Paak is far from reaching his peak. A lot of what this song does with voice hits me right: the Kate Bush—style layered vibrato; the corroded, spoken-word backup vocals; that synth patch that mimics human timbre. The bass tone sounds like you could wring a full glass of orange juice out of it. This girl is begging to be featured in all of your hipster music videos. Look for it. Lungbutter weighs down their noise rock with the sense that time is running out, that they could be cut off at any second. Once again, Steve Lacy just gets it. Now, give us the debut album!
When you think of original, witty, relatable, consistently on-point songwriters of the past decade, the Perth-dwelling Barnett is the first that springs to mind. Is anyone else on the kind of run Uzi is right now? Kaytranada ft. Jazzy psycho-pop is exactly what the doctor ordered for me this week when I was feeling low and needed a major pick-me-up. Crumb is a Brooklyn-based four-piece band that reminds me of the music that my buds from Boise, Idaho, make — which is meant as a huuuuuge compliment. Their debut album Jinx drops on June 14, and I can only imagine that the other nine tracks are just as promising as this standout single.
Fabulously named Australian punks Amyl and the Sniffers are developing a rampant live reputation with every town they rock in across the globe, particularly following SXSW. Front person Amy Taylor sports a mullet and performs with a dangerous cheek — she has to be seen to be believed. It whispers come hither from the shore. Lil Nas X ft. I was today years old when I became a country-rap-music stan. TikTok savant Lil Nas collaborated with our old friend Robby Ray Stewart to make the best country-rap song that ever existed. Forget trap music, I want to stand atop a tractor and belt this remix till the cows come home.
Most importantly, do we think Tish Cyrus actually has a bad Fendi sports bras habit? Ariana Grande is never not working. Even her losses are a Goddamned win. It feels familiar and new, like seeing the sun rise and marveling at the uniqueness of another day.
Stevie Nicks. Janet Jackson. Robert Smith. David Byrne. But whatever. I can be a cynic sometimes. This was really fun! Name me another setting — besides the rare fundraiser — that gives this many legends the opportunity to cross-pollinate and rock out for a few minutes, just because they can! Would relive again. The forthcoming seventh album from Hot Chip is called A Bathful of Ecstasy , which is a great descriptor for how I feel about house music. House music has taken on a new role for me in the past 18 months. On January 1, , I decided I was going to stop drinking. Since then I have sought healthier avenues for release, ways to access the tips of my neurons and the flush in my cheeks and the flurry in my chest without making a tit of myself.
House music can be sustenance, and Hot Chip have become masters of the craft. Khalid ft. Not at all! They must … just be super busy, right? The latest taste from Here Comes the Cowboy is simple and wistful, a single bent guitar line slithering between his voice, brushed drums, and a simple strum. The lyrical sentiment is all in the title, really — sometimes, things are just simple that way. Her latest single is a delicious slice of dream-pop that sugarcoats the gradual unraveling you go through after a break up.
There is a genre-bending quality to their music I find irresistible NPR agrees. Please forward to my future romantic prospects. Go forth, bury me! Lion Babe is back with an album brimming with slow jamz. Layering sultry vocals over a tribal beat in Solange fashion , vocalist Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman find their groove with Cosmic Wind , their track album released earlier this week.
This song feels like awakening from a winter sojourn to find your sex drive intact yay! Double-time drums and cascading piano notes are the lifeblood of this song. The Earth has moved around the Sun six whole times since Sky Ferreira last put out music. She was a muse. She was an enigma. She was an actor.
She was a recluse. She was a fantastic pop star. In luminaries like Debbie Harry and David Lynch, she found the greatest of champions. And everybody has anticipated its follow-up since. Her vocal breathes over NIN-style turgid depths before she flies up into a chorus that has more in common with PJ Harvey or Tori Amos than any of her current peers. Deliciously interesting and well worth the wait. Billie Eilish sampled The Office in a song!
It may sound gimmicky, but Eilish weaves it all together perfectly. Just an instantly memorable moment on an album full of them. She has since rebranded as just MARINA, and in removing the character that never fully felt quite right for her, she inevitably finally sounds like herself. For an artist as consistently forward-thinking as Jlin, this Adult Swim one-off almost rings nostalgic.
The candy-crusted synthesizers, hi-hat blasts, and subtle bass drops bring me back to early Skrillex singles, which mined YouTube when YouTube was not yet a repository for fascist propaganda. Of course, Jlin outpaces Skrillex and his cohort of web-native millennial men by a mile in terms of technical dexterity. It sounds unique, fresh, and a challenge for any other artist to reproduce, at a time when so few songs ever do. The album is 28 minutes of bittersweet bliss as the New York band tackles the devastation of loss by turning to their community for support.
