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Alternatif et Indé - Released September 13, 2019 | Sacred Bones Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
With each of her albums, Jenny Hval uses different facets of pop music to express her intricate concepts. To explore love as an action rather than a passive state of being, on The Practice of Love, she borrows the sound of '90s trance as a backdrop for her musings. It's an unlikely but ultimately inspired combination: The washy synths, wide-open spaces, and hypnotic yet energetic beats of trance music let Hval's ideas flow in a remarkably engaging way while also harking back to the floaty sounds of Innocence Is Kinky. The very smoothness of The Practice of Love's music demands that her audience listen closely as Hval suggests that maintaining connection, whether through the senses or through questions, may be the key to being an attentive friend, lover, or artist. Sometimes, she mulls over these concepts on her own, as on "High Alice," a blissful union of her searching nature, sexuality, and commitment to creativity, and on the serenely complex "Ashes to Ashes," a song about a dream of another song that describes the fleeting nature of life, its joys, and its sorrows. More often, though, Hval enlists a select group of collaborators to help her look inward and reach outward on The Practice of Love. The soothing yet commanding intonations of Vivian Wang, a classically trained pianist (and former TV presenter) on "Lions" gives the song the feel of a guided meditation that takes mindfulness to a new level when she asks, "Where is God?" Throughout the album, Hval and company reflect on the seemingly natural order of things, in particular motherhood -- or the lack of it. "Accident," a poignant dialogue between two childless women featuring Australian musician Laura Jean, sends its existential questions hurtling through space via the most cosmic side of trance music. On the album's title track, Hval makes the layers she's working with more literal as she juxtaposes Wang's reading of a monologue Hval wrote for the film Something Must Happen with a conversation between herself and Jean; as their thoughts on love, death, and family collide and combine, it makes for fascinating -- if complicated -- listening. By contrast, Hval, Wang, Jean, and Félicia Atkinson join forces on "Six Red Cannas," a rapturous celebration of female creativity that reconnects it to elemental forces. The way that Hval combines the different perspectives that form relationships and communities with the ritualistic, repetitive nature of dance music makes The Practice of Love feel like a rave exploring the nature of love, existence, and time. It may be her subtlest, most approachable album yet; though its ideas are just as complex and provocative as those of Blood Bitch or Apocalypse, Girl, there's something welcoming about it that engages the hearts and minds of her listeners fully. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternatif et Indé - Released September 13, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
For his third Domino Records release and ninth album in total, lo-fi pop experimenter (Sandy) Alex G (Alex Giannascoli) presents House of Sugar. The multifaceted title is, for one, a reference to the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, which features in the album's closing track. It also refers to the Grimm fairy tale alluded to in "Gretel," and to the short story "The House Made of Sugar" by Silvina Ocampo, a supernatural tale rooted in superstition and deceit. The layered meanings of the title mirror the complex musical design of House of Sugar, Giannascoli's densest and most detail-oriented release to date. While 2017's Rocket saw the songwriter/GarageBand recordist working with an expanded guest list including touring bandmembers for the first time, House of Sugar involved recording collaborations on some songs with his mixer, Jacob Portrait, at Portrait's Brooklyn studio -- Giannascoli's first excursion to an outside studio. In addition to splurging on a new microphone and recording-software upgrade at home, Giannascoli has said that he worked more deliberately on this album, spending more time on fewer songs than ever before. House of Sugar's sound is more vivid and elaborate, as becomes apparent on the experimental opening track, "Walk Away." At over four minutes, it's the longest track on the record and arguably its least coherent; its suffocating, kitchen-sink approach includes rhythmically organized layers of irregular, circular vocals, guitars, booming drums, and much more. If intended to reset ears for increased demands, those demands are soon alleviated with the tuneful, melancholy pop of "Hope" and "Southern Sky." Even a song like "Hope," ultimately an acoustic rhythm guitar tune, holds added textures, however, among them multiple vocal tracks, strings, and spacey organ. House of Sugar gets increasingly otherworldly with the manipulated, child-like voices and ghostly, dissonant effects of "Gretel" and the meticulously trippy "Near." Later, processed, robotic vocals and bagpipe-like harmonic overtones mark the eerie noise experiments of the plodding "Sugar." An entry like "Sugar" is outnumbered by but adds weight to the lighter pop songs on the album, though "light" here is a relative term. As if to bring his audience back to Earth, the album closes with the spare "Crime" and wistful live track "SugarHouse," which ends with the lyrics: "Let 'em bury me in the sand/When our children go digging for answers/I hope they can put me together again." Intimate, theatrical, and strange, House of Sugar is designed to reward repeat listens, but like other (Sandy) Alex G sets, it's above all affecting. ~ Marcy Donelson
CD£13.49

