CFCF, "Closed Space"

CFCF "Closed Space" Liquid Colours (out 03.01) Though I haven't listened to it as much as his ree-fucking-dick-u-lus J.Lo remix (aka: the best song of 2019 so far), the first single from Montreal mainstay Michael Silver's new album is an instant keeper. It kicks off with luxurious beds of neo-geo synths that Read more

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

Hot Jam of the Day (10.10.12): Various Artists, “West Coast Cypher ’12” from the BET Hip-Hop Awards

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(In Order) Xzibit, YG, Kurupt, E-40, DJ Quik, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg/Lion/Baby Cat
“West Coast Cypher ’12”
BET Hip-Hop Awards

There are ten things that I really enjoy/think about about this performance.

1. Everything about Kendrick Lamar’s flow is captivating. One of the best rappers on the planet right now. No doubt.

2. Besides his hair, DJ Quik’s commitment to percussion is truly exceptional (even though he couldn’t keep up). Didn’t know a plastic fork could count as an instrument.

3. I wonder how much Xzibit’s people must have paid the producers to get him at that table. I’m setting the over-under at $250,000.

4. Along the same lines, YG. Really???? The producers needed a young, up-and-coming rapper to go with Kendrick, and they came up with YG? What, Tyler The Creator, Lil B, Earl Sweatshirt, Kool A.D., Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Hopsin, and Mondre M.A.N. were all busy? Hell, I would have even accepted Tyga’s non-rappin’ ass. Puhreeese.

5. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but E-40 has got to be one of the most charismatic, likable rappers on the planet. I wish he was my uncle.


Quick Tangent: Because I’ll never have as seamless a segue to this again, here is my family fantasy team of rappers.
Dad: Jay-Z –>Has experienced more than many would in 10 lifetimes. Seems like a level-headed, non-insane person. Would give the best b-day presents.
Mom: Pepa from Salt ‘N Pepa–>Seems like she would be a fun mom that would also teach discipline and raise you right. Also, if anyone ever fucked with you, she’d fuck them up first.
Big Brother: T.I. –>Has made a bunch of mistakes but has come through them. Feel like he’d give great guidance/advice. Seems wise.
Little Brother: Curren$y–>The current frontrunner of the prestigious “rapper I’d most like to play NBA Live/FIFA with.” That’s what little brothers are for, right?
Big Sister: Missy Elliot–>Clearly the cool older sister who you could follow around, but would also be sweet to you. Would def have hot friends.
Cooky Uncle: E-40–>Obvious.
Cool Uncle: Rick Ross–>You wouldn’t see him often, but whenever you needed something he’d help you out. Also, you could go visit him in South Florida and hang out on his yacht without him getting all in your shit. Also, would probably smoke you out for the first time and not tell your dad. Also, good birthday presents.
Cousins: Odd Future–> You wouldn’t want to hang out with them everyday, because they are completely insane, but they would definitely spice up boring family gatherings and would probably have weed/m80’s/skateboards/etc to play with.


AANNNNNDDD, we’re back!


7. “I don’t gotta prove I’m fly…parrot.” I just…

8. I love that Kendrick Lamar mentions eating Now and Laters before playing ball. Good to know that the kids in the burbs have at least one thing in common with kids from Compton. Dr. Pepper and N&L’s are the perfect pre-game meal for middle school ballers…and Lamar Odom.

9. America needs a new Kurupt/Dogg Pound album. I predict that both would be huge hits in today’s market.
(EDIT: There have been two Dogg Pound albums and a Kurupt album released in the last three years. They sold a combined 11 copies by our count. We called around.)

10. Possible candidates for the 2013 edition: Shifty Shellshock, Travie McCoy, Afroman, The Azn dude from Black-Eyed Peas, all three of the Delinquentes, residents of the Cali Swag District.

Hot Jam of the Day (10.09.12): Jessie Ware x Wild Beasts, “Night Light”

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Jessie Ware x Wild Beasts
“Night Light” (Wild Beasts Rework)
Original on Devotion (out now on PMR)

For a bunch of art/indie rockers, provincial Brits Wild Beasts have crafted some damn good remixes down the years. However, I’d hesitate to call their take on Jessie Ware’s blazing new single just a remix. The group intertwines their signature dramatique vocals with Ware’s sultry original to create a totally new track, which is more cover than remix. Whatever you want to call it, it’s fucking brilliant, and it’s damn good to hear from the boys from the Lake District. No word on a follow-up to their splendid 2011 LP, Smother, but this will go some way to tying me over.

PS: If somehow you’ve missed it, the Jessie Ware album is really, really, really, ridiculously good looking , er sounding. Good sounding. That’s right. I guess it looks good too, but mostly it sounds good.

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And just because, check out Hot Chip frontman Joe Goddard’s nuvo-disco version of “Night Light.”