Georgia Barnes has been around for a minute: Her self-titled Domino debut in was a pleasant grab-bag of au courant and pop-adjacent sounds that suggested greater talent lying underneath. It evokes nostalgia at its core, and not for the s — rather, for about five or six years ago, when every single band and artist coming forth seemed committed to reviving the slick and weird synth-pop sound that the Knife froze in amber with their s classic Silent Shout. Barnes is clearly keeping the dream alive. What we have here is a mishmash of meaningless words — one of many from her new project, phAses — that serve no other purpose than to make Melii, and anyone listening to Melii woman especially feel like the absolute shit, even if it could be further from the truth.
You are that bitch. I classify this genre as the social media spiritual and I want 1, more like it. No, I will not perform well, but yes, I will get what I want, and God help the one who tries to stop me. The all-male quintuplet who make up the Australian metalcore band Windwaker got their start inland, in the city of Wagga Wagga. Whispers loom before hard-hitting growls; the contrast is nothing short of magnetic. These Triple J darlings are worth keeping your ears on in Lizzo ft. There is no one churning out BBW anthems better than queen of thick bitch nation Lizzo.
But before her, there was Missy Elliott as its lone delegate, as far as the music industry allowed for plus-size black women, anyway. I was not expecting Flume to surprise-drop a mixtape anytime soon, but I finally got around to streaming Hi This Is Flume and, well, thank you so much, Harley Edward Streten. But back to the track … Social climbers really get you in a cold mood, and sometimes you need to vent about it! It sounds like spring, and Lord knows we could all use a little more daylight these days.
Affecting strings and layered vocals hauntingly echo over frenetic chords. Dazzle painting, for those who lack knowledge of naval vernacular — including myself before writing this blurb — originated in World War I as a new, artful, geometric form of warship camouflage meant to disorient enemies with bold, zebralike patterns. As technology advanced, the necessity to trip adversaries up with M.
Escher—like confusion ceased to exist, but the metaphor remains apt for Austin- and now New York—based post-punks Institute, and their perception of society. Anohni ft. Jade Bell and J. The first single from her next album is the dawn of a new phase, and benefits from a generous incubation period. The final minute features a playful transition to an uptempo beat signifying her arrival Stateside. It skips with glee toward new beginnings. Does he sit there in silence, zipping up his hoodie? I was only gone for an hour! Some elements were familiar a crew of guys in front of a brownstone, drinking and mugging for the camera , and some were menacing the number of red bandannas and guns on display , but it was the man at the center of the video who startled me most; he seemed almost precision-engineered to make people feel old.
In an era when most young rappers have a couple of face tattoos, 6ix9ine had the number 69 inked above his right eye in point type. He had the same number spelled out in cursive over his left eye. It was everywhere on his body. Within about a year, he would be in federal custody, a year-old facing life in prison for a number of charges, including racketeering and attempted murder. Normally this sort of arrest leads to an outcry about literal-minded police overreach.
Not this time. People generally seemed pleased to see the rapper in cuffs. This was partly because 6ix9ine was universally reviled by music critics and journalists, on account of a crime he committed before he became famous: In , he pleaded guilty to the use of a minor in a sexual performance, for having filmed and shared on social media a video of a girl performing oral sex on his friend.
But it was also because he had spent the past year living the life of a Looney Tunes character: courting danger, narrowly escaping it, then taunting his foes.
This genuinely incredible run netted him more than stories on TMZ: gang members in San Antonio threatening his life; a shootout at the Barclays Center; shots fired at a video shoot in Brooklyn; more shots fired at a Beverly Hills video set. Through it all, he posted on Instagram, usually wearing red, often handling bricks of cash, sometimes clutching extremely illegal-looking guns, but never betraying an ounce of concern for his well-being.
Cultivating this sort of personal mythology is not at all new; it dates back to the earliest days of gangsta rap. Ever since Eazy-E bankrolled NWA with drug money, a certain proximity to criminality has been expected of certain rappers. Not long ago, rappers had just a few limited channels through which to prove that they did: lyrics, album art and, if they were famous enough, music videos. Like Old Testament gods, they willed whole universes into being through their words. Now they have social media. This sort of online mythmaking is second nature to SoundCloud rappers, so called for the streaming service that birthed the scene.