Alternatif et Indé - Released August 30, 2019 | Polydor Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Her sensual voice is irresistible. Elizabeth Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, could sing the instruction manual for a wireless vacuum cleaner and she would still have our full attention. Even when she invites the whole world to join her (A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon all featured on Lust For Life, her album released in 2017), she lives in her own little world where time moves slow and melancholy reigns supreme. Making music is her way of talking about her era, her contemporaries, the American Dream and, as far as we can tell, herself... With its shocking title, stylised album cover (featuring Duke Nicholson, Jack Nicholson’s grandson, aboard a boat sailing away from a burning coast) and her particularly slow tempos (only ballads here), Norman Fucking Rockwell! is largely rooted in folk. Del Rey roams around this great soundscape, more melancholic and evanescent than ever. She closely collaborated with Jack Antonoff on this album (a sought-after producer for pop stars such as Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, Lorde, Carly Rae Jepsen and Pink) and the producer shapes her melancholy with equal amounts of sobriety and slickness. The slow rhythms on this beautiful record offer a welcome break from the turbulence of today. One of the tracks that stands out is a cover of Sublime’s Doin’ Time (1996), itself a new interpretation of Gershwin’s Summertime, offering further proof of Lana Del Rey’s originality, something which is much more complex than some would have us believe... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rap - Released August 16, 2019 | 300 Entertainment - Atl

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
“All of the songs are like fucking parade music. It ain’t no storylines to it. This shit is all about fun. If you're not having fun or in a fun mood, don’t even play this album” Young Thug warned. And since he’s having a party, he has invited all his friends from the rap scene to join him on this XXL album which boasts 13 featurings among the 19 tracks! Opening the album, we find the Atlanta rapper alone on Just How It Is, accompanied by just a folk guitar, a bass line and a minimalist beat to supplement his melodious flow. We then go straight to the main course with Sup Mate, which features his fellow American hip-hop superstar Future, who’s not as scathing as usual on this haunting production by ATL Jacob (Future’s loyal producer) and DY Krazy (808 Mafia). Some of the album’s highlights include the hit-worthy Surf, featuring Gumma, Lil Duke’s performance on I Bought Her, the catchy chorus of Bad Bad Bad (feat. Lil Baby), and the single The London, the album’s finale that features the two heavyweights Travis Scott and J. Cole, the latter supervising the record’s production. When he goes solo, Young Thug is just as ruthless as ever, as he demonstrates on Jumped out the Window over a jittery piano, or on Pussy, where he takes on Tenor Saw’s timbre from the reggae dancehall classic Ring The Alarm. That should be enough to occupy the top of the charts for a while. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released August 16, 2019 | Triple Crown Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
New York-based emo band Oso Oso present their second album, Basking in the Glow, following the release of the Yunahon Mixtape in 2016. On this record, lead singer Jade Lilitri is leaning into the brighter side of life, aiming to embrace the good days and accept the darker side of life. ~ Liam Martin
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i,i

