New Releases

Hayley Williams Enlists boygenius for New Song “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris”

Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker join the Paramore vocalist.

Hayley Williams' full-length debut, Petals for Armor, isn't out until May, but the Paramore vocalist has already shared quite a bit of the highly-anticipated project.

She shared five songs earlier this year, and has blessed our social distancing playlists with another tune today. "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" features backup vocals from boygenius, the fabulous indie-folk trio composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker. Written by Williams and Paramore bandmate Taylor York, "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" further deviates from their pop-punk origins. A jazzy drum beat and rhythmic bassline drive the track, as sweeping strings add a cinematic touch.

"Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" turns the idea of beauty standards on its head. "I have seen your body / And I have seen your beauty / They are separate things / Pretty pretty things," Williams sings in its opening lines, likening herself to her own blooming garden. The chorus offers a useful metaphor—"Roses show no concern for colors of a Violet"—to assure us that one woman's beauty doesn't detract from that of another, and both can have their place to blossom. "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" is a subtle declaration of confidence, of appreciating one's own beauty as it coexists with others.

Listen below.

Hayley Williams - Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris [Official Audio] www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Grimes' New Song Connects Assault on Women and Assault on the Earth

The single, "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth," comes in two forms.

Grimes has finally released the first single from her forthcoming album, Miss Anthropocene, due February 2020.

The single, "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth," comes in two forms: a six-minute "Art Mix" and a four-minute "Algorithm Mix," the latter more radio-ready, the former more expansive and dreamlike.

In March 2019, she told Pitchfork that her next album, Miss Anthropocene, was going to be "a concept album about the anthropomorphic goddess of climate Change." Each song, she said, would be "a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a Pop star Demonology."

NME.com

It's not exactly clear what form of apocalypse "So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth" describes, though it does appear to be about some kind of assault. "Oh, silly love," she sings. "Coming here / when I say go." Back in April, she told The Fader that the song is about "when a dude comes inside you, you become in their thrall—how it's an attack on your feminist freedom."

Below all the layers of synth and abstraction, it does seem like the single is critiquing patriarchal abuse of women. In light of her description of the album's overall theme, it could also be a critique of mankind's aggression towards the Earth.

These two impulses—man's impulse to dominate women and humankind's insistence on dominating the planet—are, in some ways, quite related. They're also connected (though certainly not equivalent) to white people's habit of colonizing, enslaving, and dominating the rest of the planet, and on capitalism's insistence on building up a select few on top of the bodies of others.

Humans, particularly those in positions of power, have always dominated others, at terrible costs, in order to maintain their status. Today, that tendency threatens to destroy the world. Perhaps, by connecting various forms of oppression and embodying Earth's and humanity's growing frustration with them, Grimes is tapping into a truly revolutionary sentiment. Time will tell if it's enough to cut through the haze.

Grimes - So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth (Visualizer) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Fresh Music Friday: 10 New Songs to Wrap Up July

Featuring new songs from Pabllo Vittar, Chance the Rapper, Rico Nasty and more!

Pabllo Vittar and Charli XCX

ERNNA COST

Fresh Music Friday is here to give you a breakdown of new singles, EPs, and albums to check out as you make your way into the weekend.

Get ready to jam out with some of our favorite up-and-coming artists, plus celebrate new releases from those you already know and love.

1. Pabllo Vittar - "Flash Pose" (Feat. Charli XCX)

Brazilian singer, songwriter and drag performer Pabllo Vittar tapped Charli XCX for a new song called "Flash Pose," a fun and clubby cut about looking really hot and posing for pictures––and feeling confident while doing it. As was to be expected coming from two of pop's biggest icons, "Flash Pose" sounds instantly infectious. The last time Charli XCX and Pabllo Vittar put out a song together, it was for Charli XCX'S 2017 excellent album Pop II on the song "I Got It"––you know, the one that goes, "I got it, I got it, I got it, I got it, I got it" ad infinitum.

2. Chance the Rapper - "Do You Remember" (Feat. Ben Gibbard)

Reader, the day is here. Chance the Rapper just dropped his long-awaited official debut album, which features a whole host of guest appearances from Bon Iver to Nicki Minaj to Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard. As a veritable Death Cab fanatic and Chance the Rapper enthusiast, this is the collaboration I never asked for but absolutely needed.

