New Music Daily
There’s nothing better than stumbling across a surprise, off-album single from one of your favorite artists. In this particular instance, I heard the smooth sound of SZA‘s Quicksand ring through my TV speakers during the season 2 Finale of Insecure (GREAT show, in case you’re in need of a new one)- and I raced to my phone to Shazam it. SZA’s lyrics are so clearly rooted in personal experience that it’s impossible to not feel a connection to them, and to play them out alongside the heartbreaking love story of Issa and Lawrence!! You can consider me completely hooked.
Check out SZA’s new single below, and if you dig it be sure to check out her debut album, Ctrl, and the Insecure Season 2 Soundtrack.
Singer-songwriter Ashe released her debut single “Used To It” this week and it is electric. The single tells a story of a relationship that’s gone stale, and the constant fight to make it feel right again despite knowing the end is inevitable. She embodies this perfectly when she sings, “We ain’t really fighting about the f**ckin’ dishes and all the broken pieces that we’re never fixing”- damn right, it’s not about the dishes. Ashe delivers all of the elements of a summer hit on this debut and I’m eager to see what’s next for her.
Check the single below and add it into your summer rotation!
Songwriter-singer Emily Warren is ready to make her mark as a solo artist with her debut single “Hurt by You.” If Emily’s name doesn’t ring a bell, her voice certainly will – her featured vocals and masterful songwriting are defining Top 40 music as we know it. I can guarantee you Emily’s been the soundtrack to your recent dance party or road trip, most notably with her features on the Chainsmokers’ Memories… do not open. But her parallel path towards solo stardom is taking on a bit of a different shape, providing an opportunity for her to tell her own story. In her debut single “Hurt by You,” Warren uses her solo platform to remind her listeners to be vulnerable, and to fall deeper into love despite knowing that with deeper love comes the risk of deeper pain- advice I think we could all take. She produced a song that’s so incredibly fluid it’s hard to pinpoint a specific genre- and that’s the beauty of the track- it’s got hints of jazz, r&b, folk all strung together by Emily’s powerhouse vocals.
Give the debut single a listen below and/or catch Warren on tour with the Chainsmokers this spring!
I can’t get enough of 19 year old R&B-pop rising star Khalid, who dropped the title track off of his debut album American Teen today. Set for release on March 3rd, Khalid’s debut is poised to be one of the breakthrough albums of 2017. His soulful sound and honest songwriting//storytelling featured in earlier releases like Location, Saved and Coaster, have helped the young artist carve out a space and a platform for himself within the crowded music landscape. His songs tell stories of love, heartbreak and hope- sharing wisdom that extends far beyond the teenage years. The title track, American Teen, is an anthem that sets the tone for the rest of the album- listen below and keep an eye out for the full album release in early March! It’s going to be a good one, trust me.
When Oh, Be Clever released “Love You Now” around the beginning of the summer, I was majorly impressed by the way Brittney Shields’ vocals sounded over the softer soundscape Cory Layton had put together. “Love You Now” was something very different from the duo, and I praised the versatility present in the record. For reference, here’s that original track:
But I know what you were wondering. “What if this track, being one of the more laid back Oh, Be Clever songs yet, was even MORE laid back? Like ‘haven’t moved from the couch in hours’ kind of laid back?” Well that’s where Jeff & Philo come in.
This remix sounds like one of those looped vine videos of someone riding a bike behind some super bright summer video filter. The synth work on the instrumental sounds scientifically designed to force you to chill, and the non-offending drums lend to that feeling. I could imagine playing this remix for around 2 days in a row without finding the motivation to stop it- partially because of how good it is and partially because of how calm I feel listening to it. The added genius of this remix lies in the way Jeff & Philo took a genre which usually ditches vocals for instrumentals and still allowed Brittney Shields’ vocals to play a major part in the overall sound.
From the opening of “Happy”, Annabel Jones employs an almost nursery rhyme like flow as her melancholy voice peaks and dips in a saw pattern over some delicate keys, quickly establishing her vocal control as a standout element of the record. This impressive control continues to shine over the duration of the track, as Jones’ clarity fits perfectly with the more expansive sections of the instrumental.
On the side of the instrumental, synth bass and other electronic elements augment an otherwise stripped down beat for a very interesting sound; production over this track switches from tranquil piano ballad to video game soundtrack at a quick pace without sounding forced.
Listen to “Happy” here!
In the years I’ve followed Utah superduo Oh, Be Clever, one thing that has impressed me a great deal has been their versatility; and it is again versatility that impresses on their new release, “Love You Now”.
“Love You Now” a bit of an exercise of the abnormal for both Layton and Shields when compared to the rest of their releases. For producer/writer Layton, the usual “big” sounding instrumentals have become a staple, but during the four minutes of “Love You Now”, the interesting kick pattern draws most of the attention for the beat as soft synths fill in the verses and a wavy guitar contributes on the chorus. The spacey overall feel of the instrumental presents an ideal backdrop for the vocals to shine on.
