The so-called life of Clairo

The 20-year-old up and comer has created a brand of Internet Pop that speaks for a new, disenfranchised generation of teenage listeners. But can she maintain the momentum of her burgeoning fame?

When Clairo first broke out via her viral sensation “Pretty Girl,” some music snobs called her an industry plant.

Her first performances following her sudden rise to fame (and subsequent twelve-song record deal with The Fader) didn’t dispel this notion of her being outside “the scene.” She looks lost and unconfident. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with her hands. In between songs, you could hear the crowd loudly talking over the buzz of the monitor. If Clairo was trying to recreate the personal and intimate portrait of a shy girl, one that garnered millions of clicks, then she succeeded. However, it felt like her lo-fi pop anthems didn’t translate into a palpable concert.

Was she a YouTube one-hit wonder like Tay Zonday or would she overcome the turbulence of becoming an indie darling overnight?

Thankfully, she has adapted well to the limelight. While none of her latest singles have reached the same heights as “Pretty Girl,” her fluidity as a songwriter has become more apparent. Tracks like “Flamin Hot Cheetos” maintain the same minimalist vibes, but her voice tugs at your heartstrings a little harder and the composition sounds paced and natural. “B.O.M.D.” has Charli XCX energy (the song is produced by the affiliated Danny L Harle) and bursts with bubbly, confident energy. “You’re the boy of my dreams,” she sings as her voice bursts through a mix filled with chunky synths and commanding percussion. Contrast this with the coy description of her love on “Pretty Girl.” She’s moving on from that self-conscious period of her life and she’s not afraid to express it.

This newfound power has been brought to her latest performances. Clairo bounced from side to side when she played a set at Lollapalooza Chile this past March. When the crowd knows every line to her opening song, she seems ecstatic. “Okay!” she yelps as a Gen Z crowd chants along and follows her every movement. Now, she’s confident. Her subtle charisma is enchanting. It needs neither elaborate pageantry or technicolor lighting. She wears thick-rimmed glasses but speaks with the authority of the Cool Girl you looked up to in high school.

Unlike before, Clairo is longer chained to the mic stand.

Clairo’s newfound vitality as a performer has seeped into the pores of her band. Like their frontwoman, the band present on her first tour seemed equally unsure. To be fair, they also probably couldn’t vote in the 2016 Democratic Primary. As a group they are still growing, but their most recent show at Coachella presents an entirely different universe. The band improvised a little. They grin and shimmy as their leader banters with the mob; as opposed to before, where they looked at their shoelaces and nervously two-stepped to the beat.

Despite a small sample of tracks to work with, Clairo’s set is as eclectic as her fashion. “Get With U” is a sensual, R&B inspired track that blends tactfully into “Sis”; an indie-rock tune that bleeds like summer and has guitars that shimmer like vintage jewelry. Even though “4EVER” is comprised of synthetic, Midi produced sounds; she performs the song seamlessly. Nothing feels forced.

It’s good for music, specifically pop music, that Clairo isn’t a one-trick pony.In a market saturated by decadence and overzealous production, this young song-writer breathes life into the DIY aesthetic that helped shape pop in the late 60s. Despite being of the upperclass, Clairo’s combination of iMovie production and transparent poetry signals to adolescent girls that they need not attend boarding school or master complex software to express their melancholy. More so, Clairo’s is a rejection of the pristine imagery of the Instagram influencer. Her music tells you it’s okay to have a bad day, to have greasy hair, and dance alone in your unkempt bedroom.

This summer Clairo is touring across the United States and Canada as a special guest on Khalid’s Free Spirit World Tour. Get your tickets now on!

Clairo on stage at Boston Calling 2019

Release Radar: May 24

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Tyler, The Creator — “IGOR”

“IGOR” is among the year’s most intriguing hip-hop records, and it completes the transformation of one of rap’s most intriguing characters. Born and bred in the LA hip-hop scene of the late aughts, Tyler, The Creator, started out making violent and debauched rap music with Odd Future.


When they broke out at the start of the decade, teenagers from all walks of life were introduced to the disturbing and intriguing world of Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean. Unlike the contemporary rap of the time, Odd Future didn’t take itself seriously or want to sell out stadiums.


Flash forward today and we find ourselves with a completely different Tyler.

No longer obsessed with being the class clown with psychopathic tendencies, Tyler has found peace and contemplation behind the soundboard. His production, no longer sounding like it was produced for a porno, is now introspective. Songs like “RUNNING OUT OF TIME” and “EARFQUAKE” reveal a more sentimental musician. Rather than lash out with guttural bars, the 28-year-old deals with his trauma through soul samples and transcendental synths.


Instead of collaborating with hardcore bands like Trash Talk, Tyler brings on La Roux and Charlie Wilson. Instead of ending the record with a monologue about murder and rape, Tyler ponders whether a former lover will ever be close with him, albeit platonic? “I don’t want to end the season on a bad episode,” he says while organs and choirs vibrate in the background.


That’s not to say that Tyler is lull. On “NEW MAGIC WAND,” he spits visceral bars over the signature, barbed-wire bass that defined early OF production. The opener, “IGOR’S THEME,” despite being soulful, mixes well with the pop-punk delivery of featured player Lil Uzi Vert.  “Stay the f*** away from me,” he sneers on “A BOY IS A GUN.”


“IGOR” is impressive because it’s transformative. Very few artists can pull off the 180 that Tyler has successfully landed. The shift in his identity is more true to form than we may have realized.  


Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Ari Lennox — “Shea Butter Baby”

Ari Lennox’s debut LP is a master class on contemporary R&B. “Shea Butter Baby” mixes the soulful lineage of Ella Fitzgerald with the hip-hop production popularized by Questlove, all while invoking the alienated details of modern living. The record’s strongest track, “Up Late,” exemplifies Lennox’s eye for the minutia. “Target lingerie, kissing your lips dipped in Backwood tips, I been crushing on you, we can fake watch the news . . . if you like it,” she sings. Her voice, pun intended, is like butter. It melts off the speakers and simmers on the pan. The musical aroma is spiritually sensual, and savors the salacious.


“Making love” is a trope, but one that even the most unique artists must eventually tangle with. On “Shea Butter,” Lennox avoids the vague iconographies of sex and love both requited and unfulfilled. Instead, she opts for more specific scenes — scenes that are exclusive to her point of view. “Needed some Ricolas, stepped in CVS, saw you in the corner, I was looking a mess, you didn’t notice,” she sings on the album’s opener.


These are the relatable moments required to leave a mark on a genre that has very standard parameters. This is not to say the music of “Shea Butter” isn’t good. Its groove is tight, its horns chime in at perfect angles, the bass has the perfect amount of umph.

But, R&B relies on whoever utilizes its trappings to offer very distinct vocal play. Lennox’s voice walks the line between Whitney Houston and Erykah Badu. She can belt and she murmur. She can soar and she can cruise. She respects her predecessors, while also innovating.  Songs like “BMO” and “Speak to Me” mix trap snares with jazz club croons. “Facetime” is a Jill Scott song if it were produced by a teenage Kanye West. That’s what makes “Shea Butter Baby” so strong; Lennox is a proven scholar and scientist. Her field work is the amalgamation of modern Black pop music.  

