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

Lana Del Rey, "Doin' Time"

Lana Del Rey"Doin' Time"Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)If you grew up in California in the early 2000's, it was just about impossible to get in someone's car or go to a party that wasn't playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Read more

Hot Jam of the Day (08.27.12): How to Dress Well, “Cold Nites” (Koreless Remix)

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How to Dress Well
“Cold Nites” (Koreless Remix)
Digital Single

I’ve written thousands of words about the admiration that I have for How to Dress Well’s fractured, lo-fi bedroom R&B, so I thought I’d focus a little on the Scottish teenager behind this remix. The 19 year-old Glaswegian burst on the scene with his pensive neo-dubstep meditation, “Lost in Tokyo” and a release on buzzy UK label, Pictures. His ability to craft emotive, drippy compositions makes him a natural partner for the perpetual heart-on-sleeve HTDW (né Tom Krell), and Koreless handles the delicate original with the utmost care. The single note melody sounds like falling rain and frames Krell’s crushing vocal beautifully. When the Chicago-based singer lets out “I pray for myself again,” it’s impossible not to feel it. Stunning.

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Bonus Track: Check out Jacques Greene’s sumptuous remix of “Lost in Tokyo” below.

New Video Alert: Major Lazer, “Get Free” / Kisses, “Johnny & Mary”

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Though these two artists have nearly nothing in common, their most recent videos struck me in a similar way. Both are awesome micro-explorations of one of the world’s most fascinating cultures (Jamaica and Brazil, respectively) put to pretty dope soundtracks. And both really make me want to visit the country they are about. I’ve never been a huge Diplo guy, but it’s hard to argue with “Get Free,” and Kisses have long been favorites of mine. Dig in…

Major Lazer: “Get Free”

Kisses: “Johnny & Mary”

Hot Jam of the Day (08.24.12): Holy Other, “Inpouring”

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Holy Other
Held (Tri Angle, out 8/28)

Who would have known that r&b and new age would have made such exquisite bedfellows? Listening to Holy Other makes me realize that I wasn’t totally insane for digging Enya and Boyz II Men in middle school. The Manchester-based producer’s debut EP was amongst my favorites of 2011, and his debut LP is shaping up as one of the releases of the year. Holy Other is a master of mood, consistently crafting tracks that are sensual and evocative, but what really sets him apart is his use of vocals. Instead of using words to convey meaning, he merely relies on vocal tonality. He rarely lets his vocal samples get out complete words (“Love Some1” and “With U” are notable examples), but that never gets in the way of his ability to tell affecting stories. More than anything, he’s created a sound that is all his own, and it’s definitely one of the most fascinating in electronic music at the moment.

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Stream the whole album, here.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.23.12): Chad Valley, “Fall 4 U” (f. Glasser)

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Chad Valley
“Fall 4 U” (f. Glasser)
Young Hunger (Cascine, out 10/30) 

Oxford-based producer Chad Valley has always been one of the standouts of the Balearic pop/chillwave scene that peaked a couple years ago, and it’s kind of amazing that he’s still yet to release a proper LP. That wait is nearing its end, and based on “Fall 4 U,” its breathtaking debut single, Young Hunger is going to be well worth the wait. Valley (né Hugo Manuel) enlists the ultra-smooth vocal stylings of the talented, mercurial Cameron Mesirow, and the duo effortlessly glide over a characteristically evocative, beachy soundscape. Think of it as the chillwave “You Don’t Send Me Flowers” with less eyebrows. This is gonna soundtrack some serious late summer, skinny-on-skinny dry humping, and I’m not mad about it.

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Hot Jams of the Day (08.22.12): Frank Ocean Remix Trifecta

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Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” remains one of my favorite albums of 2012, and to celebrate it, I rounded up a few of the best FO remixes for your listening pleasure. 

Frank Ocean: “Pyramids” (Kastle Remix)

The San Francisco-based producer’s expansive, just-a-little-bit-screwed remix of the best song of the year is about to join his Infinite City EP on heavy rotation in Thunder Penguin’s Bionic Igloo (read: my bedroom). He absolutely nails the emotive feel of the song, while giving it a little added edge. The 8-bit synth in the bridge is worth the price of admission by itself. Crazy.

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Frank Ocean: “Thinking About You” (Ryan Hemsworth Edit)

Our next remix comes from the blogosphere’s producer du jour, the talented Ryan Hemsworth. The Canadian obviously has a serious background in hip-hop, and he takes the original out of your bedroom and into your ride…even though it still works great in your bedroom.

