BEST OF … The First Half of 2015



50 Kendrick Lamar, “Hood Politics”

49 Panda Bear, “Crosswords”

48 Lianne La Havas, “Unstoppable” Continue reading “BEST OF … The First Half of 2015”


CURRENT: Selena Gomez – “Good For You” [ft. A$AP Rocky]

Late last year, Selena Gomez came out of nowhere with the release of “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” a song that showcased a marked maturation and evolution in Gomez’s songwriting and performance. With a new album on the way, the former Disney star continues towards a more adult, personal sound on “Good For You,” which features a verse from A$AP Rocky and is also her best song yet.

Instead of conceding to the male gaze, her wish that “I just want to look good for you,” comes with the implication that she’s the one taking inventory over her body, she’s the one who determines whether she “looks good.” Gomez doesn’t seem interested in entertaining the idea of this turning into into a serious relationship either, which is a refreshing twist from many of her previous hits. She’s been burned before, and knows waiting for or anticipating love is a futile exercise. With “Good For You,” Gomez is making sure that no matter what happens next in this relationship, she’ll look good doing it.

CURRENT: Janet Jackson – “No Sleeep”

It’s been a long 7 years since Janet Jackson’s last LP, 2008’s Discipline, but Miss Jackson finally returns with “No Sleeep,” the smoothest of slow jams, produced alongside longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song features Janet Jackson’s trademarked sensuality, and is refreshingly downbeat for a superstar musical comeback. This is more The Velvet Rope than Discipline. “You missin’ me / I missin’ you,” she sings during the chorus, and all of the sudden those long 7 years were all worth it.

CURRENT: Total Makeover – “Different Shapes”

via Stereogum
via Stereogum

Noah Stitleman’s Neighbors released their debut LP last year, but the Brooklyn singer-songwriter is already returning with a side project, Total Makeover. “Different Shapes” is refreshingly forceful, taking cues from late-00s indie rock and making them sound as vital in 2015. Ultimately, the song succeeds on the back of its assured, forward-thinking delivery, even as “Shapes” comes with many signals of music eras past.

Listen to the premiere of “Different Shapes” over at Stereogum.

CURRENT: Diane Coffee – “Everyday”

Foxygen made their name based on the surprisingly authentic takes they gave on 1960s and 70s rock, and following solo efforts from bandmates Jonathan Rado and Sam France, the band’s drummer, Shaun Fleming, is set to release his debut solo LP under the Diane Coffee moniker in September. The record, called Everybody’s a Good Dog, features the recently released “Everyday,” a breezy, nostalgic, confident effort. Even outside of the realm of his band, Fleming still wears his musical influences on his sleeve. What’s less common about “Everyday” is the Age of Aquarius-levels it reaches, as Fleming allows the unbridled, cathartic energy of the track to speak for itself.

CURRENT: Amateur Best – “Marzipan”

Joe Flory’s Amateur Best project returns with “Marzipan,” the followup to 2013’s No Thrills. The track is pushed by its kinetic, restless synthesizers, and Flory’s breathy vocals adds a fascinating ingredient to the equation. While the instrumental behind him swirls, he becomes a steadying force on the track. “I guess people hurt each other,” he nonchalantly sings at one point, and the music helps put his fears behind him.

CURRENT: Class Actress – “GFE”

Slowly but surely, Class Actress’s Elizabeth Harper is making a push towards pop music’s inner-circle. She’s off to a great start, as her forthcoming Movies EP is executive produced by the star producer Giorgio Moroder, who has just released his own LP of some of the year’s most entertaining pop music. Class Actress’s EP is already responsible for one of the year’s best singles, “More Than You,” and the recently-shared “GFE” is another sign of the strides Harper has taken since 2011’s Rapprocher. The title stands for “Girl Friend Experience,” and the singer fully invests in the material. Harper’s songwriting has gotten sharper, and on “GFE” she shows Lana Del Rey-levels of specificity in her lyrics. “GFE” is not just a virtual-reality simulation; we also get to experience it.