songs of the week

The Best New Songs of the Week: Pusha T, Mac Miller, and More

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady. Photo: Vulture and NBC

Each week, Vulture highlights the best new music. If a song is worthy of your ears and attention, you’ll find it here. Listen to them all.

Summer is o-fish-a-ly arriving, and your favorite artists are here to celebrate. Want to blare some new tunes from Lil Nas X, The Hold Steady, and Chloe x Halle in your top-down convertible as you cruise to the beach this weekend? You can do that! And that’s not even mentioning the other goodies from the week, including a terrific Mark Ronson-Angel Olsen collab. Listen to all that, along with a slew of other great songs, below.

Lil Nas X, “Panini”

Let’s just get straight to it: Lil Nas X’s new EP is a hot ass mess and he may never make a better song than the one he’s known for. Sometimes we peak early. Shit happens. That said, where Lil Nas X may already be running out of road, the young NYC production duo Take a Daytrip are just starting to find their lane. They struck accidental gold last summer with Sheck Wes’s viral “Mo Bamba” and have now scored double placement on the Lil Nas X EP, producing its two best non-“OTR” songs, “Panini” and “Rodeo.” (And that’s with contributions from veterans Boi-1da, Ryan Tedder, and Travis Barker elsewhere on the project.) Most of the songs on the EP sound like they were microwaved a few seconds before release time. “Panini” has been cooking for awhile, though, first debuted back in April. (I’ve even heard it played live twice since then.) Lil Nas X doesn’t want to be just a rapper, so Daytrip gave him some wiggle room with a rap song and a rap-ish/country-ish song. He gets outshone on the latter, “Rodeo,” by Cardi B because he’s not as adaptable as he thinks. But in “Panini,” over booming 808s and some Western-parody whistling, singing about how expectations are just plain weird, he sounds in his bag. —Dee Lockett

The Hold Steady, “Denver Haircut”

It’s been five years since the Hold Steady have released a new album, but in that time frontman Craig Finn released a bunch of solo albums, and the band dropped a few singles here and there. Plenty of bands go on hiatus, but with the Hold Steady it made a bit more sense. Each song is a short story: a collection of misguided nostalgia transmuted into tiny details that evoke a feeling of sentimentality. It’s a hard trick to pull off, but Finn is such a great writer that it always seems to work out fine.

So even though the band’s been gone for a bit, you wouldn’t know it, because “Denver Haircut” is prime Hold Steady — characters have drug-induced hallucinations, yearn to escape the place they live, listen to Metallica, get robbed, and go through personal transformations at the airport. All this happens in just a few minutes, and its a lot to absorb, but one lyric stands out above the rest: “Found a man with a handful huddled over some car keys / it doesn’t have to be pure, it doesn’t have to be perfect / just sort of has to be worth it.” Sure, Finn is singing about drugs, but there’s no line more heartbreakingly real and applicable across a wide spectrum of experiences than “just sort of has to be worth it.” —Sam Hockley-Smith

Chloe x Halle, “thinkin’ about me”

Hot Girl Summer is a meme, sure, but it is first and foremost a way of life. It is bad bitches living their baddest bitch truth. Now, of course, Chloe x Halle are a bit more wholesome in their portrayal of this attitude, because they’re 19 and 20, but if you’ve seen them on Grown-ish, you know they, too, are about this life. (Like they said on their debut album, “If I’m in the mood, I’ll get as ratchet as I wanna.”) The duo have released two new songs for the show. One is a very pretty ballad about catching feelings; the other, “thinkin’ about me,” is full-on flex about catching dudes’ attention. It’s about playing games. It’s about toying with some boy’s emotions and messing with his head for shits and giggles and a confidence boost. (“When you text me, I’m curving, my girls say, ‘Hold up, don’t hurt ‘em” LOL.) It’s some true fuckgirl behavior, honestly, but you won’t catch me judging! —Dee Lockett

Mark Ronson ft. Angel Olsen, “True Blue”

Mark Ronson locked in some power collaborations for Late Night Feelings, but “True Blue” is the winner of the bunch because it is so unexpected. There’s no better person to recruit for a timeless breakup record than Angel Olsen, and I did not know that I wanted her to go pop until today. Now that we’re here, I need more! As the modern classic opens with “Fucking around, I’m falling in love / Saying good-bye ‘cause you’re giving it up / All that you were, all that you lost/ Who ever thought it came with a cost,” I can visualize disco balls getting into rotation. Anyone else planning on texting their next target “love the way you read my eyes” or is that just me? —Sydney Gore

Yellow Days, “Just When”

Atlanta fans may recognize Yellow Days — a.k.a. 19-year-old British artist artist George van den Broek — from the show’s season two trailer, which features the song “Gap in the Clouds.” On his latest release “Just When,” van den Broek delivers yet another track that’s as moody as it is mellow. His knack? Writing songs about feeling exhausted that sound decidedly unbothered. “And just when I think everything’s okay / A cloud comes along and it pours with rain / And I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting away / And I know that you love me baby and it must hurt to hear me say that, yeah” van den Broek croons over a reggae-inspired beat. —Corinne Osnos

E-40 f. Quavo, Roddy Rich, ASAP Ferg, and Schoolboy Q, “Chase the Money”

E-40 did it to himself. He’s been so insanely prolific in recent years that it’s hard to find the time to absorb his music before he’s moved on to the next thing. Still, line for line, he’s one of the most fun rappers to listen to — his voice is full of peaks and valleys, and he can fit pretty much any phrase into any beat. There’s a reason that he got other weird voiced guys on this track — both ASAP Ferg and Schoolboy Q owe a considerable debt to 40 — who made having a weird perspective on pretty much everything under the sun a marketable skill. “Chase the Money” which is the name of the song, and the name of the guy who produced the song (you may recognize his infectious “chase the money” drop from approximately 65 million other songs), is kind of a sleeper: At first it seems like a run of the mill single from a bunch of big names, but then all of a sudden you’re playing it again and singing along with Roddy Rich’s chorus about driving down Fairfax. —Sam Hockley-Smith

Floating Points, “LesAlpx”

When Sam Shepherd broke out as Floating Points at the turn of the decade, his sound was pure, expansive techno — the type that caught the ear of influential left-field listeners like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, tuneful and winding like a staircase built out of synthesizers. On 2015’s lovely breakout Elaenia, he took his compositional know-how to new levels, crafting jazzy and psychedelic electronic music that was less made for the dancefloor and more for contemplative headspaces — but on his new single “LesAlpx,” he’s back with the thump, and how. It’s the most bodymoving single he’s put out since 2010’s “People’s Potential,” with an insistent beat and trickles of melody mingling with Vangelis-esque synths. The tune runs just under five minutes, but in the right groove you could imagine listening to it for hours on repeat. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Michael Kiwanuka & Tom Misch, “Money”

It’s fitting that the return of Big Little Lies syncs with a Michael Kiwanuka release. That he collaborated with fellow Brit Tom Misch to serve up some sinister funk is almost too much. On “Money,” Kiwanuka experiments with falsetto notes while YEBBA contributes backup vocals. In an email exchange with FADER, Misch called out their “common love for 808s and disco.” Though it rings bright and dancey, the song’s lyrics issue a warning. “The premise of ‘Money’ is that, at first listen, it’s a song about money and how much I want it and love it,” according to Kiwanuka. “I want to use money to meet people and be around people that have a lot of it. But as you listen closer, it’s actually about how too much love for money can be dangerous.” —Corinne Osnos

Metronomy, “Salted Caramel Ice Cream”

Metronomy is the five-piece lovechild of producer, songwriter, and performer Joseph Mount, and for those in the know, they’re the chicest band around, capable of navigating away from their nu-rave roots towards classic disco and groove-laden indie. Coming in melting after Mount’s recent collaborative efforts with Robyn on her LP Honey, “Salted Caramel Ice Cream” might be the apex of all Metronomy’s experiments so far. It marries Mount’s clever nods to the past (hello, Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown”) with his English-indebted quirks, likening an object of affection to salted caramel ice cream. “Oh God she’s coming, don’t look up!” go the lyrics, fizzing with the heart murmurs of an early stage crush. I’ll have another scoop please. —Eve Barlow

Caroline Polachek, “Door”

Dearly departed synth-pop heroes Chairlift were always underrated for how weird they could sound — an expert mingling of the strange and the accessible, as Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly tinkered in the studio like mad synth-pop scientists. On her own, Polachek has previously gone headlong into wilder territory as Ramona Lisa, but her new solo single under her own name is a perfect merge of Chairlift’s skyscraping approach and her more inscrutable tendencies. “Door” skips and slithers like a trail of smoke before opening up into an expansive chorus, with tons of production gew-gaws buried in the mix. It’s fascinating and endlessly repeatable, and it has us wondering what else Polachek has up her sleeve, too. —Larry Fitzmaurice

June 14, 2016

Kali Uchis, Mac Miller, and Free Nationals, “Time”

Anderson .Paak’s the Free Nationals and Kali Uchis have released a track with the late Mac Miller, leading as a single for the group’s upcoming self-titled album. “Time” is the first song featuring Mac’s vocals since his death in September 2018. Over Kali’s hazy chorus and the group’s jazzy beat, Mac raps about his relationship struggles, asking his partner not to leave him: “We just need some time.” He starts out pessimistic while referencing a line from his 2018 album Swimming, “Well, I don’t trip, but I slip, I fall,” but promises it’ll all work, “in the end, everything will be fine, that’s by design.” Although this is the first music released after Mac’s death, we can probably expect the late rapper to lend his voice to more tracks in the future. —Clare Palo

Benny the Butcher ft. Pusha T, “18 Wheeler”

Pusha T’s post-Clipse rap career has been a fascinating one. By all conventional metrics of popular rap music, he should not be as popular as he is because Pusha is a rapper’s rapper. He raps everything at pretty much the exact same speed, and like some kind of menacing but not especially emotional Godzilla, he destroys everything in his path. In the wrong hands, his rap style — dead-eyed drug talk and steel-mouthed threats combined with a penchant for not flaunting what he’s got — would be a snooze. In Pusha’s hands, it’s the sort of flow that could ruin Drake’s summer. Now, a little over a year after the release of Daytona, Pusha’s linked up with Benny the Butcher, the gravelly voiced Buffalo rapper who sounds like the kind of dude who would be named Benny the Butcher. In other words, he’s a mercenary, which means that he and Pusha play well off each other. “18 Wheeler” should be listened to while standing in the general vicinity of a cemetery on a cold February day. Okay, fine, it’s almost summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw on a bubblegoose and go lurk around some crumbling headstones with this in your headphones right now. —Sam Hockley-Smith

Finneas, “Angel”

Finneas’s “Angel” is not your typical song of the summer. The moody ballad, written while on tour with his sister Billie Eilish in November, is not what you turn to on a blazing summer day on your way to the beach, but it is the song you play when you’re in the back of a car, sleepy, slightly sunburned, on your way home. In other words: You’re probably going to feel a little sad after listening to it, even if the song is about “falling in love with someone and feeling so in awe of them that you wonder if they’re even real.” “I bought a house to live in / But you’re the home I’m missin’,” he croons. “Nothing good lasts forever / But nights with you are better.” As the follow-up to his April release “I Lost a Friend,” O’Connell continues to solidify his space not just as a producer and a writer, but as a singer in his own right with an intensely personal sound. He may have just landed himself, at No. 1 no less, on Billboard’s inaugural Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts, but I’m personally waiting for the moment he lands himself at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart. —Daise Bedolla

GoldLink (ft. Tyler, the Creator and Jay Prince), “U Say”

D.C.’s favorite rapper GoldLink is back with his latest release, Diaspora. Packed with plenty of features — from Pusha T, Tyler, the Creator, Khalid, Bibi Bourelly, and more — the debut album (the others were technically mixtapes) is a certified bop. It’s hard to pick one great track on this album, as every song blends together seamlessly into a perfect dancehall playlist, but “U Say” is a standout single. Featuring Tyler, the Creator and Jay Prince, this song will be booming loudly on every block this summer. It’s as much of a song about that steamy summer romance as it is about falling in love with your dance partner in the club. GoldLink, thank you for the perfect summer vibe. —Clare Palo

The Appleseed Cast, “Chaotic Waves”

The more-multifarious-than-you-think sound of emo has, arguably, become the predominant style in indie rock over the past five years — in other words, the perfect time for the Appleseed Cast to return. The long-running Lawrence, Kansas, outfit have been at it for two decades now, mixing prog’s knottiness and post-rock’s epic sweep with traditional first-wave emo signifiers to glorious effect. “Chaotic Waves” is the first single from Fleeting Light of Impermanence, their first album in six years; from the sound of it, they haven’t missed a beat, with a gorgeous and cascading guitar line punctuated by Christopher Crisci’s expressive vocals. It’s a great entry point into the Appleseed Cast’s dense catalogue; if you weren’t familiar before, now’s your chance to catch up. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Vagabon, “Flood Hands”