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Frank Ocean: “Thinking About You” (Nite Jewel+Nicholas Krgovich ReWork)

Last up, we’ve got a pensive take from Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez and Canadian, velvet-voiced troubadour Nicholas Krgovich. I haven’t heard every remix from Channel Orange, but I’ll happily wager that this is the only one that prominently features a flute. Would have loved to hear Gonzalez really open it up here, but it’s still a nice, breezy version of it.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.21.12): King Krule, “Rock Bottom”

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King Krule
“Rock Bottom”
Rock Bottom 7″ (Rinse, out 08/25) 

King Krule’s music is the audio equivalent of Greg Oden. I’m not talking about the bad knees, awful beard, or gigantic peni… er, hands. Oden is still in his mid-twenties, but he’s looked like he’s about 41 since he was in high school. The artist formally known as Zoo Kid (né Archy Marshall) is still a couple of years away from his 20th birthday, but he sounds and writes like a 60-some-odd year-old Mississippi Delta blues man. For the better part of three years, he’s been crafting affecting, musically progressive gutter soul, and he just continues to get better.

Coming off the back of his excellent self-titled 2011 EP (and its a-fucking-mazing lead single “The Noose of Jah City”), “Rock Bottom” has all the hallmarks of a Marshall classic: razor-sharp guitar stabs, reflective lyrics, and his dropdead vocals, which lie somewhere between Joe Strummer after ten packs of Marlboro reds and a feral coyote. To top it off, he throws in a nod to a key song on one of my favorite albums of all time. Imagine how good he’ll get when he can legally drink!

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And just because it’s still that fucking brilliant, check out “The Noose of Jah City,” my third favorite track of 2011.

Hot Jam of the Day (08.20.12): Gang Colours, “Fill Me In”

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Gang Colours
“Fill Me In”
Digital Single

Great covers come in many forms. That said, they generally are at their best and most enduring when an artist so stamps their authority and style on the original that it almost comes off as an entirely new track. Such is British down-tempo producer Gang Colours’ take on Craig David’s seminal middle-school slow jam. Over a moody keyboard line, drippy percussion, and ambient filigree, the Southampton native (né Will Ozanne) retells David’s classic story of hooking up with the girl next door in his delicate, alluring tenor. It’s so good that even if you hated the original, you still might like this. However, if you are like me and already love the original, you’ll dig this and end up falling back in love with Craig’s version: the ultimate sign of a great cover.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.18.12): Brother Ali, “Mourning In America”

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Brother Ali
“Mourning in America”
Mourning in America, and Dreaming in Color (Rhymesayers, out 09/18) 

For many years, I considered Minneapolis-MC not only one of my favorite rappers on the planet, but also one of my favorite overall musicians. While I still hold his trifecta — 2003’s Shadows on the Sun, 2004’s Champion EP, and 2007’s The Undisputed Truth — in ridiculously high esteem, nothing he’s released since has hit me that hard. At his best, Ali (né Jason Newman) is an incisive writer, blessed with incredible insight and a razor-sharp sense of humor. He can write about brutal, honest truths without having it feel like a history lesson, an ability lost on most of his backpack-toting brethren. That grace was conspicuously absent on 2009’s preachy, politically-obsessed Us, which ended up feeling like a hard slog. This — the leadoff single of his ominously titled fifth LP — finds Ali still in “fight the power”-mode. While I appreciate the importance of politically conscious music (especially in an election year), I hope it won’t be the only topic Ali touches on. He’s way too interesting to pigeonhole himself.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.17.12): Husky, “Did You Forget”

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“Did You Forget?”
Transition One EP (Zip Sound Recordings, out now)

Every once in a while, I’ll come across something I love that I know nothing about. Usually a few Google searches or a press release will answer my questions, but I couldn’t find any info on this rising producer. Basically, I know he’s American, signed to an Atlanta-based label called Zip Sound Recordings, shares my love of Pretty Ricky, and made one of my favorite EPs of the summer. On Transition One, Husky serves up a tasty amalgam of neo-dubstep, R&B, and hip-hop, very much in the vein of TP-favorites like Disclosure and Kastle. Though I was immediately sucked in by its opening track — a fire remix of Pretty Ricky’s unfuckwitable “Grind on Me” — I quickly fell for the rest of album’s three tracks, particularly the moody, evocative “Did You Forget.” The soulful vocal sample combines with the jazzy, airy back track to form a devastating cut that begs repeat listens. I have no idea who this dude is, but I predict big things.

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Hot Jam of the Day (08.16.12): How to Dress Well, “Again”

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How to Dress Well
Ocean Floor for Everything 7″

We’ve heard How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell kill covers before — his stunning version of R. Kelly’s seminal “I Wish” and his re-imagination of Ready for the World’s “Love You Down” spring to mind. His sparse, lo-fi version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 smash-hit, “Again,” is similarly potent. Though it is stripped of the original’s lush string arraignment, Krell stays mostly true to the original in his trademark, heart-on-his-sleeve style. When it comes to his music, “irony” is simply not in the Chicago-based vocalist’s vocabulary, and Krell’s passionate falsetto is stirring and affecting. His sophomore LP drops in a little less than a month (9/21), and it looks set to live up to its incredible successor, which I rated as the best album of 2010. Can’t wait.

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