SoundCloud rap is not characterized by a particular sound so much as its anarchic energy — the face tattoos, the prescription drugs, the orthographically complex handles. The problem, for 6ix9ine, was that a big part of his adopted persona, both on Instagram and in his music, involved being a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.
According to a Rolling Stone profile that came out after his arrest in November, this was essentially an act: Danny Hernandez, in the years leading up to his fame, had been a trollish and goofy Bushwick deli employee; his industry blacklisting had pushed him into the hands of an apparently gang-affiliated manager, who also provided him with a new edge. Maybe the whole thing really was a put-on, but also, he really did it. The Rolling Stone article recounts how, at his arraignment, the presiding judge asked the prosecution how it knew Hernandez was at real-life crime scenes.
A liminal space has always existed between rappers and their personas.
The gap between 6ix9ine and Danny Hernandez was considerably wider, but he snapped it shut with his phone, merging fantasy with reality through a front-facing camera. It was reported in February that 6ix9ine, who pleaded guilty, agreed to help prosecutors in their case against his co-defendants, hoping for leniency: a reduced sentence and possibly witness protection.
But helping 6ix9ine disappear into some corner of America might prove difficult, and not just because of the tattoos. In , the Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn turned 14 and finished middle school; then she signed a record deal. A feeling of healing from sadness and wanting to share that with the world and with myself — a sense of self-love, excitement, some kind of peace of mind. Like when your strength is coming back.
Intimacy, definitely, but it could be with yourself. Any experience you have that will give you a new point in your scale of emotions will make any other experience richer because you have a new point of reference. Not reserving that deep pleasure for a sexual sensation, but something you could experience day to day. Intimacy in every little thing.
I feel like I have to work for it every day. You get it going and then you can use it and tend to it and start it back up again. Is your fire well tended? Not at all. I maybe need to go back and listen to some of my songs myself to figure this out. Your songs are known for intermingling sadness and euphoria.
I used to believe it would all make sense if you just powered through. Post-recession capitalism has glorified the hustle so much. But you can actually use a story that relates to something more real than buying yourself out of anxiety. Definitely: Pop at the moment is depressing. Hip-hop is really dark. The music kids are listening to is heavy! Is the industry set up for artists to be able to share their pain but protect themselves?
People want you to be vulnerable. You turn 40 this June. I think it can be that, for sure. It was hard to tell how many people in the club liked flamenco, an art form not much associated with young people anymore. Some of the younger girls even twerked. She sounds and feels cosmopolitan, cool in a sophisticated and almost foreign way.
Her own aesthetic is polished, globally recognizable, informed by hip-hop and trap music. Maybe this is the price of success in a culture that looks askance at overt displays of ambition or self-actualization, especially by women. The local fascination tended to focus less on her art and more on her as a phenomenon, on the extraordinary speed of her rise to stardom. It would spark arguments too, about cultural appropriation and the Romany community, who have always been closely associated with flamenco.
A woman gets married to a man who later grows jealous and imprisons her. What sort of place were you at in your life when you wrote this song? Obviously I was working a lot. I had already toured Europe and the U. I wanted to make a banger to play live — I just picked up my microphone and started talking. The song came out in a funny way, but the undertone is serious. Whatever you do, whatever amount of energy you put into something, you have to do it for yourself and not to please others. Not to build this facade or this persona or achievement.
Do you think people base too much of their self-worth on their work? We live in a society that is based on work — goals, achievement, money. Of course! But I think you become a much more useful person if you learn how to love yourself. It would be hard to know. It looks really fun and glamorous.
And it is, sometimes, for a few hours. I wish I had your life. Do you think I woke up one morning and became who I am? People think of the dance floor as this freeing space. For me, at least, it is. It used to be different. When I was 16 and I started going out in Montreal, going to underground parties and raves and clubs, it was magical. I was going there for fun. Even if I was playing, it was special.
That space is now a work space for me. Now if I want to feel something mind-blowing or magical, I have to look for it outside of club culture. The music never loses its magic, but the social thing happening at a party or something like that? It sounds as though the song stemmed from your personal experience, but it feels universal. When I made it, I knew anyone could relate.
Because this is the time we live in. Everything goes really fast now. People are expected to produce and achieve. So how do you make art under capitalism? I never did. Blake, a Grammy-winning avant-gardist with an ear for pop, who has been playing the piano since he was about 6, has a long list of heroes whom he has studiously copied in pursuit of his own sound. Copying the virtuoso jazz-pianist Art Tatum, the protominimalist French composer Erik Satie and the midcentury gospel maestro the Rev. James Cleveland taught Blake novel ways of opening up complex chord structures and fitting them — to gorgeous, aching effect — around deceptively simple melodies.
