead single form her 2009 Mercury Prize-nominated LP Two Suns, is probably one of the best 100 pure pop songs I’ve ever heard, and while “Laura” lacks much of its energy, it lacks none of its soul, songwriting prowess, and bombast. Khan’s powerful, plaintive vocal absolutley soars over a contemplative piano line and a beautifully meandering string arraignment. It tells the story of a woman who refuses to relinquish her bachelorette-hood though all of her friends are dropping like flies. Instead of lamenting the life the proverbial “lonely spinstress,” the track triumphantly celebrates her audacious decision to hold on to her freedom and have her “name tattooed on every boy’s skin.” It’s a lovely “hello again” from an artist who still hasn’t quite created the flawless album her prodigious talent deserves. The Haunted Man drops October 15.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53816487″ iframe=”true” /]

Just in case you forgot, here’s “Daniel” in all its glory.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.19.12): Mirroring, “Drowning The Call”

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Mirroring
“Drowning The Call”
Foreign Body (Kranky)

I know I’m really late on this, but over the last few months, I have fallen headlong into this quiet gem of a collaboration from Portland multi-instrumentalist Grouper (né Liz Harris) and Tiny Vipers (né Jesy Fortino). Both artists cut their teeth in the Pacific Northwest carving out distinctive, ambient sounds, and they combine their styles to delicious effect on their sleepy, nostalgic LP. The best of it is “Drowning The Call,” a lonely, evocative number that sounds like Harris is calling out to you from a payphone millions of miles away. Lovely.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/37060178″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.18.12): Airbird, “Free Mind”

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Airbird
“Free Mind”
Romance Layers (Legitmix)

Everyone has those musicians who they just roll with. MC Dirty Dawg has a new polka EP coming out next week? Buying it. The Lazy Sunsets are charging $62.50 for their gig at the Wichita State Fair? I’ll work it out. I think I’m getting to that point with Joel Ford. I’m pretty sure I’ve basically liked everything he’s ever put out, and unsurprisingly, the lead single from his Airbird project’s second EP of the year is fucking killer. Over about 7 minutes, the NYC-based producer runs Mariah Carey’s “Prisoner” through a synth-slathered wormhole. What emerges from the other side is a life-affirming disco banger that brings the classic boner jam to new heights. Ford’s musical DeLorean has always had its coordinates set for the late 80’s/early 90’s, and “Free Mind” is yet another example of his ability to bring that era — that most bodacious of eras — into the 21st century.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53041384″ iframe=”true” /]

And just because it rules, here’s a video from his LP with Daniel Lopatin.

Hot Jam of the Day (7.17.12): Danny Brown x Araabmuzik, “Molly Ringwald”

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Danny Brown x Araabmuzik
“Molly Ringwald”
Single (Yours Truly)

“Just found out that my name is synonymous with “ecstasy” in hip-hop circles. Proof to my parents that I’ve accomplished something in my life.” — @MollyRingwald

Any song that inspires the woman who played Claire Standish to Tweet this (and inexplicably put quotes around the word ecstasy) is already a win in my book. And while the Tweet was amazing, it doesn’t hold a candle to this super dope collaboration between the country’s hottest young(ish) rapper and its hottest young producer. Over a characteristically ambient, bulldozer of a beat from the Providence-based producer, Detroit’s finest goes the only way he knows: hard as fuck. Brown and Araab (né Abraham Orellana) are perfect bedfellows because both have been able to maintain their experimental spirits, while staying incredibly consistent and digging out original, distinctive sounds. In other words, you’ll never know what either will do next, but you know it’s going to be dope. There aren’t a lot of artists you can stay that about.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53046124″ iframe=”true” /]

Check out a video of them making the track. I fuckin’ love Danny. It’s also amazing to watch Araab’s creative process; dude makes it look so easy.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.16.12): Holy Other, “Held”

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Holy Other
“Held”
Held (TriAngle)

Of the many things I love about Holy Other, I think my favorite thing about him is his incredible use of vocals. In recent times, nobody has been able to touch Burial’s ability to use broken up vocal samples to tell affecting, fully-formed stories, but this Mancunian is getting closer. His music has always worked in movements, and like much of his best work (especially Held‘s first single, “Love Some1”), “Held” resolves itself in a stunning final stanza that packs an emotional wallop. Its punch is largely due to its undulating, suffocating vocals. It’s just about a month until we get to hear his debut LP in its entirety, and I cannot wait.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53030276″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.15.12): The XX, “Angels”

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The XX
“Angels”
Coexist (Young Turks)

Finally, the wait is over. I recently wrote about my hopes/thoughts/expectations for the South Londoners ultra-anticipated sophomore LP, and if you missed it, I’m really fucking excited about it. Yesterday, we got our first real taste of Coexist, in the form of this characteristically vulnerable, crushing new love song. Driven by Romy Madley Croft’s delicate vocal and a single-string guitar line, “Angels” captures much of what made the trio’s debut resonate with so many people in such a penetrating, enduring fashion. While the XX is never going to be a singles band, thanks to the subtly of their work, this is one of the singles that excited me most this year — predominantly because it signals that Coexist is likely going to bark up the same tree as XX, which is one of my favorite albums of the last five years. Roll on September 11.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.14.12): Teengirl Fantasy, “End”

