Culture (and TV)

Shabazz Palaces, "Motion Sickness"

A narrative video for one of the more accessible tracks on the excellent Lese Majesty, which I've been coming back to again and again over the last couple months (see previously: #CAKE).


Erykah Badu, "Street Hustle Experiment"

"I just, kind of always wanted to see what it would be like to, you know, sing for money on the streets. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to find a good place." Erykah Badu busks in Times Square.


Yumi Zouma, "Alena"

Here is New Zealand's Yumi Zouma with a genuinely relaxing track. It's a build-and-release song structure, except muted: It doesn't work you up—it gets your attention and then calms you down.


Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me"

An unexpectedly devastating video for the producer's first collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. Up and away. (See also.)


Dev Hynes, "Everything Is Embarrassing"

Lost in the slightly tense but mostly tepid feud between songwriter Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange) and Sky Ferreira over artistic ownership of "Everything Is Embarrassing" is the document itself. Ferreira's version, the enormous hit, is slick and perfect and instantly imprints itself on your brain, where it is stored as just one or two repeating stanzas. Hynes's version, a functional and unpolished demo, feels small and tentative—it sounds embarrassed.



Prince is releasing two full albums before 2015, both of which will be granted, by default, rigorous consideration by people who have at any point prior cared about Prince. But what on Earth does a teenager make of this? Will the youngest listeners hear this song and think, oh, Prince, dad, whatever? Or will they wonder, who is Prince, I've heard of him somewhere, and then maybe Google him? Does he just get to reappear, no questions asked, his legacy venerated unquestionably, his singles made hits in whatever order planned? Or does Prince have to plead a new case? Anyway: a pretty fun song.


Raury, "Seven Suns"

You can listen to Raury's debut here, in its entirety. It's the work of someone who is, by any traditional indication, about to explode—he's signed, rumored to be working with Kanye West—and it's shot with surprises. Raury is also 18, which is impossible not to think about as this strange and astonishing album weaves and wobbles through folk, pop, R&B and collage without breaking step.


Sounds Enumerated

In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.

One album has managed to sell over a million copies so far this year, but it’s a soundtrack. The ever-popular Frozen soundtrack may slowly be working its way down the charts, but it is by far the best selling collection this year. Though it doesn’t have any marquee names on it—those that are usually expected to sell the best—the soundtrack has managed to move 3.2 million copies so far, and with winter coming, that number is sure to rise.

The most popular album of 2014 that was actually released [...]


Ex Hex, "Waterfall"

Most of the songs on Ex Hex's Rips aren't quite as short as "Waterfall"—the twelve tracks on the album, which has appeared on most of the streaming sites by now, clock at thirty-five minutes. But it's a certainly a concise album, and in the best way: quick, full, never dense or rushed. It's an album you can play a few times in a row before noticing that you've started over.


Sylas, "Shore"

A relaxing synth bath from London duo (and Brian Eno collaborators) Sylas with a sound that unfolds, with a little volume, into something lush and expansive. Try "Hollow," too.


Cloud Nothings, "Now Hear In"

From Here And Nowhere Else, which came out in April, a video for the album's most energetic track—one of the few that might have fit in on the very fun and very catchy self-titled album, from 2011, which has apparently been reassessed as the product of an "introductory phase" that should now be "eradicated." RUDE.


New York Endless, "A Consultant's Agreement"

Sunny, approachable computer music that will remind you of a lot of things—this track took me straight to Bugskull, while the next two songs on the EP pointed in different directions entirely. The full stream is here.


Flying Lotus, "Coronus, The Terminator"

Another unusually approachable track, after the excellent "Never Catch Me" with Kendrick Lamar, from an artist who has otherwise never really worried about alienating people. The vocals, unattributed for now, are at the forefront; Ellison's distinctive production reveals itself slowly and carefully.


The Birth of Adulthood in American Culture

Three fictional madmen—two sociopaths and a narcissist—die on television. It's a strange worldview that would take this as a sign of "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture", but that is the premise of the lead essay in the New York Times Magazine’s culture issue, by film reviewer A.O. Scott.

The unfortunate endings of Tony Soprano of "The Sopranos" and Walter White of "Breaking Bad"—plus Don Draper of "Mad Men," whose elegant silhouette is likely to plummet off a skyscraper soon, according to some fans—signify to Scott the "slow unwinding" of the very idea of adulthood as it was formerly understood, a principle inherent in the patriarchy. "The [...]


Leon Bridges, "Coming Home"

Via GvB, a supremely satisfying soul pop throwback to ~60 years ago which, obviously, you can read all about on the artist's Tumblr.


Jessie Ware, "12"

Jessie Ware has a new album out today. This track, with Robin Hannibal or Rhye, is, for some reason, not on it.


Elle Varner, "Fuck It All"

Via The Fader, a song for slumping in your office seat or belting in your car. (See previously: "Refill.")


Stars, "No One Is Lost"

If you told me that this song was by Stars I would say, oh yeah, obviously, that voice, yeah, I hear it. But if you didn't, I would hesitate to assume. If you told me it wasn't, I would absolutely believe you. Anyway: This is not a new song by some new band from LA or Berlin or The Playa. This is a new song by Stars.


SALES, "Getting It On"

The first EP from SALES comes out this week, but most of its songs—save for the one above—have been filtering through the internet for months ("Toto" for about a year; the most popular, "Chinese New Year," since January). You wouldn't know the band hadn't released an album if this one didn't exist to remind you. They're very… what is a band supposed to be now? Present? Anyway: You can stream the EP here, and buy it here. It is excellent.


Ólöf Arnalds, "Half Steady"

From the forthcoming Palme, a characteristically weird (and friendly!) track, freshly unpacked, from Iceland.