Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"

Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"

The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"

Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter

Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)

As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Images & Words: Santi, “Sparky”

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Digital Single
The man behind one of my favorite songs of 2018 returns with his first new music of 2019, and unsurprisingly, it’s a banger. One of the leaders of Nigeria’s exciting alté movement, Santi pairs beachy, airy keyboards with his evocative voice for a sound that recalls Afrobeats, dancehall, and American R&B. Though his voice is soothing and the vibe is soft, there’s a still that little hint of edge that guarantees that his music could never blend into the background. Don’t sleep on this guy.

Images & Words: NoCap, “Ghetto Angels”

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“Ghetto Angels”

Digital Single
As YNW Melly’s chilling, “Murder on My Mind,” finally finished its ascent to #1 last week, the rising Mobile, AL rapper quietly released a new song that deserves just as much attention. NoCap is yet another example of the rising tide of young, independent artists, whose sound has just as much in common with R&B and gospel as street rap. More than anything, “Ghetto Angels” — much like “Murder on My Mind” — feels like a modern blues record.

A heartbreaking look at a young life littered with violence, he recounts getting ready to pick up a friend to take him to visit another friend’s grave before getting a phone-call telling him that friend was also dead. Though pain is pouring out of every pore of this record, Cap finds strength in numbers, as his boys help him out on the last chorus, lifting his spirits and reminding him that he’s not alone.

Foxes in Fiction, “Ontario Sunshine pt. 3” (feat. Emily Yacina)

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Foxes in Fiction
“Ontario Sunshine pt. 3” (feat. Emily Yacina)
Digital Single
It’s a rainy Friday morning in New York, which is just about the perfect backdrop for the dreamy, long-awaited new single from Warren Hildebrand. Short of a few one-off tracks, the Queens-based artist has been pretty quiet since his lovely 2014 project, “Ontario Gothic,” but he’s returning sometime soon with a new full-length. Though this track isn’t slated to appear on it, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come, as it pairs soothing, reverb-soaked guitars with Yacina’s affecting vocals to delicious effect.

Matt Kivel, “l.a. coliseum”

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Matt Kivel
“l.a. coliseum”
last night in america (out 05.10 on Cascine)
Our first taste of the LA singer’s debut LP for Cascine is a dreamy, low-light rumination on the early days of a relationship. Kivel’s voice is soft but affecting, and it gently bobs along the layers of soft synths and meandering electric guitar. It’s a track that really feels like falling in love in LA,  and it leaves me seriously jonesing for those technicolor sunsets and warm, evening breezes.

Chief Keef, “Ain’t Gonna Happen”

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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 up, from all of the tears I done cried up,” he laments, namedropping late friends and family members like Fredo Santana, Big Glo, and Capo. In just 23 years, he’s encountered a staggering amount of loss, but in classic style, he soldiers on, pushing boundaries and continuing to cement his legacy as one of the most important, influential rappers of his generation.

Channel Tres, “Brilliant N***a”

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Channel Tres
“Brilliant N***a”
Digital Single
The man behind one of my favorite songs of 2018 returns with a silky new slice of the indefinable deep house/jazz/rap sound that he started cooking up on his incredible, self-titled debut EP. Over a meandering flutes, airy toms, and droning synths, the artist born Sheldon Young glides effortlessly across proceedings, dropping adhesive, charismatic couplets by the dozen. Hopefully, a proper debut LP beckons.

Images & Words: Xanman, “Kane”

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Hey Shootah Vol 2. (self-released)
This song has been out for a minute, but I just realized that I still haven’t written about the super talented DMV native yet. Considering that I’ve probably listened to more Xanman than any other rapper so far in 2019, it feels like it’s time to change that.

Like most of his tracks, “Kane” feels like it’s over before it even stars, imploring you to run it back (at least) a couple more times as soon as it finishes. At his most frenetic, Xanman basically eats the end of his bars (pun extremely intended), jamming in as many as possible and thumbing his nose at the beat. But he’s far from a one-trick pony, as he highlights by shifting into a cut-time, sing-song flow midway through the track. It’s the kind of melody lesser rappers would build an entire song around, but Xanman tosses it out in under 15 seconds, just because he can.

Images & Words: Roses Gabor, “I Could Be Yours”

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Roses Gabor
“I Could Be Yours”

Fantasy & Facts (out now on AllPoints)
The low-key London R&B boundary pusher dropped her long-awaited debut LP on Friday, and it’s a unsurprisingly fascinating project. Gabor’s slinky, seductive sound lives in the cracks between R&B and electro, and “I Could Be Yours” is perhaps the best example of just how potent her sound can be. A lot more people should really be talking about this project.

Laura Stevenson, “Value Inn”

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Laura Stevenson
“Value Inn”

The Big Freeze (out 03.29 on Don Giovanni)
Though the Long Island singer-songwriter has been at it for nearly 10 years, “Value Inn” is my first taste of the Laura Stevenson experience, and goddamn, it is a delicious one. “Value Inn” is a stark, brooding piece of electric folk that pairs her bewitching voice with reverb-soaked guitars that start as a drizzle before building into a dense storm. Recorded in her childhood bedroom, the track crackles with dark clouds of dread that are only parted by her piercing vocals. One to watch.

The National, “You Had Your Soul with You”

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The National
“You Had Your Soul With You”

I Am Easy to Find (out 05.17 on 4AD)
We millennials are fickle bastards, man. After releasing a trio of fantastic albums, it only took me one snoozer (2013’s “Trouble Will Find Me”) to basically write off the Ohio quintet as a spent force. I was shocked by how much I loved the back-half of 2017’s “Trouble Will Find Me,” and this jittery new single builds on the disc’s momentum. Over sporadic flourishes of electric guitar and stutter-stepping drums, Matt Berninger luxuriates in his misery declaring “I’ve got it worse than anyone.” With fans like me, maybe he’s got a point.