Holy CRAP, this week’s new music Friday releases are incredible. It feels like how October and early November music releases used to feel - brimming with fresh pop bops, jams, and bangers left and right. This week we’ve got a host of artists making a comeback with new albums and album announcements, solid singles, intense music videos… and extremely embarrassing rap careers from 1999 being unearthed from the depths of the earth. I’ve put together just enough content to distract yourself from living in the IRL for the rest of the MONTH! If you don’t have that kind of time, at least you can digest most of it this weekend while you try and muster up the energy to find enjoyment in cleaning your toilet.
Check out my top 5 songs by emerging (and established!) artists that may have flown under your radar.
If you like what you hear, spread the cheer.
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“Mind Hijacker’s Curse” - Chad VanGaalen | Chad VanGaalen is by no means a new artist. In fact, he’s been releasing music for the past 15 years - before the rise of music downloads and streaming. I’m almost sure I poached a couple albums off someone’s iTunes in the Bellarmine Lobby using a music sharing software my freshman year of college and listened to maybe half of an album. Anyhow, Chad’s a veteran to this whole music artist thing, and he’s got a solid, established fanbase who’s been sustaining his work for well over a decade. His latest album Light Information dropped last year in September, and I’m gonna be frank: my eyes definitely glazed over that press email from SubPop. This past weekend I made a last minute trip to San Diego to visit with a friend. Her friend was driving us to dinner when “Mind Hijacker’s Curse” came on. The twang of the guitars, and lilting, wavering synths pecked through the speakers dancing around our conversation about a New Zealand restaurant that opened in North Park (I think). It’s high key melancholic, with lyrics clamoring for the preservation of evaporating time. If this is your first time listening to Chad VanGaalen, take some time out this weekend to sift through his discography - it’s chock full of gems like “Mind Hijacker’s Curse.” Listen here
“Lottery” - Jade Bird | As an avid anti-country pop music listener, I’m 1000% sure if most country pop music sounded like the material Jade Bird is throwing down, I’d happily become a country music stan. “Lottery” is a colorful, sweet friends-to-lovers anthem stacked with a big chorus and even bigger vocals on par with Brandi Carlile. While digging up some background info on ol’ Jade, she cites her greatest musical influence as Loretta Lynn, who seeps through her vocals. What shocked the hell out of me more than anything is finding our Jade is only 20 years old and British. A Brit! Nailing this Americana music game! Listen here
“Slower Than Usual” - Ariel Beesley | This was such a pleasant surprise - Ariel Beesley’s first official single! You may recall first hearing Ariel in a previous cmd+f letter as the featured vocalist for Love Thy Brother’s pop belter “Love Me Better.” Her debut single is virtually a Blondie tribute, and that’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of, innit. The tune is about a stranger Ariel met in Stockholm that she essentially fell in love with during her time there, but as the greatest love stories go, timing wasn’t right for either of them. The two lovers shared their very own Call Me By Your Name moment (this particular comparison is likely highly exaggerated, but it brings the drama) where they were very much in love during the time they were together, and they savored every moment they had together. The pre-chorus chimes in with a desperate plea for time to wane: “smoke your cigarette slower than usual/here with me.” Listen here
“Infinite” - solace | Soulful songstress solace’s single “Infinite” is sublime. From the innovative LA collective Milky Wayv, the track transforms from minimal to a full blown atmospheric slow jam. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Listen here
“Egyptian Luvr” - Rejjie Snow feat. Aminé | The first time I properly heard Irish rapper Rejjie Snow, he opened for Years & Years at the Fonda Theater in LA a couple years ago. I’m 100% he is the first and only Irish rapper I can recall of the top of my head. His song “Blakkst Skn” featured a hook sung by the lovely Rae Morris, and was produced by the beloved Kaytranada. Since that performance, he’s chipped his way up the ranks, dropping tunes with cool kid heavyweights Jesse Boykins and Joey Bada$$. Today he dropped a new EP, Dear Annie: Part 1, featuring the opening track “Egyptian Luvr.” The tune’s got a funky groove produced by none other than Kaytranada, features guest vocals by Dana Williams on the hook, and a guest verse by Aminé. “Egyptian Luvr” is slick as hell. Listen here
My prayers and good energy sent out into the universe last week have been answered: George Ezra has dropped a BRAND SPANKING NEW SINGLE call “Paradise,” and it’s surpassed all expectations. My new editor, Kimmie, described the sound of the single as making her “want to fall in love immediately like a teen movie” or “when [she] would skip school to drive to the beach with the windows down.” Not only has George inspired playing hookie and falling in love, the bellowing cherub has announced his highly anticipated sophomore album Staying At Tamara’s will be out March 23, and he has 2018 tour dates in UK, Europe, USA, and Canada. Word on the street is First Aid Kid (the folksy Americana Swedish duo who have released their very own album Ruins today) will be featured on a track on the album. PHEW! Big year for Georgey - it’s good to have you back, sir. Listen to “Paradise” here
Today really is better than a post Christmas shopping trip - Rita Ora has also released a new song! It’s sponsored by Absolut Vodka - which, before you say “I can’t believe she has a song sponsored by vodka,” remind yourself it’s Rita Ora we are dealing with here. The finest pop musique hustler in all the land - now enjoy “PROUD,” a mid-tempo generi-pop tune sponsored by Absolut Vodka, and don’t you dare forget it. Listen here
Troye Sivan has released ANOTHER single!! “The Good Side” is a gorgeous ballad that Harry Styles wishes he released as his debut single. Judging by Troye’s first two comeback singles, it’s evident he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with this year on the pop music scene. Listen here
Looks like Rae Morris is pulling a Dua Lipa and continues to release a new single each week leading up to the release of her debut album to the point that we will likely only have three songs we’ve never heard by the time the album drops, but who cares? Who actually friggin’ cares when Rae is satiating that hunger for her album? It’s a blessing. Listen to "Lower the Tone" here
Bad week to drop a single with Offset, Tinashe… what kinda fucked up karma does she have for the universe to keep sabotaging her career? Ironically titled “No Drama,” this single with the human pigeon issa bop. Listen here
Porches’s highly anticipated album The House is now out. From the select tunes I’ve heard, it’s dark, melancholic, and got enough drum machines in it to make you wanna dance. Listen here
Cashmere Cat has finally lived up to this unending hype and released a song I can fuck with, but it’s more than likely because Major Lazer also had their hands on the track. Featuring breathy, distorted vocals from Torey Lanez, “Miss You” is a winner. Listen here
Jorja Smith turns into a hired assassin in Italy in the video for her newest single “Let Me Down” featuring Stormzy Watch here
Lady Leshurr’s got a siiiiick new freestyle video, "R.I.P." Watch here
Unsure if the gays will rejoice, but it appears Kylie Minogue has gone full Joanne for her boot-kickin’ come back single, “Dancing.” What sounds like a long lost STEPS track is a lot of fun, but I really miss the “sticky, bruised knees in a sweaty club and feeling pretty slutty after 3 tall drinks” Kylie, you know? Listen here
SG Lewis has shared another brilliant single, “Aura,” featuring J Warner, and it’s brilliant. No SG Lewis album or extended projects have been announced, but please put in a prayer circle for a damn album. Listen here
Ah, yes, I did mention embarrassing mixtapes up at the top, didn’t I? Well, Tommy No 1, aka Hollywood Heartthrob and director Christopher Nolan’s golden boy Tom Hardy, had an unsuccessful rap career in the late 90s. Tommy No 1’s beatmaker and partner in crime, Eddie Too Tall, was TV writer Edward Tracy. The lost gems surfaced Thursday when Edward dropped the mixtape on Bandcamp. It’s reeeeeally rough, and I’m grateful Tom’s spared himself a lot of grief and become an actor. Read all about it here
A(lmost a)ll of the tracks I have shared in this week’s letter are archived into a single playlist on Spotify for you to follow here.
Subscribe to that playlist, share it with friends, or take some inspiration from the ever growing list to compile some of your own.
If you’re interested in listening to what I’m rinsing this month, you can follow my January 2018 playlist here. There I will dump a hodgepodge of new and old songs that fit my mood and the trends of the month. Having a personal monthly playlist makes a year in review so easy. Share your playlists with me!
See you next week!