Copying singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder emboldened him to write and sing pop songs with increasing emotional candor. Blake stands at an imposing 6-foot-6 and carries himself with the deliberateness of a man at risk of scraping his head on doorways. At their feet, black cables snaked and cloverleafed among clusters of red-, blue-, silver- and cream-colored effects pedals, like tracks connecting villages in a model-train set. When I recorded it, I broke the vocal up.
The extent to which Blake has digested the lessons of his musical heroes is illustrated not only by his decade-spanning run of singles, EPs and albums but also by the number of pop auteurs who have collaborated with him. As an influence and a collaborator, Blake has helped shape two of the more striking trends in contemporary pop: beats that mutate over the course of a song, resisting any traditionally identifiable center, and an emotional atmosphere in which the line between hedonism and melancholy, bliss and despair comes undone.
In , I visited Drake — a pop giant whose entire musical project has been about smudging the line between hedonism and melancholy — at a converted Toronto warehouse, where he was working on his second album with his musical right hand, the producer known as Five-odd years ago, Blake suffered from a depression so severe that he considered suicide. Blake was two and a half weeks into rehearsals for a tour that would take him around the country and then around the world.
Blake furrowed his brow. As its lyrics switch between optimistic vows of commitment and confessions of insecurity, this duality is echoed in the music, which consists of two alternating piano motifs — one shimmering, the other overcast. The track began as a long, meandering improvisation from which Blake eventually sampled two disparate chunks, putting them into jarring conversation.
The first section has the tonic as the bass note, which gives it this firmly rooted presence, whereas the other section has the third in the bass, which makes it feel suspended — which is when the lyrics turn to self-doubt. Blake was raised by his father, James Litherland, a singer-songwriter and guitarist with a prog-rock pedigree, and his mother, a graphic designer and cycling instructor, in Enfield, a North London suburb.
He described his life from adolescence on as largely unhappy, warm and supportive parents notwithstanding. Romantic and personal betrayals. And just a feeling of persecution. So that was my childhood, that reflex being stamped out of me. And it stayed with me well into my 20s. As important as his classes were the nighttime excursions he took to clubs like Plastic People and Mass. There, Blake discovered a community of producers and D. Whereas an amped-up version of dubstep soon grew into a global phenomenon, throbbing in GoPro commercials and glitzy Las Vegas clubs, it was more subtle in its dynamics at first.
Its architects assumed gnomic pseudonyms like Coki, Skream and Loefah and tended to direct attention away from themselves and toward the dance floor. On small but influential labels, he began releasing his own dubstep-inspired songs marked by his sophisticated harmonic sense. The screen stopped being the game and started being the void. I had physical tremors and panic attacks and had to go to my room and just lie there. He was having trouble writing new music, which inspired an existential dread in him. Thinking about nothingness. I was just despondent.
So I was at that point. And I was caught just in time. It was Jamil who caught him — she, more than anyone else in his life, Blake said, helped him to break free of his self-destructive tendencies, prodding him to speak up when he grew sullen and requiring complete emotional transparency.
It would be important, Blake said, when playing these songs live, to carve out room for improvisatory runs. The trio rode out the song with a jam session, adding layer after layer of noise on their way to a squalling crescendo. You will consider it a statement that mimics the nonstop rattle of social media and the slow drip of Trump-era anxiety. Perhaps Greta Van Fleet should have called themselves the There was no such thing as logging off back then, so his symbol of freedom and release was an old-fashioned one: bicycling.
The is trying its hardest. For Mercury and his bandmates, there was no line between stupid and clever; in many of the best Queen songs, stupid is clever. Part of the thrill of listening to Queen is hearing them get away with this sublime silliness, again and again. There may be no other way for a proper rock band to act. When one of them quits, Michael pleads with him. It can still conjure sense memories of decades past — windows down, crooning out into the forgiving dusk.
The image comes from the filmmaker Katherine Dieckmann. Van Etten recalled in a Vanity Fair interview that when she told Dieckmann she was pregnant and worried about how she was going to make motherhood work, Dieckmann pulled out her phone and pulled up the photo. Every minor variation of the refrain seems to offer a new perspective. In the video , Van Etten stands singing as old photos are projected onto her face and body and the wall behind her. They just look like the past in general. The world shifts; you look at the past; you look at the future.
