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: How To Dress Well, "Nonkilling 6 | Hunger"

How to Dress Well "Nonkilling 6 | Hunger" The Anteroom (out 10.19 on Domino) Though it was a little bit buried on my "Favorite Songs of 2018, So Far.." list, I'm extremely excited about the experimental direction Tom Krell seems to be going in on his fifth LP. This stunning two-parter pairs Read more

Wild Pink, "Mount Erie"

Wild Pink “Lake Erie” Yolk in the Fur (out now on Tiny Engines) Though I’m about six months late to the NYC trio’s outstanding second LP, I’m extremely glad that I finally found it. While their AM Radio sound has been relentlessly compared to War on Drugs, frontman John Ross is such Read more

Mitski, "Two Slow Dancers"

Mitski "Two Slow Dancers" Be The Cowboy (out 08.17 on Matador) Every slow dance with someone you care about feels like a moment suspended in time. I mean, that's the point, right? Your hands are tied, your bodies are connected, and even your gaze is limited. Mitski, the fantastic New York songwriter, Read more

Future, "Hate the Real Me"

Future "Hate the Real Me" Beastmode 2 (out now on Epic) The peak of a quietly excellent year, Future goes super deep on his worthy follow-up to 2015's legendary "Beast Mode" tape. Of all its stirring moments, nothing emotionally hits harder than its last track, as Future pours his heart out over Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (08.18.12): Brother Ali, “Mourning In America”

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Brother Ali
“Mourning in America”
Mourning in America, and Dreaming in Color (Rhymesayers, out 09/18) 

For many years, I considered Minneapolis-MC not only one of my favorite rappers on the planet, but also one of my favorite overall musicians. While I still hold his trifecta — 2003’s Shadows on the Sun, 2004’s Champion EP, and 2007’s The Undisputed Truth — in ridiculously high esteem, nothing he’s released since has hit me that hard. At his best, Ali (né Jason Newman) is an incisive writer, blessed with incredible insight and a razor-sharp sense of humor. He can write about brutal, honest truths without having it feel like a history lesson, an ability lost on most of his backpack-toting brethren. That grace was conspicuously absent on 2009’s preachy, politically-obsessed Us, which ended up feeling like a hard slog. This — the leadoff single of his ominously titled fifth LP — finds Ali still in “fight the power”-mode. While I appreciate the importance of politically conscious music (especially in an election year), I hope it won’t be the only topic Ali touches on. He’s way too interesting to pigeonhole himself.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.17.12): Husky, “Did You Forget”

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“Did You Forget?”
Transition One EP (Zip Sound Recordings, out now)

Every once in a while, I’ll come across something I love that I know nothing about. Usually a few Google searches or a press release will answer my questions, but I couldn’t find any info on this rising producer. Basically, I know he’s American, signed to an Atlanta-based label called Zip Sound Recordings, shares my love of Pretty Ricky, and made one of my favorite EPs of the summer. On Transition One, Husky serves up a tasty amalgam of neo-dubstep, R&B, and hip-hop, very much in the vein of TP-favorites like Disclosure and Kastle. Though I was immediately sucked in by its opening track — a fire remix of Pretty Ricky’s unfuckwitable “Grind on Me” — I quickly fell for the rest of album’s three tracks, particularly the moody, evocative “Did You Forget.” The soulful vocal sample combines with the jazzy, airy back track to form a devastating cut that begs repeat listens. I have no idea who this dude is, but I predict big things.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.16.12): How to Dress Well, “Again”

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How to Dress Well
Ocean Floor for Everything 7″

We’ve heard How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell kill covers before — his stunning version of R. Kelly’s seminal “I Wish” and his re-imagination of Ready for the World’s “Love You Down” spring to mind. His sparse, lo-fi version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 smash-hit, “Again,” is similarly potent. Though it is stripped of the original’s lush string arraignment, Krell stays mostly true to the original in his trademark, heart-on-his-sleeve style. When it comes to his music, “irony” is simply not in the Chicago-based vocalist’s vocabulary, and Krell’s passionate falsetto is stirring and affecting. His sophomore LP drops in a little less than a month (9/21), and it looks set to live up to its incredible successor, which I rated as the best album of 2010. Can’t wait.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.13.12): Jessie Ware, “Sweet Talk”

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Jessie Ware
“Sweet Talk”
Devotion (PMR, out 8/21)

One more week. That’s all that’s left until we finally get to hear the debut album from London-based siren, Jessie Ware. I’ve spent so much of this year writing about her that I’m running out of superlatives, so let’s keep this one short. “Sweet Talk” is the fourth single from Devotion, and it sees the sultry, versatile vocalist slide into some seriously Sade-esque territory. Earlier this year, she stated that she was interested in making music that worked at home or on a night out, a la Chaka Khan and the aforementioned Ms. Adu. It’s safe to say she’s achieved that and a hell of a lot more. The best new artist of 2012 by a country mile.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.12.12): Jens Lekman, “I Know What Love Isn’t”

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Jens Lekman
“I Know What Love Isn’t”
I Know What Love Isn’t (out 9/4) 

I’m going to make declaration here, and it might be hyperbolic, short-sided, or downright insane, but I’m going to make it anyway. Jens Lekman is the best pure singer/songwriter of his generation. Armed with an irresistible wit, advanced melodic/compositional chops, an impossibly easy tenor, and the ability to write frankly and emotively about life, the 31 year-old Swede brings so, so much to the table. That said, it could be argued (though not particularly convincingly) that he is yet to write a true masterpiece (2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala qualifies for me and many others).

