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 (07.30.12): Animal Collective, “Today’s Supernatural”

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Animal Collective
“Today’s Supernatural”
Centipede Hz (Domino)

Sometimes to go forward you’ve got to go back, and that seems to be the direction Animal Collective have decided to go with their ninth album, Centipede Hz. The Brooklyn noise pop quartet’s triumphant 2009 LP, Merriweather Post Pavilion, very much felt like the summation of around a decade of hard work and experimentation, and is, without a doubt, one of the best albums of its decade. The thing about masterpieces is they are damn hard to follow up. Instead of continuing their slow ascent (or descent, depending on your tastes) into pop world, the group seems to have decided to go back to their chaotic, explosive roots. While “Today’s Supernatural” recalls both Feels and Sung Tongs, it doesn’t feel like a retread, mostly because they have matured so much as songwriters. It’s a brilliant amalgam between their frenetic, carnival-y early sound and their newfound pop sensibilities. It’s goofy and crazy, but is still inherently sing-along-able, which is a hell of a potent balance. Judging Animal Collective records by their singles is about as dangerous as taking the Chik-fil-A guy to a Lady GaGa concert, so I’m doing my best not to jump to any conclusi… Ah, fuck it. This album is gonna be fucking amazing. Bank on it.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/54548349″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jams of the Day (07.29.12): Sean Blackthorn, One Night EP

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Sean Blackthorn
One Night EP

In the last few months, I’ve written so much about this Toronto-based soul singer that you could be forgiven for thinking that the dude must have me on the payroll. But as long as he keeps pumping out downtempo R&B/neo-soul this good, I’m going to have to keep writing about him. In many ways, this feels like the culmination of a thought that started with the hauntingly beautiful single, “Hymns & Questions,” which was released all the way back in February. One Night does more than fulfill the promise of the excellent previously released singles and is very much the fully-realized, cohesive statement that we’ve been waiting for from the talented vocalist. Blackthorn’s music always feels like it was recorded in some chilly, cavernous cathedral (though it’s actually recorded in his bedroom), and that’s never been more apparent than on the opener, his arresting take on “Ave Maria.” From there, the Canadian’s tenor leads us through love (“Just to Say I Love You”), sex (“GIRLS I,” “GIRLS II”), and heartbreak (“Best/Friends”) with startling honesty and perspective. When listening to this EP, it’s easy to forget that Blackthorn is still in his early twenties, and as brilliant as One Night is, it feels very much like the final act of the first volume of his career. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here, and it really feels like he is just getting started.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.28.12): Jeremih, “773 Love”

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Jeremih
“773 Love”
Late Nights (Self-Released)

The artist formally known as the Birthday Sex Dude has had the internet goin’ nutz this week, mostly for his raunchy new clip for “Go to the Mo,” which lies somewhere between “Tip Drill” in a motel room and a straight up porno. However, what’s been most interesting about having Jeremih back is his new sound, which is not-so-subtly influenced by bedroom R&B du jour. His new mixtape drops August 7, and its most recent single, “773 Love,” is a dreamy, herky jerky  jam that is sure to slide in easily into any sexy time playlist (or wherever else you wanna put it). Though it’s just a radio rip, the Texas native sounds terrific, as his effortless tenor glides over a synth-heavy backing track. From what we’ve heard, Late Nights looks to be one of the real surprise gems of the second half of 2012, and on the off-chance that it doesn’t exonerate him from being known as a guy who wrote only one truly great song, he can always fall back on a career in the adult entertainment industry.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/54364128″ iframe=”true” /]

Because my mom sometimes reads this blog, I won’t post the “Go to the Mo” video, but you can find it if you want to. Do not. I repeat do not watch it at work. Here’s the audio. The song’s pretty dope.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/41885475″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.26.12): Friendzone, “I Have Nothing”

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Friendzone
“I Have Nothing”
Single (Self-Released)

I don’t know much about this production duo, except that they are from the Bay Area and have released some devastating collaborations with rising stars Main Attrakionz. The group sporadically releases new music, and their most recent track, “I Have Nothing,” is indicative of their evocative, yet head-nodding style. Though the group hasn’t ascended to the heights of producers like Araabmuzik and Clams Casino, they definitely populate similar sonic real estate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them blow up if they keep going like they’re going.  

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/37390193″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.25.12): Twin Shadow, “Run My Heart”

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Twin Shadow
“Run My Heart” (Live Session for Yours Truly)
Confess (Terrible)

This is the second best love song of 2012. Ironically, it deals with the exact same feelings as the year’s best love song, Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion.” “Run My Heart” is also about unrequited love, but it examines it from a completely different perspective. Where Ocean opines that he “could never make him love me,” Twin Shadow mainman George Lewis Jr. remains characteristically defiant, issuing the cocksure, brazen warning: “You don’t know my heart/So don’t you dare.” Make no mistake, this woman does know Lewis’ heart and has affected it deeply, all you need to do is listen to the conviction in his voice. But he simply refuses to give her the satisfaction of admitting the truth.