Vagabon is one of the most progressive artists that you probably don’t know about, but the power anthem “Flood Hands” is about to change that, along with the rest of the material from her sophomore album. “I know even if run from it I’m still in it / I know I’ll hold you so close,” she chants. “I know even if I run from it I’m still in it / I know in my heart.” It’s the most pop-forward song we’ve ever heard from Vagabon, yet it doesn’t sound out of her element at all. Lætitia Tamko is shifting the music landscape as we know it, remember her name and follow her lead now. —Sydney Gore

Wild Wild Woman, “Your Smith”

L.A.-based pop star Caroline Smith (now known as Your Smith) has another Caroline Smith within her. And she comes at night just as the singer is about to give up and fall asleep. This other person is loud and unpredictable. You can’t take her anywhere and yet still … There’s something about her, something that can’t be tamed, and it sets her free. Don’t we all have a “wild, wild woman” inside of us? If not, why not? We damn well should. Smith’s latest single is a delectable, synth-pop injection of pure funk that eventually descends into a minimal, sexy breakdown. If the song was indeed a person, you’d be crazy to refuse a night on the tiles with her. —Eve Barlow

Banks ft. Francis and the Lights, “Look What You’re Doing to Me”

I always forget that I’m a fan of Francis and the Lights until he puts something new out. This new single with Banks might be my favorite collaboration she’s ever done? You have my attention again, Jillian. I’m actually addicted to it, please send help! —Sydney Gore

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib ft. Anderson .Paak, “Giannis”

If you’ve spent any time listening to new music on YouTube, you’ve probably come across the visual tool that everyone loves to use right now: a still image with just the slightest movement to keep your attention. In the case of “Giannis,” the latest single from the fruitful collaboration between the psychedelic, perma-stoned producer Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, one of the finest technical stylists we’ve got right now, the visualizer feels especially effective. Sometimes these things are a total snooze: It’ll be, like, some salt-and-pepper static inside a letter or some other tiny movement that gestures at the fact that we’re not looking at a still image. Here, we get a Jeff Jank animated loop of Madlib’s alter ego Quasimoto smoking a joint, holding a brick, and staring at a record spinning. It’s hypnotic, which is supposed to be the point, but it perfectly illustrates the circular way that Gibbs and Madlib work together. Madlib works with loops, but there’s often other extraneous noise in his samples, usually due to a rough beat chop or ambient record crackle — it creates the illusion of change where there maybe isn’t much. Here, there’s some of that, but mainly there’s Gibbs, switching up his flow, not so much barreling through the beat as riding it, pitching his voice against the rise and fall of the sample. Like many other Freddie Gibbs songs, with and without Madlib, he’s presenting a nonstop barrage of imagery: something about Dora the Explorer, something else about Ace Hood (sidenote: Ace Hood is much more prolific than people realize. Between 2008 and 2019, he released 25 full-length projects), and then he’s out just in time for Anderson .Paak to ooze out a melodic rap that calms things down and closes out the song. —Sam Hockley-Smith

Jacob Collier, “Moon River”

In a cramped recording studio in Soho, a shoeless Jacob Collier hits play. A handful of critics, friends, and collaborators form a crescent around the 24-year-old Brit. Some recline on velvet couches while others sit cross-legged on the floor. Barely audible bird chirpings float on airy vocals that grow into bellows, easing the listener into Collier’s world. Nine minutes and 5,000 vocal parts later, the curtain drops. While Collier isn’t the first to try his hand at the Andy Williams 1960 original (Frank and Frank produced notable versions), Collier’s adds something new to the mix. It turns a staid lullaby into a living chorus that sticks with you long after its final note. It builds into a cacophony of voices (144 in total) singing overlapping, elongated parts. Collier reached out to featured collaborators with a simple ask: record yourself singing moon in B-flat and send the video clip his way. That he managed to get Chris Martin and Ty Dolla $ign on the same track is reason enough to press play. —Corinne Osnos

Friday, June 7

BTS and Charli XCX, “Dream Glow”

Today in things I didn’t know my soul required: BTS and Charli XCX, leaders of the pop free world, have collaborated. And while it could’ve been totally phoned-in – as gimmicky as the band’s new mobile game, which the song was made to promote, probably is (sorry, don’t come for me!) – but BTS and Charli do nothing without intention. They are, respectively, impossibly prolific and yet rarely sacrifice quality in saturating the global market. Their first-ever collaboration is produced by Stargate, the legendary Norwegian duo responsible for some of the best Britney, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Katy hits; BTS and Charli were not fucking around. It’s arguably the most straight-forward constructed pop song BTS have ever made (note that it features only vocals from Jungkook, Jin, and Jimin – no rapping – though it’s credited to all of BTS), a product of the Charli-Stargate Midas touch. (Those larger-than-life synth swells are the DNA of Scandinavian pop production, and are also the foundation of this song.) BTS have zero need to bend to trends to make themselves more accessible to the English-speaking world (which is why those Halsey and Nicki Minaj collabs always felt kinda forced), so it’s incredible to watch them make that tired industry school of thought work for them, and not the other way around. This is BTS’ best Western collaboration to date. —Dee Lockett

Randall Park, “I Punched Keanu Reeves”

Last Friday night, while I ate take-out Thai food that tasted absolutely nothing like Sasha Tran’s (Ali Wong) Korean cooking in Always Be My Maybe, I found the Song of the Summer. That’s right, Randall Park has dropped the hottest song this week. In the film, that Vulture essentially willed into being, Park plays Marcus Kim, the lead singer of Hello Peril, a good? San Francisco local band that has exactly one hit. The track, which was freshly released on the film’s soundtrack, features three (!) Hello Peril songs, the hit Mariah Carey song that inspired the film’s title, a sexy D’Angelo track that makes a rightful cameo in the movie, and more. But clearly the highlight is Hello Peril’s “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” which originates from a riveting scene where Park punches real life Keanu Reeves in the face, at Reeves’s request. The punch was “better than any scene you could see in Speed,” which I can confirm is in fact true. Something about seeing Reeve’s asking to be hit is extremely delightful. —Clare Palo

Jai Paul, “He”

It’s harder than ever to be surprised by anything these days, but British musical polymath Jai Paul’s sudden return last weekend was one of the most truly shocking (in a good way) musical moments of the year so far. His legendary, leaked collection of demos are now available on streaming, so if you haven’t heard those—well, what are you waiting for? Paul also dropped a new two-tracker, “Do You Love Her Now” b/w “He”; both are great, but it’s the b-side that’s sounding especially good at the moment. There’s some DNA from Paul’s classic 2012 single “Jasmine” in here, but the mood is even duskier and more intense, with a soft bassline pulse reminiscent of the “Love on a Real Train” scene in Risky Business. Let’s hope Paul’s back for good—by the sound of these new songs, we need him in our lives. —Larry Fitzmaurice

(Sandy) Alex G, “Gretel”

I haven’t thought about any of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales in over a decade, but leave it to (Sandy) Alex G to find a way to rework Hansel and Gretel into an eerily charming narrative of his own. “Gretel” serves as a cautionary tale about the toxic nature of greed and overindulgence. Alex eases us in with a familiar feeling of comfort by using an acoustic guitar, metallic piano, and faint pitter-pattering drums before coming in hot with synthesizers and manipulating his vocals by shifting the pitch. “I don’t wanna go back/ Nobody’s gonna push me off track/ I see what they do/ Good people got something to lose,” he sings without breaking his stride. This song tastes like a scoop of your favorite flavor of water ice from whatever local shop that has your loyalty, a luxury that only South Jersey and Philly natives know what I’m talking about. I’ll admit that I didn’t love Rocket as much as the rest of the industry, but I’m salivating at the prospect of House of Sugar. Sydney Gore

Jay Som, “Superbike”

Indie rocker Jay Som unleashed a quiet riot with her breakout 2017 LP Everybody Works, and this first single from her forthcoming third album Anak Ko suggests that her hot streak of emotive, youthful-sounding indie rock is tough to break. Fans of shoegaze’s swirling guitars and gently warped vocals wont be disappointed here, and the first two-thirds of “Superbike” sound perfectly ripped from some dreamy past life; then, a searing guitar line rips through the closing minutes’ cloudiness, sticking the landing perfectly in a way that has us excited to hear what the rest of the album sounds like. —Larry Fitzmaurice

MUNA, “Number One Fan”

Could it be there exists a very funny pop song that also belongs on the dance floor while at the same time contains a realistic message of self-worth that’s as attainable as it is catchy? “Number One Fan” is the song you didn’t know you needed so badly until it arrived right in front of your face. It’s just the right side of poptastic insanity, loaded with bouncing synth lines and bass tones that are as likely to recall hours spent idly playing ‘90s games consoles as they do hits of the era such as Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” or The New Radicals. Lyrically, it’s a conversation between the voices in your head, and it chooses to bat away your inner dickheads in favor of your own cheerleader. “Oh my god,” it says, with a sudden surprise. “I’m your number one fan?!” I guess you can choose: do you want to be a band capable of holding a mirror up to society, or do you want to be a band capable of holding a mirror up to yourselves? MUNA do both. With their second album confirmed for later this summer, 2019 is about to be theirs. —Eve Barlow

Bon Iver, “Hey, Ma”

What is Bon Iver up to? Justin Vernon premiered new material at a concert last weekend, and before you knew it he was unveiling a new website with some of those new songs for your home-listening pleasure. One of those new cuts, “U (Man Like),” is a collab-loaded cut featuring Bon Iver Cinematic Universe members like Bruce Hornsby and Moses Sumney — but it’s “Hey, Ma” that stands out most out of the two new cuts we’ve heard from the project so far. Unfortunately, it’s not a Cam’ron cover, but “Hey, Ma” should resonate well with anyone who felt entranced by Bon Iver’s last album, 22, A Million in 2016, with similar electro-pop pinnings and Vernon’s impossibly holistic vocals taking center stage yet again. If you’ll remember, 22, A Million was effectively Bon Iver’s return after a six-year hiatus; seems like we might get the follow-up much sooner than that span of time, which is a good thing. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Whitney, “Giving Up”

I feel like I’ve been waiting an eternity for the arrival of Whitney’s sophomore album, but all that patience paid off now that “Giving Up” is here. 2016’s Light Upon The Lake saw the Chicago band ushering in a wave of “country soul” and now that the yee-haw agenda is in full swing, the timing of their return couldn’t be better planned. Three years later and the boys are back to kickoff the start of summer with a batch of fresh tunes that make you feel alive. While I never want them to depart for that long again, I fully respect their process. —Sydney Gore

Roisin Murphy, “Incapable”

For at least fifteen years, the eclectic and multifarious electronic pop that Roisin Murphy sounds has been one of the worst-kept secrets in indie circles. Her solo albums are as fascinating and rich as her work with egghead house producer Matthew Herbert, and she notched a star turn on the glitchy “Illumination,” off of one of last year’s best albums, dance god DJ Koze’s earthy and blissful Knock Knock. Her latest solo single is eight and a half minutes of sneaky, brilliant house music—the type of tricky bliss that Vladislav Delay once achieved on his classic Luomo record Vocalcity, only these grooves come from frequent Murphy collaborator Crooked Man. Listen to this in the dark — or anywhere else, really. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Friday, June 7

Katy Perry, “Never Really Over”

Justice for Witness! I make that proclamation with all seriousness — even though Perry’s last album was seemingly bereft of the type of smash hits she’s built her career on, it’s likely to age well as a gently experimental, electro-focused pop album that diverged from her time-tested brand of inspo-pop. Still, she obviously had to change it up a little for her new era, and her latest single “Never Really Over” comes off as a capable and surprisingly effective split between her previously established talent for soaring anthems and the gooey dance sound that was smeared across Witness, with a synth-led chorus that Robyn would more than appreciate. Check the video, too, which gives off a serious and (hopefully) self-aware cultish vibe suitable for anyone that’s steeling themselves for Midsommar. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Sufjan Stevens, “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart”

Is there anything that needs to be said other than my heart is full? Sufjan Stevens continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, and “Love Yourself” and “With My Whole Heart” are exactly what the world needs post–Call Me by Your Name. This is quite possibly the best way to kick off Pride. While we (the world) probably don’t deserve this, we should be eternally grateful anyway. —Sydney Gore

Miley Cyrus, “D.R.E.A.M.”

