V’s New Music Round-Up

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

Hello and welcome…to the end of summer! Listen, be that as it may, we have kids going back to school, people resuming work (in some capacity), and in parts of the country, leaves will be turning a nice shade of yellow. What more is there to look forward to? Plus layers! And with it, you know you need to update those Fall playlists, and for that, we have V’s New Music Round-Up, where we tune you into some of the week’s biggest and best releases.

Here are this week’s top picks:

star-crossed by Kacey Musgraves

Image courtesy of UMG Recordings

There’s no way to deny just how brilliant of a songwriter Kacey Musgraves is, the stories, the tales she makes are just spell-binding. Is this her finest effort as a songwriter? Maybe not Golden Hour level, but it’s still damn near amazing all the same, it’s just such a high standard to live up to. But what elevates the record are the production choices, the genre-bending musicality she’s exploring, it’s a new Kacey almost. Sure, sometimes it’s a little odd, like with “there is a light,” but ones like “justified” and the album closer just leave you really intrigued.

JOSE by J Balvin

Image courtesy of Sueños Globales

It’s a little bit like deja vu (cue last week’s round-up), the one thing I have to acknowledge about J Balvin’s album is this: it’s too long. It is no doubt a well-crafted, autobiographical record that explores more personal lyricism for the latin superstar. But at some point, given how the production and rhythms start sounding a little too matchy-matchy, there’s an edit or two that could’ve been made. Clocking in at almost 80 minutes and 24 songs, it’s quite the journey into J Balvin’s psyche, and while it’s a little overwrought, it’s definitely eye-opening.


Image courtesy of YG Entertainment

BLACKPINK’s very own LISA makes her own solo debut with this track that pretty much tells you from the jump who she is and what you can expect from her. Unlike the last member to release their solo material, Rosé, LISA’s debut is very much in-sync with what you’d hear on any BLACKPINK record, from the Middle Eastern influences to the drum machines, right down to the spunk. It’s very clear from listening to this that she’s the source of a lot of the group’s attitude, and for diehard BLINKs, this music is going to be quite hard to say no to.

“Shivers” by Ed Sheeran

Image courtesy of Asylum Records UK

It’s interesting, I asked for more dance-pop Sheeran when I talked about “Bad Habits,” but it somehow feels like I’m listening to the same thing? “Shivers” is very much its own song, with its own pace and handclaps and punchy beat. But the keys, the melodies, even the overall vibe, it’s like I’m listening to a “Bad Habits” remix. Is it a good remix? Absolutely, the kind that would take the original to number one. But I’m curious to see where dance-pop Sheeran goes from here.

“I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)” by Glass Animals

Image courtesy of Wolf Tone Records

Glass Animals have a wide cascade of sounds that they pull from in their third studio album, Dreamland, which just got a re-release. A new addition, “I Don’t Wanna Talk” leans into the Black Keys of it all, a grungier, garage rock-oriented vibe that’s a little IDGAF, a little earnest. If all you’d ever listened to from them was “Heat Waves,” this would probably be a surprise. But in the larger canon of their material, it’s quite a welcome fit, a rockabilly song that you could possibly, maybe, kinda dance to.

“Angel Baby” by Troye Sivan

Image courtesy of Universal Music Australia

“Angel Baby” sees Sivan take on a synth ballad that honestly proves to be quite a refreshing change from his usual style. The usual Troye Sivan is airy, light, almost breathy and ethereal, but here’s he a little more emotionally wrought, powerful, almost human in his approach. It’s nice to see Sivan possess that sort of command and utilize it so well, and “Angel Baby” is definitely a great note to start off his 2021 single run with.

“Arcadia” by Lana Del Rey

Image courtesy of Lana Del Rey

It’s easy to start getting bored of Del Rey’s signature style aka this sepia-toned, vintage, old Hollywood glamor that’s bathed in this wispy cigarette smoke sheen (that articulate enough?). “Arcadia” is one of those tracks that makes its place well in her larger discography, but won’t really stand the test of time against a lot of her other material that ventures into the unknown while staying firmly rooted in its…well, roots. It’s nice, but that’s kind of what it just is.

“LALA (Unlocked)” by Alicia Keys ft. Swae Lee

Image courtesy of RCA Records

Alicia Keys’ latest releases have been quite interesting, quite noteworthy, definitely new for her. She has a really easy chemistry with Swae Lee as they trade verses quite effectively, but it almost feels half baked. The groove is undeniable and the funk is there, but it feels like it’s on the verge of going higher, harder, bigger, and stops itself short. Both artists have delivered some truly magnificent larger-than-life music, so it’s almost natural to expect that here too.

“Mal de Amores” by Sofia Reyes and Becky G

Image courtesy of Warner Music Latina

“Mal de Amores” is a fun song on its own, even when you take everything away. But what really makes this such a strong track is the sheer brilliance of bringing these two women together. There’s a lot of similarity in their voices and sounds that it almost feels like you’re hearing a duo who’ve been working with each other and harmonizing, polishing their vocals in tandem for years. It’s dynamite because of the two artists involved, charming vocals and all.

“Right Track” by Syd ft. Smino

Image courtesy of Syd Solo

Feels right, in a way, to transition from “Mal de Amores” to “Right Track,” since the latter seems to possess this almost latin flavor in its own production. It’s a really fun and vibey kind of song for Syd, who still gets to display those sultry and mesmerizing vocals of hers, which go well with Smino’s own verse. It’s a little ditty that’s great for the final vestiges of summer.

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