CFCF, "Closed Space"

CFCF "Closed Space" Liquid Colours (out 03.01) Though I haven't listened to it as much as his ree-fucking-dick-u-lus J.Lo remix (aka: the best song of 2019 so far), the first single from Montreal mainstay Michael Silver's new album is an instant keeper. It kicks off with luxurious beds of neo-geo synths that Read more

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

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

Hot Jam of the Day (06.11.12): Holy Other, “Love Some1”

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Holy Other
“Love Some1”
Held (Tri Angle)

If you are like me and fell in love with the ghostly, meditational stylings of this UK/Berlin producer’s 2011 debut EP, With U, you are in for a treat, as the mercurial Mancunian recently announced that he is set to unleash his debut LP on August 28. Sensing that this is quite a long time to wait, he was good enough to give us a little taste of what to expect, and I’m thrilled to report that it is more of the moody, atmospheric brilliance that we’ve come to expect. Built on undulating swabs of sub-bass that is simultaneously creepy and soothing, “Love Some1” builds to a subtly spectacular resolution. Though they are never the focal points of his songs, Holy Other has always had a knack for using vocals in just the right way, always using them to add to the song’s mood without letting them overpower the track, and this track is no different. Fantastic.

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Hot Jam of the Day (06.10.12): Frank Ocean, “Pyramids”

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Frank Ocean
Channel Orange (Def Jam)

In the last 18 months, Frank Ocean has showed us that he is a lot of things — passionate, eclectic, progressive — but above all, his music has proven that he is incredibly ambitious. Whether it was taking on “Hotel California” on his debut mixtape, distancing himself from Odd Future, or publicly  expressing his frustration with hip-hop colossus Def Jam, the New Orleans native has shown a relentless desire to walk his own path and stand alone as an artist. This is perhaps most evident on “Pyramids,” the lead single from his hyper-anticipated first proper album. A monolithic, expansive, 10-minute meditation that takes us from ancient Egypt into the present day. It’s an audacious assault on what major-label R&B should sound like (name another R&B debut single that cracked 10 minutes), but it’s also a surprisingly engaging experience that never drags, despite its length. Basically, this is Frank all over, and you get the feeling that if we don’t get it, it wouldn’t bother him one bit.

Frank Ocean: “Pyramids”

Hot Jam of the Day (06.09.12): Recloose, “Magic” (f/ B. Slade) (Vocal Mix)

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Recloose (f/ B. Slade)
“Magic” (Vocal Mix)
Feels Like Magic 12″ (Rush Hour)

Being a gay man in the world of Gospel music ain’t easy. Just ask B. Slade. Formerly known as Tonéx, Slade (né Anthony Charles Williams II) was one of the genre’s rising stars before coming out of the closet earlier this year. Predictably (and sadly), Williams was quickly ostracized from the scene that he grew up in — he got his start singing in church — and dropped out of the gospel scene. However, gospel’s loss is pop’s gain, as he has returned to music, lending his super smooth vocal to a swirling, ecstatic jam dropped by rising Auckland-via-Detroit producer, Recloose (pictured). Like any great disco track, “Feels Like Magic” is all about the groove, and Recloose’s bouncy, hypnotic soundscapes are the perfect foil for Williams’ soulful, joyful crooning. This track feels like a coming out party for Williams, and hopefully he’ll continue devoting his prodigious talent to dance music.

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Hot Jam of the Day (06.08.12): Jens Lekman, “Erica America”

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Jens Lekman
“Erica America”
I Know What Love Isn’t (Secretly Canadian)

In Jens Lekman’s world, even bad break-ups sound beautiful. According to reports, I Know What Love Isn’t — the successor to his just-about-perfect 2007 Night Falls Over Kortedala — is a bonafide break-up album, apparently along the same lines as Beck’s seminal Sea Change. While the subject matter may prove similar, from this and first single “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love,” it seems unlikely to be such a downcast affair. Though both tracks feature decidedly melancholic undertones, they are both shimmering, starry-eyed affairs with sweeping choruses. On “Erica America,” Lekman sashays over a a tasty bit of calypso-style classical guitar and a graceful arraignment, as only he is able to. Without losing his signature lightness, Lekman articulately picks through the bones of a failed relationship, and while it is no doubt a painful exercise, Lekman refuses to let the subject matter weigh him down, resulting in a song that is simultaneously bitter and hopeful. Brilliant.

Jens Lekman: “Erica America”