Miley’s not dreaming on her new EP, but she is doing a collab with Ghostface Killah. On She Is Coming, Miley sings about her loving relationship with drugz in “D.R.E.A.M.” In a trancelike opening, she sings about outer space and UFOs, and fucking on an airplane — just normal 20-something stuff. The track is a homage to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M,” and, with trademark Miley subtlety, spells it out in the chorus: “Drugs rule everything around me.” Then comes Ghostface rapping at the tail end of the song, adding a little more credibility to her fluctuating hip-hop career. Sound like a lot? Well the chorus is contagious, so watch out. —Clare Palo

Sleater-Kinney, “Hurry On Home”

It was too much when Sleater-Kinney posted a photo of the three of them with St. Vincent at the start of the year, but it was also welcome. They hadn’t released a record for four years. St. Vincent had since continued to become one of the most versatile and vital gifts in alternative rock. For Annie Clark to be the announced producer on the pioneering riot grrrls’ new material was immediately beyond logical — so clear you wonder why you didn’t think of it. It also created a palpable thrill for what such a collaboration might sound like. Well, it sounds like an angular guitar battlefield in which nobody crosses the desires of the women instigating this party. “You know I’m unfuckuable, unloveable, unlistenable, unwatchable, just hurry on home to me …” sings Carrie Brownstein, throwing acid on her own self before also chastising her lover for validating her own nagging self-doubts. What an invitation. —Eve Barlow

The Voidz, “The Eternal Tao”

Ready for a hot take? Here goes: At this point, I’d take a thousand more albums from Strokes front man Julian Casablancas’s freakazoid-rock project the Voidz instead of a single new Strokes song. Call me crazy, but over the past five years the Voidz have gone from brown-sound annoyance to one of the most interesting rock bands going right now. “The Eternal Tao” is their latest single, presumably from the forthcoming follow-up to their fascinating sophomore effort Virtue; it was co-produced by indie provocateurs Mac DeMarco and Kirin J. Callinan, it sounds a little like house music, and features liberal amounts of Auto-Tune. Yup, sounds about right. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Swim Deep, “To Feel Good”

Swim Deep are a once NME-championed band from the early 2010s London indie scene; they came from Birmingham with enormous ambition and even bigger hearts, were signed to a major label, and became the alternative equivalent of a boy band. The music was always good, but somehow as the music got better, the band found themselves in more perilous situations. Some lineup shifts and life struggles later, front man Austin Williams, bassist Cavan McCarthy, and keys man James Balmont now return with new players. “To Feel Good” employs the gospel chorus from “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” as a backdrop for Williams’s spoken word tale of ordinary life, where reality bites and glimmers of hope remain in the most uninspired of places. When Williams speaks of the man in the job center who would humor Williams’s own dreams to pursue music in exchange for more time on the dole, there’s nothing sweeter than the gratitude he extends to a kind stranger’s words: “Don’t forget me when you’re famous.” —Eve Barlow

Burial, “Claustro”

Burial back! New music from William Bevan — one of the most influential dance producers of the last 20 years, full stop — is always cause for celebration, and the heads surely salivated this week at the announcement of a new two-tracker out next month from his longtime label home Hyperdub. “Claustro” is one half of that release, and it’s both very Burial-y and a bit of a changeup: His dusty, decayed approach to U.K. garage is still present and accounted for, but there’s a sense of tonal playfulness that’s not always found in his work — more proof that his genius remains uncompromisingly surprising as ever. —Larry Fitzmaurice

King Princess, “Cheap Queen”

I wasn’t sure if King Princess would be able to top “Pussy Is God,” but her latest single is a bop that won’t stop. “Cheap Queen” straight-up put me in my place as Mikaela Straus dragged me for every time that I’ve ever pretended to be low maintenance. The day that you recognize that you’re a queen is honestly life-altering, I hope more women get to experience that through this meditative song. Cue the King Princess drop-your-debut-album challenge. —Sydney Gore

May 24, 2019

5 Seconds of Summer, “Easier”

I do not hold half as much affection in my heart for Charlie Puth as, ahemmy colleague Hunter Harris does (no one should! It’s unhealthy!), but I have conceded at least one point to her: The boy can fuck around and make a hit in his sleep. Which is why, if you play 1D successors 5 Seconds of Summer’s new single, “Easier,” and find yourself irrationally obsessed, I encourage you to take a gander at the credits. The Puth co-wrote and co-produced the thing! To be fair, giving a “co” credit to anyone else involved is generous; this baby’s got the Puth’s DNA all over it, from the aggressively mid-tempo synth structure to the moody lovelorn lyrics to the exclusively falsetto vocal performance (respect to Luke for pulling that off). This is the reset 5SOS deserve and if it’s all credit to the Puth then, damn it, Hunter, you win! —Dee Lockett

Steve Lacy, “Playground”

The Compton-based producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist known for his work as a member of the Internet has unleashed his debut album Apollo XXI today, and the hype has not been unwarranted. The full LP is a psychedelic R&B ride: Very wow, very melodic, and so cool I wonder if I qualify enough to listen to it. Certain moments vibe much harder than others. One such track is solid standout “Playground.” Lacy told Zane Lowe he was channeling Prince and the Dirty Projectors in this one. On paper that sounds untenable, but in actuality it’s spot-on. It’s a wonder Prince didn’t write a song that breezily compares sex to being in a playground? This hard-to-resist jam is built around the Paisley Park hero’s guitar-funk style and features Lacy in high-strung falsetto mode — a bold move, and one he shows no signs of struggling to pull off. It’s brutally hot. —Eve Barlow

Clairo, “Bags”

If you’re a kid, you’ve probably heard of Clairo — she’s the 20-year-old internet-pop micro-phenom who broke sorta-big in 2017 with “Flaming Hot Cheetos” and has since opened for Dua Lipa and worked with the similarly post-juvenile, genre-blending Cuco. And if you’re an adult who follows the general trajectory of popular music? You’re probably going to end up needing to form an opinion on Clairo this year, and “Bags” — which may or may not end up on her proper full-length debut that should be dropping later in 2019 — is a good place to start trying to figure out what’s up with her. The song was co-produced by Rostam and is cloaked with dusky guitars and close-mic’d vocals that will remind any aging millennial of what it was like to listen to Bright Eyes with wide eyes, or any of the early-to-mid-2000s Saddle Creek catalogue in general. In other words, another curveball from Clairo, and undoubtedly not the last, either. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Yumi Zouma, “Bruise”

Apparently this song was originally written for Nelly Furtado, and now I can’t un-hear it? This single smashes so hard, I want it to come on every time I step out on a rooftop. —Sydney Gore

Jordan Rakei, “Rolling Into One”

No, you didn’t click on an ASMR video by accident, though the first few seconds sound suspiciously so. On “Rolling Into One,” Jordan Rakei embraces the unpredictable. Per press release, the (newly) 27-year-old explores “technological growth and how it affects our sense of humanity” on his upcoming album Origin, which sounds suspiciously like the title of an elective course I took in college. (I was a philosophy major.) “In the wake of the madness / I held it until it came right, yeah / I’m looking on the bright side / While they wreak and they havoc, huh”; silken vocals settle a restless, funk-driven beat while Rakei champions a “grin and bear it” approach. The “ooh” right around the 3:40 mark hits like a snare. Dystopian, but make it disco. —Corinne Osnos

Miya Folick, “Malibu Barbie”

Miya Folick’s Premonitions album was grossly underrated last year, but all that matters is that it exists for our listening pleasure. “Malibu Barbie” is an unexpected release that I didn’t see coming, and I am thrilled to say that it is an absolute gem of a track that sees her leaning further toward the pop spectrum. “‘Malibu Barbie’ is about my exploration of what being a woman means to me — it’s a longing for an ideal,” she said in a press release. “It’s realizing that I can go to an extreme in pursuit of physical perfection, look around, and realize that I haven’t changed. I am still longing and seeking something more. Who I am is not a place at which I can arrive.” Amen, sister! —Sydney Gore

May 17, 2019

Lana Del Rey, “Doin’ Time”

“Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to at least one Sublime song,” Lana Del Rey issued in a statement accompanying this cover of the late Long Beach alt-rock icons’ cut from their 1996 self-titled and accidental swan song. “They epitomized the SoCal vibe and made a genre and sound totally their own.” Indeed, Sublime were ahead of their time, and even if Lana hadn’t chosen to cover this song with producer Andrew Wyatt (who previously worked his magic on Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s soundtrack to A Star Is Born), her kinship to the band as a genre-blurring artist known to stoke divisiveness was already readily apparent. So it’s no surprise she sounds totally at home on this cover, and its inclusion on the forthcoming Sublime documentary now means there’s at least one positive aspect associated with the mediocre, industry-powered doc itself. Given the solemn singer-songwriter vibes of the material we’ve heard thus far from her forthcoming Norman Fucking Rockwell, it doesn’t seem like the warm and hazy approach showcased here is indicative of what’s to come from that album — but if there’s one thing Lana is, it’s unpredictable, so who really knows. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Megan Thee Stallion, “Cash Shit”

I woke up this morning and checked the temperature, and the official degrees are “warm enough to ho.” It’s hottie season! On Fever, Megan Thee Stallion bounces between freaky and greedy, rapping about doing hood-rat shit with her friends, going to Pappadeaux (real ones know), and ignoring every man until they start talking about having sex with her. It’s easy to stan: There’s plenty of music to twerk to, anthems for your pregame playlist, a soundtrack to inspire you to leave someone on read. My personal favorite is “Cash Shit,” which features DaBaby, but frankly his contributions aren’t even that necessary, Meg needs no hype man. “He say he hungry, this pussy the kitchen!” Thee Stallion always delivers, and Fever is some real hot-girl shit! —Hunter Harris

Tyler, the Creator, “A Boy Is a Gun”

Some early impressions of Tyler, the Creator’s latest album: It’s hard to pin down! That might sound like a critical way of taking the easy out — and especially ironic since the record barely clocks 40 minutes in length — but even setting aside that the thing’s only been available to hear for half a day, there’s enough going on in the follow-up to 2016’s sunny, sad Flower Boy that it’s gonna take a few listens to stick in. One thing that’s for certain is that IGOR continues the path of maturation shown on its predecessor; if that previous record explored the DNA-strand-like intertwining of regret and nostalgia, Tyler’s newest statement seems to dive deep into heartbreak and unrequited love, complete with Call Me by Your Name references. A lot of his sonic influences are present here — the Neptunes’ spacey jazz-fusion bounce, Kanye West’s chipmunk-soul sample past, the spiraling piano cosmos of Stevie Wonder’s catalogue — and early standout “A Boy Is a Gun” represents a solid collision of those sounds, along with the slippery influence of Frank Ocean’s moody classic Blonde that looms over IGOR as a whole. Lot to unpack here, so pull up a chair. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Maluma ft. Ozuna, “Dispuesto”

Maluma, the Colombian singer who recently collaborated with Madonna on “Medellín,” is following up last year’s F.A.M.E. with 11:11. The 25-year-old has been teasing his fourth studio album for months now, and it certainly packs a punch with a range of features that include Nicky Jam, Ricky Martin, Ty Dolla $ign, and, yes, Madonna. But Maluma and Ozuna’s “Dispuesto” stands above the rest. The song combines the infectious energy that has catapulted both Ozuna and Maluma to the global stage over the past year. Together, they’re showing that reggaeton is worthy of the big leagues. The duo has 13 videos with more than one billion views on YouTube, and it’s a safe bet that “Dispuesto” will get the music video treatment and follow in their lead. Madonna told Maluma to “slow down, papi” on “Medellín,” but if 11:11 is any indication, that won’t be happening anytime soon. —Daise Bedolla

Bren Joy, “Henny in the Hamptons”

Indie gospel R&B artist Bren Joy, who seemed to emerge out of nowhere, surely propelled by his thousands of Spotify streams, has released his debut album, Twenties. Joy is Nashville-born, but his tracks “Henny in the Hamptons” and “Upper East Side” are focused on thriving in New York. The new project will be at the top of your feel-good New York summer playlist: “Henny in the Hamptons” is the song you play so often on repeat, you begin to embody Joy’s silky, sweet positive energy. If one song has drastically changed my mood, it’s this one. The aspirational, lofty summer vibe transports you, helping you forget you live in a three-bedroom in Bed-Stuy — you’re now on a private beach, dressed in Gucci, drinking an Aperol Spritz. —Clare Palo

Men I Trust, “Norton Commander (All We Need)”

In my mind, this song is the manic pixie dream girl version of “Summer Nights” from Grease. Where I pulled that comparison from goes beyond my own understanding, but I said what I said! Nobody knows when Men I Trust’s Oncle Jazz album is coming out, but for once I don’t feel the need to rush a record release. Summer is right around the corner and this album will have been worth the wait whenever the Canadian trio is ready to share it with us. Let’s be present and enjoy this moment of musical bliss. —Sydney Gore

