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

The Hottest Jams of the Year So Far… (In 140 characters or less)

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To save myself from TLDR, I decided to keep all my ramblings under 140 characters. Instead of trying to choose my absolute favorite songs, I stuck to only songs that were released as singles, just for my own sanity. Also, the list is in alphabetical order — no rankings. I also limited to one track per artist. If you hate Twitter-speak, fragments, and hashtags, soz. LOL im nt soz.

Though Spotify is missing a lot of stuff, here’s a link to a playlist with a bunch of the tracks on this list. LINK.

Ab-Soul: “Terrorist Threats” (f/ Danny Brown, Jhené Aiko)
Paranoia that the Geto Boys could be proud of. The only Black Hippy w/o a WikiPedia page breaks out. Danny with another genius verse.

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Animal Collective: “Honeycomb”
Can you think of any other band that always sounds so new yet so familiar? Can’t wait for Centipede Hz

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Thunder Penguin’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2012

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1. The-XX: Coexist
September 11th, XL

I’m not quite sure why, but the XX’s fragile, incredibly beautiful self-titled debut always felt like a one-off to me. I’m not sure whether it was their seemingly reclusive personalities, vocalist Romy Madley Croft threats of never making another record, producer Jamie XX’s bubbling solo career, or the true distinctiveness of the album, but I always kinda assumed that it would the only real statement we’d get from the shadowy London trio. Earlier this year, we started to hear rumblings about a new album, and those rumors were actualized by their performance at this year’s Primavera. Though I tried to avoid it, it would have taken Hannibal Lecter-style restraints to keep me from pouring over the low-quality crowd footage that popped up on YouTube. Unless the songs sound way better on someone’s iPhone than they do in the studio, that second statement is gonna be one to remember.

Check out its lead single, “Angels.”

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The Best Albums of 2012 (So Far)

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It’s been a solid, if unspectacular start first half of the year, and before we get into what should be a special, special second half of 2012, I wanted to look back at some of the albums that have stood out from the rest. All of these are available to stream from Spotify, except the Evian Christ and Joey Bada$$ mixtapes, which are available to download for free. Just check the link. I had to kill comments after getting heavily trolled by Ukrainian SpamBots, but if you think there’s something on here that I missed, feel free to shoot me an email. Hope you’ve had a beautiful 2012 so far!

1. Chromatics
Kill For Love
Italians Do It Better

Simply put, Chromatics’ expansive, audacious Kill For Love is an album, not a collection of songs. While that may seem trivial, it is absolutely the one underlying trait that separates it from most of the records released this year. Bands have written better songs, but nobody has delivered a collection of songs this cohesive, this engaging, this consistently brilliant in 2012. The 16 tracks that make up Kill For Love are all connected symbiotically and are essential to the statement Johnny Jewel and co. were trying to make. That’s not to say that there aren’t some killer singles on here. By my count, it has six songs that could absolutely hold their own as A-sides (“Kill For Love,” “Candy,” “These Streets Will Never Look The Same” (my personal favorite), “The Page,” “Back From the Grave,” and “Birds of Paradise”) and plenty of others that could stand on their own. Kill For Love is a throwback — an album that is perfectly balanced and demands to be listened to in one setting — of immense magnitude and vision. Just about perfect.

Hottest Jams: “Kill For Love” / “These Streets Will Never Look The Same”

“These Streets Will Never Look The Same”

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“Kill For Love”

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Thunder Tape: Everyday Is Like Sade (June 2012)

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Just in time for summer, it’s my pleasure to share another mixtape with you guys.

May you spend the summer with the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair.

Everyday is Like Sade (Side A)

Everyday Is Like Sade (Side B)

side a:
cassie:king of hearts(richard x rmx)
mario:let me love you(lapalux rmx)
jessie ware:running(disclosure rmx)
purity ring:obedear
gang colours:fancy restaurant
giselle:silk(cosmic kids rmx)

side b:
jyrome good:where i left off
shlohmo/r. kelly/ nico jaar:rained the whole time (hemsworth blend)
javeon mccarthy:precious
bondax:only you know
ciara:ride (masterpiece rmx)
just friends (jaar+spielberg):avalanche

You can also download it all as one file here.

Hot Jam of the Day (06.18.12): Joey Badass, “Waves”

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Joey Bada$$
1999 (Self-Released)

While it’s easy to roll your eyes at his gauche moniker, one spin of the 17 year-old Flatbush-MC’s stunning debut mixtape will make even the biggest skeptic a believer. He may be young, but Bada$$’ music is rooted in Brooklyn’s rich hip-hop history. Rhyming mostly over jazzy breaks, boom-bap backbeats, and soulful melodies, the loquacious youngster flows with incredible grace and effortlessness. While it’s tough to pick a favorite from the consistently excellent LP, “Waves” highlights his first-class wordplay, hopeful exuberance, and exquisite storytelling. Simultaneously relentless and breezy, it’s impossible to listen to 1999 without thinking of another prodigiously talented 17-year old — Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt — and while the LA-native might edge Bada$$ on pure flow, Sweatshirt can’t touch the Brooklynite’s original, fascinating perspective and lyrical content. I would say the kid’s gonna be special, but he already is. Remember the name.

Joey Bada$$: “Waves”

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”

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

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“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