Purchase your tickets here to see Ari Lennox live!

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Operators — “Radiant Dawn”

Punk music has always had a bizarre relationship with the open road. Generally, the urbanites who populate the genre are cynical about the backwaters they escaped as adolescents. Not so on Operator’s “Radiant Dawn,” which mixes neon synths and drum machines with Bruce Springsteen existentialism.


How is this punk exactly? Lead singer Dan Boeckner’s voice has the same monotone howl that made him famous with his previous project, Wolf Parade. The synths and percussion, while certainly gorgeous, have a certain transgressive tone. It’s punk in the same way that New Order and Beck are punk. It’s music that takes chances and criticizes the modern spectacle.


Yet, there is something familiar about “Radiant Dawn.” It’s nostalgic and yearns for simpler times. Is Boeckner trying to find a new path by walking backwards? It certainly feels like a discourse on feeling lost. “The future looks the same again, we’re stuck down here upon the endless wheel, put poison in your hollow skull and overload until you just can’t feel,” Boeckner calls out on “Faithless,” before electronic lasers cover every inch of his voice.


“Radiant Dawn” is music for a solo road trip. Despite a full sound that is filled with polished  post-production, there’s something rugged about this record. It’s the musical novelization of the Americana escapism that permeates everything from “On the Road” to “Thelma and Louise.”


Purchase your tickets here to see them live!

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081


Flying Lotus ft. Denzel Curry — “Black Balloon Reprise”

The haunting sounds of swarm theory begin Flying Lotus’s latest single “Black Balloon Reprise,” before being overtaken by FlyLo’s signature ambient floats and spectral choirs. SoundCloud success story Denzel Curry takes over from there, laying down vibrant haikus in honor of the  lord of death. The four-song sample that Flying Lotus dropped in advance of the album indicates that the record will be much more concise than his last release. 2014’s “Your Dead” felt like mixtape made out of Tetris blocks — sounds seemed to be improperly stacked on each other. “Flamagra” suggests a return to the experimental producer’s psychedelic jazz roots.

Purchase your tickets here to see Flying Lotus live!

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Horse Jumper of Love — “Airport”

“Airport” picks up where Horse Jumper of Love last picked up. Which is to say, moody melodics mixed with memorable murmurs. “I feel invisible with my clothes off,” sighs front man Dimitiri Giannopoulos. Percussion and guitars perform distance ballets before converging into a duet of blissful noise. The band defines themselves as “slow rock,” but thoughtful seems like a better adjective. Every note and texture feels deliberate and planned without being cerebral.


“So Divine” will be released June 28.  


Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Release Radar: Festival Edition May 17

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new album releases from across the musical spectrum.  This week we present our exclusive “Release Radar: Festival Edition” as gets ready to hit the road as we head to Boston Calling Festival. Our list focuses on new releases by artists who will be hitting the stage this year. Be sure to check back with for a full recap of Boston Calling and its unforgettable moments.
Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.  Discover your new playlist below!

Logic — “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”



The sort of cerebral wordplay that Logic traffics in has never been meant for radio bangers. His most famous track, “1-800-273-8255,” is a social commentary on mental health. He idolizes Frank Sinatra more than Wu Tang Clan. He’s straight edge, so you won’t catch him in the club. But “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” finds the Maryland native leaning on contemporary hip-hop tropes alongside his trigger-friendly lyrics. The lead single of the album features Logic and Eminem trading blows across furious production. We aren’t even two tracks into the LP and Logic is already reaching for a palate cleanser. “Mama/Show Love” is the record’s most potent track: shifting from high-stakes rap, meat-and-potatoes rhymes during the track’s A part to eclectic Soundcloud production that sounds like echoing doorbells. From there, the identity of this album continues to be elusive. “Pardon My Ego” sounds like both a nod to and a dis of Drake. Gucci Mane makes an appearance on the tongue-and-cheek “Icy.” Despite its stylistic inconsistencies, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” is a solid release from one of rap’s more thoughtful MCs.


Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Pile — “Green and Gray”



Pile has shot off three consecutive albums in the past years — something that’s unusual for a modern rock band. Typically, rock music relies on anticipation and uncertainty. Look no further than Vampire Weekend teasing a new album over the course of a year. That’s all fine and dandy, but Pile is much more urgent than your average band. They’ve managed to maintain their minimal lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums without the need for parlor tricks. It’s straight, no chaser guitar music that flies across the speakers like a relentless volley of javelins. While previous albums “Odds and Ends” and “A Hairshirt of Purpose” used moments of silence and contemplation to build suspense, “Green and Gray” goes straight for the throat. Even in moments where the song engages with inertia, the band is still moving their feet; for example, “On a Bigger Screen” where double-time drums are suddenly muted in favor of a reverb choir. But listen closely, and you can still hear the thundering bellows of guitar strings. We’re only half way through the year, but “Green and Gray” might already be a contender for 2019’s best rock record.   


Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Tank and the Bangas — “Green Balloon”


It’s hard to pinpoint another band that can combine New Orleans–style jazz/R&B to boastful, Cash Money–inspired hip-hop. Tank and the Bangas does that on “Green Balloon”; it’s the band’s official coming-out party and most ambitious project since rising to fame via NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. The record is just as much Jill Scott as it is Nicki Minaj. It’s got the flavor of a Trombone Shorty concert mixed with the sentimentality of a Billie Holiday B-Side. Moods and tones swish and swirl throughout “Green Balloon”; “Dope Girl Magic” has the same jovial fortitude of an old-school Bounce track and “Mr. Lion” sounds like the missing song from Disney’s Creole version of the Princess and the Frog. The album touches on the joys of riding a bike, Netflix and Chill, dealing with substance abuse, assertive pick-me-up monologues and the constant search for good ice cream. Tarriona “Tank” Ball is the show woman of this wonderful circus. She croons, curses, commands and collapses throughout this 16-track exploration, with the support of an eccentric and multifaceted band that boasts just as many horns and keys as it does 808s. “Green Balloon” is the soulful summer record to thaw a stubborn spring.


Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081



Denzel Curry — “Ricky”

“My daddy said, ‘Trust no man but your brothers, and never leave your day ones in the gutter,’” spits Denzel Curry in his ode to his father’s guidance. While Curry is notorious for rage-filled, violent bars, his rapping is more of a guttural, punk rock shout on “Ricky.” The song mostly switches between the previously mentioned hook and a chopped-and-screwed chorus that is reminiscent of early 2010’s A$AP Rocky. It’s a fleeting track that is both catchy pop-rap song and a jaded bout in the same vein as older tracks like “Threatz.” It’s unclear whether “Ricky” will usher in a return to Curry’s more lo-fi roots or if he’s simply taking a breather after releasing the bombastic and experimental “Ta13oo.



Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever — “In the Capital” and “Ready My Mind”

RBCF are following up a strong 2018 debut with two singles via vital indie label Sub Pop. “In the Capital” stays true to their Australian jangle pop roots. It sounds like a revitalized impression of the Flying Nun bands of the late 80s. A steady beat helps center impressive guitar work that existentially yearns like a coastal fever dream. The vocals are in tune with the signature calming and subtle textures of their freshman LP. They have just enough reverb to create a lucid lull, but don’t over embellish to the point of being indecipherable. “Ready My Mind” is more psychedelic, but also manages to be the more upbeat of the two tracks. The song contrasts flanging guitars with acoustic pop sensibilities and has a chorus that is destined for some festival sing-alongs. Could this be a tease or an actual preview of a record in the making?

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Release Radar: May 10

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Album in Focus: Big Thief-  “U.F.O.F.”


Appalachian hills, rust stains, lonely nights, dive bars, pit stops, yearning for better weather, losing an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years:  these are the flavors of Big Thief’s gorgeous Americana record. There’s something antique about this latest release from folk rock’s most prominent up-and-comers. Something that feels stripped of any sense of the digital world. The only signs of the modern world are the presence of highway lanes and old cans of Schlitz. This isn’t pastiche or appropriation. The images conjured up by front woman Adrianne Lenker feel shot in real time, on an old Brownie camera. Even though Big Thief is based in Brooklyn, Lenker was born and raised in Minnesota and recorded her first music in Nashville. She then studied music at Berklee College of Music. She has traveled down an assortment of paths, worn many hats and observed a thousand conversations. “Just like a bad dream, you’ll disappear, another map turns blue, mirror on mirror, and I imagine you, taking me outta here, to deepen our love, it isn’t even a fraction,” she sings on the album’s title track. It’s pure, naked poetry set over tender guitar parts and percussive accoutrements. Neil Young appears to be the biggest influence on Big Thief. On previous records, the band seemed set on recreating “Zuma” with their hardy, grinding rock ballads. “U.F.O.F.” is more “Harvest Moon.” A deeply personal walk through pine forests as old as heartbreak itself.

Purchase your tickets here to see Big thief live in your area!

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Tink – “Voicemails”


Tink’s “Voicemails” begins a new chapter by reflecting on the past. The latest record by the Chicago the singer-rapper finds her moving on from her Winter Diary tetralogy and away from her more verbose rap styles. Tink has always invoked Jill Scott as much as she has Lil Kim, but “Voicemails” is pure rhythm and blues — save a few trap beats. Her throwback, sensual bangers are intertwined with voicemails that seem genuine. That’s the vibe of this record; it feels naked and honest despite being a heavily produced piece of music that seems destined for radio play. However, the intimacy and sensualness of Tink’s voice provides a perfect counterweight to contemporary production that isn’t particularly groundbreaking. This isn’t a knock against “Voicemails,” but rather indicative of Tink’s strength as a songwriter. She doesn’t need elaborate instrumentation to express her desires, struggles and cultural circumstances. Her voice is what gives her power.

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081



The pop zeitgeist has been aching for a dance rock group to fill the void that LCD Soundsystem left behind a few years back. Could ALASKALASKA fill that void? Their debut record makes a strong case. “The Dots” feels like a Talking Head DJ set: serene, crisp beats run the gauntlet while raging saxophones and intricate vocal melodies use such grooves to propel themselves forward. Even more relaxed songs, like “Arrows,” manage to be deeply methodical without being too experimental. Guitar and synth licks are gummy, but accessible. The percussion relies on a healthy contrast of analog and Midi. Sometimes lead singer Lucinda Duarte-Holman shrouds her voice in reverb or autotune, other times she’s bare-bones sing-talking. “Who gives a shit about retribution?” she smirks over moody disco hymns. ALASKALASKA isn’t sure if they want to be anthemic, a club staple or an art pop band. That’s fine when you’re still growing as a group. “The Dots” is a good way to tinker with who you want to be.

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081

Shana Cleveland – “Night of the Worm Moon”


A decade ago, garage rock and surf rock was the nostalgic trend in rock music. Now it’s country folk. This cultural trajectory seems tailored to Shana Cleveland’s personal journey. Cleveland is a part of the stellar pop-rock quartet La Luz, but “Night of the Worm Moon” allows her to explore a more singer-songwriter path. “Night of the Worm Moon” is carved out of the northwestern quarry that Cleveland calls home. Every track on “Night of the Worm Moon” is covered in a floating moss and surrounded by scenic canyon ledges. It’s a deeply maternal and natural record that has a sort of vagabond feel to it. Cleveland is on a solitary odyssey through both terrestrial landscapes and an uncertain millennium. “Oh, in another realm, I can feel you, now I know, what you know, In another realm, though I can’t hold your hand, I know that you won’t let me go,” she sings on “Another Realm,” a track that is indicative of the record. It feels like a slow moving caboose heading towards the uncolonized Western front. It’s destiny uncertain, but enjoying the ride all the same.

Itunes lrg f870299f99c48616f0cea96f29b076d24f47eeb4810e15dbe68bbf991d157081



Lana Del Rey – “Summertime (Doin’ Time)”


Pop singer and international songstress Lana Del Rey has released a snippet of her cover of Sublime’s “Summertime (Doin’ Time).” Her version, as to be expected, is a dreary and moody rendition. “Norman Fucking Rockwell,” her forthcoming record, is expected to come out at the end of this year. She already released the singles “Mariners Apartment Complex,” “Venice Bitch,” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it.” The brief sample of the cover features Lana captured on Super 8 film and the caption “Coming Soon.”

Release Radar: May 3

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Kelsey Lu – “Blood”


Kelsey Lu’s latest album takes baroque pop and turns traditional instrumentation inwards. “Blood” finds the folk artist focusing her composition skills, while still staying true to her minimal origins. She still bows her strings like she’s playing a ribcage, weaponizes her poetry for deep cutting psychological criticism, and sings like a siren. However, unlike her freshman release, the short and sweet “Church,” Lu’s latest LP is etched in deep details. “Due West” is a clear, concise and honest pop song that is fleshed out in real time. While Lu’s work is gorgeous, she sometimes tends to drag pieces out longer than is necessary. Not so on “Blood,” where even every chirp and clink that is set off in the background feels deeply needed. Lu’s new music has the quality of a veteran cinematographer who is constantly looking for new, poignant means to frame ordinary objects. “Why I Knock For You” follows a streamline motion, a sweeping hawk overlooking a canyon. Violins and marimbas contemplate the vastness of nature, while Lu’s voice — both clear and distorted — exposes admiration to the motherland. “Blood” is also exploratory. Its sounds search every crevice and tree trunk for resources. Even artificial textures are manipulated into romantic text: “Metal, metal, metal, metal, pedal to the metal, make you work and we’re risin’, the horizon’s approaching’ us, and. . . .” While this is an album with earthy tones and a thick musicology, it’s hardly inaccessible. Like Kate Bush, Lu seeks to transform the bourgeois theater and orchestra pit into a public space. She does exactly that on “Blood.



Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats – “Anger Management”

“Anger Management” is an understatement. Rico Nasty’s latest album is a tantrum; a spit fire rap session that will leave you bruised and bleeding. There’s a certain horror film quality to Kenny Beats production, and it allows Rico to unlock a certain serial killer instinct to her flows. “Cheat Code” finds the New York MC slashing through the production like she’s Jason Voorhees. Rico’s bars are so furious that the beats have to stay in tempo with her. Her command of the mic and the stage are what have brought the 21-year-old into the limelight at such a young age. Unlike other hip-hop  wunderkinds, Ms. Nasty does not seek out performative aesthetics. She is unabashedly herself: vulgar, relentless, guttural. Kenny Beats, her main producer since she blew up last year on her “Nasty” LP, continues his signature chameleon/snake act. Which is to say, he is constantly changing colors and contorting his rhythms to perfectly compliment the rapper he’s working with. “Anger Management” is no different; its production constantly mirrors Rico’s inflections. “Big Titties” starts off with witchcraft percussion before going into the sloopy boombat that allows Rico to lob vicious, snake-tongued lyrics. “Sell Out” allows Rico to be more reflective, as spacey 808’s shimmey with contorted guitar samples. “Hatin” is a dubbed-down remix of Jay-Z and Timbaland “Dirt Off Your Shoulders.” It’s fitting ode to a duo that clearly inspires both rapper and producer. Timbaland and Kenny are constantly pushing the genre of hip-hop, Jay and Rico are all about cutting throats and taking names. When “Anger Management” finishes, Rico Nasty is all out of throats.


Jackie Mendoza – “LuvHz”

Sometimes pop music can be a difficult definition to define. In some ways, acts like Nirvana or Kanye West are pop in that they are adored by millions and that their music taps into a primordial set of emotions that are made naked on the dance floor or mosh pit. Sometimes pop music is more hidden in the mix of an experimental project, like on a Radiohead song or Frank Ocean playlist. Within the chaos of sound, is a rooted commitment to the 4/4, verse-chorus-verse style of musical presentation. Jackie Mendoza’s EP “LuvHz” is the perfect example of these difficult explanations. Her songs are a furious gail of static and Midi, but beneath the abrasive tone is an unshakeable rhythm. Mendoza’s debut begins with dance anarchy, you can almost see the epileptic lights and the heat of neon as her synths explode onto the liquor stained floor, but then “Seahorse” comes along and anchors the listener in Mendoza’s world. A glittery, relaxing pop quickie that brings stability without dumbing down its intricacies. It’s not all chaos down here. Like fellow Latin artists Rosalia and Helado Negro, Mendoza is also anchored in a kind of Old World diaspora. Like Negro, her stringed instruments have a certain desert twang to them. Like Rosalia, her autotuned Spanglish is not so much “eccentric” as it is a natural expression of modern Latinx culture and all its contradictions. But Mendoza is just as global as she is communal: songs like “Your Attention” have percussion that sounds like UK dub artist Burial was behind the production board.  “LuvHz” is more experimental than it is pop, but Jackie Mendoza juggles these conflicting concepts with great ease.

Purchase your tickets here to see Jackie Mendoza live in NYC!


Body Meat – “Truck Music”

Don’t let the uncomfortable moniker turn you off from “Truck Music” because it’s neither blood curdling metal or ambitious country. Rather, “Truck Music” is an R&B album with the velocity of a 16-wheeler on a German expressway. Frantic percussion performs every imaginable verb. It leaps, dives, hurdles, explodes, sputters, collapses, expands, kicks, punches, spits, vomits, pops, hops, lobs, sobs and kills. The vocals are almost exclusively distorted, pitched down, pitched up and autotuned in such a way that T-Pain would blush. To quote Bill Hader on SNL: “This club has everything.” “Truck Music” is a dance record, it’s a jazz album, it’s hip-hop and it’s operatic. Opening track “Combo” sounds like a Charli XCX song on bath salts. “2 Again” is as much a gospel song as any Southern spiritual. “No Garden” is 2000’s bump ’n’ grind translated into 20 languages. “Truck Music” is an album with so much utility and application because its music is defined by the digital possibilities of basement tinkering. It’s a singularity of man and machine that is not just harmless, but really fun to listen to.




Empath – “Roses That Cry”


“Roses That Cry” is everything Empath is about musically: power chords that kick up dust, eerie but playful synths, vocals that shimmer but hardly shine, and drums that hold tempo while making a ruckus. It’s the perfect balance of pop and punk. Empath cut its teeth in the Philadelphia underground scene, but their music hardly feels destitute or grimey. If anything, it’s deeply optimistic . . . so much so they kind of feel like a summer band. The wanderlust that exudes from “Roses That Cry” will surely translate into an album to play on an impromptu trip or dance around in your underwear.  



(Banner Image by Susan O’Brien)

Release Radar: April 26

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party ... we’ve got you covered.

Drugdealer“Raw Honey”

Drugdealer’s new album answers the question of whether or not retro pop will ever wear out its welcome anytime soon. Indeed, “Raw Honey” makes a good argument in favor of responsible nostalgia. In an era where contemporary rock and pop shirks off analog production and composition, Drugdealer celebrates the time-old method of just plugging in a Fender, firing up an antique electric organ, recording some brass or just letting a string section go off on a tangent. It’s been 50 years since the Manson Family murders, but that doesn’t stop “Raw Honey” from invoking that once culturally tainted style of hippie pop. It’s dirty feet on an old porch, weed smoke in your hair, and lazy California sunshine. Just let the music play, man! And yet, it’s still surprisingly fresh. Drugdealer frontman Michael Collins (who looks like if Che Guevara took acid and joined the Grateful Dead) does a great job of turning that early ‘70s pop folk feel into an eternal sensation devoid of any historical baggage. You can’t tell me sounding like Carole King, The Beach Boys or Country Joe McDonald is a bad thing. Look at how well records like “Tapestry” and “Brown Sugar” have aged. Collins recruits a motley mercenary force to aid him on his revitalization: collaborators like Weyes Blood, Dougie Poole and Harley and the Hummingbirds allow for a diversity of voices and tones; it’s what gives Raw Honey the feeling of your dad’s record collection synthesized into one coherent, concise location. No need to crate dig, every track is a hidden gem.


Lolo Zouaï “High Highs to Low Lows”

“I can’t get wait to paid more than a minimum wage,” Lolo Zouaï croons on her debut LP. It’s indicative of her coming out party. She’s been itching to flex. The song in question is the opener and title track of the record, the one that put the French-Algerian pop artist on everyone’s radar back in 2017. Since then, Zouaï has been busy. She was featured on Myth Syzer’s 2018 “Bisous”; she helped write songs for H.E.R.’s firecracker, Grammy winning self-titled; she recruited Blood Orange for her “Ocean Beach” singles. The spotlight is bearing down her and she delivers on this minimalist and intimate pop R&B record. “High Highs” is reflective of its time; Zouaï is clearly influenced and imitating acts like Ariana Grande, Frank Ocean, and SZA. It has all the staples of modern R&B: snappy snares, pitch-shifted vocal interludes and post-production synths that glide across the speakers. Its tone is smooth, adaptable, and apathetic, yet still manages to sound genuine and resilient. Zouaï’s songwriting and production comes off like she spent many nights chain-smoking in the studio. She’s aligned with artists like Khalid and Billie Eilish in this way. She clearly wasn’t grown in a vat underneath Columbia Records because like Eilish she isn’t flashy or engorged by fame. She wants to show some skin, just enough to show off the bruises and prove she’s not an industry plant.