Alternatif et Indé - Released August 9, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
“There’s similarities and tributaries through all the Bon Iver records leading to this one and that still flow through this one. It’s an expansive sound”. This is how Justin Vernon, the driving force behind Bon Iver, defines his fourth studio album. 12 years of his life have passed, during which his project went from the wintry solitude of For Emma, Forever Ago, to the chamber-pop spring of its eponymous record, to the feverish summer glitch storm of 22, A Million. This fourth season didn’t come easy, either. The promotional tour for the aforementioned third album ended abruptly, due to Vernon’s struggle with anxiety and depression. i,i was created in that aftermath, as a synthesis of his career – a multi-layered autumn where sonic landscapes flow one into the other, and impressionistic instrumentals, glitchy samples and vocal harmonies pile on top of each other seamlessly, before being torn away to reveal the bare bones canvas lying beneath. This retrospective approach to his music is interlaced with cryptic lyrics that seem to ponder Vernon’s misanthropic tendencies: “I should've known / That I shouldn't hide/ To compromise and to covet/ All what’s inside “ he mourns on the electro-folk crescendo of Faith, undercut by growling bass and haunting background vocals. On the album closer RABi, which is a play on the words “I could rob, bye bye”, Bon Iver seems to find peace at last, in a side nod to listeners: “Sun light feels good now, don't it? And I don't have a leaving plan/ But something's gotta ease your mind/ But it's all fine, or it's all crime anyway “. It’s a cathartic finish, for a troubled artist who seems to have temporarily fought off his demons, as well as the audience – we who’ve followed him and applauded him since the beginning. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Folk - Released July 26, 2019 | Double Double Whammy

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Around the time of the release of 2017's If Blue Could Be Happiness, Florist singer/songwriter Emily Sprague suffered a series of personal ordeals including a breakup and the unexpected death of her mother. She subsequently relocated from her home state of New York to Los Angeles. Isolated from bandmates and taking a break from Florist, she worked on music at home on her own, ultimately releasing two ambient synth instrumental albums under her own name. After Sprague was ready to return to songwriting in 2018, logistics got in the way of a band reunion, and she home-recorded Florist's third album by herself. The resulting Emily Alone is a devastating, unapologetically vulnerable set of 12 ruminative guitar and keyboard songs, one of which is entirely spoken ("Still"). A mix of fond and somber remembrances, suicidal ideation, and healing introspections, the quiet album also includes occasional appearances by sound effects or field recordings, as on the piano lament "M," which features the repeated sound of crunching footsteps. An undercurrent of barely audibly mechanical bleeps runs through "I Also Have Eyes" beneath strummed acoustic guitar and Sprague's gentle, breathy vocals. Her voice is especially plaintive on the opening lines "How did I get in this place/My life is only a combination of things that I mostly had no control over/And it took me a long time to figure that out." Elsewhere, she articulates depression on "Time Is a Dark Feeling" with lines like "These are the days like the deepest caves/You would never dare to descend into/Truthfully, silence never did it for me." Some of the songs end on a hopeful note, and the album does, too, with "Today I'll Have You Around." Its arpeggiated acoustic guitar and overlapping vocal lines are accompanied by the intermittent sound of rain, with water being a recurring theme on Emily Alone. It has one of the album's sweeter melodies, although it ends, significantly, on an unresolved chord. ~ Marcy Donelson
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Afrobeat - Released July 25, 2019 | Bad Habit - On A Spaceship - Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Arriving just one year after 2018's well-received Outside, African Giant is the fourth full-length from Nigerian dancehall-reggae star Burna Boy. At 19 tracks, it is an overall lengthier affair than its predecessor, with a globally diverse guest list that includes American rappers Future and YG, British singer Jorja Smith, Jamaican reggae royalty Damian Marley, and African vocal icon Angélique Kidjo, among others. Citing the album as his most personal release yet, Burna Boy continues to explore his distinctive blend of Afro-beat, dancehall, reggae, pop, and road rap. ~ Timothy Monger
CD£12.99

Rap - Released July 18, 2019 | Big Persona - 88 Classic - RCA Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Électronique - Released June 27, 2019 | XL Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Alternatif et Indé - Released June 21, 2019 | Rough Trade

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
In the space of 10 years, the post-punk revival which has shaken the UK to its core has spawned countless new bands, each bolder and more exciting than the last. In Black Midi’s case, the scope of influences seems to have broadened beyond words. Twisting together the formulas for math rock, krautrock and progressive, Georgie Greep (vocals/ guitar), Cameron Picton (bass/vocals), Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin (guitar) and Morgan Simpson (drums) have an uncanny ability to rebuild every code and rule they smash to pieces. Dominated by massive rhythmicity, Schlagenheim is unlike anything before it, perhaps owing to the forward-thinking writing process of its young London-based creators – working additively and subtractively around an initial musical structure. Their endless jams sometimes become a single riff, which spans across a few measures. Black Midi’s songs are shapeshifting, otherworldly; a sort of droning, ambient, noisy thing according to Greep. A musical approach reminiscent of the free, uncompromising, unhinged brand of rock’n’roll so characteristic of Swans, Boredoms, Neu!, Public Image Ltd., Merzbow, Fugazi, Test Icicles and more. Black Midi isn’t content to follow in others’ footsteps; they are heralds of change in the rock scene. Schlagenheim: An uncompromising affair. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released June 21, 2019 | Epitaph