Tones and I, “Dance Monkey”

The ability to connect with a live audience is what distinguishes great from good performers. Tones and I’s Cinderella story begins in a small town in Australia, where busking culture is particularly salient. The web gives street performers the potential to turn once ephemeral fame into global fandom, as in the case of fellow Australian Tash Sultana or New York City’s Pinc Louds. Plucked from her retail gig after a stint playing on the streets of Byron Bay made her an overnight sensation, Tones and I delivered her second single earlier this week. “Dance Monkey” is an infectious pop number that highlights Tones’s tangy vocals. Its chorus lends itself to mass appeal much like her breakout hit “Johnny Run Away.” Yet, in a Velázquian twist, the song’s lyrics reveal its creator’s own discomfort with her newfound fame. —Corinne Osnos

Kaina, “Ghost”

Kaina wields the kind of voice that dislodges whatever she’s singing from the immediate environment. A song like “Ghost” sucks you out of your normal temporal continuity and spits you out in a more expansive and welcoming timeline. This is the second track from the Chicago artist’s forthcoming debut album Next to the Sun, and it takes on a more languid tempo than the first single “Green.” But even though the guitars are lazy and calm like Frank Ocean’s were on “Ivy,” “Ghost” hides a restlessness in its waters. There’s something stirring there underneath the surface in the way the instrumentation buzzes like cicadas in late summer, in Kaina’s careful poise as she loops through arresting vocal melodies. “No one feels the way I do,” she sings, and haven’t we all felt that way? Hasn’t everyone felt like screaming at a picturesque sunset, angry that it doesn’t reflect what’s inside us? —Sasha Geffen

Whenyoung, “The Others”

Irish punk is alive and well in the Limerick trio Whenyoung, who’ll soon release their debut album Reasons to Dream. When you come from a small town in the Republic of Ireland, you need many of those if you’re going to try to make it as an indie band in the streaming age. “The Others” is a song that was written in response to the fall of the Grenfell Tower in London. It’s a cry for all the innocent lives that were lost unnecessarily and a reminder that these aren’t just past events — history repeats itself, and so forth. Not exactly a cheery sentiment but an indie bop for fans of the Cranberries and, naturally, the Pogues. “Go on and turn the news off, crying, screaming, shouting …” sings Aoife Power. “Forget about it, drink up!” —Eve Barlow

May 10, 2019

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Too Much”

I’ll admit to doing a double take when I heard Saint Jepsen’s latest single for a few reasons: For one, the opening seconds of “Too Much” sound a lot like Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” an uncanny resemblance strong enough to give anyone who recalls the 2016 DNC an immediate sense of the spins. Also, it’s really good! I’m surprised by this because I haven’t been taken by the material from her forthcoming album — or the much-beloved E•MO•TION, for that matter — but the low-key Body Talk vibes (or, put another way, “Heartbeat”-esque construction) of “Too Much” is just the right balance of effervescence and lushness sure to soundtrack plenty of late-night ragers this summer. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”

If you don’t count the backing vocals Ed laid down for “Love Yourself” or the fact that they both cameoed in Lil Dicky’s “Earth” (about which the less said, the better), “I Don’t Care” is the first official Bieber/Sheeran (Bieran?) duet. It’s a smart pairing of Justin’s ear for pop sounds that work on a global scale and Ed’s knack for a soaring melody, both tighter than “Shape of You” and sadder than “Friends.” Both singers are at their best when they’re playing vulnerable — the Sheeran hits that will endure are the ballads, and the most relatable Bieber songs are the ones where he seems bone-tired and desperate for companionship — and “I Don’t Care” gives the duo a vehicle to pout about bad parties and good girlfriends. —Craig Jenkins

Ari Lennox, “Up Late”

Ari Lennox’s silky voice is back and jazzier than ever. The D.C. native is croonin’ again on even more sensual, neo-soul songs in a new single from her freshly released debut album, Shea Butter Baby. She’s up late, again, crushin’ and real horny. Can’t relate at all. The track features “traphousejazz” artist Masego climaxing on the saxophone, as Ari begs for her lover to get to her apartment faster (“Fifth floor, give your ass a duplicate fob”). It’s a love-making mirage, as she anxiously awaits to “devour that body like corn on a cob.” She even kindly offers to “fake watch the news,” if it’ll get her satisfied faster. Ari knows what she wants, and just wants you to stay a little longer. —Clare Palo

Jhene Aiko, “Triggered (Freestyle)”

Are the lyrics from this new loosie from stoner-R&B auteur Jhene Aiko aimed at her ex Big Sean? She says no, but it doesn’t matter: This allegedly off-the-dome take is impressive even when taken in devoid of context, with surprisingly airy fingersnaps and a sunken-sounding piano backing her gleefully profane and emotionally raw vocal take. Aiko’s a master of vibe music, to the point where she’s often come close to completely disappearing amidst her swirling, gorgeously purple music — so “Triggered (Freestyle)” is a breath of fresh air, then, in which her personality is front-and-center and impossible to dial down to mere background music. —Larry Fitzmaurice

BAUM, “Fuckboy”

If you’ve got a RAYA dating app account, you will know that even the most upper of social echelons are drowning in what we call “fuckboys.” Fuckboys are dudes who don’t call you back, who shoo you out of their bed the second they’re done, who send you a Venmo request after a date because they felt awkward about splitting the bill there and then. Fuckboys are everywhere. But they’re not exclusively male. Us girls can be fuckboys too. In fact, many of us wear the badge proudly. “It takes one to know one,” sings 21-year-old BAUM, with a cock-eyed assurance, on this synth-pop piano-led ballad — her first release in a year. The LA-based New Yorker is using her platform for great things: body positivity, queer visibility, humor! But being public-facing good humans doesn’t mean we’ll always play nice. —Eve Barlow

TOKiMONSTA, “Dream Chorus”

TOKiMONSTA’s (aka Jennifer Lee) previous album Lune Rouge is a reaction to a world that can feel more cruel than colorful. The first album Lee produced after recovering from the incredibly rare brain disease Moyamoya, Lune Rouge is a compilation of melancholic vocals lifted by frenetic beats. It’s dressed-up depression. In the months following her surgery, Lee experienced the temporary derailment of her music career. “I tried to make music and it was just garbage. The part of my brain that knew how to put sounds together was broken,” recounted Lee in an interview with Pitchfork in September 2017. “Dream Chorus” is part of a 16-track collaborative album off Lee’s label Young Art. Released earlier this week, Volume II features up and coming artists (Robotaki, Two Fresh) and two of TOKiMONSTA’s own creations. “Dream Chorus” is decidedly more chill than any of the tracks off Lune Rouge; it’s a return to the melodic vibeyness of Midnight Menu. Lo-fi, high impact. —Corinne Osnos

Gemma, “’Til We Lose the Feeling”

None of Felicia Douglass’s projects can seem to sit still. She’s in that multi-hyphenate powerhouse of a band Ava Luna, she’s worked recently with the Dirty Projectors, and now she’s back with Gemma, a synthpop collaboration with Erik Gundel that, true to form, jitters all over the map. Gemma’s third single from the forthcoming Feeling’s Not A Tempo LP is “‘Til We Lose The Feeling,” an upbeat number pairing Douglass’s summery vocals with lightning-quick percussion and hairpin instrumental turns. It’s a treat for the ears, full of restless energy that dissipates stress into the breeze. —Sasha Geffen

Crumb, “Ghostride”

Once again, Crumb drenches us with another psych-jazz bomb that melts your mind into a puddle of mush. Is anyone else craving the gentle embrace of summertime sadness paired with the warmth of sunshine, or is that just me? “Come on now, don’t let this go/ Don’t let my love fade away,” Lila Ramani sings. “People come and people go, but I stay.” Despite those comforting words, I couldn’t shake off the fact that letting go is a part of life. So many of our relationships have expiration dates, and growing apart is a natural part of the process; sometimes it’s not worth the energy to put up a fight. Anyway, Crumb is self-releasing their Jinx album on June 14, and I can’t wait to get dizzy dancing to it in the New York heat. —Sydney Gore

May 3, 2019

Banks, “Gimme”

“You can call me that bitch”: Los Angeles–based artist Banks serves up a series of provocations in “Gimme,” her first release since 2017. Whereas her earlier albums center on the emotional toll of relationships gone awry, “Gimme” asserts newfound confidence. It’s a song about unapologetically taking what you want. Her 2014 breakout album Goddess is full of gut-wrenching lines coated with syrupy vocals. (“Cut me to pieces while you watched me disintegrate because you like to tell me how you hate all the ways I’m not enough for you,” she sings in “Change,” a probe of toxic love.) But we’ve glimpsed this tougher side of Banks before, in tracks like “Fuck With Myself,” the lead single off her 2016 release The Altar. If “Gimme” is a litmus test for her third studio album, fans can anticipate sultry beats that hit harder. Perhaps a reaction to being treated “like a dog that needs water” (“Gemini Feed”) one too many times, the guttural bark just after the three-minute mark is one of several signals that Banks bites back. —Corinne Osnos

Schoolboy Q, “Water”

It’s bizarre that so much of what makes a song pop these days rests on its meme-ability, but there’s something to be said for when it happens organically. (Too often, there’s been some executive’s meddling in what you’re seeing go viral. Don’t be fooled.) I find it incredible that what Schoolboy Q likely figured would be an overlooked album deep cut, “Water” (though maybe not; it does feature recent chart mainstay Lil Baby, after all), will now have a high chance of being propelled to a hit thanks to one very swaggy little girl. If your eyes have not been blessed by this clip yet, please behold 4-year-old Zahara Noel turning all the way up to this song. First, she starts singing a cappella the song’s producer Cardo’s pitched-up “I got that water” hook; stops to adorably asks the camera in her little voice, “‘member?”; then starts hitting some of the smoothest moves you’ll ever see, with the finesse of a li’l baby G. Look at her mean muggin’ next to her little Fisher-Price whip! I did not care about this song before I watched this child do her thing to it. (This was originally gonna be a blurb about a different Q song, “Floating.”) Now it’s all I can listen to, and a fucking 4-year-old put me on. 2019 is nuts! —Dee Lockett

Rhye, “Needed”

If “whispercore” is really a thing now, then Mike Milosh should be credited as being at the forefront of it. Rhye’s entire discography is enough to prove my entire case, but their latest single further validates it. It’s the sexier version of Ariana Grande’s “Needy,” except the message is more about yearning for the person that you love to need you so you feel a greater sense of purpose as opposed to craving their general attention through the reaffirmation of every little thing that you do. Bop goes my heart! —Sydney Gore

Bleached, “Hard to Kill”

What exactly are Bleached cooking up with their new album? After dancing a raucously acoustic “Shitty Ballet” on the first single from their forthcoming third LP Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?, the Clavin sisters continue steering away from the punkish sound that they previously made their name on with this disco-stepping new single. An easy comparison point to reach for here would be peak-era Blondie; if you wanna get nerdy with it, the bold and cowbell-dotted “Hard to Kill” also recalls late U.K. indie heroes the Long Blondes’ own indie-disco fantasias. And for the contemporary crowd — if you’re into this, D.C. punks Priests’ latest, The Seduction of Kansas, explores similar territory as well. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Kindness ft. Seinabo Sey, “Lost Without”

Honestly, anything that gets the Robyn co-sign of approval is going to turn my head, but her frequent collaborator and tour buddy Kindness has been on my radar anyway since their debut record in 2012, especially single “House.” “Lost Without” is their second single this year following a prior Robyn collab, “Cry Everything.” It starts with similar playful sound effects as Robyn’s “Beach 2K20,” before Swedish soul singer Seinabo Sey comes in with a sweet attitudinal verse reminding us to steal life’s most precious moments when they’re within our grasp. “If I never feel how I say, and if I never say how I’m feeling, gotta find a better way,” Sey sings on the pre-chorus, before the beat comes back in, along with tropical funky bass lines. It’s one thing to know what you want, and quite another to go out and grab it. —Eve Barlow

Mal Blum, “I Don’t Want To”

Is there a more millennial sentiment than flat-out blanket refusal? Mal Blum’s new single runs down a whole list of sticky situations, from watching an ex move on with their life to doing yoga and feeling weird about it, and answers each of them with a solid, unmoving “no.” “I Don’t Want To” follows in a long punk tradition of complaining as a queer survival strategy. Like the Buzzcocks’s late front man Pete Shelley, Blum has a firm grip on the cathartic whine, and knows how to bend a negation into a celebration with the power of an electric hook. —Sasha Geffen

Role Model, “Minimal”