And then what do you do? You figure it out. The whole operation sounds like four people piled into a wagon tumbling down a hill, just barely in control. Each element contributes equally. Because the bass comes from an instrument powered by breath, the darting low end is less of a woofer-pumping presence and more of a song-within-a-song, a melody that you can hum on its own. The saxophone shouts back, offering growling rhythmic lines with just a pinch of melody. And the dueling drummers build one intensely syncopated beat from parts of several — the foundational Caribbean rhythm of the Cuban tresillo , martial snare rolls, pinging metallic percussion reminiscent of the roaring Afrobeat of Fela Kuti.
Listen without knowing another thing about it, and this is a viscerally overwhelming piece of music. Maybe that knowledge gives the burning intensity of the song — its feeling of joy streaked with struggle — a new dimension. Let even more into the frame — say, that Hutchings has performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra and is now signed to Impulse! All this history is carried inside the song and transmitted by these master musicians thorough their instruments. Mark Richardson is the former executive editor of Pitchfork and a writer and an editor in Brooklyn.
Please upgrade your browser. The Music Issue The 25 songs that matter right now. Nitsuh Abebe is a story editor for the magazine. Read more. Read with Audio? Things telescope from there … 5A. XXX Sam Anderson is a staff writer for the magazine. Larry Fitzmaurice is a writer and an editor in Brooklyn. This interview has been condensed and edited. This is that number. If: You want to kiss while listening to Tom Waits and have it not be weird. So, selections from Mule Variations could understandably freak someone out, as Tom Waits either sounds like the fifth horseman of the apocalypse or the voice of God himself, depending on whom you're talking to.
It's a gamble, but if they turn out to love Waits, it's a worthwhile one to say the least. Every other breakup song before and after this cut from 's The Gleam is deemed irrelevant the second Scott Avett starts singing. A more gut-wrenchingly candid, tortured, and overwhelmingly truthful ballad begging for forgiveness doesn't exist. Hopefully, you'll never need to express yourself in such drastic terms, but if you do? This is the Hail Mary of reconciliation songs. Remember the good times.
Remember the not-so-good times. Remember the powerhouse that was Amy Winehouse. This is a stunning, soulful cover for someone you will love tomorrow. If: Your date has ears, because c'mon, it's The Roots. The Roots are universally adored for a reason. You can't go wrong with any selection from their catalog, but "Baby" is the kind of track that starts as the soundtrack for making dinner and ends as the soundtrack for One of the most cutting tracks of Trouble Will Find Me. Everyone has heard "Mr. November" and this song, with its many potential interpretations, gets your point across.
If: You can truly appreciate the power of Otis.
There is an addictive eclecticism to her sound. Paak is far from reaching his peak. It sounds unique, fresh, and a challenge for any other artist to reproduce, at a time when so few songs ever do. Love is all beauty. To lead us to a hidden box That's all locked up with locks!
Bonus points if you break out the Pretty in Pink choreography. Any list culling from the most convincing love songs passed around on well-worn cassettes that omits Otis Redding is a straight-up mockery of romance.
Any Redding pick is perfect, but "Try a Little Tenderness" trumps them all. For all the good texting and Tinder have been for sparking relationships, our addiction to technology can sometimes get in between two IRL people. Thankfully, Erykah Badu knows how to remedy that situation. Leon Bridges is a wonder.
Take Bridges' advice here. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. The Weinstein Company. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. Yuno - "No Going Back". If: You're willing to change for the better. Amber Mark - "Love Me Right". If: Your love language is actions rather than words. If: You're both feeling Kacey Musgraves - "Butterflies". If: You like it country, but not TOO country. Troye Sivan - "My My My! If: You really only need one word to make your case. Travis Scott - "Stargazing".
If: Two of the biggest celebrities in the world are your relationship goals. The Internet — "Come Over". If: Your idea of a relationship is just chilling the fuck out. The Carters - "Summer". If: You both like a perfect Delfonics sample. Vincent - "New York".
If: You both wanna sing "motherfucker" really loud. The xx - "Brave For You". If: You want them to feel strong. If: You ride blade on curve. Charli XCX - Boys.
If: You think you can compete with Riz Ahmed holding a teddy bear. Sufjan Stevens - "Visions of Gideon". If: You both wanna have a healthy cry. If: You wanna be blunt. Patti Smith - "Because the Night". Frank Ocean - "Thinkin' Bout You". The Outfield - "Your Love". If: You just met.