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Hot Jam of the Day (10.08.12): How To Destroy Angels, “Keep It Together”

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How to Destroy Angels
“Keep It Together”
An Omen EP (due out 11/13 on Columbia)

“Keeping it together” and Trent Reznor haven’t always gone hand-in-hand over the years, and on his new single, when Reznor and his wife Mariqueen Maandig whisper the mantra “I can keep it together,” it sounds more of a hope than a belief. Musically, it has all the hallmarks of a Reznorian track: a minimalistic arraignment, a throbbing bass, and an ever-present feeling of tension. That tension exists in all of the former Nine Inch Nails-frontman’s best work, most interestingly in the fraught/frayed, yet gorgeous soundtrack to David Fincher’s The Social Network. It’s not 1994 anymore, and I can’t imagine this making much of a dent, but you get the feeling that Reznor is going to keep churning out fascinating, difficult music for his hoards of die-hard fans, whether mainstream radio gives a shit or not.

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Images & Words: This Week’s Video Round-Up

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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. Sky Ferriera: “Everything is Embarrassing”
I know that I just claimed that this was a round-up of the “best” videos of the week, but this is not a good video. In fact, it’s a pretty awful video that looks like it was shot for a student project. The lighting is weird, the shots uneven, and worst of all, the gorgeous part-time model that is supposed to be the star of the show is trying way, way, way too hard to be sexy here. Ferriera oozes allure and probably would look sexy mowing the lawn, so all of her hair-tossling, lip-pouting, and body-arching comes across as complete overkill. Luckily, it’s soundtracked by one of the best singles of the year, so it still makes the list, but only just. Some serious Lana Del Cray potential here.

4. Echo Lake: “Another Day” 
Road videos will never go out of style, and “Another Day” beautifully explores the healing powers of being out in nature with people you love. Though the Londoners tragically lost drummer Peter Hayes earlier this year, they are continuing to press on, and with work this excellent, his legacy will be well honored.

3. AlunaGeorge: “Watching Over You”
The video for the new single from the highly-touted Londoners takes us on a night drive through God-knows-where and the conscious of someone who is dreaming about cartoons, Mario Brothers, and nebulous galaxies. The clip nicely highlights the dreamy mood of the track and captures those totally random thoughts you have on long drives.

2. Solange: “Losing You” 
Probably how they should have handled the Ferriera clip, Beyoncés sister galavants aimlessly around beautiful South Africa in quirky digs being whimsical and looking sincere. Well done whoever directed this. An incredible track to boot.

1. Perfume Genius: “Take Me Home”

Seattle-based vocalist/chronic over-sharer Mike Hadreas is no stranger to striking videos. “Hood,” the lead single of his crushing second LP Put Your Back N 2 It, was originally banned by YouTube, due to images of the diminutive singer cuddling up to gargantuan porn star Arpad Miklos. YouTube was rightly chastised for their homophobic response and quickly reinstated the video. As powerful and affecting as his previous videos are, “Take Me Home” goes even further, seeing Hadreas strut, gyrate, and devour a Twinkie as a disheveled, cross-dressing streetwalker. Though his videos force the viewer to confront things that may make many of them (myself, included at times) uncomfortable at first, they all have really incredible moments of beauty that hopefully will serve to open up some of the viewers minds just that little bit. That’s what makes them so special.

Hot Jam of the Day (10.05.12): araabMUZIK, “Runaway Bass”

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“Runaway Bass”

I used to be annoyed by the “you are now listening to araabMUZIK” sample that the young Rhode Islander dropped in every song, but now I’m starting to think that it’s just totally unnecessary. The producer (né Abraham Orellana) has created a sound all his own, and this single exhibits all the hallmarks of an Araab-banger: impossibly overworked MPC percussion, maximalist arraignments, and impressive melodic dynamism. Unlike many of his biggest tracks — “Feelin’ So Hood,” “Streetz Tonight,” “I Remember” — “Runaway Bass” doesn’t have a moody, EDM vocal hook to go with it, but his bulldozing synths and block-breaking drops more than make up for it. He has become one of the most in-demand producers in music, and cuts like this show why.

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Also, check out his devastating remix of Sleigh Bells’ “Never Say Die.”

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Hot Jam of the Day (10.04.12): Alexis Taylor, “Under A Cancer Sky”

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Alexis Taylor
“Under A Cancer Sky”
Under A Cancer Sky Single (out 10/7 on DFA)

Berlin-based singer/producer Dan Bodan has been one of my favorite new artists of the year, and evidently I’m not the only one with that view. On the b-side of Bodan’s shadowy new single, “Under A Cancer Sky,” Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor provides his own lovely version. One of the few men on earth with a voice that’s as smooth as Bodan, Taylor’s puts his own mellifluous, better-produced spin on it. No word yet on whether/when Bodan will release a debut LP, but you can bet I’ll be all over it.

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Here is Bodan’s understated “demo” version.

