Every Friday, artists drop new music. Be it a brand new anticipated album, a surprise release, singles, EPs, or collabs, Fridays are always dedicated to soaking in as much new music as possible and hearing what’s new. This year, we aim to bring you the best of Friday releases every following Saturday, giving you recommendations as to what needs to be heard. These are our #NewMusic choices for Friday, January 13th…
The xx // I See You
The English indie pop group’s new album, I See You, has been a highly anticipated release even before it’s announcement. Last year, the group first gave us a preview into their new sound with the single “On Hold.” It was evident from the first listen that The xx have taken a new road on production. Following in the steps of member Jamie xx’s last release, the trio now boasts more upbeat dance vibes in their staple atmospheric electronica. “On Hold” perfectly exemplified this with an included sampling of Hall and Oates “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” Though there is a shift in sound (and might I say, a good change), The xx certainly haven’t lost touch of their traditional cool. Highlight track “Performance” is a perfect example of the classic xx sound, with a chilling and compelling vocal performance by Romy Madley Croft.
SOHN // Rennen
This week has been good for the electronic genre. Dropping the same day as The xx’s anticipated release, London musician SOHN released his second album, Rennen, the follow up to his mesmerizing debut album. Rennen begins with “Hard Liquor,” providing the perfectly built up intro to go into the early standout, “Conrad.” With thought-provoking lyrics atop unconventional beats, SOHN crafts a masterpiece of electronic music.
Wiley // Godfather
The return of the grime scene in hip-hop has been on the rise. Last year saw Skepta release the acclaimed Konnichiwa, a modern throwback to the age of top grime music. With Skepta and other UK rappers giving the scene new life, the father of the genre throws his comeback offering out to the crowd, after a controversial shift to more mainstream sounds. With Godfather, Wiley takes back the genre he began in the grandest way possible. The album really lifts off on track two, the incredible duo of “Bring Them All / Holy Grime,” a track featuring fellow grime rapper Devlin. The percussive production alongside the fast flows of the two MCs comes together to create an astonishing hip-hop track showcasing the power of grime. With features from Skepta and Belly (“U Were Always, Pt. 2), and more, Wiley is truly back with a banger.
Ed Sheeran // Divide
We’re cheating a bit on this one, because technically the album has yet to drop. Though it is on preorder, the album in it’s entirety is yet to be heard until it’s impending March 3rd release. However, along with the preorder of the British songwriter’s third record comes two brand new singles: “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You.” On his first record, Sheeran showcased his emotional songwriting skills. With his second release, he showed the world he’s capable of some top hip-hop style flows. Now, he’s proving his true pop stardom. “Shape of You” takes the best of today’s top 100 hits and puts Ed’s own spin on it to paint a near perfect pop hook. “Castle on the Hill” puts a more rock polish on the tried and true Sheeran method, making a large, stadium sounding record on growing up and looking back. Division is sure to be mentioned again when the full album drops.
The Chainsmokers // Paris (Single)
Hot off their latest EP, Collage, The Chainsmokers have come a long way since “Selfie.” With a Grammy nomination for their track, “Closer,” with Halsey, the production duo of Taggart and Pall have tried again and again to fine tune their sound to perfection. Their latest single, “Paris,” is the closest they’ve come so far. Sans any notable vocal features, Taggart instead takes the lead in this neatly auto tuned and sunny electro-pop production.
Halsey // Not Afraid Anymore (Single)
The one thing I’ve come to actually like in the world of the Fifty Shades of Grey movies is their soundtracks. The first film gave us great songs such as The Weeknd’s “Earned It” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.” The brand new sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, is once again proving to have an excellent accompanying soundtrack. Last year saw the surprise drop of the film’s first single, a Taylor Swift / Zayn Malik collaboration titled “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” This week, the soundtrack’s second single comes from Halsey, the pop goddess who rose quickly to fame with her debut album, Badlands. This song takes Halsey’s distinctive sounds and gives them massive orchestral twists, creating a big sounding, but slow and sultry track perfectly fit for the film’s plot. The rest of the soundtrack will drop on February 10th, and features new tracks from Tove Lo, Sia, and more. This is certainly one release to be on the look out for.
POWERS // Dance (Single)
While scouring through releases on Fridays, it’s inevitable to come across a new name that comes as an unexpected surprise, and thus gives a new band to follow throughout the year. This week gave us POWERS, an electro-pop duo that already has one banger of an EP under their belt. Kicking off the new year, the band dropped their latest track, “Dance,” a wildly energetic alt-pop performance that will certainly have you obeying the command of it’s title. If you’re feeling like diving more into this band after hearing this one, be sure to listen to their 2015 EP, Legendary, and catch them on tour this spring with Bridget Mendler (coming to Portland’s Holocene on April 5th. All ages).
Grace Mitchell // Kids (Ain’t All Right) (Single)
Portland’s own Grace Mitchell has proved herself to be one of the most promising voices on the rise in pop. With her last EP, Raceday, Mitchell showed up with 5 perfectly crafted alt-pop tunes. Now, the songwriter is showing off new skills with the straight up rock of “Kids (Ain’t All Right).” Mitchell proves her voice has even more layers to it, delivering a badass alt-rock performance that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Wolf Alice record. With this headbanger of a track, Grace Mitchell easily earns our spot for best release of the week.