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

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2018 (So Far...)


Somehow, some fucking way, 2018 is more than half over. And though it might feel like I always say this, I think this was the toughest list I've had to make yet. There's been an overwhelming number of exciting, vital new voices popping up and plenty of fantastic follow-ups Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "Give Yourself A Try"


The 1975 "Give Yourself A Try" A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships (out in October on Dirty Hit) Though it's been out for about two weeks, I've listened to the Manchester quartet's new single roughly two million times. Compositionally, it's totally unremarkable. Built around a repetitive, simplistic guitar riff and three chords, Read more

Images & Words: The Rhythm Method, "Chin Up"


The Rhythm Method "Chin Up" Digital Single Every two years*, I get afflicted with the same illness. It usually starts up a few weeks before every major international football tournament and lasts until somewhere around the quarterfinals. Who knows how long my believesthatEnglandcanwinthewholething-itis will last for this year, but I'm hoping that Read more

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

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.

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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” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (06.06.12): The-Dream, “Dope Bitch” (f/ Pusha T)

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The-Dream
“Dope Bitch” (f/ Pusha T)
Love IV MMXII (Radio Killa)

One of the great things about starting your own site is that you never have to argue with your editor about whether you are writing about The-Dream too much. Mainstream R&B rarely plays well on indie-rock publications, but it almost always plays well on my headphones. While “Dope Bitch” doesn’t capture the imagination quite like the Love IV MMXII‘s unfuckwitable lead single “ROC” did, Terius “The-Dream” Nash’s pretty good is better than 95% of the other guys’ best. Taking a page out of Dr. Dre’s playbook, Nash effortlessly rides a choppy piano line. Toss in a dope verse from Virginia Beach favorite Pusha T, and you’ve got another solid addition to the Nash hymnal. It’s not the most exciting thing he’s ever produced, but it’s grown on me with every listen and has done nothing to quell my excitement for Love IV or endanger his status as the patron saint of Thunder Penguin. My dude.

The-Dream: “Dope Bitch” (Ft. Pusha T)

In case you missed it, here’s the video for “ROC.”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.05.12): Grizzly Bear, “Sleeping Ute”

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Grizzly Bear
“Sleeping Ute”
From Still Untitled New Album (out 9/18)

It was an absolutely incredible week for music, but as I was busy with finals, I have fallen behind on my coverage. But don’t worry, I will make it up in the next few days. Of all the incredible tracks that dropped this week, none can trump the first single from this incredibly influential, BK avant-folk outfit’s highly-anticipated fourth LP. “Sleeping Ute” combines the jangly, guitar-driven, freewheeling style of their seminal 2006 LP Yellow House with the polished production of 2009’s breakthrough Veckatimest. Lead by Daniel Rossen’s dexterous, tongue-twisting guitarwork and his confident croon, the track is a perfect example of Grizzly Bear’s rare ability to craft songs that are immediate and accessible, while remaining esoteric and unexpected. Make no mistake; this is pop music, but it’s extremely sophisticated — lyrically, sonically, compositionally — pop music. There aren’t a lot of bands that can do that, and that’s why that class of band — your Animal Collectives, Radioheads, Grizzly Bears, etc — are often praised to the high heavens and absolutely deserve to be.

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