I’d like to introduce you to emo crybaby music for the next generation! If you haven’t been following Role Model, a.k.a. Tucker Pillsbury, for the past year and a half, you’re in luck because he’s in the process of rolling out a bunch of singles to build up anticipation for his next big project. “Minimal” really tugs at the heart as he makes his own mottoes, like “Smoke cigs, break hearts, get high,” while plucking the strings of a twangy guitar it’s moody AF. (I promise he’s not like the sad boys that we left behind in, like, 2017; there’s more depth here as he tenderly exposes pain and suffering.) I, too, would prefer to keep things minimal in my adult life — why make things complicated for no reason? Also, who even likes going to the club past the age of 22? I’m with Tucker, fuck VIP! —Sydney Gore

ML Buch, “I Feel Like Giving You Things”

Mmm, whatcha say … Even without the memes that have reverberated through cyberspace since its fateful sync on The O.C., Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” has endured due to sheer ingenuity — a cappella self-harmonizing, spiraling into some sort of gorgeous oblivion and with little else accompanying it. And that’s exactly the name of the game that Danish singer and composer ML Buch is playing on this first taste from her forthcoming debut, Skinned. I’ve heard whispers that this track — an eerie and beautiful sliver of vocal acrobatics that sounds like dark-dyed cotton candy — isn’t necessarily indicative of the rest of Buch’s album. Color me intrigued. —Larry Fitzmaurice

April 26, 2019

Lizzo, “Soulmate”

Well, I’ve never made a single song in my life, so who am I to say Lizzo’s “Soulmate” is one of the best songs of the year? I don’t know, man, sometimes facts are facts. Lizzo gets a lot of praise and, suddenly, now more and more flak for her very specific branding of self-love. But she only does it because (a) she does it so well she oughta patent the phrase, and (b) because sometimes this shit’s deeper than an Instagram feed. For Lizzo, loving herself is what keeps her alive and fulfilled. Loving herself is what got her this far and if it’s carried her to this level of fame, why wouldn’t she preach that gospel to uplift anyone else who needs to hear it? This is the best lyric I’ve heard all year and I will repeat it to myself in the mirror every day: “True love ain’t something you can buy yourself / True love finally happens when you by yourself / So if you by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf.” “Soulmate” is not a song about not wanting anyone else; it’s about not needing anyone but yourself. —Dee Lockett

FKA Twigs, “Cellophane”

Many months ago I randomly scrolled upon a tweet that said something along the lines of “FKA Twigs music is basically whispering about sucking dick over some trap beats” and all I could do is laugh. Obviously, those of us that have been keeping tabs on her since 2012 are fully aware that her music digs way deeper than that, but I can’t deny that there’s always been this strong sexual female energy that completely bodies the tracks. I didn’t know what to expect from “Cellophane,” but a stripped-down breakup ballad was not what I had in mind for a grand comeback and I am truly, madly, deeply BLOWN AWAY. Vulnerability has never sounded so powerful, I am shaken to the fucking core. The line that softly destroys me from the inside of my gut is “I try, but I get overwhelmed/ When you’re gone, I have no one to tell.” She has completely broken me, I am typing this from my grave! Truly worth the wait. —Sydney Gore

Beyoncé, “Sorry – Original Demo”

So rarely do artists let us see their raw emotions in real time, when the wounds are still fresh, exposed, and hemorrhaging. Beyoncé was a mentally battered woman on Lemonade, and it took guts to admit those feelings of defeat she suffered in such a public way; it also took time and a lot of clarity, being removed from the pain and having reached a resolution. It makes the vitriol and spite on the version of “Sorry” we’ve known for three years now seem performative — though still very much rooted in genuine disgust — in comparison to its original demo, which she’s now shared with Lemonade’s wider streaming release. The Beyoncé we hear on the OG “Sorry” didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to spit snappy one-liners for IG captions (you won’t find “suck on my balls, pause” or “boy bye”). Her snarling “hell nah” is just a meager “hell no” here. There’s no sheen on the production yet either, just placeholder synths. Bey sounds spent, but also more in touch with her humanity in this stream-of-conscious, spoken-word approach (“tryna keep my family right” just kills). She’s showing open nerve endings; showing how she processes and creates spectacular art out of spectacular trauma; and also showing, once again, that she works damn hard at perfecting her craft. Neither version is superior to the other. They merely represent Beyoncé at different stages of grief. —Dee Lockett

Marika Hackman, “I’m Not Where You Are”

After the career-best I’m Not Your Man LP, Hackman returns with a sonic bravado that may feed off the confidence she built last time around. This first peek at her next album is completely unlike anything she’s ever lent her voice and songwriting chops to. It sounds more like a stripped-down New Order disco banger than it does any of her prior influences or musical bedfellows. It features licks so iconic, you’ll think you’ve heard them before. Via an irresistible mid-song breakdown, Hackman makes way for a multilayered vocal on the final chorus and some deeply satisfying guitar shredding. Her state of confusion and bewilderment in the lyrics creates a sense of giving zero fucks about taking risks for the future. “I’m not where you are,” she sings, with nothing left to lose. —Eve Barlow

Lucy Dacus, “My Mother and I”

Our parents pass on their genes to us, and in turn, their peculiarities. Singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus’ latest release “My Mother and I” is a poetic exploration of parenthood. “My mother hates her body / we share the same outline / she swears that she loves mine,” Dacus sings at the song’s onset: a nod to the complicated relationship between self-image and maternal love. With her lullaby vocals and introspective musings, Dacus tells her own tale while transporting the listener to their own memories. She delivers her lyrics slowly, purposefully, over simple guitar harmonies. As in “Night Shift” and “Me & My Dog,” storytelling is at the heart of Dacus’ work. In “My Mother and I,” her solemn poeticism really comes through. —Corinne Osnos

Mannequin Pussy, “Drunk II”

Of all the wonderful hip-hop and indie-rock acts to have come out of Philadelphia in the last few years, Mannequin Pussy (which falls under the indie-rock category) is one of the most tragically underappreciated. Their first two albums, 2014’s Gypsy Pervert and 2016’s Romantic, solidified their position as your new favorite band’s new favorite band — searing, sneering, smart, shoegaze punk that jolted the listener with panicked enthusiasm via songs that rarely ran longer than two minutes. But “Drunk II,” the first single from their forthcoming third LP Patience, is undoubtedly their best work. The five-minute rock ballad speaks truth to hedonistic self-destruction in infinitely quotable sung-not-screamed lyrics like, “I still love you, you stupid fuck,” and a line so biting about a “pathetic” ex, vocalist Marisa Dabice’s enunciation rivals Taylor Swift’s venomous delivery in “Mean.” Musically, Mannequin Pussy has never sounded crisper: a punk-goes-pop victory if there ever was one. —Maria Sherman

Kevin Abstract, “Peach”

While I wouldn’t necessarily label myself a hard-core Brockhampton fan, I have so much respect for their come up, specifically the journey of Kevin Abstract. I remember seeing him perform live at a Pigeons & Planes event back in 2013 and the collective confusion that ensued when when he came out with a bag over his head and sat on the stage in silence for at least ten minutes. We were all thinking, Who does this guy think he is? Now, he’s a household name for young people all over the world, as he deconstructs the American identity in the traditional sense. “Peach” is a straight-up juicy jam that is sugary sweet on the ears. It took me a few days to pin down, but the back-and-forth flow between Dominic Fike, Joba, and Bearface reminds me of the structure of Frank Ocean’s 2017 one-off “Biking” featuring Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator. I thought that the peach would have peaked by now with Call Me by Your Name running its course and all, but it still seems to be in its prime. —Sydney Gore

Delilah Montagu, “Temptation”

A brand-new signing to Columbia in the U.K., the 21-year-old Londoner is a pianist and guitarist who’s been writing songs as far back as she can remember. “Temptation” is the track that changed her life; after she played it at an early London gig, she was immediately approached by a flurry of industry folk. Montagu, however, hasn’t been compromised in her own vision and voice. “Temptation” will cut to the core of anyone who’s experienced unrequited love, its poetry direct and shattering. “I think about you daily,” she sings. “But all I ever get is maybe …” Montagu’s way around a piano will remind you of the balladry of Coldplay and Keane, but her vocal reaches from a far more soulful place. Delicate and self-assured. —Eve Barlow

Grace Ives, “Lucky”

I discovered this song on Spotify’s POLLEN playlist, and now I can’t stop playing it. Grace Ives’s sophomore album dropped earlier this week, and while there are many noteworthy tracks on 2nd (“Anything,” “Mirror”), Ives hits her stride midway through with “Lucky,” a song that evokes the gentle euphoria that accompanies settling into a new relationship. Ives crafts poptronic music with an indie flare from her bedroom in Queens. Brooklyn-born Ives is emblematic of a new kind of triple threat: a female artist who writes, sings, and produces her own tracks. (Music production is a historically male-dominated industry.) There is an addictive eclecticism to her sound. Unsurprisingly, she quotes a range of influence, from M.I.A to Britney Spears (guessing she’s an early-’90s kid too). When she sings “yeah,” she elongates her vocals, plays around with looping, and incorporates some funky synth chords. Hit play and coast. Corinne Osnos

April 19, 2019

Beyoncé, “Before I Let Go”

Very little shocks me about Beyoncé these days. (If by now you aren’t conditioned to expect greatness beyond comprehension from whatever she does, whenever she chooses to do it, you haven’t been paying attention.) But one thing still confounds me: How can someone with such universal appeal — to be human is to be a Beyoncé fan — remain so loyal to her base as to cater to them, even now, without a care for how doing so might exclude the masses? On Homecoming, the live-album version of her Coachella set that corresponds with the Netflix film, she’s covered a song whose cultural significance will surely fly over the heads of anyone who wasn’t raised on it. Tragically, too much of the population does the Electric Slide to only one song, but black people been knowin’ better. We’ve long line-danced to Cameo’s “Candy” and Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” — if you didn’t know, allow Beyoncé’s fusion of the two in her updated cover of the classics to educate you. Just as Beychella was a history lesson on the black collegiate experience, her “Before I Let Go” — complete with Tay Keith production and a rap breakdown — is designed to take black folk back while also carrying the culture into the future by inviting the rest of the world to the cookout. Just, please, don’t fuck up the potato salad. —Dee Lockett

Madonna ft. Maluma, “Medellin”

You wonder what motivates Madonna after a bout of recently less-than-desirably-met LPs. Not since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor has a new era from the Queen of Pop been received with such awe and praise. “Medellin” is her best lead single since that era’s ABBA-referencing “Hung Up.” Similarly, it takes advantage of a burgeoning sound while also harnessing a prior classic oeuvre of hers. In the 2000s, she was riding the electro-clash trend. Now, she’s chasing that Latin flair, eyeing successes such as Rosalía, J Balvin, and probably the enormous hit “Despacito.” “Medellin” is “La Isla Bonita” for 2019, not just a reminder that she was the pioneer of every flavor of pop, but that she can compete with the hottest of the moment. Also, at the age of 60, her delivery of the line “slow down, papi” over a more gradual dance number is delectably commanding. —Eve Barlow

Mark Ronson ft. Lykke Li, “Late Night Feelings”

Mark Ronson, creative companion to the likes of megastars like Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars, is no sidekick. Though his collaborators often receive more notoriety from their vocals, Ronson is paramount in the production world. Ronson has been teasing hits from his fifth studio album all year, but his collaboration with underground bedroom-pop sensation Lykke Li feels different. It leans into discotheque and away from pop tropes. Title track “Late Night Feelings” is a song about voids you feel alone in the dark. “Make me psychotic / you pull away / you take the sane in me / and tear it like a page,” Li sings of unrequited infatuation. The sparse beat creates maximum feels. —Corinne Osnos

Anderson .Paak ft. Brandy, “Jet Black”

The world didn’t know it needed “We peakin.’” But for every tired iteration of “let’s get lit,” in a Bitmoji-sphere where everything is a “mood,” Anderson .Paak has gifted us a new catchphrase. The California native made waves this week, from Indio to the internet. Last Friday, he dropped his latest album, Ventura, before taking the main stage at Coachella to play one of the coveted dusk sets. It hasn’t even been six months since .Paak released Oxnard, an album that polarized fans and critics alike. On Ventura’s “Jet Black,” the artist punctuates his rap verses with steep exhalations of breath before flowing into a chorus that features R&B matriarch Brandy. Over a high-energy beat, .Paak incorporates a seductive playfulness into the lyrics. Notable stanzas include, “Who gon’ love you when your love ain’t there? / Baby, that ass is just unfair / Jet black hair, baby, jet black hair / At least two grams in your blunt wrapped there / These two hands always land up on the small of your back / Should I ask if eyes can go there?” For all the gripes Oxnard produced, Ventura proves that .Paak is far from reaching his peak. —Corinne Osnos

Cupcakke, “Old Town Hoe”

