V’s New Music Round-Up
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Here are some of the biggest and best releases of the week
Text: Ahad Sanwari
Hello and welcome! Yes, yes, yes, judging by the thumbnail, I’m thinking a majority of you are here to read about what’s the tea on the new Taylor Swift album. Well, you’ll be happy to know that this is a week packed with some truly amazing releases that see many artists embrace new directions, and we’ve got it all for you on V’s New Music Round-Up, with the week’s best and biggest releases, whether they be singles or albums.
Here are this week’s top picks, and about that ten minute version of “All Too Well”…:
Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
…well, you’ll be happy to know it’s just as immersive and enchanting of an experience as you’d imagine. But that’s not the point. In retrospect, it was an incredibly smart and important decision to prioritize this album for the re-recording treatment, because we often forget that Red was the seminal piece to bridge the gap between pop and country in the early 2010s. The tracks from the vault really emphasize that, from the blues and folk-oriented collabs with Chris Stapleton and Phoebe Bridgers, to the very poppy “Message in a Bottle” and “The Very First Night,” this release is a testament to the appeal of a crossover, something we don’t often give Swift enough credit for.
An Evening with Silk Sonic by Silk Sonic
I will say, An Evening with Silk Sonic most certainly lives up to the vibe that had been created by the three preceding singles. It’s a trip down Motown lane, filled with joyful brass and symphonies that just come alive and make you groove, make you jive, make you smoothly glide. It takes a couple of listens to discern the bits that stand out from each individual track without them all just mushing into one, but as a stand-alone record, it’s quite the fun ride. Great on its own, just good in the larger scheme of things.
Rebels of The Neon God by Julian LaMadrid
I’d split Rebels of The Neon God into two halves: the “I recommends” and the “I’d maybe pass?” The beauty of the album is in Lamadrid’s desire to experiment and unbound himself, but it ends up occasionally being too much, not as much of a veer as it is a sharp u-turn in sound, which can be jarring unless you’re really prepared for it. From “Patience” to “Pressure,” the songs with more traditional structures are damn impressive, steeped in story and sound that really stick with you. The other six tracks are interesting to experience, but maybe not repeat.
“Bite Me” by Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne makes an explosive return to music with her first bit of original music since 2019, a return to her pop-punk roots since the mostly tepid Head Above Water. It sounds like no time has passed at all between “Sk8er Boi” and “Bite Me,” especially because she manages to sound so energetic and vibrant. Yet it doesn’t feel dated in any way, it’s like if Avril from 2001 stepped out of a time machine to record a song in 2021, and it’s magic.
“LA FAMA” by ROSALÍA with The Weeknd
It took ROSALÍA for me to be interested in The Weeknd again after my growing boredom with his sound in last week’s round-up. By bringing a blend of classic bachata sounds, like the hand drums and the quick-paced beat, with a slight bit of electro-pop, but not enough to overtake the whole melody, she gives the whole track an almost showdown-like feel, like a constant repartee between the artists, but almost quirky, too flirty to be taken as fatal. The real killing blow is how good this duo is proving to be after her appearance on his “Blinding Lights” remix.
“Be Alive” by Beyonce
Beyonce’s first release in over a year (if you don’t include the “Moon River” cover for Tiffany) is a soaring bit of inspirational pop and R&B that doesn’t really feel like it could fit on anyone but Beyonce. The power, the precision, even just figuring out the timing on when to bring the bristle, the runs, the coos, it’s a masterful show of her vocal prowess. It’s an interesting one from a production standpoint, though, with this continuously pounding beat and a relatively bare melody that could get monotone depending on what mood you’re in. But it’s a solid, solid return nevertheless.
“Already Dead” by Juice WRLD
It’s a different kind of dark and meta listening to the new song released by the late rapper’s estate in the run-up to his second posthumous album. It’s surrounded by a lot of the depression and pain that many of Juice WRLD’s lyrics were steeped in, but especially chilling lyrics about death and a hauntingly sparse piano melody driving the track make it an affecting one. For a casual listener, it’s intriguing enough, but for a fan, it’s like a word from the beyond.
“The Only Heartbreaker” by Mitski
Mitski goes from the quiet, indie-pop, introspection of her last release, “Working for the Knife,” to fully embracing the euphoric synth-pop of the 1980s. She does something clever, however, with her choice of keys and instrumentation, maintaining that familiar sense of lightness while adding a foreboding of darkness or melancholy, which makes sense given more of the decay and loss she tackles in the lyrics itself. It goes to show how important it really is to think of the full package with a release, and Mitski does it once again.
“Blondes” by Blu DeTiger
“Blondes” is a refreshing departure from DeTiger’s EP, mostly because it takes a well-honed aesthetic and polishes it by blending it with a variety of other colorful sounds. It’s reminiscent of Dua Lipa’s pivot from her eponymous album to “Don’t Start Now,” you can see her in there, but there’s newness to it, experimentation, more of an opportunity to embrace a different direction. DeTiger embraces the same vintage, disco-lite feeling of abandon that combined with her guitar-driven edge produces a killer track.
“Envolver” by Anitta
Anitta’s newest takes on a bunch of familiar reggaeton, latin urbano sounds and beats with a few of her own touches here and there to deliver an ode to female sexuality and empowerment. It’s quite summer-y, the production feels deliberately veered in that warm direction. It’s not groundbreaking or innovative by any means whatsoever, whether lyrically or musically, but it’s just light-hearted and fun enough that it doesn’t matter when it’s on at the club and you’re just slightly in the foot-tapping mood.
“done” by Nova Miller
Nova Miller really does sound tired on here, no? Although, given the context, I’d say that’s a good thing. “done” is pretty much your go-to for when you’re just too exhausted to care, you just want to go “I’m done, goodbye, thank you, see you never.” It’s irresistibly catchy and even gives the TikTok sensation a chance to flex that octave range of hers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be humming that chorus to anyone who asks me to do some chores for the day.
“Hello Hello” by Trixie Mattel
Drag Race icon Trixie Mattel really did spend a majority of the past few years solidifying herself as the drag country legend to then come around and slap us with this 80s-inspired pop-rock track. It’s such a different direction for Mattel, but if anything, I prefer it to her country material. It may not be as vulnerable or earnest, but she has energy for days and even gets to inject a bit of her natural sass into it. It’s like listening to an early cut from The Jets, it’s that good..