Purchase your tickets here to see her live this summer!


Pivot Gang“You Can’t Sit With Us”

Straight up, quality hip-hop is hard to find these days. The market is deeply saturated with cross-pollinating artists who seek to draw interest from a variety of subcultures: Tyler The Creator courts the PBR&B crowd; Brockhampton fans like Kanye and Clairo; Lil Uzi is just as influenced by Lil Wayne as he is by Marilyn Manson, etc. Pivot Gang’s first formal release, “You Can’t Sit With Us,” is introspective rap music for an evening stroll. Chicago bungalows create shadows as you drunkenly stumble from the summer kickback to your humid apartment. Police lights splinter your cornea like a broken malt liquor bottle. It’s the kind of hip-hop that is more suited for a jazz lounge than on the club DJ’s deck. Tracks like “Hero” rely on fluid woodwinds to drive home the relaxed nature of this LP. Pivot Gang’s head honcho, Saba, has been crafting this kind of soft poetic, working-class music for years now. He’s the only consistent presence throughout an album; a revolving door of MCs share their street wisdom over 13 solid tracks. There are Chicago big dogs like Smino and Mick Jenkins, but Pivot Gang is a rap collective so no voice takes priority. It’s a collage of flows and inflections. It’s the communal nature of what is essentially a friendly cipher. “We the bad boys, like Detroit Pistons.” Even though some of the beats feel ripped from “Lofi beats to study/chill to,” this is the kind of album that prioritizes lyrics and musicality over trying to make a chart topper. “You Can’t Sit With Us” is about expression . . . not throwing everything at the wall hoping something sticks.


Aldous Harding“Designer”

Aldous Harding’s music has always been gorgeously off-kilter, which is to say that you’re never entirely sure how to feel when you finish listening to her recordings. Should I be desperate or hopeful? Is this album about brutal heartbreak or worthwhile heartache? Is Harding genuinely weird or playing a variety of interesting characters? Hard to tell, but these contradictions are what make her work so fascinating. Unlike her previous albums, “Designer” is much more goofy and her language is much clearer. On her debut LP, released by 4AD and produced by John Parish of PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse fame, Harding was distant and obscured by her intentionally desolate beauty. Harding’s 2017 effort, “Party,” was more affirmed and open, but she still relied on the thick mist of her composition to shroud herself in mystery. “Designer,” on the other hand, is pristine and goofy. Songs like the “The Barrel” have calming, yet fidgeting composition that is paired beautifully with Harding’s maternal hushes. But listen closely to the chorus: “I know you have the dove, I'm not getting wet, looks like a date is set, show the ferret to the egg, I'm not getting led along.” It’s this theatrical, playful kind of artistry that gives Harding such complex character. She is both brooding and whimsical, fine art and folkish. That balance allows Harding to manage the pH level of each track and give virility to music that often can be so quiet that it gets lost in the background.  



FKA twigs“Cellophane”

Most international pop stars don’t make sonic reference to DeBussy in their lead singles, but then again most pop stars aren’t FKA twigs. Very few artists — really only Kate Bush and Nina Simone comes to mind — are able to gain acclaim by being deeply impressionistic. “Cellophane” is an absolutely brutal return to the public zeitgeist. “They really wanna see us apart . . . and I don’t want to have to share our love,” twigs contemplates over piano that sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned cathedral. Human hushes and muted kick drums are the only percussive buildup to a song that is both simultaneously exhausted and anthemic. It’s a triumphant return for an artist who is deeply meticulous and constantly making the listener beg for more. We’re begging for 2019’s releases to include an FKA twigs LP.

Purchase your tickets here to see her live in LA!


Release Radar: April 19

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Kevin Abstract — “Ghettobaby” EP

If Brockhampton were a TV show, Kevin Abstract would be the indignant but charismatic lead. As the frontman of “The World’s Greatest Boy Band,” he’s been at the center of Brockhampton turbulent rise to hip-hop fame. The spotlight seemed to wear on him, as he noted in Brockhampton most recent record: “I’ll trade fame any day, for a quiet Texas place and a barbecue plate.” On his latest solo release since 2016’s “American Boyfriend,” Abstract reflects and ponders his Southern roots from his Los Angeles bungalow. The EP feels bipolar; the first couple tracks are cutthroat and dirty, while the last few tracks are pensive. “Big Wheels” sounds like a venomous outtake from an old demo. It’s production clean, but the vocals have dirt smeared on the perimeter of every syllable. “Joyride” is manic and funky, corny horns behind a driving beat and autotuned flow. On the other hand, “Baby Boy” and “Mississippi” are slow-burning R&B tracks that tell of the kind of genuine, existential dread of a young person. “Ghettobaby” is the kind of rap music that finds complexity in the emotional threads of its storytelling.


Intellexual — “Intellexual”

Nico Segal has been our generation’s Carol Kaye. His trumpeting digits have touched everything from Frank Ocean’s digital album “U-N-I-T-Y” to Kanye’s “Ultralight Beam.” He was also Chance the Rapper’s right hand man during Chano’s rise to fame. However, Segal has since moved on from his A-list collaborators in favor of more lowkey projects. Hence, Intellexual. The self-titled album is a hodgepodge of sounds: “Sing It Louder” is a neo-soul journey along the coast of a summer city; “Overthinking” is a gorgeous, pitch-shifted folk ballad; “Shotty” is funky hip-hop that flips the 808 sound on its head. It’s the versatility that allows Segal and co-producer Nate Fox to meticulously examine every possible tone and hue. It’s an honest sound collage. Violins that sound straight out of “Baba O’Riley,” club beats that twist and turn with distorted vocals, fluttering Spanish guitar. To boot, they’re supported by a cast of up-and-comers (Knox Fortune, Jean Deaux) and millennial staples (Vic Mensa, Raury)to help them along their journey. This isn’t an album with a hit in mind and that’s totally fine. “Intellexual” is a passion project that pays off.


Wand“Laughing Matter”

The problem with psychedelic rock is that when it’s translated into an LP,  the sound is either too deeply concentrated or ts sonic consistency is given too much space to float around in. This is not the case on Wand’s most record. Five entries into their discography, the LA-based rockers demonstrate precision where it counts but take time to flesh out their less lucid ideas. Songs like “Thin Air” or “Wonder” are great examples of this. Despite their cosmic complexities, every passage feels deliberate. Lead singer Corey Hanson’s subtle, Thom Yorke murmurs slink and swerve across the guitar landscapes; his voice is bundled into sweet limericks of hope and passivity. There’s still the patented distorted guitars and synths with playful echoes, but there’s so much clarity in this work. Conversely, songs like “High Planes Drifter” or “Evening Star” perform the canyon pieces in contrast with the album’s mighty valleys. You could characterize certain components of this album as folk. Tender, barebone guitar pickings accompanied by mesmerizing, Joni Mitchell-style melodies. “Even Star” could be the thesis of this record: We are both excited by psychedelia’s beauty and enthralled by its madness.   