"Do You Remember," is a nostalgia trip of a groove where Chance wistfully raps about past summer memories and features Ben Gibbard's distinct, melancholic voice on the chorus: "Do you remember how when you were younger / The summers all lasted forever? / Days disappeared into months, into years / Hold that feeling forever." At this point, I will forgive BG for never putting out the other Postal Service album he promised. Some ideas for a future supergroup include: Chance Cab For Cutie. Alternatively, Death Chance The Rapper.

3. White Reaper - "Real Long Time"

White Reaper is gearing up to put out their fourth album after recently signing to Elektra Records. A few months ago, the Louisville rockers shared the forthcoming album's first single "Might Be Right," which marked the band's first new music since 2017's The World's Best American Band, and this week they unveiled a new power-pop track called "Real Long Time."

While the guitar tones on the new songs can lean into '80s rock revivalism, both "Might Be Right" and "Real Long Time" show White Reaper continuing to hone their instantly recognizable brand of flashy, energetic power-pop—both vintage and novel—by blending together garage rock scuzz and Thin-Lizzy-approved riffage.

4. Rico Nasty - "Time Flies"

Hot on the heels of her latest project with Kenny Beats (Anger Management), Rico Nasty is back with a new track, and this time she's adopted a (slightly) pared-down vibe from her usual rapid-fire style verses. Her new song, "Time Flies," is a little less incensed and shows off a more melodic approach, with Nasty waxing introspective on a sing-songy hook: "I don't wanna be on the ground when the time flies / Had so many friends goin' / Wonder when it's my time / I live every day like I'll die by the night time / It took me so long getting back to my right mind."

5. Loving - "Vision"

This week, Canadian indie rock trio Loving unveiled a new single called "Visions" via Last Gang Records. Loving is made up of David Parry, Lucas Henderson, and Jesse Henderson, and together they create lovely, easy-going tunes that pair well with the sunny stretches of late July afternoons or aimless drives. On "Visions," drowsy guitar slides and warm acoustic strumming take shape around soft percussion as Jesse Henderson muses about the "strange prison" of how we envision our futures.

6 + 7. Caroline Polachek - "Parachute" and "Ocean of Tears"

Last month, Caroline Polacheck (formerly of Chairlift) shared "Door," the first single she's released officially under her name, marking both a return and a new beginning. Polachek previously put out songs under the moniker Ramona Lisa and went on to explore more ambient territory in CEP before shifting to her latest project. This week, Polachek followed up "Door" with two new songs: the sparse slow-burner "Parachute" and the pulsating, R&B-tinged "Ocean of Tears."

8. Palm Haze - "Almost Soon"

Vancouver-via-Brazil shoegaze duo Palm Haze released a new track today called "Almost Soon," which comes off of their upcoming album Rêve Bleu (out August 30th via YHS Records). With a sound that's reminiscent of gaze-y heavyweights like My Bloody Valentine, "Almost Soon" is a stunning display of control of texture as the band strikes the perfect (maybe even Lynchian) balance between sounding heavy and dreamlike. Vocalist/bassist Anna Wagner's cool-toned voice curls around waves of anesthetic, foggy distortion as she assures the listener: "Whatever you do, whatever you say, it's okay."

9. Germano - "Lost Crowd"

Brazilian-born pop artist Germano isn't sure of what the future may hold, but he's taking it in stride. Today he's sharing his first single, "Lost Crowd," a moody electro-pop tale that reckons with feeling lost and finding comfort in the unknown and celebrates the beauty of contradiction. The song kicks off with Germano's magnetic vocals and eases into a lush swirl of electronic instrumentation and settles into a laidback chorus that perfectly balances Germano's introspective lyrics with the song's wistful melody. The song is accompanied by cinematic visuals featuring Germano and three others dressed in matching white t-shirts and jeans as they go through synchronized acts of hanging out in empty loft apartments and parks. Germano's debut EP is expected out later this year.

10. Alexander Noice - "Affectation"

Alexander Noice wears many hats; the LA-based composer, guitarist, producer, and bandleader is known for his experimental, often genre-defying compositions that dip into minimalist art-rock and jazz. His latest, "Affectation" welcomes you into Noice's eclectic menagerie of sounds through a flurry of layered of vocals and eerie harmonies—the result is wholly mesmerizing. Alexander Noice's forthcoming LP, Noice, is out August 23rd.

MUSIC

A Bitter Kind of Happiness: Vampire Weekend's New Album, Track by Track

Listening to Vampire Weekend's new album feels like taking a long, deep breath in the middle of Times Square.

