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

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

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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Hot Jam of the Day (08.02.12): Grizzly Bear, “Yet Again”

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Grizzly Bear
“Yet Again”
Shields (Warp)

Admittedly, it’s a little strange to hear Grizzly Bear do something this straightforward, but damned if it isn’t lovely. They’ve always had the ability to write incredible pop songs (“Two Weeks” springs to mind), but they’ve generally refused to play nice, opting for a more experimental, ramshackle approach. “Yet Again” is the sound of the group stripping back some of those layers and focusing on writing a beautiful, heartfelt, easily digestable acoustic pop-rock song. Unsurprisingly, they nail it, but it seems like more than just another excellent Grizzly Bear track. It feels like a rustic signpost pointing toward a kinder, gentler sound. Though Sheilds’ first single, “Sleeping Ute,” is rougher around the edges, it has undoubtable pop sensibilities. It really looks like this could be the album that transforms Grizzly Bear from indie darlings to bonafide superstars, and if that change keeps sounding this good, I’m more than OK with that.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.01.12): Anna Lunoe, “Up and Down”

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Anna Lunoe
“Up and Down”
Fool’s Gold Clubhouse Vol. 1 (Fool’s Gold)

If Thunder Penguin ever gives up chasing saucy penguettes and gets into human women, I’m pretty sure Anna Lunoe would be the girl of his dreams. Already an accomplished producer and DJ, the multi-talented Australian is set to take the indie pop world by storm. On the back of her sultry Real Talk EP, “Up and Down” is an impossibly sexy jam with understated vocals and some Nicolas Jaar-esque percussive magic. The hook has a hint of “Boom Boom Boom” to it (the “if I cannot be with you, maybe I could have a taste” part), which, in my opinion, is nothing but a bonus. Either way, I’d be shocked if this one doesn’t turn into a sleeper hit of the summer, as it feels readymade to soundtrack those summer relationships that are as ephemeral as the setting sun.

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Hot Jam of the Day (07.31.12): Antony, “Landslide”

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Antony Hegarty
Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac (Hear Music/Concord)

If Antony Hegarty ever decided to quit being a brilliant singer/songwriter, he could become the world’s best lounge singer. Though he is known for his enchanting, lush arraignments, a good chunk of Antony and the Johnsons frontperson Antony Hegarty’s finest moments are his quietest, and for whatever reason, a few of those seem to be his covers. Don’t get me wrong, I believe he is one of the five best, most important pure songwriters of his generation, but he also has an incredible knack for knocking out beautiful, subtle covers. Along the lines of his showstopping takes on Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and Bob Dylan’s “I Was Young When I Left Home” comes his newest cover: an arresting, sparse take on Fleetwood Mac’s classic, “Landslide.” Taking on a song with that much cultural capital is dangerous, but the California native handles it with incredible care, deploying his delicate warble to staggering effect. His new symphonic LP, Cut the World, is out next week, and this should do well to tie us over till then. Lovely.

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And just because it’s incredible, here’s the video for his cover of “Crazy in Love.”

Hot Jam of the Day (07.30.12): Animal Collective, “Today’s Supernatural”

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Animal Collective
“Today’s Supernatural”
Centipede Hz (Domino)

Sometimes to go forward you’ve got to go back, and that seems to be the direction Animal Collective have decided to go with their ninth album, Centipede Hz. The Brooklyn noise pop quartet’s triumphant 2009 LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion, very much felt like the summation of around a decade of hard work and experimentation, and is, without a doubt, one of the best albums of its decade. The thing about masterpieces is they are damn hard to follow up. Instead of continuing their slow ascent (or descent, depending on your tastes) into pop world, the group seems to have decided to go back to their chaotic, explosive roots. While “Today’s Supernatural” recalls both Feels and Sung Tongs, it doesn’t feel like a retread, mostly because they have matured so much as songwriters. It’s a brilliant amalgam between their frenetic, carnival-y early sound and their newfound pop sensibilities. It’s goofy and crazy, but is still inherently sing-along-able, which is a hell of a potent balance. Judging Animal Collective records by their singles is about as dangerous as taking the Chik-fil-A guy to a Lady GaGa concert, so I’m doing my best not to jump to any conclusi… Ah, fuck it. This album is gonna be fucking amazing. Bank on it.

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Hot Jams of the Day (07.29.12): Sean Blackthorn, One Night EP

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Sean Blackthorn
One Night EP

In the last few months, I’ve written so much about this Toronto-based soul singer that you could be forgiven for thinking that the dude must have me on the payroll. But as long as he keeps pumping out downtempo R&B/neo-soul this good, I’m going to have to keep writing about him. In many ways, this feels like the culmination of a thought that started with the hauntingly beautiful single, “Hymns & Questions,” which was released all the way back in February. One Night does more than fulfill the promise of the excellent previously released singles and is very much the fully-realized, cohesive statement that we’ve been waiting for from the talented vocalist. Blackthorn’s music always feels like it was recorded in some chilly, cavernous cathedral (though it’s actually recorded in his bedroom), and that’s never been more apparent than on the opener, his arresting take on “Ave Maria.” From there, the Canadian’s tenor leads us through love (“Just to Say I Love You”), sex (“GIRLS I,” “GIRLS II”), and heartbreak (“Best/Friends”) with startling honesty and perspective. When listening to this EP, it’s easy to forget that Blackthorn is still in his early twenties, and as brilliant as One Night is, it feels very much like the final act of the first volume of his career. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here, and it really feels like he is just getting started.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.28.12): Jeremih, “773 Love”

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“773 Love”
Late Nights (Self-Released)

The artist formally known as the Birthday Sex Dude has had the internet goin’ nutz this week, mostly for his raunchy new clip for “Go to the Mo,” which lies somewhere between “Tip Drill” in a motel room and a straight up porno. However, what’s been most interesting about having Jeremih back is his new sound, which is not-so-subtly influenced by bedroom R&B du jour. His new mixtape drops August 7, and its most recent single, “773 Love,” is a dreamy, herky jerky  jam that is sure to slide in easily into any sexy time playlist (or wherever else you wanna put it). Though it’s just a radio rip, the Texas native sounds terrific, as his effortless tenor glides over a synth-heavy backing track. From what we’ve heard, Late Nights looks to be one of the real surprise gems of the second half of 2012, and on the off-chance that it doesn’t exonerate him from being known as a guy who wrote only one truly great song, he can always fall back on a career in the adult entertainment industry.

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Because my mom sometimes reads this blog, I won’t post the “Go to the Mo” video, but you can find it if you want to. Do not. I repeat do not watch it at work. Here’s the audio. The song’s pretty dope.

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Hot Jam of the Day (07.26.12): Friendzone, “I Have Nothing”

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“I Have Nothing”
Single (Self-Released)

I don’t know much about this production duo, except that they are from the Bay Area and have released some devastating collaborations with rising stars Main Attrakionz. The group sporadically releases new music, and their most recent track, “I Have Nothing,” is indicative of their evocative, yet head-nodding style. Though the group hasn’t ascended to the heights of producers like Araabmuzik and Clams Casino, they definitely populate similar sonic real estate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them blow up if they keep going like they’re going.  

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