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 (06.17.12): Jessie Ware, “Wildest Moments”

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Jessie Ware
“Wildest Moments”
Devotion (Out 8.20.12 on PMR)

Two things have came through from all the pre-release singles from London siren Jessie Ware’s debut LP. First off, she is a bold, uncompromising singer who isn’t afraid to dish the real dirt on her life. Secondly, she’s a bit of a chameleon. We’ve heard her coo all sorts of sexy (“110%”), do mid-tempo moody (“Running”), and get her Amy-style 60’s soul on (her spellbinding cover of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love”). And now we’ve got a bonafide new-age power ballad on our hands (think a better Florence/Lykke Li). While I wouldn’t expect this to be indicative of Devotion’s sonic direction, it represents another type of canvas that Ware has successfully spread her vocal watercolors on. The second half of 2012 is chock full of releases to watch, but Devotion is certainly staking its claim as one of the most anticipated albums of the 3rd and 4th quarter.

And just in case you haven’t fallen for her yet, this will help.

Hot Jams of the Day (06.16.12): Finally Boys, “You Will Be Healed”/”Lunar Lovers”

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Finally Boys
“You Will Be Healed”/”Lunar Lovers”
Feelings (Self-Released)

Today’s hot jams come courtesy of two youthful weirdos/BFF’s from somewhere in the East Bay. I wasn’t expecting much when the fresh-faced duo took the stage on Friday night in support of the magical How to Dress Well, but I was bowled over by their hyper-blissful, maximalist sound and exuberant, passionate performance. Drawing from elements of trance, euro-house, Balearic beat, juke, electroclash, and whatever else they could find on MediaFire, the Boys (Preetom Choudhury and Shane LeBlanc) aim straight for the heart, crafting mile-deep whirlpools of synthy sonic goo that are crying out to swallow you up. Admittedly, they are still incredibly green and sometimes their tracks play like giant cock-teases without a money shot (ie massive crescendo, no real climax — think Pearl Jam’s “Black”), but it’s hard not to appreciate the amount of heart and emotion that they boys put into these tracks. I’ll be on the look out for Feelings when it drops later this quarter. 

Finally Boys: “You Will Be Healed”

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/34377864″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (06.15.12): Usher (f. Rick Ross), “Let Me See”

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Usher
“Let Me See” (f/ Rick Ross)
Looking for Myself (LaFace)

Usher is a lot of things, but an idiot is not one of them. To make it in pop music for as long as he has, you need to be unbelievably savvy, and Usher’s sixth album is perhaps his greatest example of this quality. A direct result of the current post-Weeknd/Frank Ocean R&B landscape, Looking for Myself is littered with inspiration from the indie scene. While I suppose it’s surprising that a genre heavyweight would take cues from a bunch of upstarts without major deals, this is the Internet era, and the rules have changed. Admittedly, I’ve never been a great fan of Usher’s past work, but thanks to this new stylistic switch (along some incredibly on-point production), I’ve been forced to stand up and take note. Whether the blogosphere cred will translate into real dollars and cents (sales, so far, have been slow) remains to be seen, he’s made at least one new fan from this new sound. Oh, also, is there any MC who’s hotter than Rick Ross right now (besides Hansel)? Everything he touches seems to turn to platinum football fields these days.

Usher (f/ Rick Ross): “Let Me See”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.14.12): Ice Choir, “I Want You Now and Always”

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Ice Choir
“I Want You Now and Always”
Afar (Underwater Peoples) 

This is the third cut we’ve heard from the debut LP from Pains of Being Pure At Heart member Kurt Feldman’s new, heavily John Hughes-inspired side project. Like “Two Rings” and “Teletrips,” “I Want You Now and Always” is dripping in nostalgic longing, armed with killer 8-bit hooks, and slathered with slinky snyths and MIDI bass. This is hopelessly naive dance music for people who would rather rock out in front of the mirror to their headphones than at a packed discotheque. While many albums that are this rooted in doe-eyed pastiche don’t hold up over repeated listens, everything this Brooklyn quartet has released so far has done little but grow on me. Afar is due out at the end of July, and as long as their next single doesn’t feature Scott Stapp and the dude from Saliva, Mr. Feldman and friends have all but wrapped up my 20 bucks.

Ice Choir: “I Want You Now and Always”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.12.12): Tomas Barfod, “November Skies” (f/ Nina Kinert)

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Tomas Barfod
“November Skies” (f/ Nina Kinert)
Salton Sea (Friends of Friends)

Friends of Friends has obviously been blowing up like crazy, and one of the real standouts of its eclectic roster is Danish producer Tomas Barfod. Coming off the back of his excellent Broken Glass EP, Salton Sea is Barfod’s maiden voyage into LP land, and though it’s a hurdle that many producers fall at, the Dane passes the test with flying colors. “November Skies,” one of the album’s best tracks, pairs Barfod’s engulfing, lush production with the soaring vocals of Swedish stalwart Nina Kinert. It’s about as poppy as the album gets, and in this case, I’m more than happy with that.