Emily Reo“Only You Can See It”

The ‘90s and ‘00s brought about a huge wave of sensitive but tough as nails female pop singers: Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Kate Nash, Feist, Regina Specktor. Emily Reo is reflected in this canon. Piano-pop that taps into the vast emotions of longing, uncertainty and what it means to be content: “When I’m alone smoking, in the woods my favourite spot looks out, tasting colours with my mouth, tongue-tied, subject of the lakeside.” However, like her predecessors, Reo is not one to take your bullshit. The albums most prominent track, “Strawberry,” is vintage aughts pop. Sparkly electronic flourishes, vocals empowered by post-production velocity, a pedantic drum machine. Despite having no sonic similarities to Fiona Apple, “Strawberry” has the same feminist potency: “I load into the show, you ask if I’m somebody’s girlfriend / Not seen as capable, just someone’s property.” Reo’s major label debut is endearing while also refusing to engage in any pleasantries.



Stripped down, barbed wire post-punk is hardly a new style, but Patio’s freshman drop refuses to hide behind distortion or vague platitudes. As minimalist guitars cut across the mix, the Brooklyn trio deadpans the isolation of a depressive mood: “Never have the change to choose, naturely I always lose, I went shopping the other day, this week I can afford to feel better.” While “Essentials” displays the typical rigidness of postmodern, NYC punk roc, there is a thread of genuine care and concern that sounds like an older sister giving you advice about boys or which Sleater Kinney album to listen to. This comes out in the band’s vocal performances. Bassist Loren DiBlasi and guitarist Lindsey-Paige McCloy split vocals duties by combining the tonal contrasts of their deadpan deliveries. Some lines are spoken with cynical contempt, other times they are soothing and considerate. The instrumentation is striped down, so this sort of bare bones, oral performance is made transparent. The bass and drums support the tough truths that reach fruition in your late 20s. It’s the honesty of this record that makes it so palpable: “Sometimes I cry when I listen to classical music.


Tame Impala — “Borderline”


Tame Impala graduated from a psych-rock niche when “Currents” dropped in the summer of 2015. Since then, they’ve become one of the most important rock bands in the world. They’ve remained impressively low-key outside of touring. They released one track back in 2018, but otherwise updates on new music were nil. That sentiment is what makes “Borderline” — the band’s second single since “Patience” — so endearing. It makes their return to the charts seem anticlimactic. That’s fine; the extravagant rock star is a pretty tired aesthetic anyway. Instead of going for a triumphant entrance, the band opts for more tranquil introduction to their (hopefully) forthcoming album. Seventies-style harpsichords, mellow synths and a flute reminiscence of Men At Work all dance in the background behind leader singer Kevin Parker’s soft croons. I wouldn’t worry too much about their sound changing too dramatically, but it’s good to see a band move in a different direction rather than recycling the same textures.

See tickets for Tame Impala here.


Schoolboy Q Announces “CrasH Talk”

Former Black Hippy alum Schoolboy Q announced the release date for his next LP “CrasH Talk.” The announcement is proceded by the singles “Numb Numb Juice” and “CHopstix.” Q’s past two albums have been blistering rap albums that provide both dark commentary and ferocious club hits like “Collard Greens” and “THat Part.” “CrasH Talk” is out on April 26 via Interscope and will feature artists like Ty Dolla Sign, Travis Scott Kid Cudi, 21 Savage, 6lack and Lil Baby.


Release Radar: April 5

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Connie Constance — English Rose

English Rose feels like Britain’s answer to SZA’s “Ctrl.” Constance’s songs, like “Blooming in Solitude,” feel genetically attached to SZA’s melancholy bangers, like “Drew Barrymore.” Both albums have a certain kind of subtle swagger to them, but both artists feel deeply vulnerable despite their confidence. However, while American R&B is more influenced by hip-hop, Constance and her English counterparts — Suzi Wu, Westerman, Nilufer Yanya — seem to be impacted by London’s robust electronic and punk histories. The title track is, after all, a sensitive cover of The Jam’s 1978 track English Rose. Many songs on English Rose have similar tone shifts to jungle or dubstep tune, like on “Bloody British Me,” where the song’s production opens with sensitive organs, segways into a breakbeat rhythm while its synths shifting from quaint, echoing pecks to slashing, scuzzed riffs. The end of the song feels like the end to a Tame Impala song. But Constance isn’t all flashes and bangs. She also is deeply sensitive and complex. “Bad Vibes” is a powerful, minimalist ballad that finds her cockney accent yearning for better company. Point being, English Rose is a multifaceted album that relies on the heterogeneous nature of its creator.



Shlohmo — The End

The late cultural theorist Mark Fisher often spoke about the “hauntology” of modern electronic music; which is to say, a “confrontation with a cultural impasse: the failure of the future.” When culture is frozen in a nostalgia-based trance, what is the direction we go in? Is anything new or are we simply gerbils on a wheel of artistic repetitions?Shlohmo, the LA based lo-fi producer, attempts to reconcile this on his latest record. The End has the dreary, exhausted textures of sick computer gasping its last breaths. Since electronic music often feels cheap and marketed, why not go in the complete opposite direction? It’s an album that feels haunted, the title track has dulled trap production set to a freaking creepy glockenspiel riff. Unlike Shlohmo’s previous records, “The End” relies on multiple analog instruments. “Hopeless” might be the first time I’ve heard Shlohmo’s voice before, even if it is just a looped recording of him groaning into a microphone. “Headache of the Year” opens with “Stranger Things”–like synths and crackling glitches before hitting its stride with distorted guitar solos and doom-metal (another hauntology genre) chords. It feels like the soundtrack to the decay of global civilization.


billy woods — Hiding Places

Sometimes an album’s cover doesn’t match the implications of its title. This is not the case for billy woods’s brooding and frustrated album Hiding Places.The cover is a condemned house that looks like it could have been a drug den. A place where poverty and desperation keeps its secrets from the lavishness of modern urban life. “Spongebob,” the record’s opening track, paints a sonic picture of a decaying neighborhood. At the end of the song, an automatic telephone operator says: “You have 10 dollars, twenty two cents remaining in your account. Please enter the telephone number you wish to dial now.” The New York rapper has always styled his music around an aggressive, filthy aesthetic, but he’s never been this literal. Menacing bass lines, detuned pianos, and guitars that thrash like Albini permeate the production of an album hellbent on destroying SoundCloud rapper hegemony. Despite its performative callousness, Hiding Places has its heart in the right place. The exasperation that woods expresses is not misplaced, and in fact is very much warranted. As gentrification takes its toll on low-income black communities; where will its humanity, its art, its culture be able to exist?