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Mannequin Pussy is Marisa Dabice (on vocals and guitar), Thanasi Paul (on guitar and keys), Bear Regisford (on bass), and Kaleen Reading (on drums). Patience, their third studio album is 25 minutes long, which is quite a long time when you’re taking swings to the face. In fact, this indie-punk band from Philadelphia does not go for subtleties as can be heard in their intense and violent preceding records. This most recent opus, created in tandem with the producer Will Yip (Quicksand, the Menzingers), is clearly the fruit of a more nuanced approach. But don’t expect to hear any lullabies. Tracks like Drunk I or Clams are short (less than one minute each) and for good reason: such a sonic frenzy can only last a certain amount of time before it becomes repetitive. The quartet have learned to occasionally lift the foot off the accelerator to accentuate the contrast between moments of poetry and sheer rage. On top of all that, there are new sounds like the light instrumentation on High Horse - a through-and-through indie-pop tune - and shoegaze with piano appearing on In Love Again. Dabice’s voice ranges from soft and melancholic to furious. Patience is an apt title; it is a reflective record, in which Mannequin Pussy have channeled their energy without losing authenticity. Short but effective. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Rap - Released June 7, 2019 | Columbia

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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ZUU

Rap - Released May 31, 2019 | Loma Vista Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
At just 29 minutes, the latest release from Denzel Curry feels more like a mixtape than an album. Less than a year after the tour de force of TA13000, an unclassifiable record that mixed black metal and electro, making him one of the most interesting players on the rap scene (and helped him climb into the Billboard 200), the Florida-born rapper based in Los Angeles returns with the more trappy ZUU. He mostly freestyles about homesickness, and invites onto the album locals Rick Ross (Beardz), Kiddo Marv (Wish), Ice Billion Berg, Sam Sneak (Shake 88) and PlayThatBoiZay (Pat). ZUU is an ode to his hometown Carol City, Florida, nicknamed “zoo” by Denzel. However, the album is a departure from a concept album, and takes measures to be spontaneous, without wasting time. With faithful producers FNZ and Charlie Heat at his side, he "shoots first, ask questions later.” "We didn’t go in with an opinion. If you go and formulate an opinion already, you ain’t gon’ get shit done,” explains Curry, who toured with Billie Eilish in 2019 and completed his Flying Lotus ‘Balloon’ trilogy (Black Balloons and The Blackest Balloons on TA13OO) with Black Balloons Reprise on Flamagra. At the age of 24, Denzel Curry has created a dazzling opus that still sets itself apart from the rest of the Florida scene. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 24, 2019 | Mexican Summer

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Rap - Released May 17, 2019 | Method