In this mellow, somber cover of Lil Nas X’s hit — just kidding. If the phrase “Cupcakke’s remix of ‘Old Town Road’” makes even a stitch of sense to you, you are likely well aware of what you’re gonna get here, and Cupcakke definitely delivers. As it goes with most of the Chicago rap phenom’s work, every single line is a filthy quotable as clever as it is crass. Listen, Cupcakke knows what she’s doing here: remixing a hot song is the oldest trick in the book, and done the wrong way it more often than not lands with a thud. But Cupcakke kind of makes “Old Town Road” her own, somehow — a tribute to her impressive talent, as well as the original’s strange endurance. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Lydia Ainsworth, “Diamonds Cutting Diamonds”

A lot of what this song does with voice hits me right: the Kate Bush–style layered vibrato; the corroded, spoken-word backup vocals; that synth patch that mimics human timbre. But the bright, chintzy keys are the star of Lydia Ainsworth’s latest single. The bass tone sounds like you could wring a full glass of orange juice out of it. The leads are glassy and vintage, so much so that when Ainsworth asks us to “double dare the old world away,” I get the sense that she’s banishing the past by first drawing it as close to her as possible. —Sasha Geffen

Local Natives, “Tap Dancers”

“Contemporary pop” dancer Michael Taylor is the real star of Local Native’s latest single, “Tap Dancer.” Directed by Jonathan Chu, the single’s music video shows Cole in a satin red dress, gliding across a white screen that slowly fades to different colors, and Cole is absolutely mesmerizing. “Tap Dancer” merely can’t exist without the music video. When Cole’s eyes spring open at the beginning of the video, I also spring awake! I didn’t truly understand the song until Cole showed me what emotions look like in their most beautiful form. This girl is begging to be featured in all of your hipster music videos. —Clare Palo

Liss, “Talk to Me”

I still don’t understand why Danish pop gets so much hate, but after going two years without hearing anything from Liss while they were on hiatus, I no longer have to hide my enthusiasm. Their latest single is the soft-pop bop I’ve been waiting for, and I’m elated to share this special moment with all my friends, lovers, and haters. Villads Tyrrestrup said that the track is about “the ups and downs of being a young adult in this world; sexuality, being in and out of relationships, and self-care,” so basically the entire experience of being a 20-something seeking closure for numerous things in your life. “Talk to Me” is fresh off Liss’s forthcoming Second EP, which is due out on June 18. Look for it.
Sydney Gore

Lungbutter, “Flat White”

“I like choosing things,” Ky Brooks declares repeatedly throughout the first single off Lungbutter’s upcoming debut album, Honey. It’s a sarcastic refrain, like the introductory monologue to Trainspotting, and while it’s delivered over a guitar tone that hearkens back to the early days of Sonic Youth, it carries more menace than its Gen-X ancestors. Lungbutter weighs down their noise rock with the sense that time is running out, that they could be cut off at any second. There’s more at stake this time than being phony. —Sasha Geffen

April 12, 2019

Steve Lacy, “N Side”

If you like your Frank Ocean with a side of lo-fi ’70s psychedelic flourishes and a pinch of funk, Steve Lacy is the man for you. The Internet’s secret weapon (that’s his band with Syd, not, like, the web) is back with more solo music, just as his main crew has promised that two new albums are already in the can; these are blessed times! Lacy has established himself as the Internet’s star utility player (on bass, guitar, and sometimes production), as well as on projects for other people (like, most recently, Vampire Weekend’s “Sunflower” and Solange’s When I Get Home), but it’s time we show some love for his songwriting. Here’s a song that on first pass will read as just some sexual bargaining — to be clear, “I’ma kiss ya neck and grab ya ass” will effectively impregnate you — but Lacy’s smoother than that. He’s on an even bolder quest of penetrating the deepest, most difficult sexual organ: the heart. We’re talking real grown folks business now, whew. Once again, Steve Lacy just gets it. Now, give us the debut album! —Dee Lockett

Faye Webster, “Flowers” ft. Father

Spring has sprung with this dreamy collab between a pair of Atlanta’s finest artists in bloom! Faye Webster is an ideal candidate for the yee-haw agenda, not that she’s trying to saddle up or anything, but I appreciate her knack for authentic Americana-esque music. (I love “Old Town Road” as much as the next person, but I need a recess so I never get sick of it.) That said, this slow jam is more in line with her older work that falls under the trip-hop and R&B spectrum. “Flowers” comes fresh off Webster’s forthcoming album, Atlanta Millionaire’s Club, which drops in May. We can’t wait. Sydney Gore

Courtney Barnett, “Everybody Here Hates You”

We’re really lucky to have Courtney. When you think of original, witty, relatable, consistently on-point songwriters of the past decade, the Perth-dwelling Barnett is the first that springs to mind. Still touring her brilliant second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, she’s decided to treat us with a one-off new release. The title is an inversion of the Jeff Buckley song “Everybody Here Wants You.” It’s as self-deprecating as you’d imagine and speaks to our constant desire to portray a rosy image of life so as not to burden everyone around us with our problems. On the chorus she offers the perspective of someone else for a change, telling her she’s not alone in her thoughts. It’s another perfect exposé on the trappings of anxiety and self-loathing. “Everybody hurts, everybody breaks and everybody fades,” she says, before a little chuckle. “We’re gonna tell everyone it’s okay.” —Eve Barlow

Lil Uzi Vert, “Sanguine Paradise”

Is anyone else on the kind of run Uzi is right now? On “Free Uzi,” he blasted off beyond his label troubles with bar after bar of frantic, trippy lyrical fire, and “Sanguine Paradise” continues the streak. The beat is truly off to the races, with a skipping horn atop layers of cavernous bass and tricky percussion as Uzi zones out and does his thing so effortlessly that someone should check in to see if he’s become purely AI. At his best, Lil Uzi Vert’s flow sounds like an iTunes visualizer — endless and colorful, the type of thing you can just focus on for hours. “Sanguine Paradise” is but the latest evidence of that sensory phenomenon, and here’s hoping he keeps it up. —Larry Fitzmaurice

GRiZ, “The Prayer”

Icy synths set the stage for “The Prayer,” which is then punctuated by a woman speaking in a telephone-operator voice over a twangy beat: “You know what they say; life isn’t meant to be easy, baby — it’s meant to be lived. So enjoy the ups and downs, and remember; when it gets too hot, don’t lose your cool.” Future funk artist GRiZ is back in a big way with Ride Waves, the by-product of a yearlong social media and creative hiatus. Grant Kwiecinski, the 28-year-old wunderkind who performs as GRiZ, mixes hard-hitting, wet electronics with juicy instrumentals to maximum effect in “The Prayer.” Its experimentalism doesn’t compromise its emotional resonance; gospel elements play into the overarching message of positivity. Heavy on the collaborations (Bootsy Collins and Snoop Dogg have cameos), Ride Waves is worth a full listen. Let’s boogie. —Corinne Osnos

Kaytranada ft. VanJess, “Dysfunctional”

Kaytranada’s latest track burbles with the kind of warm synthesizer bass that flowed from the golden era of Chicago house. It’s a Mr. Fingers bass tone, and it doesn’t sound out of place in 2019 because in 1988 it projected itself into a serene and open future. That future never exactly came to pass — we’re living in a different one — but Kaytranada, with his perfectionist ear and delicate touch, drums up his own pristine and euphoric vision. The frothy, shuffling backbeat, the bunching up and spilling of sister duo VanJess’s vocals — these flourishes relish house music’s utopian potential. —Sasha Geffen

Crumb, “Nina”

Jazzy psycho-pop is exactly what the doctor ordered for me this week when I was feeling low and needed a major pick-me-up. Crumb is a Brooklyn-based four-piece band that reminds me of the music that my buds from Boise, Idaho, make — which is meant as a huuuuuge compliment. Their debut album Jinx drops on June 14, and I can only imagine that the other nine tracks are just as promising as this standout single. —Sydney Gore

Bleached, “Shitty Ballet”

Sometimes, you have to switch it up a bit, and that’s exactly what Cali duo Bleached are doing here. After a few records of hard-charging, sugary indie rock, “Shitty Ballet” finds sisterly duo Jennifer and Jessica Clavin stripping down their sound not unlike an acoustic-based flip of the brittle sound they explored in defunct punk act Mika Miko. “You take me so seriously,” they sing in unison, “but I’m pretty serious.” Then the guitars kick in because, hey, they mean business. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Amyl and the Sniffers, “Got You”

Fabulously named Australian punks Amyl and the Sniffers are developing a rampant live reputation with every town they rock in across the globe, particularly following SXSW. Front person Amy Taylor sports a mullet and performs with a dangerous cheek — she has to be seen to be believed. On the record, she’s as effective as grabbing your attention. The short, sharp, fat-free “Got You” has arrived with the announcement of their debut self-titled album this week. It’s a jammer about the giddy early excitement of dating a new love interest: “A classy bloke with a half-full cup,” she offers in her Aussie twang. It’s fun; it’s catchy; it’s gonna make you want to get down to the local boozer and find your next victim. —Eve Barlow

Fémina, “Plumas”

Deliberately evoking the concept of the Nereids (sea nymphs from Greek mythology), the all-female band Fémina pose nude in a desert landscape on the cover of their third album Perlas & Conchas. Following the sun-drunk opening track “Brillando,” “Plumas” is an ethereal, upbeat exploration of sexuality. The lyrics “Sabe que saben a dulzura / Sabe que sabe” (which translates to “He knows they taste sweetly / He knows that he knows”) are repeated throughout “Plumas,” referring to the Spanish word for feathers. The all-female trio cites Erykah Badu’s influence on their art; in “Plumas,” the layering of poeticism over percussion is acute. Sisters Sofia and Clara Trucco are behind the instrumentals; a cajón flamenco fuels the beat that crystallizes Clara Miglioli’s alluring vocals. It whispers come hither from the shore. —Corinne Osnos

April 5, 2019

Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road Remix”

I was today years old when I became a country-rap-music stan. I’m on my way to Nashville buying cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, looking to take my horse to the old town road and ride till I can’t no more. TikTok savant Lil Nas collaborated with our old friend Robby Ray Stewart to make the best country-rap song that ever existed. Forget trap music, I want to stand atop a tractor and belt this remix till the cows come home. After getting booted from Billboard’s country-music charts, Lil Nas X is back with an even sweeter remix, with help from Miley’s dad. After listening to the remix 12 times this morning, and letting the YouTube link crash my Chrome twice, I’d say Lil Nas X deserves a CMA at least. As for Bill Ray’s resurgence, I have many questions. Most importantly, do we think Tish Cyrus actually has a bad Fendi sports bras habit? —Clare Palo

Ariana Grande & Victoria Monét, “Monopoly”

Ariana Grande is never not working. So to celebrate how the last six months of her life have amounted to an extended victory lap — unstoppable even despite various personal tragedies — rather than, say, taking a vacation, she’s gone and released more music. “Monopoly” is an absolute gem of a flex, recorded mostly for shits and giggles with her songwriter Victoria Monét, and seemingly done on the fly while the two were messing around on some downtime while touring. (Because, of course, Ari spends her off time still very much on.) Play this song and visualize Ari sitting atop her throne, surveying what is now her pop kingdom, and serving withering stares at the ones who can’t keep up. Look, her success has reached the point where she can turn forfeiting 90 percent of the songwriting royalties for “7 Rings” to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s estates into a punch line on this loosie for the fans. Even her losses are a Goddamned win. —Dee Lockett

Vampire Weekend, “This Life”

The rollout for Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited fourth album Father of the Bride has been divisive in certain corners. Clearly, this is shaping up to be the indie-pop titans’ most eclectic album yet, and some of the left turns we’ve heard so far might have caused you to ask, “What happened to the band I used to know?” That’s where “This Life” comes in: Its opening lick carries a brief flash of “A-Punk” before unfolding into a golden, Van Morrison-esque sway that interpolates an old ILoveMakonnen song and features contributions from Danielle Haim and Jake Longstreth. It feels familiar and new, like seeing the sun rise and marveling at the uniqueness of another day. —Larry Fitzmaurice

2019’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: “All the Young Dudes” With Def Leppard, Brian May, Ian Hunter, the Zombies, Susanna Hoffs, and Steven Van Zandt

I’ll be honest: I muttered a li’l meh when this particular group of performers came out to perform the Rock Hall’s closing “all-star jam” at the induction last week, mostly because I was thinking of all of the musicians who didn’t come to the stage. (Stevie Nicks. Janet Jackson. Robert Smith. David Byrne.) But whatever. I can be a cynic sometimes. This was really fun! Name me another setting — besides the rare fundraiser — that gives this many legends the opportunity to cross-pollinate and rock out for a few minutes, just because they can! Besides, “All the Young Dudes” is also a terrific “we need a crowd-pleaser of a song” choice. Would relive again. —Devon Ivie