But even that flimsy argument is set to be put to bed by the impending I Know What Love Isn’t. Penned in the wake of a dissolved relationship (a citizenship-based marriage), Lekman’s third proper LP is an arresting, breathtaking exploration of love, loss, and moving on. The disc’s title track highlights his rare ability to simultaneously write about the minutiae of everyday life (first verse) and the most important moments (second verse) with the same understated grace and in a way that is totally relatable to the listener. It’s one of the main things that sets him apart from other songwriters; he knows that the devil is in the details, and oftentimes the most trivial aspects of our lives say as much as our biggest. Should be one of the albums of the year, if not the album.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.11.12): Teengirl Fantasy, “EFX” (f/ Kelela)

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Teengirl Fantasy
“EFX” (f/ Kelela)
Tracer (True Panther, out 8/21)

Upon first listen, this track didn’t knock me out. But after listening to the Brooklyn-based duo’s second LP, Tracer, I looked at it totally differently. Their debut, 7AM, featured a few of the best songs of 2010 (the inexorable “Cheaters” and the sultry “Dancing in Slow Motion) but was uneven and a little incoherent. The duo — Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss — have never been short on ideas, and Tracer is the sound of their best ideas coming to fruition. While none of the songs stood out quite like their aforementioned hits, it works incredibly well as an album and seems to hint at could hopefully be the future of dance music. Really one of the discs to look out for in the coming weeks.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.08.12): Wild Nothing, “Paradise”

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Wild Nothing
Nocturne (Captured Tracks, out 8/28) 

After listening to “Paradise” for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how much Blacksburg, VA-native Jack Tatum has grown as a songwriter since his impressive debut Gemini dropped two years ago. I remember playing Gemini for my ex, and her response was “if I wanted to listen to the Cure, I’ll just go listen to the Cure.” While I disagreed, she certainly wasn’t wrong. We got a taste of his progression on 2010’s lovely Golden Haze EP — the one that really made me fall in love — but nothing on that feels as fully realized what we’ve heard so far from Nocturne.

Tatum’s voice is still as Breakfast Club-y as ever, and the Cure/Smiths references are still very much intact, but this is no hollow pastiche. At some point, people got over the fact that m83’s Anthony Gonzalez loved John Hughes movies, and just started appreciating his starry-eyed, earnest celebration of that moment for what it was: fucking brilliant. And I feel like people should/are going to start doing the same for Wild Nothing. We may have heard this sound before, but we’ve never heard this voice before. Now that Tatum seems to have truly found his, it’s up to all of us to sit up and pay attention.

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Check out Nocturne‘s first single, “Shadow.”

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.07.12): The xx, “Chained”

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The xx
Coexist (Young Turks)

There are plenty of things about the xx’s debut album that made it stand out from all the other albums released that year, but its most defining characteristic is undoubtedly its restraint.The fact that the sexiest British album in years was defined by its restraint isn’t unexpected, but it was astounding to hear a group so young with such an advanced understanding of space. xx never tries to be sexy; it just is. And a lot of that is based on what was left unsaid and unheard. The trio is back to their old tricks on their sophomore LP, Coexist, and its second single is a perfect example of their impressive knack for writing subtlety gorgeous tunes. Twin vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are born to sing together, and their voices slither over a sparse, lulling arraignment only punctuated by a trademark single-string guitar line. Like, “Angels,” the disc’s first single, it isn’t going to blow anybody over on its own, but it foreshadows an album that looks set to live up to its superlative, sublime predecessor. Roll on September 10.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.06.12): Kisses, “Funny Heartbeat”

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“Funny Heartbeat”
Upcoming 2012 LP (IAMSOUND)

I fell hard for the debut from Princeton frontman Jesse Kivel’s side-project, and this is the first taste from the LA duo’s still-untitled sophomore LP. “Funny Heartbeat” continues with the group’s beachy, breezy yacht rock sound and has a little more of a disco/Balearic feel than some of their earlier material. It showcases Kivel’s mellifluous, Jens Lekman-reminiscent vocals, and the group’s ability to craft smooth, danceable tracks that seem to coax the sun out from behind the clouds. In a San Francisco summer, that quality is especially needed.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.05.12): A$AP Rocky, “Pussy, Money, Weed”

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A$AP Rocky
“Pussy, Money, Weed”

I have to admit that I keep kinda expecting 23 year-old Rakim “A$AP Rocky” Mayers to fall off, but he continues to prove me wrong. Over a characteristically syrupy, hypnotic beat, the Harlem native drops three excellent verses with his UGK-meets-BoneThugz flow. Usually when independent rappers with a distinctive sound make the leap to a major label, much of what makes them special is drained out of them (remember that Wiz Khalifa guy?), but Rocky seems destined to avoid this cruel fate. If this and the super dope “Goldie” are any indication of how LONGLIVEA$AP is going to sound, sign me up.

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