In the heart of Times Square in midtown Manhattan, if you stand on top of a particular grate, you can hear a humming sound.

If you listen closely, it sounds like an Om, the ancient mantra used in meditation. That humming is actually an art piece, first installed by an artist named Max Neuhaus in the 1970s, created to see if anyone in Times Square would notice it.

In a way, that peaceful, persistent hum—in the midst of the violent brilliance of the modern wasteland that is midtown Manhattan—describes Vampire Weekend's newest album, Father of the Bride. It's an album that acknowledges the frantic distortions and surreality of our 21st-century existence, and embodies them sonically with erratic blends of instruments and shuffled rhythms, but also offers moments of almost surreal peacefulness and stillness.

Those moments wear many guises on the album. They're prevalent on its first track, "Hold You Now," which juxtaposes soft acoustic warbling with almost reverent, harmony-laden choruses, sung with the uncontained, innocent wildness of a children's choir. Danielle Haim's caramel-smooth vocals add a nice feeling of down-home country comfort to the song, but no track on this album remains within one genre for long. "This ain't the end of nothing much, it's just another round," Haim sings before the chorus swoops back in and lifts the whole thing into another place. It's a pure, kindhearted introduction to a complex treatise on the state of politics, love, and civilization at large.

"Hold You Now" moves to the more exuberant "Harmony Hall," then onto "Bambina," one of the moments where Vampire Weekend's genre-blending formula grows too chaotic for its own good. It alternates between angelic, reverential verses and frenetic, bouncy outbursts, creating a feeling of vertigo that feels as disorienting as a stroll through Times Square on a hot day. But maybe that's its purpose—to disorient the listener enough so that moments of peace and beauty feel extra vital amidst the neon and the noise.

The next few tracks, "This Life," "Big Blue," and "How Long?" continue to play with contrasts, balancing existential dread with detached, Zen-sounding observations. In traditional Vampire Weekend fashion, "This Life" touches on various cultural influences from around the world—it might even be referencing Buddhism's First Noble Truth, life is suffering (I've been cheating through this life, and all its suffering, Koening sings).

In between the creation of his last album and this one, Koening's son was born, and it's hard to imagine that this didn't have some influence on Father's content. The next track, "Big Blue," sounds oddly paternal, with its sunny strumming pattern and Creedence Clearwater Revival-esque solos. That's not to say that Ezra Koening has transitioned to dad rock—but there is something paternal about the whole album, something that screams, I love my son. With its warm background vocals and vaguely tropical peals of guitar, "Big Blue" is a veritable blanket of a song. "How Long" seems to be an expression of tender anxiety for the world's future, an intermingling of nostalgia for the irreverence of the past, existential musings, and a desire to escape the world at large and hide in the safe familiarity of one's family unit, despite impending disaster outside.

Vampire Weekend - Big Blue (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

Though it touches on many complex themes, Father of the Bride never dwells too long on a single topic. "Unbearably White" moves out from the domestic sphere into a self-aware examination of whiteness, a way of reflecting on the frequent criticisms of Vampire Weekend's tendency to capitalize on sounds and influences of other cultures. Instead of awkwardly apologizing, it veils its messages in obscure poetry; that doesn't excuse the band's tendency to steal and certainly doesn't excuse its members' white privilege, but luckily, the song doesn't try to do that at all. Instead, it luxuriates in its own ambiguity.

This ambiguity is one of Vampire Weekend's greatest strengths, alongside their ability to exercise restraint. Sometimes, with all the bells and chimes and shifting rhythms, you can feel the music straining at the bit, begging to burst into full-on chaos, but always there's a fall-back into a state of calm reflectiveness, an exhale just at the peak of the tension.

"Unbearably White" flows easily into "Rich Man," which sounds almost like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme, with its fairylike guitar fingerpicking and whimsical string sections. This instrumentation does a good job of framing its lyrics, which are rife with satirical critiques of the 1% billionaire class.

vampire weekend new album fotb Image via NME.com

"Married in a Gold Rush" forges ahead in the satirical vein, moving further into politics—"something's wrong with this country," Koenig begins, before moving into a song that may or may not be poking fun at MAGA-esque nostalgia for old wealth and old glories. It's sometimes hard to know the extent to which they're being overtly satirical or pointed, and most likely, that ambiguity is intentional.