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
While the Streets are still no longer on the scene, Slowthai has taken their place. There is an irrefutable connection between Mike Skinner, also from the Midlands, and Tyron Kaymone Frampton, the bad boy from Northampton who with this album has released a unique firecracker of punky grime. Brexit, class division, daily troubles, domestic violence, the destruction of capitalism and the monarchy, nothing escapes his aggressive lyrical assault on the idea of Britishness. His mother is from Barbados and had him at sixteen years old. His father left the scene when he was three. No wonder those Xanax boxes have been adding up… Nothing Great About Britain is, however, no copy of The Streets’ first albums. Constructed like a kind of intimate diary, he combines social criticism with humor and cynicism in an unprecedented fashion. Behind the controls for most of the tracks is producer Kwes Darko who creates a soundtrack that merges grime beats with minimalist rap, electro and hints of rock’n’roll. Slowthai has not only drawn inspiration from the likes of Skepta or Stormzy; his DNA is particularly punk. Features include: grime legend Skepta (Inglorious), Jaykae (Grow Up), the punks Slaves (Missing) and the producer Mura Masa (Doorman). All contribute to a punchy album that reminds us of the singular force of British rap. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 10, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Qobuzissime
What is my purpose? What will come of the legacy of those who have influenced me? And what will I leave behind? These are all the big questions that Jamila Woods asks herself going into her second album suitably named Legacy! Legacy!, a Qobuzissime album! Three years after the release of Heavn, the soul sister from Chicago brings together twelve songs all named after the artists that influenced them. Musicians, painters, writers, activists, poets, they’re all there! And the lucky few are: Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler and James Baldwin. There is nothing obvious or didactic here as the young African-American who is ever-so attached to her native Chicago never does out-and-out covers but less subtle “in the style ofs” all while retaining her own distinct style. A poet one day (she acts as artistic director for YCA, a center dedicated to young poets) and a musician the other, she is even a teacher on bank holidays! As the worthy heir of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, all her words are wrapped around ultra-slick grooves with a modernized nu-soul twist. When it comes to features, Jamila Woods helps her local economy by inviting along friends that, for the most part, come from the underground scene of the Windy City: the trumpetist Nico Segal, MC Saba, Nitty Scott, theMIND, Jasminfire. Chance the Rapper’s protégé has mixed intelligence and class, commitment, enjoyment and groove into 49 minutes. Perfect. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 3, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
UFO we understand. But UFOF? The additional F is for Friends according to Big Thief. UFOs and friends then? The band’s singer Adrienne Laker gives us a loose explanation: “Making friends with the unknown… All my songs are about this” With the guitarist Buck Meek, the bassist Max Oleartchik and the drummer James Krivchenia, Laker releases her third album. The Brooklyn quartet’s music is a sort of folk mixed with indie rock. Without sounding too much like them, this 2019 album sometimes contains the DNA of Sonic Youth (such as on Jenni). The result is alluring, almost shimmering. But upon a closer look, “UFOF” is a bizarre and strange, almost abnormal record. And like the late Elliot Smith (Laker’s idol that one recalls on Betsy), the beautiful melodies and tremendously artisanal guitars hide an evident melancholy and unusual, unnerving situations. Perhaps that would explain the UFOs? A less ‘polished’ and luxurious record than Masterpiece (2016) and Capacity (2017), UFOF shows a group ready to question itself and evolve its art. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released April 17, 2019 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
This is history in the making. Queen B surprised us with the release of a live album taken from her two dazzling concerts at Coachella in 2018, chronicled by a Netflix documentary. B performs a retrospective, revisiting 40 tracks from her 22-year career. There are no new songs here, but there is a studio cover with Tay Keith of Before I Let Go, the Frankie Beverly and Maze 1981 soul track. Other Destiny’s Child members Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland make bonus appearances on Lose My Breath, Say My Name and Soldier, husband Jay-Z on Déjà Vu, sister Solange on Get Me Bodied, and her daughter sings Afro-American anthem Sing and Lift Every Voice. This performance effectively explains why it was nicknamed ‘Beychella’, as this makes its mark on the festival’s history. And that was the goal, with 200 people on stage, colossal high-budget visual spectacle in this immense two-hour performance highlighting afro-feminist empowerment; Beyoncé has earnt her throne. “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.” To the sound of the second lines of a New Orleans brass band, a revamped drumline, Malcolm X on Don’t Hurt Yourself and amidst multiple references to African-American history, the queen of pop inhabiting the Queen Nefertiti reminds us of the importance of her discography in the 3rd millennium. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternatif et Indé - Released April 5, 2019 | Sub Pop Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Much like the band that rises above the icy, raging waters in Gavin Bryars' pivotal 1970s experimental piece The Sinking of the Titanic, Natalie Mering is fully aware of everything that's gone wrong with the world on her fourth Weyes Blood album. And yet she doesn't let the trappings of technology and our woeful alone/together world pull her down into the depths of an unshakeable depression. The singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer is too busy making widescreen anthems instead, ones that ride the line between AM radio dials and slightly more alien sounds: the queasy intro of "A Lot's Gonna Change," the gurgling synths of "Movies," the palate-cleansing ambient pads of "Titanic Rising." Sweet but never saccharine, tracks like "Something to Believe" and "Wild Time" are downright triumphant by the time they fade to black. They reach for the heavens with their hooks even when they let their guard down lyrically. Because if the ship's going down, at least we're all going down together right? © Andrew Parks / Qobuz