Today’s letter almost didn’t happen thanks to my entire week getting derailed by work obligations, getting sucked into yet another TV show (German post WWI mystery-thriller Babylon Berlin), and spending absolutely all of my Wednesday night listening to EXO songs (more on this Very Expansive Event can be found under the New Music Friday Selects section). Also, the Grammy’s f*cking sucked this year, so I’m going to leave my commentary on that subject AT THAT.
It’s been brought to my attention that a few readers haven’t realized there is a NEW cmd+f 2018 playlist. This is the playlist where I dump in all of the songs I mention in the letter (that are available for streaming) into a single Spotify playlist. You can find that specific playlist here in which I’ll be updating regularly with the weekly cmd+f picks. Please feel free to subscribe to the list so you’ll have one central place for you to listen to nearly every song I post every week, and share with your friends!
For this week’s letter, I’d been waffling around about ten songs I wanted to choose between this week, and then the New Music Friday releases dropped (which are rather good), and I ended up throwing down two emerging artists to highlight this week with extremely fresh releases (ahem, today). I hope you enjoy all five finds as much as I do.
Remember: if you like what you hear, spread the cheer. Tell your friends about these artists and share the love.
P.S. If you would like to have this letter sent to your email every Friday, please head over to this link right here to subscribe to never miss a weekly roundup!
“Proud of Me” - Mahalia feat. Little Simz | British singer Mahalia has been signed to a major label since she was 13 years old, and six years later she’s dropping pure heat. With the likes of Jorja Smith and SZA paving the way for inspired (and I fucking mean this! Their music is truly charged with life), soulful female vocalists, Mahalia is laying bricks to make her way onto everyone’s radar. She captured the interests of very buzz-worthy publications (i-D, FACT mag) with her summer single “Sober.” On “Proud of Me,” Mahalia’s rich vocals weave out the story of her passion for creating music for herself and not for the fame. She sings about musicians who aren’t able to handle keeping up with the demands of the celebrity side of being a musician, and she vows to keep doing this “music thing for herself.” Consider the song a massive “thank you” to her family for supporting her for being talented as heck and keeping her grounded. I can’t wait to hear more from her this year. Listen here
“All the Vultures” - hunter & wolfe | It was difficult to narrow down a single choice from hunter & wolfe’s Late Than Never EP. In fact, I’d have no regrets choosing any one of the tracks of the bunch - but ultimately committed to the opening track “All the Vultures.” The meticulously layered piano chords woven throughout take me back to the days of Something Corporate, in which the piano complimented the song as if it were a vital backup singer that toyed with the hopeful- or hopelessness wavering throughout the tune. hunter & wolfe have been writing music together since 2011, so it’s hardly a surprise they’ve managed to dig deep for a song this absurdly rich, vibrant, and utterly effortless. Listen here
“Back of Your Car” - Swimming Girls | For those of you currently covered in blankets in the blistering cold, consider Swimming Girls’ latest single “Back of Your Car” a sip of summertime bliss. It’s a powerpop jam fit for fans of Tegan and Sara, flourished with pseudo-80s vibes and a massive chorus. You can practically smell the sunscreen and raging teenage hormones through the vivid imagery coursing through the lyrics: “And I can feel you sweating/Your love so rough it’s like the sea/Let’s go to the back of your car/How I hope you understand/My dreams dry up and fall apart/Now we’re lying in the sand” Listen here
“Jaguar Spring” - JW Ridley | Holy balls – the first time I heard “Jaguar Spring” was electrifying. The guitar struck me with parallels to Orange Juice on downers and The Durutti Column, which means I can confirm the tune is pure goth bliss. Listen here
“Gayby” - Sam Vance-Law | Poised with the theatrical wit of Sufjan Stevens and the messianic tweeness of Jens Lekman, Sam Vance-Law is the queer kids answer to the void Patrick Wolf has left behind since going dark for the music scene circa 2012. A bonafide chamber pop delight, “Gayby” is the third single from his forthcoming debut album Homotopia (out in March!), a collection of songs surveying the life of a gay man in the 21st century. It was only a matter of time until we’d stumble upon the gay Father John Misty. Listen here
New Music Friday Selects