From a vocal standpoint, listeners are met with the softest sounding track from Brittney Shields yet. Shields usually switches between the powerhouse vocals of “Next To You“, the chilling vocals of “Blanket“, or even a potent mixture of the two, but the sound she creates over the instrumental of “Love You Now” is one that perfectly fits a theme that the duo doesn’t address too often. Oh, Be Clever love songs are often times crafted with a bleak outlook; songs like “Lost You“, “Next To You” (specifically the bridge), and “Paint Me Gold” can easily illustrate my point, but the coaxing tone of the lyrics match that similar vocal tone of “Love You Now” to create what sounds like the most hopeful love song the duo have released to date.
Check out “Love You Now” Here!
Lucian has been wowing fans with remixes for a long time, and almost a year after a previous Remmi collaboration, the New York based producer has again linked up with Remmi for another dream team performance in “Forever”, the first single off of the upcoming EP.
From the first second of “Forever”, Remmi (who you’ve heard here before) gives Lucian’s instrumental an ideal vocal companion to rock with, and by the time you’ve even processed the catchiness of Remmi’s vocals, Lucian’s wave of synth-heavy showmanship grabs your attention with just as many marks in authority as those chilled vocals receive in mesmerization. I never knew I could like such brisk changes in feel as much as I did in this track, but the way Remmi lulls the listener to sleep before Lucian hits them over the head with a barrage of sound works just that well.
Check out “Forever” here!
For those of you graduating soon, sizing up finding a job and the like, and looking to have a good time before you have to learn about the real world, Youngr’s new track “Out Of My System” is the perfect backing song for your “trip with friends to some other country” montage video. Or anything else, really.
Glowing synths open up an electro pop beat bursting with whirring sounds and deep bass where Youngr finds himself reflecting on the time he has to live the fun parts of life before he has to “go buy a shirt and tie”. Mellow vocals support the tone of the record which at times comes across as a conversation in Youngr’s own head and becomes a wise bit of advice to those in his similar situation. Where “Out Of My System” really works is in the way the vocals stay within the confines of the beat. There are no forced “big” vocal moments on the track, only methodical sound choices that fit perfectly together with the overall record. In the end, all that remains are spot on vocals, an attention grabbing beat, and a push of the replay button.
Listen to “Out Of My System” here:
Stockholm Indie-Dance artist Skogsrå (named with a nod to The Huldra, a “seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore”- according to Skogsrå’s Facebook) may carry one of the most interesting names you’ve ever tried to wrap your head around, and with the recent release of “Out Of Time”, can also boast one of the hardest tracks to get out of your head.
“Out Of Time” starts with a guitar riff that challenges the catchy sounds of a “Get Lucky” type track and keeps its foot firmly pressed down on the “ear worm” pedal throughout the entirety of the record. Supreme vocals and pulsating synths thrive off each other over a dance-heavy drum pattern while the aforementioned guitar work swings in the background to create a vibe sure to dominate everybody’s summer playlist.
The genius of this track is in the way Skogsrå has mixed together these vibes that are seldom heard together to make a new combination that feels familiar. “Out Of Time” reminds you of some of your favorite summer hits while still sounding like something you’ve never heard before.
Listen to “Out Of Time” here!
Norwegian Electro-pop artist Astrid S made waves last year with “2AM“, an attention-grabbing showcase of vocal abilities, and after some time without an official solo release, she’s back with the recently released “Paper Thin”.
From the open of the instrumental, vocal shouts and bending synths set an interesting soundscape for Astrid’s glossy vocals to work with. Growling lower-pitched vocals are doubled underneath Astrid’s voice to create a contrast in the verse before more stabbing synths and drums in the chorus set a more up-tempo vibe.
The greatness of “Paper Thin” lies in the harmony between artist and production- Astrid’s vocals and the instrumental alternate between powerful and fragile at blink-speed in a way that perfectly compliments the strengths of both elements. This is especially evident in the transition from the bridge to the final chorus, where the vocals and instrumental build off each other to a gripping close.
Check out “Paper Thin” Here:
ISLAND was a name totally unknown to me until about 20 minutes ago when I bumped into their newly released “I’ve Been Searching”, and I’m typing this in the middle of one of my classes just to make sure you get the news. The London group, made up of Rollo Doherty, Jack Raeder, James Wolfe, and Toby Richards, released “I’ve Been Searching” as the third single from their upcoming EP, “Girl”, due out soon.
“I’ve Been Searching” blends a simple alt-rock instrumental with somber, haunting vocals for a perfectly sad soundtrack to the montage of a movie where the main character starts packing up their stuff to leave. Smooth guitar work dominates the well-crafted soundscape and the drum work is top-quality.
Check Out “I’ve Been Searching” here: