Every week, Vulture highlights the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year’s best music.
Bon Iver, “8 (circle)”
Here’s my Bon Iver story: In the late fall of 2007, before the wide release of For Emma, Forever Ago, I went to see Bon Iver open for Elvis Perkins. My friend and I went early, largely because she had met Justin Vernon casually the day before and promised to bring him cookies. After receiving cookies, he started his set to a half-filled venue. He opened with “Lump Sum” and I almost left. I thought this was my Sumner Redstone leaving in the middle of Star Wars to invest in 20th Century Fox moment. I wanted to work in the music business at the time and I felt I needed to work to get this music out there. I stayed and he’d sing “Skinny Love,” and the song was still real to him and his voice cracked and everyone cried. I would eventually try to reach out to his management on MySpace, only to learn that he was just going to have a friend sell merch. So, instead, I told everyone I knew. For this, I searched “Bon Iver” in my Gmail to see I legit Gchatted ten people the next day with a link to his Virb.com page.
The second time I saw Bon Iver it was in a record store where the mics weren’t working, so he walked in the middle of the crowd to finish his set, ending up directly in front of me. And that is what it has felt like over the last ten years. I felt like I had a face-to-face, intimate relationship to Bon Iver, and the rest of his fandom went out from us. Like a family tree, my ten Gchatted friends Gchatted ten of their friends and so on until someone was friends with Kanye. It doesn’t break the intimacy I feel to his/their music, but now it is supported by a million people that surround us. That’s what this song sounds like. — Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)
Kan Wakan, “I Would”
This is one of those songs that feels like a mist slowly engulfing you, and the more Kan Wakan says the words “keeps on floating” the more you feel like you’re being pulled into a trance. By the time the instrumental bridge kicks in the vibe should be latched on to your core and you can just ride the wave until the end. — Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)
Solange, “Cranes in the Sky”
It’s a lot to ask of a person to live this life inside a black body. When the spaces we occupy were never ours to own, every day can feel like walking through a minefield. You never know which grenade you’ll trip over, who you’ll set off, or if you’ll have to implode so someone who doesn’t look like you can feel whole. Being a disruption to the natural order of things and the internalized burden in blackness are the heartbeat of Solange’s new masterpiece, A Seat at the Table. “Cranes in the Sky,” the most beautiful song, in the simplest sonic terms, on the album, has Solange grappling with how to exist in a world that views you as disturbance, a stain amid the whiteness. Lyrically, Solange doesn’t have it figured out; she’s searching for distractions from the pain (sex, excessive spending, running away, alcohol). It isn’t until the song’s idyllic, stunning video that she’s able to find serenity, a space that recreates a portrait of her mind, where she can be still when she wants, move freely, and build a table with other black women. There, no metal cranes cage you in and her voice can soar higher than the birds. — Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
Nilüfer Yanya, “Keep On Calling”
I’m a sucker for singers with international accents who I can tell are so much more fashionable than I am just by the sound of their voice. (I certainly don’t know Nilüfer Yanya, but I can tell she has impeccable street style.) On “Keep On Calling,” Yanya is just plain done with falling for you, boy, and even if the lyrics don’t make that sentiment perfectly clear, the cool detachment in her voice sure does. This song sounds like a dimly lit apartment, a glass of wine in hand, and a cigarette with smoke curling off of it sitting in the ashtray. Best danced to with that kind of slow shoulder roll that was popular in the 1980s. — JC
Phantogram, “You’re Mine”
Yeah, this song! It kind of sounds like Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” but better. Just kidding. But it still rips and would be good for a scene where a nerd gets a makeover and walks into prom so fucking hot now. –JDF
The Great Escape, “I Can’t Resist”
Sometimes there are those songs that just land in the “Future Karaoke” section of your Notes. “I Can’t Resist” is a three-quarters of the way through the night fist-pumping screamer that comes out when the crowd is drunk and spirited enough to really get rowdy. It’s not a “Sweet Caroline” kind of closer. It’s not a “Before He Cheats” contemporary classic. It’s the of-the-moment song that people can’t get out of their heads once they hear it. It’s Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s.” Even if people don’t know the track at first, they’ll have the chorus mastered after hearing it one time, and it’s a great opportunity for you and your girlfriends to do that thing where you lean forward and sing at each other with your faces really close together. — JC