Lana Del Rey, "Doin' Time"

Lana Del Rey"Doin' Time"Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)If you grew up in California in the early 2000's, it was just about impossible to get in someone's car or go to a party that wasn't playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "Vossi Bop"

Stormzy"Vossi Bop"Digital SingleAfter a little while away, the London kingpin looks to be getting back in the game. "Vossi Bop" is a perfect comeback track because it is such a pure distillation of what makes Stormzy a true-one off. Over a tasty, yet simple beat, Big Mike goes in Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019 (1st Quarter)

Even though we're a solid week into the second quarter, better late than never right? Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite songs of the last three months. To keep numbers manageable, I didn't include anything from any of my favorite albums list and prioritized songs I Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2019 (First Quarter)

Gah, I can't believe we're already 25% through 2019. That said, Spring is in the air, and we've enjoyed an excellent, diverse crop of music during these first three months. Have a look at some of my favorite LPs of the year so far in no particular order. Dawn Richard
 “New Read more

Chief Keef, "Ain't Gonna Happen"

Chief Keef "Ain't Gonna Happen" GloToven (Glo Gang / RBC) The Chicago stalwart's new project with the legendary Zaytoven is unsurprisingly full of weird and wacky sounds, moving in innumerable unexpected and exciting ways. Its most powerful moment is its starkest, as a heartbroken Keef floats freely over Zay's gorgeous piano. "Face dried Read more

Images & Words: Weekly Video Round-Up, 10.27

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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. M83: “Steve McQueen”
In an era where fully realized albums are few and far between, Anthony Gonzalez’s decision to make the most important album of his career into a double LP was incredibly balsy. Luckily, it paid off, as Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming managed to hit heights not even reached by its seminal predecessor, Saturdays = Youth. The best thing about its length is that a year later, we’re still digesting it, and gems like “Steve McQueen” (the album’s 19th track) keep popping up as I go back through the album. It’ll take some time for the true scope of the Frenchman’s vision to become crystal clear, and you can’t help but feel that a few years from now we’ll be looking at it as one of the high watermarks of this decade.

4. Chromatics: “Looking For Love”
Who wants to spend five minutes checking out a bunch of people who are taller, better looking, and more stylish than them? When it’s backed by a track this deadly? Everybody.

3. Wild Nothing: “Paradise”
My roommate and I had an argument/heated discussion about Michelle Williams last week. I argued that she is a criminally underrated, extremely versatile actress, while he argued that she wasn’t nearly as good as his two favorite actresses, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Katherine Heigl. Ok, that’s not true, but basically, it boiled down to Michelle Williams vs. Heath Ledger. And while emoting into what looks like a flip-phone camera isn’t going to necessarily help my argument, it certainly won’t hurt it…especially when it’s soundtracked by one of the 10 best songs of the year.

2. Connan Mockasin: “Faking Jazz Together”
First off, thanks to my buddy Dan for tipping me off to this. The new video for the trippy Kiwi’s “Faking Jazz Together” is easily one of the most visually stunning of the year. Taking place in a forest scene that is very The Crucible/”An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge,” something very strange is afoot. Like the best videos, it perfectly captures the mood and feel of the song: shadowy, esoteric, affecting, and ultimately beautiful.

1. Trinidad James: “All Gold Everything”
Now, I’m aware that no credible music writer would rank this video over the preceding four (especially “Faking Jazz Together”), so it’s good that I’m not a credible music writer, because this has to be the best video of the week. How come? Ten reasons.
1. Adorable puppies used as rap props/accessories.
2. “Pop the molly, I’m sweatin'” rhymed with “mama said, boy, count yo’ blessins.”
3. A preponderance of cheetah print clothing. All worn by men.
4. Gold (painted) baseball bats and bikes.
5. Stuntin’ in a panda mask.
6. Chick w/ two gold teeth.
7. James has a Dungeon Family tattoo on his hands. Not a member of the Dungeon Family.
8. Velvet slippers.
10. Soundtracked by one of the best rap songs of the year and starring one of the most entertaining, seemingly affable new rappers of the year.

Hot Jam of the Day (10.22.12): Local Natives, “Breakers”

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ED NOTE: I started a new job and moved house last week, and I have obviously fallen desperatley behind on my Hot Jams. Instead of going back and filling days, I’ll just pull double duty this week. Thanks! TP

Local Natives
Hummingbird (out 01/29/13 on Frenchkiss)

Simply put, the Silver Lake-based quartet’s debut album, Gorilla Manor, was one of my favorite albums of 2009. Nowadays, it’s rare to see young bands allow more than 18 months or so to go by in between successful albums, so four years feels like an absolute eternity. And while I’m sure the sunny harmonizers could have cranked out 12 more slabs of Laurel Canyon-influenced magic a little sooner, it’s refreshing to see a rising band take the time to reflect on an impressive maiden statement and carefully craft a follow-up. While first single, “Breakers,” has many of the LN hallmarks — evocative melodies, delicate vocals, busy percussion, strong vocal harmonies — it also has a more than a touch of extra grandiosity and a quasi-arena-rock feel that wasn’t quite evident on Gorilla Manor. Wherever it goes, it will definitely be a fascinating statement, and it’s certainly going to be one of the most anticipated albums of first part of the new year.

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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”