What's Good: The Weekly New Music Newsletter is a new publication by Pitchfork’s founder and former Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Schreiber. A companion to his long-running weekly playlist of the same name, What’s Good outlines the week’s most essential tracks and albums, with a special focus on new and emerging artists. It's available on Tidal, as well as Apple Music and Spotify. If you like what you see, go ahead and subscribe. (It's free.)
Braxe & Falcon — "Step by Step (feat. Panda Bear)"
One door closes, another opens. Daft Punk is no longer a unit, but two of their longest running partners in crime — Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon— are releasing music together for the first time as Braxe & Falcon, starting with a Panda Bear collab titled “Step by Step” and the juicy filter-funk of “Creative Source.” It’s not the typical DJ set fare you’d expect from the producers behind huge French touch hits like “Music Sounds Better With You” and “So Much Love to Give”— although the b-side will no doubt crop up on dancefloors everywhere this summer.
The clearest antecedent to the shimmering, near-pastoral atmosphere of “Step by Step” is “In Love With You” by the Paradise, Braxe’s one-off project with vocalist Romauld. Panda Bear’s earnest phrasing sounds right at home nestled among the synth drones and harmony stacks. According to Gabriel Szatan’s thorough Pitchfork article on Braxe and Falcon’s comeback, there’s a full album in the works. Says Braxe: “This record is our variation on downtempo. The formula for dance music has evolved so far in terms of technically perfect production that we decided to give up on it and aim for sincerity foremost.” Let the good times roll.
Peggy Gou — “I Go (DJ Koze Remix)”
The latest 12” from South Korean DJ/producer Peggy Gou is a serious flex, featuring three remixes of her 2021 heater, “I Go,” remixed by three titans of the dance world: Soulwax, DJ Koze, and Maurice Fulton. The dream-pop-adjacent original plays especially well in the hands of DJ Koze, whose four-on-the-floor bass groove and rubbery synths emphasize Gou’s playful vocal line.
Floating Points — “Grammar”
UK electronic producer Floating Points has returned to his dance roots on two recent Ninja Tune singles: “Vocoder” and “Grammar.” On the latter tune, which just dropped yesterday, the musician born Sam Shepherd quietly hints at a classic house throwback with a patiently developing vocal sample and slightly-swung drum groove that eventually gives way to an acid-house breakdown equally indebted to his London roots and American dance scenes in Chicago and Detroit.
Pusha T — “Neck & Wrist (feat. JAY-Z & Pharrell)”
Getting Pusha T, Pharrell, and JAY-Z in a room together may not be an infrequent occurrence, but the studio is another matter. On “Neck & Wrist,” Pusha positions himself as the hungry young gun against the vets coasting on laurels and cred. Jay provides a serviceable verse, certainly better than some of the features he’s turned in recently, and Pharrell adds the beat and some help on the chorus. It’s a solid track from three artists who have been at many times extraordinary and at other more recent times less inspired, with Pusha leading the way with a hunger he hasn’t shown since Daytona.
They Hate Change — “Blatant Localism”
They Hate Change is technically a rap duo out of Tampa, Florida, but their fiery productions have a way of bridging genres as diverse as punk and techno. This could be due in part to the scene they came up in, where they’d often be the only hip-hop act on a bill of “fifth wave emo bands,” but more likely, they’re omnivores of music culture. On their latest single, “Blatant Localism,” the duo of Vonne and Dre take swipes at posers and fakes with clever, pointed bars that land between Spank Rock’s electro-rap and JPEGMAFIA’s extremely online style: “That’s Maison Gucci when I step/ But that high fashion ain’t my wave/ They thought my Lightning jersey was a Fragment collab.”
Nigo — “Come On, Let’s Go (feat. Tyler, the Creator & Pharrell)"
Nigo’s new album, I Know NIGO!, finds the Bape founder/designer linking up with a bunch of his rapper friends and letting them flex. I covered his Pusha T collab recently, but his latest with Tyler, the Creator and Pharrell, “Come On, Let’s Go,” is one of the project’s best. Pharrell’s production is glossy but hard, skewing Tyler’s recent sound towards more of an early-’00s Memphis rap feel. It all comes off a bit like an homage to vintage Three 6 Mafia— a full-circle moment for a rapper who, as a teenager, was slightly perplexed by the “horrorcore” tag his early records earned him.
Yung Lean — “Trip”
Bubblegum sounds good on Yung Lean. The Swedish rap star always knocks things off-kilter, though, and the infectious keys and solid trap beat help center this track— it’s sweet, but not saccharine. At its core, “Trip” is a love song, and that’s always been one of Lean’s strongest modes. Here, he tries to get his girl out of his bed, which could be a first: “We ain't gotta fuck all day, let's go outside/ Let's get some food and coffee and just go ahead/ Talk with our mouths.”
Hercules & Love Affair — “Poisonous Storytelling (feat. ANOHNI)”
Ex-DFA disco deity Andy Butler (aka Hercules & Love Affair) has reunited with his most legendary collaborator, ANOHNI, with whom H&LA knocked out the 2008 club staple, “Blind” (not to mention four other stellar tunes on the self-titled debut that produced that hit). But in a surprise twist, this ain’t no disco. Rather, it’s a brooding, semi-industrial dirge that escalates into a Hadean choir of backwards vocals courtesy of Icelandic singer Elin Eyþórsdóttir. Warns ANOHNI: “We have to be careful with new narratives/ Because everyone is rotted out from poisonous storytelling.”
