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.
London Grammar, "Rooting for You"
It's been too long since we've heard Hannah Reid's voice pierce through the silence. Her airy, breathtaking vibrato will always be goosebumps-inducing; Finally, it's back to stun on London Grammar's first new song since the trio's breakout 2013 debut album, If You Wait. They've returned with what else but a sweeping ballad, joined by a full orchestra to really fill out their larger-than-life sound. You can either listen to the ethereal studio version, or follow my lead and stick with the sublime live version, which starts out with nothing but Hannah's isolated vocals before building into a spellbinding crescendo. Have a tissue handy. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
Lydia Ainsworth, “The Road”
Now here’s a winter pop jam. Ainsworth’s vocals are layers on layers of ice — a cold wind in the way of Imogen Heap in the mid 2000s that’s still vibrating with empathy and emotion. In “The Road,” Ainsworth sings of a failed love with a kind of melancholy acceptance: “I’m only good when sun is shining, now there’s thunder and there’s lightning. Should I put it down to timing that I had to let this go? Do you regret it? I regret it.” The music feels like it stretches into a vague eternity, and that’s pretty much the emotional tone of the song. Sometimes you just have to hang all your hopes on a distant next time. —Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)
Alicia Keys, "Sweet F'in Love"
Can you believe there was once a time when Alicia Keys was her generation's foremost purveyor of love songs? She's got classics in that ouvre, but lately, they've been hard to come by. Keys already released an album last year, now she's back with a one-off produced by Kaytranada. Perhaps all it takes is linking up with some fresh, whose work has an ear to to the past, to get that classic sound back for Alicia. Whatever the formula, this gels beautifully. It's a sugary ode to effortless love, the kind you don't have to work too hard at to achieve and sustain. A partnership like that should feel as good as this song sounds. —DL
Japandroids, "No Known Drink or Drug"
After more than four years since their last album, Vancouver's loudest rock duo Japandroids is about to make their triumphant return with their third album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life. Their latest single proves they're still doing what they do best: churning out bombastic yet wistful odes to good times and being young. That might seem cheesy, but once the full force of a flood of power chords hits halfway through "No Known Drink or Drug,” it's impossible not to be swept up in their sincerity. —Samantha Rollins (@SamanthaRollins)
Normani Kordei, "Don't Touch My Hair/Cranes in the Sky" (Solange cover)
The news of Camilla Cabelo's departure from Fifth Harmony might leave you with the impression that she's the only member of the group with solo potential. Not so. Waiting in the wings is Normani Kordei, who's here to win over her own legion of fans with a killer mash-up cover of Solange's "Don't Touch My Hair" and "Cranes in the Sky." This is for Harmonizers who always hoped the now-quartet would lean more into their R&B side more than a couple songs per album. Normani's not usually given lead vocals alongside 5H, but this cover might have the group's overlords rethinking that going forward. —DL
Sjowgren, “Now & Then”
“Now & Then” immediately hooks you with its hearty opening guitar strumming, and then it pulls you deeper in the more you listen. I turned it up louder each time it played to try and sink myself farther into the swimming pool of sound. Jump in and you’ll go down fast and surface slow with the music slipping all across you on the way to the surface. It’s markedly more shiny than these gloomy winter days, but a bit of sonic sun would do some good. —JC
Julie Byrne, "I Live Now As a Singer"
Wintertime can feel so isolating. We spend so much time hibernating indoors around this time on the East Coast, alone with ourselves and our thoughts that those summer months when we wandered feel so distant. Singers get to choose when to have their solitude. They can turn inward in the warmer months, or plan more seasonally and record albums indoors while the rest of us have also gone into hiding with them. Julie Byrne used to live a more nomadic life, one that took her far away from Buffalo and all over the place. But now that she's done it, "dragged my life across the country," and settled into life as a musician, she's come home in search of stability. The desperation for human contact and an emotional connection to anyone gets especially bad around this time of year, especially if you're going the season alone. This is a song for those moments of weakness. —DL
Dirty Projectors, "Little Bubble"
Try to ignore the fact that Dirty Projectors are now apparently a solo Dave Longstreth affair, that he appears to be testing out R&B for better or worse, and that he's definitely made a breakup album. All of that sounds so impossibly melodramatic. Admittedly, it's a sappy lead-in to a new album, but it resonates all the same. You don't go through the indie wringer as a group then emerge from it alone without feeling a bit out of sorts. Longstreth should be sad! "Little Bubble," as catharsis for whatever pain he's feeling, sure sounds better than any collective Dirty Projectors song I can remember. More of this, no more rapping. —DL