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

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


A little bit late this year due to real-world commitments, but here is my annual list of the best songs of the first half of 2019. Look for my honorable mention coming later in the week. This year, instead of going with an actual ranking system, I'm going to Read more

My Favorite Songs of 2018

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70. Ross From Friends
“There’s a Hole in My Heart”
Aphelion (Brainfeeder)
Don’t let the jokey name fool you, the London deep house producer is cranking out some of the most emotional dance music around. This expansive, meditative cut is maximum tears on the dancefloor, pairing a heartbroken vocal sample with expansive synths and subtle, inch-perfect percussion. I still haven’t seen an episode of “Friends,” but maybe this’ll make me give it a shot.

69. Christina Vantzou x Echo Collective
“Some Limited and Waning Memory”
No. 4 (Kranky)

The KC composer’s is fast becoming one of the most consistent, driving forces in ambient music. And to my ears, her fourth LP is her strongest yet. This cut is absolutely haunting, as it bleeds from lush strings to choral voices to naked piano without the slightest hitch. Some of the piano passages are Sakamoto-esque and among the most aesthetically beautiful moments of instrumental music recorded this year.

68. Nicholas Krgovich
“October”
Ouch” (Tin Angel)
If you can’t relate to Nicholas Krgovich’s placid jog through Portland, I can’t relate to you. A beautifully, simple song about trying to move on from a long relationship, “October” captures those confusing early post-breakup months where your feelings seem to shift with the breeze. He veers from the rush of meeting someone new into waves of bitterness about his ex into missing him into enjoying his freedom. Through it all, Krgovich’s ultra-lithe beam* of a voice keeps it all together, and the way it slices through the autumn chill and all the insecurity reminds us it’ll all be ok.

sorry*


67. Lil Uzi Vert
“New Patek”
Digital Single
I can’t imagine what buying a 2.5 million dollar watch would feel like, but the Philly megastar sounds pretty fucking stoked about it. In fact, he seems so overcome with post-Patek purchase ecstasy that if Dolan Beats wouldn’t have cut the beat at the 6-minute mark, Uzi probably would have just kept rapping forever. Woulda worked for me.

66. Yves Tumor
“Honesty”
Safe in the Hands of Love (Warp)
It feels criminal to put a track from the Turin artist’s incredible, shapeshifting 3rd LP this low on the list, but the project is just so cohesive, it’s hard to pull out any one song from it. Among the fascinating cacophony of sounds that range from ambient noise to club to alt-rock, I settled on the late-night groove of “Honesty.” The way Tumor balances the sticky, sung melodies (which kinda remind me of Marilyn Manson, somehow) with legit bass music is so effective, as is the way he wields the undulating beat to maximum effect.

65. Peggy Gou
“It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”
Once EP (Ninja Tune)
No DJ made the leap in 2018 quite like the Incheon, South Korea native, graduating from promising talent to legit star. The 28 year-old headlined festivals all over the world and dropped the best music of her young career. This electro disco banger was the pick of the bunch, pairing her sing-song voice with a nasty baseline, well-placed vibraphones, and an extra helping of 90’s house grooves.

64. Foxing
“Nearer My God”
Nearer My God (Triple Crown)
The St. Louis indie rock crew’s third album is the sound of a band saying “fuck it, I’m going for it.” And nothing sums up that approach better than its title track: a cavernous emo ballad that sees Conor Murphy pleading with us to just fucking love him. It is direct, unabashed, and features one of the absolute monster crescendos of the year, which will leave you wondering if anybody out there wants you at all.

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Silk Road Assassins, “Bloom”

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Silk Road Assassins
“Bloom”

State of Ruin (out 02.08 on Planet Mu)
A few years on from their excellent debut EP, Reflection Spaces, the Bath-based instrumental grime experimenters are back with their first full-length project. The disc’s cinematic first single, “Bloom,” is packed with the creeping dread, futuristic keys, and skittering percussion that they’re known for. This is definitely one to look out for early next year.

American Football, “Silhouettes”

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American Football
“Silhouettes”

American Football (out 03.22 on Polyvinyl)
It’s year-end season at ThunderPenguin, so our writing staff (of one) is a little bit pre-occupied by our annual songs and albums lists. However, this gorgeous, atmospheric new track from the dreamo Ohio vets is simply too good to pass up. The expansive slow-burner starts pairs lush beds of vibraphones with their signature arpeggiated, melodious guitar work. Nice to know that we won’t have to wait another 15 years for an American Football record.

Jessica Pratt, “Poly Blue”

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Jessica Pratt
“Poly Blue”

Quiet Sings (02.08.19 on Mexican Summer)
The second taste of the San Francisco singer-songwriter’s third LP is a characteristically gorgeous, atmospheric slice of pastoral folk. Pratt’s voice has a mystical quality that takes me back to falling in love with my mother’s Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez records when I was a kid. This will be one of the soundtracks of my winter.

Images & Words: Robyn, “Honey”

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Robyn
“Honey”
Honey (out now on Konichiwa)
One of the best songs of 2018 (more on all that later) gets the moody, sexy visuals it deserves. Without cannibalizing too much of my year-end list, I will say that I much prefer seeing Robyn dancing with other people than on her own. And it’s been wonderful to see her push back against some of the stereotypes that “Dancing On My Own” left her with.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, “Tides IV”

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
“Tides IV”

Tides: Music For Meditation And Yoga (out January 2019 on Touchtheplants)
I’m not much for Yoga, but the Washington-born, LA-based composer’s new album might change that. The project was penned for her mother’s yoga practice, and the first track from it is gorgeous, ambient piece that breathes right along with the listener. Any project like this will be best heard in context, but this is a delicious first taste.

Images & Words: Key Glock, “Since 6ix”

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Key Glock
“Since 6ix”
Glockoma (out now Paper Route
Empire)
One of Memphis’ most promising young talents drops his best track yet, sliding effortlessly between an absolute monster of a beat from Tay Keith and 2LeftHand. After blowing up locally, Key has his on international acclaim, and if this mixtape is anything to go by, it’s a question of “when” not “if.”

Images & Words: AMA, “MONOCHROME”

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AMA
“MONOCHROME”

Digital Single (Dirty Hit)
Hailing from West London, the 18 year-old pop/R&B singer is yet another rising new voice coming from the city. Her debut single, “Monochrome,” feels both nostalgic and current, drawing inspiration from the R&B of her youth and fitting comfortably next to fellow Brits like like Jorja Smith and Mabel. Though her career is just getting kicked off, it’s easy to see why she’s already got so many people so excited.

Lapalux, “ABOVE”

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Lapalux
“ABOVE”

ABOVE_BETWEEN_BELOW (out now on Brainfeeder)
Low-key London producer Stuart Howard recently dropped a 3-track, ambient collection, and its lead-off track is an expansive, aqueous number. Though he’s somewhat known as a club-friendly producer, the Essex artist couldn’t be further from a night out here, gradually guiding the listener deeper out into the track’s placid waters.

Otha: “I’m On Top”

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Otha
“I’m On Top”

Digital Single
Oslo native Othalie Husøy’s first single, “Other Girls,” made some waves this summer, and now she’s back with another slab of uplifting indie dance pop. Her restrained, perma-cool vocals wouldn’t sound out of place on an Italians Do It Better track, and her production beautifully straddles the line between lo-fi and hi-energy. Its empowering message rounds out the good vibes, which are plentiful. “I’m on Top” is another step in her cementing herself as one of the most exciting independent young artists around.