Top Dawg Entertainment’s leading lady and glitter trap princess SZA dropped her highly anticipated debut this morning, titled Z. Her vocals remain as silky and understated as ever, and the new album welcomes high-caliber guest stars such as Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, as well as it features the production talents of Toro Y Moi, Mac Miller and more. Just as in her previous releases, SZA continues to subvert the R&B script and experiments with a diverse set of sounds: She breezes effortlessly through the ambient minimalism of “Child’s Play,” grooves through soft dance hit “Julia,” marches into the trap-laden “Babylon” and eases into the nostalgic funk of “Sweet November.” Enjoy this rich new release by streaming it below.
Who was your favorite featured artist this week? You have until 11am EST next Friday to cast your vote, so make it count!
Is it drugs? Or is it pure, 100% organic anachronism that makes Lorelle Meets The Obsolete so convincingly 1971? In their 2013 release, Corruptible Faces, the duo had catapulted themselves way past the stratosphere and into a more ambient, extraterrestrial haze. But in their latest full-length album,Chambers, they’ve hit the ground rocking, pulling from the discordant Krautrock styles of the late 1960s but grounding it in much more structure.
Omid Walizadeh has lived in California since his family moved there from Tehran when he was 7 years old. In the early ’90s, he became deeply engaged in the West Coast hip-hop/turntablism scene. Under the name Omid, he released a seminal LA underground hip-hop record, Beneath the Surface, in 1998. A collaborative album with more than 30 rappers, it featured the likes of Aceyalone, Awol One, 2Mex, Rakaa Iriscience (of Dilated Peoples), and more.
Formerly of the dream pop group Bee Eyes, 23-year-old Idris Vicuña started Eyedress in his cramped bedroom at his parents’ house, recording and sampling sounds from his laptop. With the help of local singer Skint Eastwood, soft, child-like vocals echo elegiacally over trap beats and shimmering synths. While his earlier works were hemmed with a little hope, most of his new songs plunge into feelings of longing and desperation, alluding to the painful geographic distance between him and his beloved.
Born Melissa Jefferson, Lizzo has journeyed from Detroit to Houston to Minnesota, sampling the swag of each city (Motor City toughness, Southern rap haze, and Twin City pop-funk). She’s dabbled in R&B, punk, girl-group pop, and more in an amazing number of groups for one person: Lizzo & the Larva Ink, The Chalice, GRRRL PRTY, I.N.I.T.I.A.L.S., Cornrow Clique, Elypseas and The Clerb. But her debut solo album from last fall, Lizzobangers, has been her most successful outlet of them all.
Ibibio Sound Machine reveals that there are infinite creative options available for artists who want to push beyond tried-and-true Afrobeat and highlife templates. Taking its cues from the slew of acts that embraced disco throughout Nigeria and Ghana in the ’70s, as well as the ongoing musical dialogue between West Africa and Latin America, Ibibio Sound Machine marries blippy electropop to hard-charging funk.
A former member of the short-lived “melodic rap” band, Kid British, Manchester’s Adio Marchant is now clocking up viral hits under his Polydor-signed, indie-pop alter-ego, Bipolar Sunshine. The vocalist’s latest hook-driven single, “Where Did The Love Go,” is proving to be one of his more popular offerings to date, securing more radio spins and blog posts by the day. It also boasts notable fans in London-based DJs and producers, Shai Spooner and Marcus Jakes — who, using minimal vocals, recently brought forth an animalistic, tech-house re-edit of the pop ballad. One for the deeper underground house and techno heads, stream Spooner and Jakes’ work in full below.
Little Dragon, the electropop four-piece from Sweden, are heading out on a tour of North America this spring/summer, and to celebrate the upcoming fifteen-show engagement, Yukimi Nagano and co. decided to reach out across the border to south London’s jazz-loving Butterz producer, Swindle, for a remix of their new single, “Klapp Klapp.” Never one to shy away from sonic experimentation, listen below as Little Dragon are dragged into outer-space by Swindle’s synth and clap-happy, intergalactic grime edit:
Little Dragon’s new tour dates:
4/10 – Roseland Theatre (Soul’d Out Music Festival) – Portland, OR
4/13 – Coachella 2014 – Indio, CA
4/16 – Pappy & Harriet’s – Joshua Tree, CA
4/20 – Coachella 2014 – Indio, CA
5/10 – Toronto, ON – Canadian Music Week
6/7/14 – South Side Music Hall – Dallas, TX
6/8/14 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
6/10/14 – Republic – New Orleans, LA
6/11/14 – The Orpheum – Tampa, FL
6/12/14 – Grand Central – Miami, FL
6/14/14 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
6/15/14 – Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN
6/17/14 – Music Farm – Charleston, SC
6/18/14 – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
6/20/14 – Terminal 5 – New York, NY
Little Dragon’s new LP, Nabuma Rubberband, hits shelves on May 13.