Cassandra Jenkins — “Pygmalion”
As part of Secretly Canadian’s 25th anniversary celebration, Cassandra Jenkins shares “Pygmalion,” a track recorded at Abbey Road with the Scottish band Lylo. It’s a flip of the Greek myth of Pygmalion from the perspective of Galatea, his statued wife. Jenkins likens the myth to the “tale of an incel who falls for his ivory sex doll, and one that lacks any trace of the female voice.” Jenkins’ version, seemingly a metaphor for an abusive relationship in the modern age, is told from Galatea’s perspective, replacing the intricate folk-rock of last year’s An Overview on Phenomenal Nature with an ominous glow lent by distorted bass, chugging drums, and searing guitars. Its lyrics seethe with contempt, confronting a manipulative partner: “I’ve never heard you talk that way/ Come here and say it to my face…/ I know that look in your eyes/ You really know how to twist up my insides.”
Duster — “Sad Boys”
90s slowcore veterans Duster are very much a band again after ending their nearly two-decade hiatus in 2019 with a new self-titled album. Their new project, Together, features their signature spaced-out post-rock in full effect, underscoring how they earned such a huge following during their time away from the group. Album closer “Sad Boys” is a favorite, burning with stark guitar chords, wide-open drums, and six lines of lyrics that read, well, a little like a Frank Stanford poem: “Lightning bolt/ Lie to me/ You're enjoying the rat/ Again and again/ Sad boys, shy boys/ Sad boys, shy boys.”
Isik Kural — “pineapples and lime”
Istanbul-born composer Isik Kural just dropped a stirring collection of found-sound collages and ambient contemplations via RVNG Intl., titled in february. “pineapples and lime” opens with whirling organs and chopped vocal samples that fade into a meditative arrangement of piano and birdsong. Then, just when it feels it might approach peak ambient saturation, the work emphasizes the balance of compositional structure and the chance inherent to found-sound [composition]. It’s a line the Istanbul-born producer walks deftly.
Physical Therapy — “Chain Reaction”
New York-based DJ/producer Physical Therapy has released a new EP of 2-step and UK garage tracks titled Teardrops on My Garage via his Allergy Season label. These new songs take a light touch to getting the people moving: “Chain Reaction” skitters along with a clever interplay of drum and bass, backed by a liquid gold guitar sample— and the sample reveal at the end of the track is a truly joyous moment. "I was trying to capture my feeling listening to 2-step and garage when I was younger before I really knew anything about the genres or dance music in general— drawing from memory [to] make something that would have appealed to my more naïve self," Fisher told Resident Advisor.
Tim Reaper — “Deep Within”
Sonar’s Ghost and Tim Reaper have issued a split EP, FR002, on Reaper’s own Future Retro label. The two are familiar collaborators, having linked up a number of times, like on the pulse-quickening 2021 juke banger, “Leapfrog Style.” Sonar’s A-side, the frenetic and unpredictable “Souldrop” weaves between themes of deep house, chopped-vocal footwork, and haze-thick synths. It’s one of the stronger d’n’b cuts I’ve heard this year, but forced to choose between the two for this week’s mix, Reaper’s cut narrowly wins out.
Reaper stands at the forefront of jungle’s recent resurgence— a purist who’s studied every break and every nuance in the Metalheadz and Logical Progression series, remaining true to the genre’s traditional forms while interjecting contemporary elements that help him push it to the absolute threshold. On “Deep Within,” synths emerge from the fog as ominous vocal samples lend a mysterious vibe. In an interview with Beatportal, Reaper expanded on his musical philosophy: “I can’t say with jungle that there are no rules, but in a way it’s more open [than other genres]. It doesn’t have to do this or that within 32 bars… It can do almost anything it wants to.”
Jean Carn, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad — “Black Rainbows”
Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad continue their run of electrifying jazz-fusion epics with “Black Rainbows,” featuring Philly soul queen Jean Carn. The song feels a bit like the deep-cut soul-jazz epic “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun” by Rotary Connection— a theatrical slice of psychedelic from the Age of Aquarius. That cut was in the same world as 60s Parliament and foreshadowed the ‘70s acid-jazz breakouts of Roy Ayers and Bobbie Humphrey. “Black Rainbows” exists in that same realm, giving Carn a bit of room to emphasize how her style helped pioneer modern iterations of soul, R&B, and pop.
Arooj Aftab, the Brooklyn vocalist who just became the first Pakistani ever to win a Grammy, has covered Rosalía's gorgeous "DI MI NOMBRE - Cap.8: Éxtasis" for a Spotify-exclusive single; those Radiohead boys have dropped perhaps one of the best songs yet from their new project The Smile, titled "Pana-Vision;" hip-hop legend Pete Rock released the fourth full-length entry in his always-enjoyable throwback LP series, Petestrumentals; and Cali-via-Holland R&B guy Leven Kali issued a very tight little club track called "LET IT RAIN" that features early in the playlist this week, right up next to Gunna's remix of Jnr Choi's TikTok-viral sensation "TO THE MOON."
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