KÁRYYN — The Quanta Series

KÁRYYN’s formal arrival — as far as the experimental pop community is concerned — has had “Chinese Democracy” levels of anticipation. The difference is that The Quanta Series was well worth the wait. In 2017, she garnered major press coverage despite a very limited sample size. (Queen) Bjӧrk named her as an influence. She collaborated legendary performance artist Marina Abramović. Despite her humble origins, “Born in Alabama. Baptized in Aleppo,” KÁRYYN very quickly entered the upper echelons of the art world. The Quanta Series is the amalgamation of several years of music releases and video projects. As a fully formed album, it’s an absolute stunner and utilizes sound like organic fibers. KÁRYYN is a weaver, threading distance calls and intimate instrumentation into cohesive pop melodies; like on “BINARY,” perfectly fused soundscapes jettison sleeking auros of light swirl like orcas around KÁRYYN’s fluid, Gregorian vocals. Looped whispers are used as supplements for percussion. While some might compare her to Björk, she’s much less visceral. She’s more a chimera of This Mortal Coil and Beyonce; the track “YAJNA” sounds like RISD interpretation of Destiny’s Child. “PURGATORY” is as if Jackson Pollock produced a Sarah McLachlan single. That’s the point, really; KÁRYYN seems to want to make the obtuse more accessible.


Mdou Moctar — Ilanna (The Creator)

Mdou Moctar began his musical career as a wedding musician and you can tell. His music has a certain celebratory but meditative quality to it. It is the sort of rock music that offers energized reflection. Moctar is a Tuaregian guitarist who hails from Niger, so his music has a psychedelic, Saharan twang. Unlike his first view albums, which sound like they could have been ripped from “Music from Saharan Cellphones,” Ilhana (The Creator) is very straight-to-the-point desert rock n’ roll. (Unsurprisingly, Moctar’s label also released the “Cellphones” compilation.) Songs like “Anna” are mixed to perfection, the hallowed and vibrant vocals blending seamlessly with Moctar’s sharp pentatonic shredding. Despite the high production value, this LP has a hazy quality to it. Songs drift in and out like the shade on a cloudy day: lo-fi mini-explorations like “Takamaba” bleeding into the pristine, bluesy jams of “Takamba.” Ilana (The Creator) picks up where contemporaries like Bombino and Tinariwen left off in 2017–2018, when they brought Tuargian music stateside.   




Yohuna — “Mirroring”


“Indie” Pop has always been seen as an obtuse sort of music. Drawn out, overly complicated and elitist. Yohuna makes sonically complex but straightforward pop music that perspires a je ne sais quoi kind of moodiness. It’s clear since her 2016 freshman release, she’s been grinding the midnight oil at the studio. “Mirroring” sounds like a synth pop song with guitar swashes, but it’s somehow entirely comprised of only guitar parts san drums. Despite such investments in its production, “Mirroring” goes for the jugular. It’s two minutes of A-B-A-B bliss.


Pile — “The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller”


“The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller” has a battle axe of a guitar opening. A single thudding chord driven into your skull. It makes sense because lead singer Rick Maguire has to axe to grind. “Usually, it’s difficult for me to concentrate much vitriol on one person, especially one I don’t know personally, but Stephen Miller is the exception,” he said in a press release. The song is a vicious critique of Trump’s snotty and vile advisor Stephen Miller, who has overseen the administration’s immigration policy. So you can thank him for the concentration camps. Left-wing polemicist Alexander Cockburn would ask his staff writers: “Is your hate pure?” Maguire’s certainly is and that’s what makes this punk anthem so rupturous and exhilarating.

Purchase your tickets here to see Pile in Chicago next month.


Release Radar: March 29

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Jenny Lewis — On The Line”

Is it possible to make a “classic” rock album in 2019? It’s hard to say, but Jenny Lewis makes a strong case in favor of the notion. “On The Line” is one of Lewis’s most exploratory and vulnerable records, which is impressive considering how long she’s has been in the game. Instrumentally, the album is your standard guitar rock compositions, but lyrically Lewis explores everything from her child acting traumas to the struggles of her late mother’s opioid addiction. Yet despite such jarring topics, there’s nostalgic optimism in these songs. “Hollywood Lawn” feels like a postmodern pastiche of a Carole King song. “Red Bull & Hennessy” finds Lewis unleashing her inner Stevie Nicks, fuzzed and roaring guitars straddling just behind her. While the whole world spins into chaos, “On The Line” looks inward and accepts itself for all its triumphs and turbulence.

To catch her live in a city near you, check out tickets here


La Dispute — Panorama

Midwestern emo/post-hardcore often feels stuck in the turn of the century. Look no further than American Football’s “revival” or Mineral’s comeback single. Great bands rehashing the same sounds to little avail. Conversely, Michigan’s La Dispute has been tinkering. “Panoramais adventurous, aggressive and aggrieved. Frontman Jordan Dreyer’s poetic rants are spaced out between ambient creaks and popping post-rock grit. “Panoramais relentless in its pursuit of breathing room, allowing its songs to air themselves out.  However, there are still songs that harken back to the anthemic nature of Midwest Emo, like on “VIEW FROM OUR BEDROOM WINDOW” or “FOOTSTEPS AT THE POND,” where Dreyer’s howls are matched by soaring, existential licks and angst-riddled power chords.  

To catch La Dispute live click here for tickets.


Andrew Bird — My Finest Work Yet”

This isn’t Andrew Bird’s finest work yet, but it’s a strong and meaningful record by one of ‘indie’ folks pioneers. It wasn’t too long ago that Bird was a critical darling and commercial success, but as of late his reach remains niche. “My Finest Work Yet finds Bird returning to his jazzy and elegant form after more minimalist albums like 2016’s “Are You Serious.” “Olympians” brings the listener back to the simpler times, a time during the early 2000s where “indie” music was baroque and not concerned about being featured in an iPod commercial. Bird’s strength has always been his ability to channel his old soul into modern pop and jazz stylings like on “Proxy War,” a dance room bop characterized by Bird’s Wainwrightesque coos. While “My Finest Work Yet” by no means innovative, but it’s warm, well written, and gorgeously composed.

To catch Andrew Bird live, check out tickets here


Laurel Halo — “DJ-Kicks

To proclaim that “DJ-Kicksis a return to Laurel Halo’s house roots is to imply she had a set style in the first place. Halo has always been exploratory, using every possible sonic texture at her disposal to invoke an array of misnomer feelings. She’s like a child who is fingerpainting; she mixes and mashes every conceivable color in search of unnamed and undefined hues. However, unlike 2018’s Cageian “Raw Silk Uncut Wood” or 2017’s impressionistic “Dust,” Halo’s most recent release is straight to the point, no holds barred experimental dance music. Unidentifiable sounds and echos mingle in the air, while subtle and quaint beats pitter-patter in the background. Other times, Halo goes for more direct sounds, like on her mix of Ikonika’s “Bodies,” where a vivacious and wormish bass seizes on the dance floor. All the while, synthesizer cackles. “DJ-Kicks isn’t “simplistic” by Halo’s standards, it’s also quite literal. It feels like a personal dance club in your room, lights and bodies appearing like shadows on the wall. Any burgeoning house aficionado should give this mix a listen.


