V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the best and biggest releases of the week
Hello and welcome! The negativity of this world got you down? Need a ray of hope and sunshine and positive vibes? Then welcome to my TED Ta- I mean, welcome to V’s new music round-up, where we tune you into some of the week’s biggest and best releases, whether they be singles or albums.
Here are this week’s top picks:
Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish
If you thought Billie Eilish was a monotone, soft-spoken wisp of a singer back then, this record might be an awakening. And I mean that in the kindest way possible. The production and the vocal stylings are all relatively calmer, more fleeting, but paired against subject matter that could, in different hands, be part of storied, anguished balladry. It’s a mature sophomore effort for Eilish who diversifies and certifies that she isn’t a one-trick pony or a one-album wonder, making a record arguably better than her first.
The House is Burning by Isaiah Rashad
The House is Burning is, at its core, a deeply personal record for Rashad, who manages a clean and solid return to music after a five year break due to personal struggles. It digs deep on who the artist is, not just lyrically, but aesthetically. He cleverly shows us his cards with references and inspirations, borrowing liberally from sounds of the Motown era and classic funk, elevating the record all the more (can’t go wrong with a throwback sound, can you?).
Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night by Bleachers
From one end of the retrosphere to another, Bleachers pay more of an homage to old-school pop and rock-n-roll, the Archies meets the Beatles, if that adds up as a vibe. There’s a lot more going on beyond the surface, which they don’t dive into as deeply as they have in the past (“Don’t Take the Money,” still their best song). But there’s more fun and effervescence than we see them indulge in, including bringing on heavy hitters like Lana Del Rey and Bruce Springsteen (!!).
“Skate” by Silk Sonic
“Skate” is dripping with the kind of pick-up lines that would’ve worked so well in the 70s and 60s, which is appropriate because this track sounds like it was made exactly in that era. The strings and brilliant horns are the kind of magical instruments that play in very many retro-themed dreams. Imagine listening to this song come on the jukebox at a 60s-themed diner? What a moment, another breezy and cheesy slam dunk for Mars and .Paak.
“Remember Her Name” by Mickey Guyton
Mickey Guyton is the kind of revelation and power that country music needs, which this track exemplifies quite a bit of. Not only does Guyton have the impressive and evocative vocal ability to tell her story, plus the pounding, driving melody with an understated twang, she has the story to sell it all. Her coming album of the same name promises to be one of empowerment and standing for the voiceless, and this song is a good reminder of that.
“Mistress Violet” by Violet Chachki and Allie X
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Violet Chachki’s musical output has always been quite a departure from the material other queens from the show have released. Here, Chachki aims to create a sound that’s just bleeding house, techno, dark, avant-garde pop, reminiscent of Lady Gaga in her “Bad Romance” era. She even manages to bring the usually exuberant and glistening Allie X over to the dark side in this concoction of BDSM dominant elegance.
“Better Days” by Dermot Kennedy
While this, on first listen, does sound like the kind of song you would expect from Dermot Kennedy, it’s a lot more fully-realized than a lot of his other soaring ballads, especially since it’s a ballad hidden behind a skittering drum beat. You can just hear the rain falling down on him as he scream-sings the song to the skies, asking for the heavens above to bless the world with “better days.” It’s the grand declaration of “it gets better” tunes.
“BEST FOR ME” by The Kid LAROI
“BEST FOR ME” has a lot of what LAROI’s latest album couldn’t perfectly nail down: a touch more heart. Of course, there was a good bit of it then too, but it’s easy to hide behind trap loops and heavy percussion in today’s day and age. Sometimes, the nuances aren’t enough, it takes an emotional upheaval to really get your message across. These are aka LAROI’s breakthrough moments, when he steps away from the sound that usually dominates his music and goes all in.
“Okay.” by X Ambassadors
In contrast to their last release, “My Own Monster,” this track is all about acceptance and learning to live with the fact that something may not go your way. But there’s still resilience to it in the group’s vocals and instrumentation, it’s almost the kind of uplifting pop melodies that you’d hear on a Bastille-like outfit. X Ambassadors continues to display their versatility across genres and messages that should serve them we- wait, what is this outro? Why am I now terrified? Okay, this took a VERY haunting turn.
“Wake Up” by HAWA
The Caribbean steel drums are the highlight of this fun and funky track. HAWA’s flow is cool and slinky, barely stopping at each word along the lyrics, simply letting the rhythm take her where she needs to go. There is an undeniable groove to this track that’s too short to really appreciate in its fullest. It’s a teaser, an appetizer, and hopefully, the main course should suffice just as much.
“Blue Football” by August Royals
August Royals makes his big debut with “Blue Football,” a gritty track with the guitar runs and staccato synth beats to match. It’s what I like to call (and have called on this round-up before) “midnight music,” the kind of sound that really fits well under the moonlight or streetlights. Fitting considering one of the lyrics on the chorus is, “Dancing under streetlights, torn up trying to ease my mind, my body’s breaking down from the substance I rely.”
“Golden” by Zella Day
Zella Day brings back the pure bliss she’s been exploring with the songs from her upcoming sophomore album, diving into the bountiful sounds of disco, rhythm, and groove. It’s a track that really captivates and drives you to experience the freedom of movement. It has traces of her earlier work in the slight guitar twangs you’ll hear every now and then, but it’s really just the joy of pop at its finest.
“Summer of Love” by Aluna and Punctual
A song about 2020 being a dumpster fire? Moving on from the pain of lockdown? We could never! But in all seriousness, “Summer Of Love” aims to bring the hope of a summer of love and happiness that we missed out on so dearly in 2020. It goes back and forth between being uplifting and by-the-numbers in its approach, but it mostly does its job of being a certifiable club hit.