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Hot Jam of the Day (10.03.12): Solange, “Losing You”

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“Losing You”
Losing You Single (out 11/06 on Terrible)

Everybody’s doing it, so why can’t she? In the last 12 months, we’ve had stunning singles from models (Sky Ferreira), failed models (Lana Del Cray), and whatever the fuck Kreayshawn was doing before she was Kreayshawn, so why wouldn’t the alt sister of the biggest pop star on the planet get into the act? Penned by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Lightspeed Champion — he’s also the guy who did Ferreira’s knock-you-the-fuck-out “Everything is Embarrassing” — Solange coos all doe-eyed and dreamy over Balearic percussion and spacious synths. Like “E.I.E.,” the track is all about Hynes’ devastating hook, and it increasingly seems like it’s time for Hynes to leave his day-job and just start writing John Hughes-recalling pop songs fulltime. I wonder who his next victim will be? I think he should write his next one for Jay Cutler. I’d buy that record.

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Hot Jam of the Day (10.02.12): Darkstar, “Timeaway”

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News #1-10 (out 11/13 on Warp)

After jumping from one critically-acclaimed, progressive dance label  (Hyperdub) to another (Warp), we appear to be inching closer to a proper follow-up to the group’s magisterial debut, North (2010). “Timeaway” is the first single to be unleashed from it, and it’s a characteristically meticulous, reflective number that drifts into a subtle conclusion. Darkstar is never a singles band, and it’s not going to tear up any charts, but it’s a nice to welcome such a talented outfit back into our headphones.

Darkstar: “Timeaway”

The Hot Jam Round-Up: End of September Edition

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Well, as you probably noticed, Thunder Penguin has taken a few weeks off. Something about going the Patagonia’s wireless connection, no doubt. But never fear, the little manbird has returned to round up the end of the month’s hottest jams. Dig in…

Aaliyah: “Rock the Boat” (Tony Quattro Refix), digital release
The NY-based DJ crafts an airy, engulfing new take on one of the ultimate classics of modern R&B. More than ten years since its release, “Rock the Boat” continues to sounds aeons ahead of its time.

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AlunaGeorge: “Your Drums, Your Love” (Friendly Fires Remix) from Your Drums, Your Love single (out 10/7 on TriAngle)
The St. Albans trio have long been flexing their significant remixing muscles, and their most recent is one of their best. A brilliant re-work of one of the songs of 2012.

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alt-j: “Tessellate” (SARM Acoustic Version), original from An Awesome Wave (out now on Infectious)
A stripped down take on one of the best take of the year. Though they haven’t received a lot of love in the American press, An Awesome Wave remains one of the most idea-packed, versatile albums of the year.

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Andy Stott: “Numb” from Luxury Problems (out 10/29 on Modern Love)
The debut single from the esoteric Brit’s highly-anticipated follow-up to his stunning discs, Pass Me By and We Stay Together (both 2011). One of the most thrilling, challenging, unique voices in dance music.

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Chief Keef, Kanye West, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Big Sean: “Don’t Like” (Remix) from Cruel Summer (out now on G.O.O.D. Music)

Though Kanye and co.’s hotly-anticipated Cruel Summer was a bit of a damp squib, it yielded some massive singles. And none were bigger than this monstrous re-touch of the biggest hip-hop song of the year. Expressing the rage and chaos of one of Chicago’s bloodiest summers ever, Keef’s original is both a sad indictment of the state of many parts of the city and an example of Chuck D’s assertion that hip-hop is the CNN of the Ghetto.

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CHVRCHES: “The Mother We Share” from The Mother We Share (out 11/5 on National Anthem)
Sky Ferriera isn’t the only artist who recently dropped an undeniable synth-pop single this quarter. This Scottish group’s break-out single will bounce, burrow, and wriggle its way through your earbuds and into your heart. An absolute earworm.

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Crystal Castles: “Wrath of God” from III (out 11/8 on Casablanca)

Though their style is very much indie dance á la mode, the Canadian duo still sport a sound all their own. They’ve always been brilliant at creating moods, and Alice Glass’ feral shriek is still captivating.

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Dan Bodan: “DP” from DP/Aaron (single) (out now on DFA)
I know it’s been out for a while, but not enough people are talking about this Canadian crooner’s graceful sound. Channeling past luminaries like Bryan Ferry and Arthur Russel, Bodan’s vocal twinkles above a deft piano line with arresting ease. Perfect.

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Plenty more after the jump….

Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (09.12.12): Bat for Lashes, “Marilyn”

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Bat for Lashes
The Haunted Man (Parlophone, out 10.23)

We fell in love with the London pixie’s powerhouse last single — the captivating, old Hollywood ballad “Laura” — and now the impish Natasha Khan has bequeathed her sophomore LP’s second single on the shivering masses. Though it’s undoubtedly cut from the same dramatic cloth as its predecessor, “Marilyn” has much more of a new-age feel, as Khan unleashes her graceful falsetto over washes of synth twinkles and reverb-soaked electronic drum pads. Bat for Lashes has always worked best when Khan is shooting for the stars (ie dialing up the drama), and she seems to have realized it. If the rest of The Haunted Man is nearly as good as its two debut singles, it’s going to be one to remember.