Hot Chip, “Hungry Child”

The forthcoming seventh album from Hot Chip is called A Bathful of Ecstasy, which is a great descriptor for how I feel about house music. House music has taken on a new role for me in the past 18 months. On January 1, 2018, I decided I was going to stop drinking. Since then I have sought healthier avenues for release, ways to access the tips of my neurons and the flush in my cheeks and the flurry in my chest without making a tit of myself. Hot Chip’s single “Hungry Child” reminds me of the buzz I feel on the dance floor beneath an average-size mirror ball when the drum beat from New Order’s “Blue Monday” kicks in and hours of buildup finally erupt with this euphoric climax of strange limbs and a familiar soul. House music can be sustenance, and Hot Chip have become masters of the craft. Reportedly they’ve worked with other producers for the first time, including Philippe Zdar (of Cassius) and Rodaidh McDonald (The XX). It makes sense that it’s gifted them with something even bigger, warmer, and brighter — because if you’re going to build house music, the more the merrier. “A moment like a heart attack, stop my life, it’s momentary,” repeats vocalist Alexis Taylor on the chorus, asking you to be right here, right now. Such clarity is fleeting and they’ve grabbed it. —Eve Barlow

Khalid ft. Safe, “Don’t Pretend”

Khalid misses someone so much he’s having phantom text syndrome. Can’t relate! Not at all! In a single from his new album, “Free Spirit,” Khalid croons about keeping his phone fully charged, hoping his crush calls him back soon. They must … just be super busy, right? On the chorus, the track features 20-year-old Toronto artist, Safe, who’s known for his collaborations with fellow Toronto rapper Drake. Khalid’s new album is once again loaded with soft tracks relating to our greatest dating complications in the digital age. Send your location to Khalid, and please ring him back, it’s rude not to! —Clare Palo

Mac DeMarco, “All of Our Yesterdays”

Indie-rock prankster Mac DeMarco’s been undergoing an evolution-in-reverse over the past few years: While his first few albums were warped, sour-sweet takes on Paul McCartney’s own homespun and intimate ’70s solo output, his last LP This Old Dog pared back the sweetness a bit, letting his songwriting stand more starkly in contrast to the simple audio setup that surrounded it. If the appeal of this approach is lost on you, that’s fine — but if not, “All of Our Yesterdays” might be right up your alley. The latest taste from Here Comes the Cowboy is simple and wistful, a single bent guitar line slithering between his voice, brushed drums, and a simple strum. The lyrical sentiment is all in the title, really — sometimes, things are just simple that way. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Hatchie, “Stay With Me”

Finally, an Australian band to obsess over that isn’t Tame Impala! Hatchie’s music reminds me of everything that I loved about the Mary-Kate and Ashley franchise when it was still going strong in the ’90s. Her latest single is a delicious slice of dream-pop that sugarcoats the gradual unraveling you go through after a break up. “Stay with me / Why don’t you stay with me,” she sings in the chorus. “‘Cause I’m not done / I’ve come undone.” I don’t know why Hatchie is still so underrated, but I’ll continue to enjoy keeping her to myself until her debut album, Keepsake, drops in June. —Sydney Gore

Tank and the Bangas, “Nice Things”

Tarriona “Tank” Ball of Tank and the Bangas has no problem asking for what she wants (no, deserves), and I’m here for it. “Nice Things” is basically the antithesis to Taylor Swift’s pop anthem. It’s a bop from the beginning, set up by the first utterance of “Later, later, later, later alligators.” The New Orleans–based group’s sound is steeped in soul. There is a genre-bending quality to their music I find irresistible (NPR agrees). Seeing them perform live back in 2017 only intensified my obsession, and I’ve been angstily awaiting their next release ever since. This track is more playful than “Oh Heart” and “Rollercoasters,” but lead singer Ball still demonstrates an impressive range of vocals, interjecting the chorus with rap verses (“Gucci purse, Gucci watch”) and belting out individual lines (“I need a OG with a goatee”). The playful screeching five seconds in, the sucker punch of an “Uh” delivered at the two-minute mark — it’s the little details that set Tank and the Bangas apart. Please forward to my future romantic prospects. —Corinne Osnos

Snoh Aalegra, “You”

True love is hard to find in this economy, so when you seem to have stumbled upon something pure, it’s natural to go into defense mode by keeping it on the low — especially if your friends express their disapproval. I’ve been on the other side of this equation too many times and I would like to go on record stating that MY SENSES WERE ALWAYS RIGHT WHEN I GET A WHIFF OF TRASH. Sometimes it’s in your best interest to keep your mouth shut and let your friends learn the lesson on their own … Since Snoh Aalegra insists on choking me with my feelings as she narrates yet another complicated love story, I will oblige. Go forth, bury me! —Sydney Gore

Lion Babe, “Sexy Please”

Lion Babe is back with an album brimming with slow jamz. Layering sultry vocals over a tribal beat in Solange fashion, vocalist Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman find their groove with Cosmic Wind, their 15-track album released earlier this week. “Looking for energy / Need a taste, fantasy,” purrs Hervey, setting the mood for the track. This song feels like awakening from a winter sojourn to find your sex drive intact (yay!). Double-time drums and cascading piano notes are the lifeblood of this song. Like most catchy things, it’s repetitive. The shelf life of “Sexy Please” remains to be seen, but you can find me playing it on repeat until my next hibernation. —Corinne Osnos

March 29, 2019

Sky Ferreira, “Downhill Lullaby”

The Earth has moved around the Sun six whole times since Sky Ferreira last put out music. When Night Time, My Time was released in 2013, Ferreira became as great a question mark to pop as Frank Ocean was to R&B. She was a muse. She was an enigma. She was an actor. She was a recluse. She was a fantastic pop star. In luminaries like Debbie Harry and David Lynch, she found the greatest of champions. And everybody has anticipated its follow-up since. Last year, she released a perfect Soundcloud cover of “Voices Carry” by ‘Til Tuesday, which may have made some indication as to her more recent interests. Now comes “Downhill Lullaby,” which reintroduces her with… a flurry of strings. Huh?! It’s cinematic, it’s gothic, it’s elegant. Her vocal breathes over NIN-style turgid depths before she flies up into a chorus that has more in common with PJ Harvey or Tori Amos than any of her current peers. Deliciously interesting and well worth the wait. —Eve Barlow

Billie Eilish, “my strange addiction”

Billie Eilish sampled The Office in a song! At 12:17am, I heard Steve Carrell’s voice in my ears and thought a roommate had, once again, started watching the TV show in my thin-walled apartment — but no, Eilish just did that to us, with no warning. The Soundcloud-born star’s debut, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? (yes, her album title is aggressively capitalized, but her song titles are uniformly lowercased, so it evens out?), strategically places the surprise Dunder Mifflin cameo in the middle of an otherwise dark, depressing album — and on an entrancing ode to self-destructive tendencies, no less. It may sound gimmicky, but Eilish weaves it all together perfectly. Just an instantly memorable moment on an album full of them. —Clare Palo

Phoebe Green, “Dreaming Of”

What can I say, I’m a sucker for songs that open with a skipping, tactile drum beat. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Grace Ives’ brief but just-real-enough-to-touch “Mirror,” and now there’s Manchester singer/songwriter Phoebe Green’s new single “Dreaming Of,” the percussive opening of which reminded me of Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth…” at first blush. Appearances can be deceiving, though, because “Dreaming Of” opens up to reveal a miles-wide chorus anchored by Green’s aching voice, making for your latest tried-and-true headphones anthem. —Larry Fitzmaurice

MARINA, “Orange Trees”

Remember Marina & the Diamonds, light of our pop lives? Don’t insult me, of course you do. She has since rebranded as just MARINA, and in removing the character that never fully felt quite right for her, she inevitably finally sounds like herself. “Orange Trees” was written in tribute to the Greek island Lefkada where her family originated, so while it carries that same light ease that Instagram models sipping Sangria poolside on their sponsored vacations definitely try to present — every note of this is practically sun-kissed — it still maintains the spirit of home. –Dee Lockett

Jlin, “No Name”

For an artist as consistently forward-thinking as Jlin, this Adult Swim one-off almost rings nostalgic. The candy-crusted synthesizers, hi-hat blasts, and (subtle) bass drops bring me back to early Skrillex singles, which mined YouTube when YouTube was not yet a repository for fascist propaganda. Of course, Jlin outpaces Skrillex and his cohort of web-native millennial men by a mile in terms of technical dexterity. “No Name” maps the irreverence of late aughts dubstep onto the razor-sharp sensibility of one of the most exciting and precise contemporary producers, like a xenomorph wearing a Care Bear’s skin. —Sasha Geffen

Rosalía and J Balvin ft. El Guincho, “Con Altura”

Before she even had a chance to flex her versatility, it seemed like Spanish singer Rosalía had already been boxed into some sort of neo-classic Latin genre that a certain type of purist craves. She makes flamenco accessible to a new generation, yes, but even Rosalía herself isn’t so sure that’s all she is just yet. Her new song, “Con Altura,” proves it’s certainly not all she’s capable of: “When I was younger I loved listening to reggaeton and it could have been natural for me to make a song like this before, but I don’t like to force anything,” she explained in a statement. Collaboration, then, offers a more organic step in a new direction, which is exactly what happened when she joined forces with J Balvin, producer Frank Dukes, and Spain’s El Guincho. Together, they have created Rosalía’s take on cross-regional reggaeton. It sounds unique, fresh, and a challenge for any other artist to reproduce, at a time when so few songs ever do. —Dee Lockett

Show Me The Body, “Not For Love”

#20ninescene has never been more alive now that Show Me the Body’s Dog Whistle is officially out. The album is 28 minutes of bittersweet bliss as the New York band tackles the devastation of loss by turning to their community for support. “Not For Love” reminds me of the golden days of high school, when friends were motivated to do things solely for the thrill of it. (With that said, I’m mostly referring to stuff like going to Warped Tour.) The last 16 seconds of this track, where all the noise fades and all you can hear is Julian Cashwan Pratt’s screams transitioning into panting, chills me to the bone. Open this pit up, y’all. —Sydney Gore

Georgia, “About Work the Dancefloor”

Georgia Barnes has been around for a minute: Her self-titled Domino debut in 2015 was a pleasant grab-bag of au courant and pop-adjacent sounds that suggested greater talent lying underneath. Consider “About Work the Dancefloor” that promise fulfilled, then — it’s bold, beaming electro-pop with flashy, house-indebted production touches and a hell of a synth-led earworm making up its beating heart. It evokes nostalgia at its core, and not for the 1980s — rather, for about five or six years ago, when every single band and artist coming forth seemed committed to reviving the slick and weird synth-pop sound that the Knife froze in amber with their 2000s classic Silent Shout. Barnes is clearly keeping the dream alive. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Melii, “Trip”

There are some songs created, almost as if by algorithm, exclusively to soundtrack IG baddies’ content. This, from Harlem rapper/singer/flexer, is that. What we have here is a mishmash of meaningless words — one of many from her new project, phAses — that serve no other purpose than to make Melii, and anyone listening to Melii (woman especially) feel like the absolute shit, even if it could be further from the truth. (“I’m fuckin mental / No incidental / Speedin’ in the rental.”) It’s like you woke up hungover with a dollar to your name but, still, no one can tell you nothing. You are that bitch. I classify this genre as the social media spiritual and I want 1,000 more like it. —Dee Lockett

Foie Gras, “Psychic Sobriety”

Between Billie Eilish, the new Palehound song, the Sky Ferreira comeback single, and Foie Gras’s “Psychic Sobriety,” 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the Girl Creep: a gender archetype defined by excessive feminine desire, scheming, and menace. “I’m a bad lay, but I want you/I want you to choke me until you love me,” this latest installment begins, a great couplet that only gets better as the song progresses. “I’m a bad lay, but I’ll keep you safe/In my ashtray,” she continues, a pair of lines that kicks me back to Placebo at their acid glam heyday. No, I will not perform well, but yes, I will get what I want, and God help the one who tries to stop me. —Sasha Geffen

Windwaker, “My Empire”

Reminiscent of Linkin Park’s “Numb”, a moody, ambient opening precipitates a screaming chorus in “My Empire.” Where LP was a boy band masquerading as a punk band (remember Lil J?), Windwaker feels different (Meet The Pretty Reckless). The all-male quintuplet who make up the Australian metalcore band Windwaker got their start inland, in the city of Wagga Wagga. And for the punk faint of heart, this is one of the group’s more palatable tracks. “They’ll never give you a way out / They’ll rise up like kings / Summoning oppression / Carried out on a whim to live,” screams lead singer Will King as the guitar-heavy buildup reaches an overdue climax. Whispers loom before hard-hitting growls; the contrast is nothing short of magnetic. Aggressive vocals haven’t been muted in production to appeal to a Top 40 crowd (I’m looking at you, Future Islands). These Triple J darlings are worth keeping your ears on in 2019.