From the first piano stroke, you can instantly tell that Alice Boman’s “What” is going to be a tearjerker. If the track was as inspired by Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” as its composition leads you to believe, making you cry was the goal from the beginning.
“What” is the first single and introduction to Boman’s upcoming sophomore release simply titled EP II. The song has all the qualities she works so hard to bring to music — simplicity, beauty, and straight-forward emotion. While many artists try to fit as much as they can into three and a half minutes, truly talented ones know how to use silence and space to their advantage as a way to convey what they are feeling.
The Swedish singer-songwriter’s vocals are hauntingly accurate in their aim to make you feel a very specific way. “What” is special, not just in its obvious beauty, but in its universal accessibility. We’ve all felt this way, we can all relate. —Hugh McIntyre
Cast a vote for your favorite featured artist this week! You have until 11am EST next Friday to keep on voting, so make it count!
Olympic Ayres used to be a bedroom project, a phrase that brings to mind hushed vocals, strummed guitars, and — perhaps the most bastardized term of all — intimacy. Now that we’ve covered all the clichés, forget ‘em. Presented with a shimmy and a shake, the Australian duo’s bouncy electropop was meant for a sizable audience. Sure, three might be a crowd, but 50 is a party.
Raury sings, writes, raps, and plays the guitar. He’s a 17-year-old from the eastern suburbs of Atlanta and the two songs and video that he released last week made him an instant sensation. In the video for “God’s Whisper”, Raury and his friends show of just how extremely artsy, stylish, thoughtful high schoolers can get. As Raury saunters around the scenery singing about alienation and finding inspiration in the sublime, his friends drink and frolic around bonfires.
This Italian outfit floats gracefully along a tightrope between experimental and accessible, mixing found sounds with real-life instrumentation over an electronic bedrock. The vibe is murky, yet oftentimes ecstatic — dark wave that isn’t so downtrodden; post-rock with room for exploring ideas about time, space and self. Their latest offering is PiecesOfUsWereLeftOnTheGround, written that way specifically to serve as a calligram representative of its intent.
It seems like 2013 came out shoegazing, as evidenced by the long-awaited return of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Medicine. But in the past year we’ve also seen a new generation of shoegazers shuffle forth. London-based four-piece Cheatahs seems to ride this temperamental wave in their debut LP, albeit retaining some of the more traditional staples, like the faint layers of drone that underpin their spectral harmonies. But unlike most of the ’90s pioneers, the vocals prevail well above the surface of aural slush, rendering their sentiments more distinguishable.
Kitsune, the widely respected French electronic label, have unearthed another shining gem of an act, this time in London three-piece, Years & Years. Having already put out records by Hot Chip, Two Door Cinema Club, and Crystal Fighters, Kitsune’s track record for championing infectious, dance-orientated hits has been bolstered further with the release of Y&Y’s “Real” and B-side, “Eyes Shut.” Comprising of frontman and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player and producer Emre Turkmen, Years & Years are a dance act with real soul. Granted, you’ll have heard that a thousand times in the last two years, but when teaming their cutting edge electronic music with the pop sensibilities of their writing and Alexander’s pure vocal that is achingly honest, it generates a belief in the lyrics and the emotion they convey.
A totally unselfconscious high five goes to the budding UK jangle pop savants of Bloomer. You are our Artist of the Week! Guess we’re not the only ones who find this band’s scruffy, fuzzy tunes and DIY style wildly charming. Dig “Long Slow Ride” and see why our readers voted them into the winner’s circle in this week’s poll.
Last night, Jammer—the revered grime producer, MC, and Lord Of The Mics mastermind from the East End of London—shut down the grime Twittersphere when he set free a 15-track set entitled Top Producer. Full of cuts that’d “just been catching dust” on his PC for two years short of a decade, Jahmek Power decided it was finally time the people heard what gems he was sitting on in that “dungeon” of his.
On Top Producer, there are a few light moments from The Murkle Man here (“Sweety Pie”) and there (“Come & Go”) but, mostly, it’s raw to the core and captures that DIY scent grime gave off so strongly once upon a time. With all of the music recorded back in grime’s glory days (2004-2006), the album also comes bearing a few fire-in-the-belly verses from some of the scene’s cherished wordsmiths: Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Skepta, JME, and D Double E. Download Jammer’s old-new offering, and relive your teenagehood for free.
2. Top Producer
3. Sweety Pie
4. Big Out Here
5. Murkle Man
6. Murkle Man (Remix)
7. I’m A Big Man
10. Come & Go
11. Broken Window
12. In 2 Deep
13. Too Much War
14. Be Someone
15. Biblical Grime