Tomas Barfod: “November Skies” f/ Nina Kinert

Hot Jam of the Day (06.11.12): Holy Other, “Love Some1”

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Holy Other
“Love Some1”
Held (Tri Angle)

If you are like me and fell in love with the ghostly, meditational stylings of this UK/Berlin producer’s 2011 debut EP, With U, you are in for a treat, as the mercurial Mancunian recently announced that he is set to unleash his debut LP on August 28. Sensing that this is quite a long time to wait, he was good enough to give us a little taste of what to expect, and I’m thrilled to report that it is more of the moody, atmospheric brilliance that we’ve come to expect. Built on undulating swabs of sub-bass that is simultaneously creepy and soothing, “Love Some1” builds to a subtly spectacular resolution. Though they are never the focal points of his songs, Holy Other has always had a knack for using vocals in just the right way, always using them to add to the song’s mood without letting them overpower the track, and this track is no different. Fantastic.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/48614487″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (06.10.12): Frank Ocean, “Pyramids”

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Frank Ocean
“Pyramids”
Channel Orange (Def Jam)

In the last 18 months, Frank Ocean has showed us that he is a lot of things — passionate, eclectic, progressive — but above all, his music has proven that he is incredibly ambitious. Whether it was taking on “Hotel California” on his debut mixtape, distancing himself from Odd Future, or publicly  expressing his frustration with hip-hop colossus Def Jam, the New Orleans native has shown a relentless desire to walk his own path and stand alone as an artist. This is perhaps most evident on “Pyramids,” the lead single from his hyper-anticipated first proper album. A monolithic, expansive, 10-minute meditation that takes us from ancient Egypt into the present day. It’s an audacious assault on what major-label R&B should sound like (name another R&B debut single that cracked 10 minutes), but it’s also a surprisingly engaging experience that never drags, despite its length. Basically, this is Frank all over, and you get the feeling that if we don’t get it, it wouldn’t bother him one bit.

Frank Ocean: “Pyramids”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.09.12): Recloose, “Magic” (f/ B. Slade) (Vocal Mix)

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Recloose (f/ B. Slade)
“Magic” (Vocal Mix)
Feels Like Magic 12″ (Rush Hour)

Being a gay man in the world of Gospel music ain’t easy. Just ask B. Slade. Formerly known as Tonéx, Slade (né Anthony Charles Williams II) was one of the genre’s rising stars before coming out of the closet earlier this year. Predictably (and sadly), Williams was quickly ostracized from the scene that he grew up in — he got his start singing in church — and dropped out of the gospel scene. However, gospel’s loss is pop’s gain, as he has returned to music, lending his super smooth vocal to a swirling, ecstatic jam dropped by rising Auckland-via-Detroit producer, Recloose (pictured). Like any great disco track, “Feels Like Magic” is all about the groove, and Recloose’s bouncy, hypnotic soundscapes are the perfect foil for Williams’ soulful, joyful crooning. This track feels like a coming out party for Williams, and hopefully he’ll continue devoting his prodigious talent to dance music.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/32154678″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (06.08.12): Jens Lekman, “Erica America”

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Jens Lekman
“Erica America”
I Know What Love Isn’t (Secretly Canadian)

In Jens Lekman’s world, even bad break-ups sound beautiful. According to reports, I Know What Love Isn’t — the successor to his just-about-perfect 2007 Night Falls Over Kortedala — is a bonafide break-up album, apparently along the same lines as Beck’s seminal Sea Change. While the subject matter may prove similar, from this and first single “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love,” it seems unlikely to be such a downcast affair. Though both tracks feature decidedly melancholic undertones, they are both shimmering, starry-eyed affairs with sweeping choruses. On “Erica America,” Lekman sashays over a a tasty bit of calypso-style classical guitar and a graceful arraignment, as only he is able to. Without losing his signature lightness, Lekman articulately picks through the bones of a failed relationship, and while it is no doubt a painful exercise, Lekman refuses to let the subject matter weigh him down, resulting in a song that is simultaneously bitter and hopeful. Brilliant.

Jens Lekman: “Erica America”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.07.12): Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Baby”

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Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
“Baby”
Mature Themes (4AD)

When choosing a debut single for a highly-anticipated album, it seems a strange decision to pick a true-to-the-original cover of a song that has been out for over 30 years, but this is Ariel Pink, and strange is his modus operandi. The track itself — a faithful remake of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s just-about-perfect 1979 single — is typically a brilliant, soulful, and lo-fi. Pink may not be known for his predictability, but he’s always had a wonderfully smooth voice and an impeccable understanding of 70’s music and culture. There isn’t really a lot to say here, except that it’s good to have him back and it’ll be fascinating where the volatile Angelino will go from here.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/48920870″ iframe=”true” /]