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Teengirl Fantasy
“End”
Tracer (True Panter/R&S)

It goes without saying that great instrumental music taps into the same real estate that is set off by the evocative lyrics to the songs that we love. Phillip Glass can say things with 52 keys that not even the greatest lyricist can when they are armed with hundreds of thousands of combinations of letters. That said, it takes real talent to hit that mark — talent that Brooklyn electro duo, Teengirl Fantasy, has always shown they have. This, the second single from their follow-up to 2010’s scintillating 7AM, highlights the group’s ability to write emotive, affecting tracks that are also inherently danceable. Though this falls on the decidedly reflective end of the Teengirl Fantasy experience (probably not one to spin at the party), there’s an enduring, sensual groove just below the surface, which makes it ideal for after-party festivities (should you be lucky enough to find someone to have them with).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/52326905″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.13.12): Taken By Trees, “Dreams”

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Taken By Trees
“Dreams”
Other Worlds (Secretly Canadian) 

If there was only one word I could use to describe Swedish vocalist Victoria Bergsman’s music, it would be alive. Since she burst on the scene with her first band the Concretes, she always looked destined for greatness, and her subsequent project, Taken By Trees, has confirmed her early promise. On the back of two beautiful, lush LPs — 2007’s Open Field and 2009’s essential East of Eden — comes her third release under the TBT moniker, which from preliminary listens looks set to be her best yet. Its first single contains all the hallmarks of what made me fall in love in the first place: her gentle yet alluring coo, celestial swaths of guitar and synth, and its overall feels-like-laying-in-a-breezy-field-of-long-grass-on-a-gorgeous-fucking-day-ness, which is the most important bit. Honestly, I really feel like this is is the kind of music you have to be kind of a dick to not like. If it doesn’t bowl you over, that’s fine. But anybody who doesn’t enjoy music this aesthetically pleasing and soothing should seek help. It’s like not liking golden retriever puppies, afternoon sun, or over-the-pants handjobs. (ED NOTE: That’s the kind of objective, hard-hitting criticism that TP has come to stand for in its long, illustrious history. If Scott Templeton can win a Pulitzer, so can TP. Journalism!)

Taken By Trees: “Dreams”

Hot Jam of the Day (7.11.12): Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pool (Drank)”

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Kendrick Lamar
“Swimming Pool (Drank)”
 good kid m.A.A.d city (Top Dog)

I must admit that I can’t tell exactly what drank LA-based MC Kendrick Lamar is talking about dranking here. At first I thought he was talking about alcohol, but I’ve drank a fair bit in my life, and no booze has ever made a disembodied voice talk to me. I tried lean one time in college, but that didn’t make me this nervous. It just made me want to lay around, nap, and listen to screwed up Fat Pat tapes, so probably not that either. Maybe it’s got bath salts in it. Whatever it is, it totally fucks you up.

This, the second single from Lamar’s major label debut, is a perfect example of why so many people I know fucking love this dude. His music has the unique ability to totally engulf the listener in the world he creates, and this track’s anxious, woozy backbeat combined with Lamar’s paranoid, tense flow creates a perfectly inebriated atmosphere. Chuck D famously referred to hip-hop as the black CNN, meaning the genre’s duty is to report what was going on in the black community, but the Black Hippies (Lamar, Ab Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock) take it a step further. They want the listener to physically feel the weight of their reality, as drugged-out and disquieting as it is.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/52698465″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.10.12): Frank Ocean, “Bad Religion”

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Frank Ocean
“Bad Religion”
Channel Orange (Def Jam)

The reason why Frank Ocean’s decision to open up about his sexuality is so important lives right there in the first line of that iconic Tumblr post. “Whoever you are, wherever you are…I’m starting to think that we’re a lot alike.” That’s what this is all about, and that’s what I hope the primary (pop) cultural legacy of Ocean’s statement proves to be. What’s so arresting about “Bad Religion” isn’t that he’s singing about a man. It’s that he is feeling exactly what we feel. What the 17 year-old boy crushing on the hot girl at the cafeteria feels. What the suburban girl who’s in love with her best male friend feels. At first, much of the talk will be about the pronoun he uses, but the enduring impact of the song will not be that pronoun. It will be the way his quivering voice perfectly captures the crushing burden of holding unrequited love in your heart — loving somebody who just won’t fucking love you back. Frank Ocean’s decision to come out isn’t important because he’s special or different. Frank Ocean’s decision to come out is important because he is just like everyone else. “Bad Religion” is not special because it is about being a homosexual. It is special because it is about being a human, and he captures a universal, deeply personal aspect of our humanity in heartbreaking totality. It may seem an elementary reality of modern life, but when we are cut, we all bleed the same color. And I believe that Channel Orange will teach a huge amount of people that, which will hopefully lead to greater understanding about ourselves and each other.