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah — Ancestral Recall”

It’s a crime that Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Kendrick Lamar haven’t collaborated. Throughout “Ancestral Recall,” I kept expecting to hear Lamar’s solemn and voracious flows creep out of the mix. This record feels like a rap album. No matter, acclaimed poet and activist Saul Williams’s sing-talk over the triumphant brass and afro-beat percussion. Scott’s latest record is a sprawling and exploratory piece of jazz. Pop, hip-hop, ambient, funk and soul are mixed into the pot like a sonic gumbo. J Dilla is referenced by name on “Forever Girl,” Fela Kuti is implicitly entwined within the composition, and the spirit of the record is just as much philosophically aligned with Frank Ocean as it is Miles Davis. “Ancestral Recall” is too complex and historical for a casual listen. It’s a piece of text that must be engaged with.



Kevin Morby — “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild”

“Prolific” and “eclectic” are words that often get beaten to death in music criticism, but for artists like Kevin Morby, it’s hard to describe his career without such phrasing. Morby made his name with the psych-rock band Woods, made two garage rock albums with The Babies, and will be releasing his fifth solo album this April. “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild”  follows the same script Morby’s earlier solo work, which is to say, embarrasses the multiplicity of Americana. Such a vague descriptor, I know, but Morby’s latest single relies just as much on his Dylan and Reed style vocal deliveries as he does the gospel choir behind him. Or the thick baritone sax. And the beat-poet conga drums. It’s a midcentury style of music that doesn’t feel derivative.

“Oh My God” will be out April 26, 2019, via Dead Oceans.

To check out Kevin Morby live, click here for tickets


Sky Ferreira — Downhill Lullaby”

Sky Ferreira might be the most reluctant pop star since Kurt Cobain. Following some legal mishaps, misguided album release dates and record label disputes, the highly awaited single of her sophomore LP is here. “Night Time, My Time,” Ferreira’s only full-length record to date, desperately needed a followup. However, Ferreira remained in hiding, only popping up from time to time over the past few years. She made a song for theBaby Driver” soundtrack and leaked a cover of a Til’ Tuesday song. Last year, she cameoed on the latest Iceage and The Jesus and Mary Chain records. Other than that, “Downhill Lullaby” is her first independent release in six years. It definitely lives up to the hype, ominous violin chords harping over Ferreira’s dreary and apathetic vocals. It feels like a soundtrack to a David Lynch movie that doesn’t exist. It’s fitting. Ferreira has always styled herself as a post-punk pop star and she doesn’t disappoint.

Masochism does not have a release date.


Release Radar: March 22

Every Friday, takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Tamaryn – Dreaming the Dark 

As a child, Tamaryn Brown attempted to imitate the sexual movements of the dancers on her television. When her grandmother saw her doing this, Brown explained in an interview with The New York Times, “She took me into her room, put on Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming,’ and was like, ‘No one’s watching you, move any way that makes sense to the music.’” This anecdote is reflected in Tamaryn’s fourth studio album; “Dreaming The Dark” is a naked, fearless and unapologetic. Songs like “Angels of Sweat” simultaneously embrace the melancholy and empowering moments of dancing by yourself. Despite having new wave/shoe gazing production, Tamaryn’s latest outing has moments of pristine clarity.

Flume – Hi This Is Flume

Flume might be one of the most lowkey DJ’s in pop music. Despite being a global sensation, Flume doesn’t buy sports teams like Diplo or Livestream from his studio like deadmau5. He is much more guarded and introspective. This is made apparent on his surprise mixtape Hi This Is Flume. While the tape has some solid club bangers, there are existential and personal moments. Tracks like “Daze 22.00” switches between furious snare barrages and gorgeous flute instrumentations. “Is It Cold In The Water?”, a collaboration with queer electronica goddess Sophie, is operatic and feels like the climax to a sci-fi dogfight. Flume is proof that EDM isn’t just for frat bros and wooks.

Karen O and Danger Mouse – Lux Prima

Danger Mouse has always made music for imaginary spy movies. Even his greatest hit, “Crazy,” feels like it could be a Bond theme. A few years back, Danger Mouse created the epic concept album “Rome,” based around an imaginary spaghetti western film. To play the leads, DM recruited Jack White and Norah Jones. Jones’ and White’s performances were admirable, but something didn’t quite work. Enter Karen O, who’s charisma matches Danger’s moxie. Karen channels Nancy Sinatra, while Danger Mouse’s production echos David Axelrod’s cinematic production style. “Lux Prima” is a solid pop-rock record that leans just as much on Karen O’s unique vocal style as it does its vintage production style.

Low Life – Downer Edn

Australia’s punk scene has always had a penchant for dreary and atonal vocals. From Nick Cave to Courtney Barnett, the dry and apathetic vocal style has reigned supreme. Low Life doesn’t need gothic chants or witty lyricism to define their music. Instead, these Sydney natives cut through the mix with guitars that sound like industrial drills. It serves a nice counterweight to their post-punk melodies and actually makes the LP sound pretty upbeat.  Low Life’s rants are often depressing, but their music makes you want to mosh out of excitement rather than frustration.

Oozing Wound — High Anxiety

If you have a friend who doesn’t understand why you like metal, pop on High Anxiety to convert them to your cause. Oozing Wound has long favored a commitment to listenability over pure brutality. They also don’t write songs that go on for fifteen minutes straight. Rather, these Chicago locals make their transitions sweet and to the point. The opening track “Surrounded By F***ing Idiots” works itself smoothly into the the fits of rage that is “Filth Chisel.” Lead singer Zack Weil’s vocals are gravelly and vicious, but still melodic. His distorted and damaged riffs are spaced nicely between teeter-totter chord progressions. His backing band is clearly having just as much fun playing the second fiddle to Weil’s heavy metal antics.


Weyes Blood – “Movies”


Weyes Blood’s romantic yearnings always cut with the subtlest of knives. On “Movies,” she croons about being “bound to that summer, Big box office hit, Making love to a counterfeit” while spacial synths twinkle behind her longings. We’ve all had our hearts broken and tried to fill that void with false hope. Weyes Blood’s latest single swells and grows into a epic cry before a pop-ambient blackhole consumes her sorrow.

Titanic Rising will be out via Sub Pop on April 5.

Holly Herndon – “Eternal


“Eternal” is Silicon Valley’s answer to Bjork. Electronic composer and tinkerer Holly Herndon programmed and jammed with an AI which she named Spawn. While it’s unclear what role Spawn had exactly, Herndon’s new single “Eternal” is a sprawling and intricate piece of experimental dance music. Her harp-like vocals cutting through the hectic storm clouds of bass, drums, and destructive synths; her descent from the sonic Nimbus could be likened to the Archangel

Gabriel. PROTO is out on May 10 via 4AD.