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! Look, I know the world is kind of a shitty place to be in right now, what with wars waging, people dying, and just bad things happening in general (I’d encourage reading up about it). So might as well engage in cultural endeavors that can take you out of it, indulge in the latest releases of the week with V’s New Music Round-Up, where we round up some of the biggest and best releases of the week, whether they be singles or albums.
Here are this week’s top picks:
Love Sux by Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne serves up a huge dose of nostalgia with Love Sux, while also fully leaning into the rock-chick we all knew lay inside way more than ever before. The very first notes of album-opener “Cannonball” throw you straight into the deep end and you know exactly what to expect from the very jump. Sure, after the eighth track, monotony does settle in, a slightly hesitancy in fully pulling away from a sound she’s become comfortable with throughout the record, but it’s that ease and the fact that it sounds a little more natural than her previous few attempts that make the album a bit more resonant. It’s not a critical masterpiece, sure, but it’s a damn good LP to rock out and Lavigne should be confident in asserting herself once again as the princess of pop-punk/pop-rock/what have you.
TRAP CAKE VOL. 2 by Rauw Alejandro
What made last year’s VICE VERSA so good was that it represented an alternative sound in latin hip-hop that leaned into the experimental, the oddities, the new. TRAP CAKE VOL. 2 offers more of that in opener “MUSEO,” and loses me with follow-up “CAPRICHOSO,” eventually almost making me walk away with “FCK U X2,” which sounds more like a Future track than anything. It’s a lot of sounds we typically hear in the mainstream hip-hop genre that populate the album, which is disappointing given that you hear glimpses of it peppered here and there, like with “GRACIAS POR NADA” or “HACKIAO.” But ultimately it’s just…(shrugs) eh?
“CHICKEN TERIYAKI” by ROSALIA
No one’s able to quite embrace a mainstream sensibility that really feels as weird and pleasing as ROSALIA does, and who the fuck knows what “CHICKEN TERIYAKI” is even about. But honestly, who cares? This song is such a distinct piece of work that just exists in its own dimension, a parody of a more traditional reggaeton-pop song that almost seems tailor-made for a spoof video. But here’s the thing, it’s no different from a lot of other ROSALIA songs, and it still has the trademarks you’d expect of her and the same very crisp focus on producing material that is always polished, always with a clear intent. This one is guaranteed to claw its way into your brain and probably never leave. And why make it?
“King” by Florence + The Machine
Florence + The Machine make their grand return to the musical centerstage (where they’ve always belonged) with comeback single “King,” hopefully a sign of a follow-up to 2018’s High as Hope on the horizon. A heart-pounding indie rock jam that brings the drama like only a performer like Florence Welch can, it embraces the notion that by being one among her idols, she had established herself as a king, gender conformity be damned. And given the rapturous response the song has already received, it’s not that hard to think of Florence and the group as kings of the scene, come back to reclaim their throne in an era of music that has since embraced their influence.
“little story” by Kehlani
Kehlani returns to provide a sweeping yet haunting take on reconciliation with their latest single, “little story.” Backed by strummed electric guitars, drawn out strings, crashing waves, almost cartoon villainy-levels of piano playing (and I mean that in the best possible way), it provides a musical cascade to soundtrack a theme that’s just as complicated, revolving around them acknowledging that they’ve done wrong and knowing that it’ll take work and time to fix things, although not giving up on hope. It’s complex in both sound and spirit and definitely provides a lot of thoughts for listeners to go through, although not all of them may sync up to Kehlani’s own. But embrace the chaos, I say!
“Crutches” by Deb Never
“Crutches” is an outsider anthem that’s all about realizing that you feel like a piece of shit but you’re finding your way through and you will be better. Despite its alt-pop sound and grunge influences, it has a very hopeful and optimistic energy to it (a great use of major and minor keys, everyone, listen up!). It’s a little reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Deja Vu,” especially in its closing segments when the distortion and guitars are taken up a notch, but I’d argue it feels even more natural. You can see the build-up coming, it fits into one narrative that Deb Never crafts throughout the song, frustrated but alive.
“Day ‘n’ Nite” by Coldplay
Coldplay’s cover of Kid Cudi’s now iconic single is mesmerizing, enveloping, atmospheric, just all encompassing in a way that sucks you in to its own unique part of the universe. Coldplay has really gotten into the groove of embracing the slightly inter-galactic and operatic in their productions lately, one of the groups that’s taken to modern music-making techniques and adapted it into their own signature style in truly spectacular fashion. I feel like both the original and the cover are such incredible songs, but the best way to appreciate them is to look at them in isolation as separate pieces of music as opposed to one’s interpretation, unlike, say, Doja Cat’s recent cover of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.”
“dying on the inside” by Nessa Barrett
Probably the most raw and honest of the songs on today’s round-up, Barrett opens up about her struggles with an eating disorder on the track. It’s heartbreaking when you start reading through each lyric of the propulsive alt-rock track, tearing through the beauty standards of society while realizing that she’s succumbed to that pressure just as much. The wails of the strings after each chorus heighten the vulnerability and emotion of the song. Just the line “I hate that I always look my best when I’m dying on the inside” should be enough to tear you apart as the 19-year-old bares her soul and struggles for the world to hear.
“Doppelgänger” by Joshua Bassett
After a trio of singles that seemed to provide a response to famous ex Olivia Rodrigo’s anthemic breakup phenomenon SOUR, Bassett returns with a little more vulnerability as he sings about realizing that he wasn’t as over his former flame as he thought. As he sings about meeting someone who looks like and reminds him of his past love over a simple melancholic beat, pierced by light building percussion and strings, it’s clear that he’s a little more confused about his feelings and is taking the act of songwriting as a way to work through them. You can tell there’s truth to this fleeting love song, and it’s hard not to be swept up in the sordid story of it all, but as a standalone track, it’s quite fine, to be honest. It doesn’t break new ground or enhance vaunted ones, sure, but it’s an easy listen that should keep fans of this narrative hooked enough.
“Not Giving You Up” by Big Time Rush
I remember when Big Time Rush returned to our Spotify playlists this December after a nine year drought with “Call It Like I See It.” And if that was about the past, this track is about their future. Our once-boy band obsession seems to be taking cues from another once-boy band obsession; New Kids on the Block, who glided into the 2010s with a keen awareness of the sounds that made the era click while still remaining true to their roots. And Big Time Rush does so too, keeping the “hey girl, I’m into you” mentality alive and remaining as pleasingly cheesy as always while trading the matching production for something glossier, an electro-pop sound that does contrast from their last release, but not too sharply to seem like a hard pivot. I may not be able to stop bopping to this one.
“FCKN IN LOVE” by Fefe Dobson
From one Canadian pop-punk superstar to another, Fefe Dobson returns with her first single in eight years, a euphoric and anthemic pop-rock track that speaks of the feeling of love and how it just makes you feel like taking off like a bottle rocket. It’s light and airy, a reprieve from the dark times we’ve been living through, replete with cliches as it may be (there’s only so many ways you can acknowledge love at this point) and is a fun reintroduction to Dobson for some and a suitable introduction to her for many (also, for Canada’s Drag Race non-fans, highly recommend her 2010 classic “Ghost”).