Somebody told me that the first step to getting over someone is simply telling yourself that you are over them, no matter how untrue that may be. This is the sound of a man trying to take that first step. He does such a good job of trying that if you’ve never been through heartbreak, you might actually believe him when he wails, “This isn’t love/I’m just a boy, and you’re just a girl.” But those of us who have, know better.

Finding one love song this penetrating is difficult enough; finding two in a matter of a few weeks is a godsend.

 

Hot Jam of the Day (07.24.12): Beat Connection, “The Palace Garden, 4 AM”

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Beat Connection
“The Palace Garden, 4AM”
The Palace Garden (Tender Age)

I remember legitimately being appalled at an MTV News break (remember those?) about the band Smashmouth. I was mostly offended when their portly, spikey-haired singer described their brand of brain-dead beach pop as “fun in the sun music.” So am I a hypocrite for lionizing this Seattle-based Balearic pop band, whose music is clearly fixated on the crashing waves and the sand? No, not really. I just kinda got older and got over it. Nowadays, I think I’d even agree that “Walkin’ on the Sun” is a pretty bitchin’ tune. Maybe that’s a little strong. Either way, The Palace Garden is a more than worthy follow-up to their fabulous debut Surf Noir (2011), and this is one of its strongest cuts.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/47398176″ iframe=”true” /]

The video’s kinda cool too. Check it out!

Hot Jam of the Day (07.23.12): Goldroom, “Fifteen” (f/ Chela)

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Goldroom
“Fifteen” (f/ Chela)
Single (Self-Released)

Earlier today, I trolled through my recent posts to see if I had written about this shimmering, dreamy single from LA-based producer Josh Legg. Incredibly, I hadn’t — even though it’s been one of the absolute standout songs of the summer so far. Featuring gorgeous, gauzy vocals from Australian singer Chela, “Fifteen” is easily Legg’s most impressive, melodically rich effort to date. Plenty of artists aim for that 80’s nostalgia, “Somebody’s Baby”-type vibe, but very few nail it as expertly as Legg does here. I have no clue what a “slipstream” is, but whenever I listen to this song, I am definitely float back through it. And it feels so fucking good.

 

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45708341″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.22.12): Bat For Lashes, “Laura”

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Bat for Lashes
“Laura”
The Haunted Man (Parlophone)

British singer Natasha Khan is always good for a stunning first single. “Daniel,” the lead single form her 2009 Mercury Prize-nominated LP Two Suns, is probably one of the best 100 pure pop songs I’ve ever heard, and while “Laura” lacks much of its energy, it lacks none of its soul, songwriting prowess, and bombast. Khan’s powerful, plaintive vocal absolutley soars over a contemplative piano line and a beautifully meandering string arraignment. It tells the story of a woman who refuses to relinquish her bachelorette-hood though all of her friends are dropping like flies. Instead of lamenting the life the proverbial “lonely spinstress,” the track triumphantly celebrates her audacious decision to hold on to her freedom and have her “name tattooed on every boy’s skin.” It’s a lovely “hello again” from an artist who still hasn’t quite created the flawless album her prodigious talent deserves. The Haunted Man drops October 15.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53816487″ iframe=”true” /]

Just in case you forgot, here’s “Daniel” in all its glory.

Hot Jam of the Day (07.19.12): Mirroring, “Drowning The Call”

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Mirroring
“Drowning The Call”
Foreign Body (Kranky)

I know I’m really late on this, but over the last few months, I have fallen headlong into this quiet gem of a collaboration from Portland multi-instrumentalist Grouper (né Liz Harris) and Tiny Vipers (né Jesy Fortino). Both artists cut their teeth in the Pacific Northwest carving out distinctive, ambient sounds, and they combine their styles to delicious effect on their sleepy, nostalgic LP. The best of it is “Drowning The Call,” a lonely, evocative number that sounds like Harris is calling out to you from a payphone millions of miles away. Lovely.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/37060178″ iframe=”true” /]

Hot Jam of the Day (07.18.12): Airbird, “Free Mind”

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Airbird
“Free Mind”
Romance Layers (Legitmix)

Everyone has those musicians who they just roll with. MC Dirty Dawg has a new polka EP coming out next week? Buying it. The Lazy Sunsets are charging $62.50 for their gig at the Wichita State Fair? I’ll work it out. I think I’m getting to that point with Joel Ford. I’m pretty sure I’ve basically liked everything he’s ever put out, and unsurprisingly, the lead single from his Airbird project’s second EP of the year is fucking killer. Over about 7 minutes, the NYC-based producer runs Mariah Carey’s “Prisoner” through a synth-slathered wormhole. What emerges from the other side is a life-affirming disco banger that brings the classic boner jam to new heights. Ford’s musical DeLorean has always had its coordinates set for the late 80’s/early 90’s, and “Free Mind” is yet another example of his ability to bring that era — that most bodacious of eras — into the 21st century.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/53041384″ iframe=”true” /]

And just because it rules, here’s a video from his LP with Daniel Lopatin.