V’s New Music Round-Up

Here are some of the best and biggest releases of the week

Hello and welcome! Y’know what, no traditional introduction. When you’re done with everything, go read about what’s happening in Afghanistan and how you can help. Then do the same for Haiti. And many others. This is a space of positivity, if nothing else. If we can build it with music, we can definitely do so with our awareness of the world around us and a desire to aid.

You know the drill, we’ve got the biggest and best singles and albums of the week down here. Here are this week’s top picks:

Solar Power by Lorde

Image courtesy of Universal Records

The distinct thing that sticks out to me as a difference between Solar Power and Lorde’s previous work, especially Pure Heroine, is her willingness to make her music about her individual identity (ever so slightly) rather than trying to speak to a generation. It loses the universality she had, but it gives us more of an insight into the singer through her more mellowed, psychedelic, indie-folk sounds. It’s lighter than we’ve seen her be in a while, a friend called it an “anti-depressant commercial” (well done).

One in a Million by Aaliyah

Image courtesy of Blackground Records LLC

Aaliyah’s music is finally making its way to streaming, and we couldn’t be all the more thankful for it. Her groundbreaking second studio album, One in a Million, is peak R&B and pop, especially when the collaboration of the two genres was just skyrocketing. The singer was one of the artists that helped take it to that point, and it’s a must-listen for anyone interested in diving into the discography of quite an icon.

“Summer of Love” by Shawn Mendes and Tainy

Image courtesy of Island Records

I’ve never known where to slot Shawn Mendes in terms of a specific sound or aesthetic, since he’s been quite all over the gamut with his music over the years. This track offers a newer take to the singer that’s definitely one I can see him going down and nailing, using his airy and charismatic voice over a tropical beat. It’s like the magic Ed Sheeran worked with “Bad Habits” just a few weeks ago, taking a preconceived idea of the artist and switching it around. More of Club Mendes, please! And speaking of Sheeran…

“Visiting Hours” by Ed Sheeran

Image courtesy of Asylum Records UK

It’s obvious that he can’t keep repeating the success of “Bad Habits” without going stale. “Visiting Hours” is more like what you’d expect to hear on an Ed Sheeran record (and a recent Shawn Mendes one, to be fair). And that’s absolutely no knock on him, it’s just as pristinely made and delivered as any other track of his. It’s a return to the sentimental softie Sheeran we all know and love in a string-led song that’s grandiose, intimate, and just sweepingly romantic.

“Chasing Stars” by Alesso and Marshmello ft. James Bay

Image courtesy of Joytime Collective

Quite the magic collaboration for the EDM/producer scene, Alesso and Marshmello bring enough of their signature sounds together with Bay’s evocative and powerful vocals. Their individual sounds are quite distinctly decipherable, creating this pop-country-dance mashup of a track that’s quite likely to fill a dance floor when it gets its chance to shine.

“SIERRA NIGHTS” by Kevin Abstract ft. Ryan Beatty

Image courtesy of Question Everything Inc./RCA Records

“SIERRA NIGHTS” feels like a trip as it shifts through its various tempos and vocal effects. Appropriate, since it’s meant by Abstract to be an ode to the end of summer and does sound like a song you’d drive to (where? who knows). Each section is like a song of its own, like an entire album’s worth of a listen in over four minutes, a quirk that’s now gaining popularity after experimentalists like Queen and Pink Floyd pioneered it way back when. Adapting to changing music tastes, we’re here for it!

“fleabag” by Yungblud

Image courtesy of Locomotion Recordings/Interscope

The English rocker’s first official single since 2020’s Weird is quite the dark turn. It goes from the cotton candy (re: my favorite from the album) approach to fully one step away from crying in anguish. He sings about wanting to change himself because he believes no one cares for or loves him the way he is and just goes completely bare-souled. Paired with some of the hardest guitar riffs and drums he has pulled out, it’s quite the big bang of returns for the artist.

“My Father’s Daughter” by Olivia Vedder, Eddie Vedder, and Glen Hansard

Image courtesy of Plain Records Limited

Eddie Vedder’s 17-year-old daughter, Olivia, makes her vocal debut on this tender, piano heavy track that speaks to the strength of familial bonds. She sings about the beauty of a bond that father and daughter share, touching considering that her father co-wrote the track, along with Hansard. The song will be part of the soundtrack for the Sean Penn-led Flag Day, and does the job of successfully setting the tone for the rest of the movie (at least, expectantly so).

“never mind, let’s break up” by LANY

Image courtesy of Universal Music

There’s something in the beats that LANY can create that’ll just sway you and take you with them. It’s all very fast-paced in a way that doesn’t give you the time to think about whether there’s something wrong with it or whether you even want to listen to it. Like true professionals, they come in and do their job in the most effortless of ways and leave you thinking “wow, that just happened, pretty darn good” through the catchy beats and back-and-forth feelings.

“Cryin’” by 2CELLOS

Image courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

I didn’t come into this day thinking I would be captivated by a cello rendition of an Aerosmith power ballad. Yet, here we are, in a year where anything can happen. The original is quite the dramatic song to begin with, so it’s not unexpected that this cover serves to slightly mellow the mood. It does give the track a whole new spin though, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind hearing on, say, a climactic scene on a show like “Anne with an E” (bring it back!).

“Chewing Gum” by Cian Ducrot

Image courtesy of Darkroom/Interscope Records

This is my “midnight music” but with a daytime twist. It has all the same synths oozing through, but with an ebullient twist that’s made by little touches, even just including the few notes here and there in a higher key. In many ways, it’s a standard pop song that would be perfect for the boy band days of the early aughts, but there’s some more intricate production choices made that elevate it, give it that extra oomph and 2021 factor. It makes it joyful, is what it does.

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