MUSIC

New Releases From Shawn Mendes, Vampire Weekend and More

New singles from Kim Petras, Lauv, Shawn Mendes, The National, Faye Webster. Plus, new releases from Still Woozy, ALASKALASKA, and Big Thief!

abc.net.au / Ezra Koenig at Glastonbury

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.

Singles

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.

EPs

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.


LPs

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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MUSIC

Six Songs You Should Hear This Week: Musical Acid Trips

New tracks from Valerie June, Kevin Abstract, Norah Jones, AURORA, and more.

Each one of this week's best new songs is a miniature revelation in itself, trippy enough to open your mind to new worlds.

For the record, the creator of this list has never taken acid; but these songs are what she imagines it would feel like, and truly, who needs drugs when you have songs like these? Transcendence, peace, revelations, a feeling of interconnectedness, swirly imagery—it's all here for your listening pleasure.

1. Drinker: Wave

Bicoastal NY/LA duo Aaron Mendelsohn and Ariel Loh (aka Drinker) have gifted the world with a gorgeous piece of pop psychedelia in the form of their new single, "Wave," released on Wednesday. The haunting track starts slow and ethereal, building up to a climactic tower of synths punctuated by bell-like guitar tones. A slow burn that's rewarding the whole way through, it's the kind of song meant for lying on a dock at sunset, sifting through memories and feeling the first hints of evening chill. Lyrically, it's a testament to the strangeness of time—the way it continues to move forward, but the past always seems to surge into the present. "Who is this? I'm stuck inside a wave," goes the refrain, a line that could be about dissociation, or fear of the future, or déja vu. "I feel like we've been here before," sings Mendelsohn, "but it wasn't you that I was here with." Hypnotic in its spaciousness, disconcerting in its dissociative leanings, this is an immersive sonic experience that bodes well for the duo's upcoming EP release on May 3.

2. Valerie June: Little Wing

Valerie June - Little Wing www.youtube.com

Valerie June has returned with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and it's absolutely breathtaking. Mystical and pure, raw and electric, it's a compilation of whirling guitars, whistling strings, distant organs, and eventually a horn section to drive it all home. June sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks, but perhaps even more weather-worn, her voice is ageless, meant for staticky radios. She proved her songwriting abilities on 2017's The Order of Time, but this cover is a testament to her aptitude as an arranger and a conveyer of raw emotion. In a way, it seems to come straight from a timeless dimension where there are only peace and starlight, and yet, at the same time, it cuts through to the core of something distinctly of this world, some pain known only to humankind. If you listen to one song this week, listen to this one.

3. Novo Amor: I Make Sparks

Novo Amor - I Make Sparks (official audio) www.youtube.com

Nobody is better at making soupy lullabies than Novo Amor, but he's made a particularly beautiful one with "I Make Sparks," a title that—despite its swaggering implications—moves beyond the realm of woodsy folk. Ideal for the ending frames of a film, the song is a miniature vacation in itself. Light strings cast flickering lights over Amor's frail, breathy vocals, and though his voice never grows to anything more than a whisper, the music swells and grows throughout, reaching a satisfyingly disorienting conclusion.

4. Aurora: The Seed

AURORA - The Seed www.youtube.com

For a slightly more energized but equally intense listening experience, AURORA's newest release, "The Seed," will do the trick. It sounds perfect for, say, the finale of a show like Game of Thrones—hopeful and dramatic, full of rhythmic humming and intense violins, designed for scenes of armies charging over snowy hills.

In essence, this is a song about environmental destruction—one of many, certainly, as we approach the end times. "When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, you cannot eat money, oh no," she sings. Ominous, indeed; maybe avoid this if you're actually going to take acid because it could potentially send you on a bad trip.

5. Kevin Abstract: Georgia

Kevin Abstract - Georgia (ARIZONA baby) www.youtube.com

Kevin Abstract announced his newest project, ARIZONA baby, in a cryptic Instagram post a few days ago. But the first single, "Georgia," is transparent and honest, a welcome return to Abstract's distinct solo work. On this song, he draws lyrical inspiration from the old classic "Georgia On My Mind" and spins it into a web of bells, swirling electric guitar, and gritty basslines. At heart, it's a love song, a tribute to the free-fall of true emotion, communicated through rapidly panned vocals and electronic vocal effects layered over a slow beat. Abstract is a master of his craft, and with the release of ARIZONA baby, he's continued his tradition of making some of the best atmospheric rap out there. (For better or worse, it was produced by Jack Antonoff, which may explain its sonic similarities to Lana Del Rey's "Venice Bitch"—the high-pitched synth is definitely the same—but that's another story).

6. Norah Jones: A Song With No Name

A Song With No Name www.youtube.com

This song is the sonic embodiment of a tall glass of water, a breath of fresh air, a drive upstate in the midst of a New York City summer, a comedown after a wild night. In classic Norah tradition, it's easy on the ears and heart, just ambiguous enough to feel applicable to almost any kind of subdued situation, but has enough nuance to merit multiple listens. Striking lyrics cut harshly against soft acoustic guitar and not much else—"If I had a gun, if I had a knife, if I had your love if I was your wife," she sings, as gentle piano twinkles in the background.

Special Mention: LSD

Save yourself

LSD - It's Time (Official Audio) ft. Sia, Diplo, Labrinth www.youtube.com

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning LSD, the project of Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth, whose debut LP dropped this Friday. But unless you have a taste for poorly crafted, shamelessly algorithmic, and lyrically embarrassing pop music, spare yourself the pain and skip this one.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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