March 22, 2019

Lizzo ft. Missy Elliott, “Tempo”

There is no one churning out BBW anthems better than queen of thick bitch nation Lizzo. But before her, there was Missy Elliott as its lone delegate, as far as the music industry allowed for plus-size black women, anyway. With Lizzo as Missy’s heir apparent, the two were destined to collaborate. Their resulting track together, “Tempo” — off Lizzo’s can’t-miss upcoming major label debut — makes for a seismic shift in the way juicy bodies ought to be served. As Lizzo puts it, “Slow songs, they for skinny hoes / can’t move all of this here to one of those.” And who better to accommodate Lizzo’s divine right to gyrate without being stifled by the barely twerkable bops crowding the clubs (shockingly almost always made by men) than her damn self? It’s a woman’s work to self-represent in order to be seen. In the truest spirit of Missy, who contributes here mainly as a hype woman, Lizzo even invents a word for what she’s doing on this track: “My ass is not an accessarary” — not a trend, not an afterthought, and certainly not small. —Dee Lockett

The Cranberries, “Wake Me When It’s Over”

When I feel like aggravating certain men I’ll sometimes say that the Cranberries are my favorite grunge band. Songs like “Zombie” tap into the same abject willfulness as Soundgarden or Stone Temple Pilots, and “Wake Me When It’s Over,” a newly released song from the band’s forthcoming In the End, bristles in a similar vein. The texture of Dolores O’Riordan’s voice, as well as the band’s use of clean guitar and reverb alongside the classic power chord chug, keeps this song from serving as a time capsule. It’s not nostalgic, but it is one of the last places we’ll hear the late O’Riordan’s voice, which lends it an air of scarcity and therefore urgency. Mostly it’s a sharp hook with a solid punch behind it, steamed up by a little wistfulness — everything great about the Cranberries, then and now. —Sasha Geffen

Flume, “How to Build a Relationship” ft. JPEGMAFIA

I was not expecting Flume to surprise-drop a mixtape anytime soon, but I finally got around to streaming Hi This Is Flume and, well, thank you so much, Harley Edward Streten. And as it happens, while I’ve been hiding from the world at Treefort Festival this week, I managed to catch JPEGMAFIA throwing his vest-protected body around onstage in front of predominantly white youths in the middle of Boise, Idaho, and I was blown away by how they were losing their minds over him. But back to the track … Social climbers really get you in a cold mood, and sometimes you need to vent about it! Maintaining healthy relationships as an adult is way harder than it should be, so instead let’s direct our attention to JPEGMAFIA’s wholesome outbursts of laughter and manifest THAT energy instead. —Sydney Gore

Cate Le Bon, “Daylight Matters”

Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon has been getting weird in her own little corner of the world for a minute now, but she rose to greater prominence this year through her worthy contributions to Atlanta gentle-aggressors Deerhunter’s latest LP Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? In other words, the perfect time for another solo album from her — and the poppy gait of “Daylight Matters,” from her forthcoming Reward, carries the art-rock charms that Deerhunter often possesses with just the right amount of off-kilter sonics she’s become known for. It sounds like spring, and Lord knows we could all use a little more daylight these days. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Ryan Pollie, “Aim Slow”

Formerly known as Los Angeles Police Department, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter and bedroom producer Ryan Pollie has recovered from a cancer diagnosis in 2018 and made a new batch of material while in recovery. The first tidbit, “Aim Slow,” decides not to shy away from that recent personal history by complementing video footage from Pollie’s childhood next to clips of him in his room in a hospital ward, smiling amid life’s challenges. The song itself presents in the vein of classic Californian melodies, a series of moderately traveling piano chords that usher on Pollie’s gentle vocals, while a little guitar line adds a smidgen of soulful groove to an otherwise philosophical march, steeped in questions about religion and mortality. “Though I aim slow, my god’s insane,” he repeats. —Eve Barlow

Lydia Ainsworth, “Tell Me I Exist”

“Tell Me I Exist,” off Ainsworth’s upcoming album Phantom Forest, speaks to an all-too-familiar millennial anxiety surrounding the role external validation plays in a digitized world. “Tell me I exist / Look what I’ve become / Prove that I’m still here / Prove that I’m enough” the chorus goes; equal parts plea and self-critique. The song finds Ainsworth revealing her desire to transcend the loneliness of the ‘like.’ “I fantasize the private life / With my DNA’s unsigned contracts,” she admits, one of several half-baked introspections weaved throughout the song. Affecting strings and layered vocals hauntingly echo over frenetic chords. It’s a potent mix of synth-pop and existentialism, straight up. —Corinne Osnos

Weyes Blood, “Movies”

Natalie Mering has spent the last decade navigating the psychedelic folk wilderness as Weyes Blood, and “Movies” — the latest single from her forthcoming Sub Pop debut Titanic Rising — is basically her big close-up moment. A throat-tickle of a synth arpeggio runs throughout, before being broken up by scraping strings and pounding drums, but Mering’s voice is ascendant through the chaos. “The movies I watched as a kid / The hopes and dreams / Don’t give credit to the real things,” she opines, before turning what sounds like a negative sentiment into a pure positive: “I love the movies.” Nothing quite as satisfying as a twist ending. —Larry Fitzmaurice

Institute, “Dazzle Paint”

Dazzle painting, for those who lack knowledge of naval vernacular — including myself before writing this blurb — originated in World War I as a new, artful, geometric form of warship camouflage meant to disorient enemies with bold, zebralike patterns. (You know, the opposite of camouflage’s intended purpose.) As technology advanced, the necessity to trip adversaries up with M.C. Escher–like confusion ceased to exist, but the metaphor remains apt for Austin- and now New York–based post-punks Institute, and their perception of society. Cleverly critical and undoubtedly furious with the political world around them, “Dazzle Paint” suggests solutions offered up by even the superficially progressive candidates are just that: surface level, temporary, shortsighted, razzle-dazzle. The first single from the band’s forthcoming third LP, “Dazzle Paint” is short, brooding, dare I say snarling, and chock-full of riffs that can’t quit. And I can’t quit listening to it. —Maria Sherman

Lennon Stella, “Bitch”

I’m a bitch. You’re a bitch. We’re all that bitch. And it takes a bitch to know a bitch — just as Canadian teen pop singer Lennon Stella sings in her new single “Bitch.” Known for her starring role on Nashville, Stella is one steamy upbeat pop vocalist to watch. Her solo EP “Love, me,” including soft singles “Bad” and “Fortress,” showcases her ability to have honest, meaningful pop music. (Her other recognizable feat is her viral 2012 YouTube cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”) “Bitch” is the track you DM to that dude who called you bitchy, or your frenemy who makes those backhanded compliments, or to the girl at the gym who steals your spin bike. There’s no time for that, bitch. Stella’s a teen who sings about teen things, hitting every note and every vulnerable, ephemeral feeling at its core. —Clare Palo

Anohni ft. Jade Bell and J. Ralph, “Karma”

I’ve gotten so used to hearing Anohni’s voice soaring over chaotic electronic landscapes that it’s actually a surprise to hear her accompanied by a guitar again. “Karma” brings me back to her work with the Johnsons, where I first heard her, where the order above all else was as much gentleness as possible. The way her voice cascades across the audio channels when she repeats the words “just let go” is a testament to her power as a vocalist, which hinges on the interplay between delicacy and power. This is a benefit single for Jade’s Kids, a nonprofit aiming to insulate young people from the risks of substance abuse by getting them involved in art, and it speaks to that light that sometimes shows up at rock bottom: the sudden realization that, after all doors have seemed to close, there is a way forward into the world, that the human animal is infinitely malleable and capable of growth, that this life is more than whatever it’s been so far. —Sasha Geffen

Nilüfer Yanya, “The Unordained”

Sometimes my colleagues try to tell me that rock isn’t good anymore and I feel my blood begin to boil, because if they were familiar with women like Nilüfer Yanya, then they would know the truth! Our attention spans are shrinking by the minute, so the fact that Miss Universe runs 17 tracks long is a high risk, but it’s one of the most polished projects I’ve heard in months. The distorted guitars are enticing enough, but when Yanya chants “Look at you, I can’t look at you / Standing there, all your problems solved” with complete control, I really lose it. Don’t mind me drifting over here and drowning in a sea of my emotions. I could go on and on about how talented Nilüfer Yanya is, so I’ll just shut up and let you listen to the record. —Sydney Gore

March 15, 2019

Shura, “BKLNLDN,”

It’s been three years since the British songwriter-and-producer Shura put out her debut synth-pop album Nothing’s Real, so to have her name pop back up is as lovely as a surprise knock on the door from an old friend. The first single from her next album is the dawn of a new phase, and benefits from a generous incubation period. It’s possessed of all the slow-jam broodiness of a late-’90s Janet Jackson deep cut, inspired by a sudden rush with romance in all its breath-stealing palpitations and mental paranoia. “This is a love, this is an emergency!” comes the chorus, narrating Shura’s move to Brooklyn from London to be with her partner. The final minute features a playful transition to an uptempo beat signifying her arrival Stateside. It skips with glee toward new beginnings. —Eve Barlow

Maren Morris, “Make Out With Me”

On Friday night, as I was going about my weekend and doing nothing in particular, I started laughing hysterically thinking about what Leonardo DiCaprio does when he’s, say, at a pregame and someone’s iPhone shuffles to the Rihanna song “Higher.” Does he tear up? Does he sit there in silence, zipping up his hoodie? And does Tobey Maguire roll his eyes and make an excuse to the gaggle of 20-somethings that are perma-installed wherever Leo DiCaprio lives? Does Lukas Haas just point to the speaker and ask someone to skip the song? Truly, I would love to know. Anyway, a song that is a lot like “Higher” but not exactly like “Higher” is Maren Morris’s new song, “Make Out With Me.” It is a brief ode to being a little drunk and a lot horny, and it sounds like we’ve arrived late to a poet’s drunken ramblings, unedited. “Come put your things down, I’ll order take out / No more to say now, baby, just make out with me,” Morris sings. Yes. —Hunter Harris

Holly Herndon, “Eternal”

Holly Herndon made her forthcoming third album Proto in concert with a piece of software she trained to sing. Her latest single from that record, “Eternal,” throws into disarray the impulse to locate the “human” part of a given sound. It’s impossible to tell where Herndon ends and her machine begins; processed voices coagulate and dissipate across the beat, which makes use of a string chord that sounds like an old Windows error tone. If human beings, as a species, are defined by our use of technology, what’s the use in fortifying the false binary between person and machine? We spread ourselves into the devices we use daily. In the late ’90s, I read an online guide to Wicca that included spells for purifying and protecting home computers, like they were bodies or extensions of bodies. The body, the home, the desktop computer, the iPhone — they all form a living circuit. “Eternal” tracks that flow. —Sasha Geffen

Gus Dapperton, “Fill Me Up Anthem”

As a mo0o0o0dy teen, you couldn’t have convinced me to slow dance. I found the whole idea of it eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-my-skull boring, confused as to how anyone would have the desire to invade the personal space of someone else while waddling like a pair of awkward penguins with nowhere to go. Post-pop artist Gus Dapperton’s latest single sees him leaning further into his cinematic tendencies with a charming slow jam about the kind of mushy, gushy love that I swear only exists in ’80s movies, a time where slow dancing wasn’t so cringe-worthy because it really MEANT SOMETHING as all the synths worked their magic in a toxic atmosphere polluted with social stigma. The way that Dapperton belts out “I only hope he’s making / ‘cause my hoe brings home the bacon” is slightly reminiscent of King Krule’s growls, which also really get me going. The outro also hits me hard in the gut as he repeats variations of the line “Fill me up and kill me softly like a true romance.” For once, I feel a little less empty inside. Sydney Gore

Grace Ives, “Mirror”

Up to this point, Grace Ives has come across as a bit of a weirdo. The Astoria-residing homebody’s fascinating debut EP, 2016’s Really Hot, contained equal parts Suicide’s brittle-sounding dead-eyed stare, John Maus’s wavering synth emissions, and the left-of-center indie-pop once associated with storied indie label K Records. (A sample song title: “Weirdwordsworms.”) On “Mirror,” Ives retains the intimacy of her previous work while embracing a distinctly poppier sound, a crisp backbeat and watery melodic mist serving as the backbone for her wistful vocal take. “I think I finally got it f-figured out,” Ives sighs before “Mirror”’s breakbeat-burst of a chorus — a statement that’s much a relatable millennial wish as it is a tilt toward her continued artistic maturation. —Larry Fitzmaurice

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