New singles from Kim Petras, Lauv, Shawn Mendes, The National, Faye Webster. Plus, new releases from Still Woozy, ALASKALASKA, and Big Thief!
May is a month known for celebrating workers' rights, cherry blossoms, and new music.
This week brought new singles from the likes of Kim Petras, Shawn Mendes, Lauv, The National, and Faye Webster; debut releases from Still Woozy and ALASKALASKA, and the long-awaited albums of YG, Big Thief, and Vampire Weekend.
1. Kim Petras — "Got My Number"
Pop savior Kim Petras has blessed us with a new, boppy single called "Got My Number." It's a definite upward mood swing from last week's confessional breakup cut "Broken." On "Got My Number," Petras sings of moving on (and the debauchery that might accompany that) over a glossy beat: "Don't wanna be a good girl tonight / I just wanna be a bad girl alright."
2. Lauv — "Drugs & The Internet"
Lauv is back with a bittersweet new single called "Drugs & the Internet" accompanied by a surrealist video. The "I Like Me Better" singer explores technology-induced-depression in a track that starts off as a piano ballad but soon evolves into something much bouncier. "And I don't wanna hit delete/ On all the parts of me that they might hate/ So now I'm laying in my bed/ And I can't get out my head."
3. Shawn Mendes — "If I Can't Have You"
Shawn Mendes announced on Instagram that he would be dropping a surprise single this week called "If I Can't Have You." The teaser image features a rainbow-sherbert swirl of water-color tones coming together to form a silhouette of the singer's head.
Shawn Mendes - If I Can't Have You www.youtube.com
4. The National — "Hairpin Turns"
Gearing up to release their forthcoming album, I Am Easy To Find, The National shared a lovely new single this week called "Hairpin Turns." The full album is due out May 17th on 4AD records.
5. Faye Webster — "Right Side Of My Neck"
Faye Webster put out a daydream of a new song called "Right Side of My Neck," that sounds like how having butterflies on a first date feels. The Atlanta-based songwriter's forthcoming album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, is due out May 24th via Secretly Canadian.
6. Still Woozy — Lately EP
Still Woozy, the project of Sven Gamsky, is putting out his anticipated EP, Lately. Based out of Oakland, Still Woozy puts an R&B spin on the laidback, wavy synths and geometric textures that have come to be associated with the nebulous 'bedroom pop' genre. This self-released EP is the long-awaited showcase of Still Woozy's immense talent, and it does not disappoint.
7. ALASKALASKA — The Dots
The South London-based group have crystallized their idiosyncratic, freeform sound into an excellent debut album called The Dots, which melds together experimental pop and jazz.
8. Big Thief — U.F.O.F
Big Thief continues to prove themselves as one of the most skilled folk bands in the game on their new album, U.F.O.F., out today on 4AD. On the new record, the indie-folk four-piece gazes through the lens of the supernatural, while grounding their spectral songs in lived experiences, creating a sound that's as haunted and airy as it is immaculately constructed. It feels special to be alive at the same time that Big Thief is putting out music.
9. YG — 4REAL 4REAL
The Compton rap heavyweight delayed the release of his album after the passing of his close friend Nipsey Hussle. YG's last album entitled Stay Dangerous came out in 2018. This year at Coachella, YG unveiled a new single called "Stop Snitchin'" and today his full-length is here in all of its glory. On 4REAL 4REAL, YG doesn't hold back as he flexes his gift for dexterous, melodic rap.
10. Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
Vampire Weekend's Father of the Bride is finally here! After months of anticipation and cryptic clues, the new 18-track record is being hailed by some as Vampire Weekend's magnum opus. It's a definite shift in direction from 2013's Modern Vampires of The City. Fans are not just clocking it as Dad Rock because of Ezra's newfound fatherhood, though that definitely might have something to do with the band's change of tone. As the singles have indicated, their new sound sinks into jammier, even deadhead-esque territory. Underneath it all, FOTB is still quintessential VW — packed with dense, heady references and irresistible, evergreen choruses. Although the album art might not be the best they've ever had, it's safe to say this new LP exceeds all expectations and solidifies Vampire Weekend as one of the most important and influential indie rock bands of our generation.
Sara is a music and culture writer. Her work has previously appeared in PAPER magazine and Stereogum.
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.