NUMBER 1 NEWS PRIORITY: NEW YEARS & YEARS MUSIC IS ON ITS WAY!!! The former BBC Sound of 2015 (jesus!!!!) winners hit up the BBC Radio 1 Sound of 2018 live broadcast to perform their hits “King” and “Take Shelter,” and made a surprise debut performance of a lush new track, “DNA.” Following the performance, they Tweeted “new music is coming in a few weeks,” which, hallelujah! Listen here
It’s been a year since one of my favorite band, MUNA, released their debut album About U. Today they’re celebrating this momentous occasion with a live stream at 3pm EST/Noon PST. They’ll be recording acoustic versions of songs from the album and hosting a Q&A session via NPR. Watch here
For those of you truly interested in the CRAFT of music making will be excited to hear Spotify is added songwriter and producer credits on their desktop app! I’m really stoked they’re acknowledging in the importance of highlighting the hardworking teams that are behind some of our favorite songs. Read here
The biggest boyband in the world (and I’m not talking about BROCKHAMPTON) have shared a new “album,” and it’s fuckin’ wild. KPop superstars EXO dropped COUNTDOWN on Wednesday evening, and my life spiraled into hours of listening to “Electric Kiss” on repeat. Granted it opens and you think you’re walking into the opening of Fifth Harmony’s “Boss,” but eventually it deviates into its own explosive chorus. I spoke with a few fans upon (freaking out over) the release, and was informed most of the songs had been released over the years as promotional singles and are just now being thrown into a single album (because their fans will buy anything and everything associated with them). Other standout track on the album that had me losing my mind was “Run This.” Production is wild, y’all. Listen here
For those of you surprised I listen to Kpop: 1) you must be new here, and 2) RED VELVET HAVE NEW MUSIC! One of KPop’s most beloved girl groups has re-released their latest album with a handful of new tracks that are VERY good. If you have listened to Red Velvet, you’ll likely know which songs are new. If you haven’t listened to Red Velvet, enjoy. Listen here
Rather than prioritizing your time to listen to the new Justin Timberlake album Man of the Woods, I highly recommend you take ten minutes to use up one of your monthly New York Times article credits to read Jon Caramonica’s review of the album instead. Pop music criticism at its best. Read here
Rae Morris has pulled a Dua Lipa for her sophomore album Someone Out There, re: she’s released half the songs as singles ahead of release, and those singles still slap, therefore the album is at least guaranteed to be half good. Listen here
Tove Styrke has released another solid pop tune titled “Change My Mind.” While I agree with it now, I’m not particularly overwhelmed by it. I’m sure I’ll be obsessively looping this on repeat in a couple weeks as I do with all of her singles. Definitely a grower. Listen here
The highly anticipated Black Panther soundtrack track list was announced this week, and everyone has proceeded to rightfully lose their shit. The full album drops next Friday, and I’m going to spend the next 7 days foaming at the mouth waiting for that James Blake and Anderson .Paak collab. In the meantime, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd’s collab “Pray For Me” came out today. Hopefully this will get you through the week. Listen here
Pale Waves have released another single ahead of their debut EP (why????) called “The Tide,” and it’s rather good. I’m hoping the EP has at least two unheard songs on it….we’ll see. Listen here
Lykke Li is BACK with her new single, “Time In A Bottle.” She’s serving serious Lana del Taco meets Dolly Parton vibes, and I’m very here for it Listen here
I was having a conversation with a friend this week about what qualifies as the sound of Alternative Music? I argued the Grammy’s have deemed the genre boring-rock-music-your-dad-wouldn’t-listen-to (I don’t have a dad in my life, but I’d imagine dads aren’t into The National very much) when it should in fact be music pushing sounds in all genres to the outer limits and borderline genreless. Based on my logic, I’d say Rhye could easily be categorized as Alternative Music. If you dig, check out their brand new, sensuous album Blood Listen here
LEGENDS Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, and Kelly Rowland have linked up for a ball bustin’, ass clappin’ fever dream titled “Get It” Listen here
I wonder what Quavo’s rates are - he’s managed to land some vocal bits on the new Iggy Azalea track (which isn’t horrible, just, weird? It’s not even enough to be considered a rap track) Listen here
As I mentioned above, 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!