Monday, August 31, 2015

Miley, What's Good?

The only three words that matter today. Hats off to Queen Nicki for calling out the ridiculous, painful-to-watch spectacle that is Miley Cyrus and her big mouth.

Friday, August 28, 2015

PSA: Justin Bieber's New Single "What Do You Mean?" Is Really, Really Great

As a music writer, the thing I love most about the ever-changing music landscape is that I'm always proved wrong, time and again, about not only the direction of music, but my own taste. I'm pushed way out of what I thought were my boundaries and find myself not only co-existing with, but excitedly consuming genres and artists that I previously (stupidly) could have scoffed at.

Kacey Musgraves, Carly Rae Jepsen, pretty much every delectably hilarious rapper and now this, one of the most heavily marketed pieces of music since Taylor Swift's 1989 (white pop stars seem to be anti-surprise album) - Justin Bieber's first single in two years, "What Do You Mean?". For the past month, Bieber has summoned every big celebrity to participate in the countdown to the single's release - proving that, despite his extracurricular issues these past few years, public opinion of the kid is still very strong. Or, at least the anticipation around what he's doing is.

Over a slow-burning, tropical house arrangement, the Biebs' subdued (but highly capable, post-pubescence [amen]) voice asks about some relationship miscommunication over (and over and over) again - making for what might be one of the last melodic candy bangers of the summer. If you liked "Where Are Ü Now," his pretty collab with Jack Ü (Diplo and Skrillex), you'll eat this single right up.

I just fucking love where we are in music. Nothing matters, none of your predispositions, none of the pressure to like this and that; indie shoegaze can be just as recognized and critically acclaimed as a solid country effort or shamelessly bubblegum pop record, and critics themselves will be the first people to yell that at you. If you've gone through more than half your life believing certain genres or artists are more acceptable to publicly support than others, than get off your high horse and start enjoying the sounds before it's too late and you've missed what's happening.

Because Bieber is obviously back, and he'll be damned if you're not toe-tapping proudly. Watch out for his "What Do You Mean?" performance at the upcoming MTV VMAs, as well as a new album out this fall/winter.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Best New Track: Destroyer's "Times Square"

This has been a big week in music and criticism of the music industry, which is probably why I haven't had the chance to share a few uncontroversial, but amazing, singles that have also had my full attention.

For one, Destroyer's new single "Times Square," has been giving me life for a few weeks straight. On "Times Square," longtime Canadian indie staple Destroyer, AKA Dan Bejar (also a guitarist for the New Pornographers) seems to have sonically captured the notion that engrosses New York residents and wannabe residents: the Big Apple is what dreams are made of. Evoking hints of Bowie and Dylan, "Times Square" is full of possibility and romance - as everything NYC is - while the jangly piano, acoustic guitar and lounge saxophone dance around Bejar's wispy voice. "Oh, you could fall in love," is a fitting sentiment about both the big city's commercial spectacle, and this - one of Destroyer's dreamiest, most accessible folk-pop masterpieces yet.

Destroyer's 11th (!) album, Poison Season, is out tomorrow on Dead Oceans.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Weeknd Drops "Tell Your Friends"

Last night The Weeknd debuted the video for his latest, Kanye West-produced track, "Tell Your Friends," and it's further evidence the Toronto crooner's rebirth is well underway.

The dark storyline shows The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) burying himself alive, dancing through the desert and effortlessly killing someone else, before making his escape in a getaway car. Sounding old school Weeknd-meets-grungy Yeezus, the jazzy "Tell Your Friends" is a statement about his evolution, but also his allegiance to who he's always been: "that n—a with the hair/ singing ’bout popping pills, f—ing b-itches." 

The new track, along with previous singles "The Hills," 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack contribution "Earned It" and pop gold "Can't Feel My Face," comes ahead of his anticipated second release, Beauty Behind The Madness, which finally drops this Friday. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

TGIF: City and Colour's "Lover Come Back"

City and Colour, aka Dallas Green, has released the eighth single (!) ahead of his fifth album, and thankfully, it's just what I needed to revive my love for the Canadian singer-songwriter. 

"Lover Come Back" is a sunnier, soul-tinged ode that strays from the gloomy acoustic mold Green sometimes slips into. His voice, desperate and powerful as he calls back his sweetheart, is pretty much impeccable - reminding me his pipes have always been the primary reason I love him. The Ryan Adams-esque composition of this single is definitely another surefire catch.

Unadorned and perfectly rootsy, "Lover Come Back" will sound even better on the highway this weekend. Roll the windows down for this one, and look out for If I Should Go Before You on October 9 via Dine Alone Records.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

BØRNS Premieres New Track "The Emotion"

Less than two months ahead of the release of his highly anticipated debut album, Dopamine, California indie-pop sensation BØRNS has dropped his first non-EP single, titled "The Emotion."

On what might be his most honest, straightforward ballad yet, the free-spirited and vocally capable Garrett Borns trades in some glam production, but none of the sparkle. "The Emotion" glimmers from start to finish.

Get your hands on Dopamine on October 16; I have no doubt it'll be one of the top albums of the year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Artist to Watch: Steven A. Clark

I love stumbling upon an artist, listening to just one of their tracks and then sitting back and waiting; waiting for them to go from 0-100, real quick.

Such is the case with recently coming across Fayetteville-bred Steven A. Clark and his multifaceted single "Can't Have," out on Secretly Canadian now. After hearing this lush, soulful pop anthem and Clark's capable R&B vocal, I'm going to have a hard time waiting for his debut album, The Lonely Roller, which is set to drop on September 18. 

He's sort of under the radar for now - almost a fun, intimate secret between those who've found him - so, enjoy being in on it before he skyrockets.

Monday, August 17, 2015

ODESZA and Little Dragon Team Up On "Light"

ODESZA, my favourite electronic duo and the guys behind my favourite album of 2014, have announced a deluxe edition of that album, In Return, out September 18. As if the new live recordings of three studio singles and a instrumental version of each song weren't enough, the young producers have included a new sultry collab with Swedish group Little Dragon, titled "Light."

Listen to the unsurprisingly dreamy cut below.

Friday, August 14, 2015

TGIF: Chance the Rapper & Noname Gypsy's "Israel (Sparring)"

Chance the Rapper's "Israel (Sparring)" comes after the release of last week's Free Based Freestyles Mixtape with Lil B, and paints a stark contrast to the energetic off-handle rhymes heard there. Shared with fellow Chicago native Noname Gypsy, who was featured on Surf and Acid Rap, "Israel (Sparring)" is deliciously downtempo and laid overtop a early-90s jazzy sample. Chance and Noname's laissez-faire approach to their clever rhymes is charming, all the way through to the end of the track when they pick up a little pace.

Leave work, go home, pour a bowl glass of wine and toss this on.

img via

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lana Del Rey Drops "High By The Beach"

My feelings about the inimitable Lana Del Rey apply to few other artists, in that, I like her because I always get exactly what I've come to expect of her. I'd be disappointed if she tried anything different.

After years of interviews, photo shoots and singles that have carefully added to her (sometimes ridiculous) "gangster Nancy Sinatra" persona, I want nothing less than the forbidden, violent, druggy, beautiful pursuits of a blasé damsel and her bad boy.

Good thing that her second single, "High By The Beach," off her upcoming fourth album Honeymoon is (even in its title) classic Lana. Although ditching some of her coined orchestral backing for a sleepy bass and more accessible synth, Del Rey delivers that lyrical deliciousness with lines like  "You could be a bad motherfucker, but that don't make you my man" and "All I wanna do is get high by the beach." 

The video is set to drop later today, and from what we've been given in Instagram teasers, it looks like it star Lana, on a beach, with a massive machine gun. Amen.

Update: The video dropped. Enjoy.

Friday, August 7, 2015

TGIF: HAIM Cover Tame Impala's "'Cause I'm A Man"

Well, isn't this just a tasty way to start the weekend.

Sister trio and all-round awesome indie-pop band HAIM have taken it upon themselves to work Tame Impala's woozy confessional "'Cause I'm A Man" into a psychedelic masterpiece of their own.

Although maintaining pretty much all original elements (they slow it down even further, believe it or not), what's really to be noted here are Danielle Haim's best vocals yet. The throaty lead singer is perfectly equipped to deliver the upbeat, Fleetwood Mac-esque jams the trio has become famous for (as well as rip on the guitar), but we now know she has some soulful, vocally acrobatic tricks up her sleeve. Here's what Danielle had to say about the cover on HAIM's Facebook page:

"In 2009 I was in japan playing the summer sonic festival with Jenny Lewis as her guitar player. On a day off of the festival we played a side show at astro hall in tokyo with a band from Australia I'd never heard of called Tame Impala. I remember standing in the crowd and not really understanding how this MASSIVE sound was coming off the stage with just 4 people playing. They were one of the best bands I had ever seen live. When I went back to my hotel, i downloaded their ep immediately- told my sisters to also- and since then we've seen their incredible shows all over the world at various festivals and loved every record. Sooo needless to say, when we were asked to do this remix we jumped at the chance!! but we've never really done a "remix" before so we decided to put out our own spin on the song. Go get Currents if you haven't yet- you'll be stoked." - Danielle

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Best New Track: Ryan Hemsworth's "Afterglow"

Although Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth has a knack for igniting festival crowds with his big, multi-faceted bangers and remixes, he also has a way of weaving pretty, melancholic elements into his studio albums, leaving you warm and fuzzy.

His latest single, "Afterglow," is 100 percent comprised of those warm and fuzzies.

Sonically sounding more like parts of 2014's mini-album Alone for the First Time, the atmospheric new track follows last month's RYAN PACK V.2 mix and is currently only spinning on Soundcloud. Whether or not it's released as a single, "Afterglow" is one of the Nova Scotian's best, most grassroots pieces yet - with Hemsworth playing guitar and singing a short "tra la la" hook that sounds pleasantly "Stir It Up."

Have a listen:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Donnie Trumpet Remixes D.R.A.M.'s "$" And It's Beautiful

Six months (hell, six weeks) ago you might have wondered who Virginia rapper D.R.A.M. was. 

But, almost five months after he released his debut EP #1Epic, Drake slid onto D.R.A.M.'s "Cha Cha" last week and twisted it into one of his huge surprise tracks, "Hotline Bling." Last month, D.R.A.M. also got some solo spotlight on Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment's stupidly excellent album Surf, spearheaded by the great Chance The Rapper. And yesterday, Donnie Trumpet jumped on D.R.A.M.'s own single, "$," to add those big, lush horns that make any song go from good to very, very good and potentially tearjerking.

Already a downtempo, piano-led jam, Donnie Trumpet's huge horn section moves "$" into an epic space I don't think it would have reached otherwise. Once again, Donnie saves the summer.