All humor falls away on "My Mistake," which serves as a beautiful centerpiece in the midst of all the catastrophes, political unrest, pointed satire, and existentialism. If anything, this is the album's heartbeat, its humming in the midst of its billboards and apocalyptic rumination. It's a mournful ballad that sounds almost like musical theatre; you can imagine Koenig singing it while slouching over a grand piano, an empty glass of whiskey in his fingertips, red roses blooming somewhere on the edge of the frame. When the horns come in, it all comes together to create a rare kind of stillness.

Vampire Weekend - My Mistake (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

But then, of course, Koenig breaks the spell with "Sympathy," which he begins by saying, "I think I take myself too serious. It's not that serious," followed by a rumba undercut by Spanish guitar that moves into an upbeat, danceable track in the vein of "Diane Young." From there comes two tracks featuring Steve Lacy; the boisterous "Sunflower" and the psychedelic, nostalgic "Flower Moon." The latter sounds a bit like something out of Imogen Heap's catalog before blooming into a tropical-sounding blur of electric guitars and hand-claps.

"2021" looks to the future, working in the electronic influences proposed in "Flower Moon" and adding some attractively simple guitar lines to the mix. Danielle Haim returns on "We Belong Together," another pure love song that veers into saccharinity at times. Then "Stranger" returns to the innocence of "Big Blue" with its bouncy drums and cheery horns. Building on the self-awareness of "Sympathy," it almost feels almost like a laugh in the face of absurdity. "I used to look for an answer. I used to knock on every door," Koenig sings. "But you got the wave on, music playing, don't need to look anymore."

That's a comforting sentiment for anyone dismayed by the apparent lack of answers and clarity in all aspects of human existence. In his earlier work, Koenig's lyrics rigorously searched, questioning time and death and youth through many lenses—but on this album, for the first time, there's a sense that maybe motion for its own sake isn't worth the fight, that moments of stillness are just as important as the race to the finish line.

Vampire Weekend - 2021 (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

On "Spring Snow," Koening's autotuned vocals align neatly with a shimmering electronic piano. It's an entirely synthetic and strangely pleasing little jewel of a song that feels like it ends too quickly.

Still, its beauty is totally overshadowed by the album's final track, which is one of its strongest. "Jerusalem, New York, Berlin" evokes Bob Dylan with its lyrical acuity. It's a mournful tribute to what could've been, to what the human race might've created if we hadn't been swallowed up by greed and "that genocidal feeling that beats in every heart," as Koenig sings.

It's a violent sentiment and a sad one. But the song itself is so beautiful that you can almost forget about its meaning; you can almost forget everything. It feels like taking a deep breath in the midst of all the noise and the lights, like stopping to stare at the waving leaves on a tree outside your window, like hearing a strange, low hum poking through the cries and sirens of a busy city.

Despite these moments of tranquility, Father of the Bride is more of a collage than a cohesive whole, and it takes a certain amount of energy to really listen to it and key into its sometimes scattered blend of emotions and sounds. It won't be for everyone, but Father of the Bride is valuable both as documentation of our historical moment and as a work of musical composition.

Existing somewhere in the middle of Californian irreverence and New Yorkers' existential panic, it's sometimes a lot to take in—but of course, those little moments of perfect beauty appear just when you feel you're losing your footing. And sometimes—in this life of teeming crowds and blaring horns and neon signs all competing for attention while the sun grows ever-hotter—that's all we can ask for.

Vampire Weekend - Jerusalem, New York, Berlin (Official Audio) www.youtube.com



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


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A few weeks after receiving an all-star tribute at the Grammys and seemingly recovering from the ailment that struck her down late last year, soul immortal Aretha Franklin has announced plans for a new album, Aretha: Woman Falling Out of Love, due on May 3. What's more, Franklin has leaked the name of one very high-profile collaborator—embattled R&B star R. Kelly, who will be lending his songwriting talents to the album.

Aretha: Woman Falling Out of Love, which will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, will be Franklin's first full-length release of original material since 2003's So Damn Happy. "It's definitely going to take the Boomers back," said Franklin. "But it's also contemporary with respect to other writers and production." The announcement of the upcoming partnership comes about two months after Franklin revealed her love of Kelly and his recent single "When a Woman Loves"—which also blends the old and new schools—to Wendy Williams. "You know, if he isn't careful," cautioned the 68-year-old Franklin, "I might become a cougar." Fair warning, Kells—best to keep the love-stepping to a minimum whilst in the Queen's proximity.