Welcome to the second installment of New(ish) Music Tuesdays, our new feature where the Young Folks’ staff writes about songs that they currently can’t get enough of. This week, our picks highlight a wide array of musical genres and artists from the electro-house of Disclosure to the math rock of Foals to the boy band pop One Direction. So without further ado, let’s get to the music.
Alessia Cara – “Here”
I discovered Alessia Cara while I was frustratingly trying to search through Apple Music. For some reason, Apple Music wouldn’t let me leave the “Hot Tracks” playlist, so I decided to let it play. Most of the songs didn’t leave an impression until I heard “Here,” a cool, mellow summer song about being at a party against your better judgement. There is something hypnotic about the 19-year-old Canadian singer’s silky, textured R&B vocals. You feel like you’re right there with Cara, deeply feeling this perfect anthem for all the introverts out there.
Disclosure (feat. Sam Smith) – “Omen”
I’m not a huge Sam Smith fan, but I love when Disclosure teams up with him. “Latch” is a great track, and it seems that they recapture that magic with their new track together, “Omen.” Smith’s vocals add a bit of seductiveness to the bouncy rhythm track. It’s a fun song, debuting at the right time in summer and a good lead in to Disclosure’s upcoming sophomore album, Caracal, out in September.
X Ambassadors – “Renegades”
The band members have known each other since kindergarten, so it comes as no surprise that their tight sound comes across in the record. These guys from New York are currently touring, have sold out shows and have a quickly-growing fan base. This band of four guys create songs that are uplifting. X Ambassadors have a unique sound that is a mix of rock, indie and much more due to their eclectic style. Ever since hearing their hit song “Renegades” on the radio, it has been on constant repeat. “Renegades” is an anthem for the underdogs; the ones who feel the world is against them.
Moreover, it is only fitting that their music video captures that exact message. The music video for this track is inspiring. The song is a celebration and a remembrance to embrace yourself wholeheartedly, differences and all. We should not be afraid to be unique. X Ambassadors’ lyrical melody reminds us that it is okay to stand out and go against the grain. To all the renegades, it is time to stop following the rules.
“So, all hail the underdogs. All hail the new kids. All hail the outlaws.”
One Direction – “Drag Me Down”
Ever since Zayn left One Direction, curiosity has been at an all time high as to the future of the band and how it would affect their sound. But the wait is over. One Direction released their first single since Zayn’s departure, called “Drag Me Down.” The pop track is edgy and showcases the next step in their musical progression. When I first heard it on the radio, I did not even realize it was One Direction singing. Their sound has definitely matured, and the song has quickly swept the charts all over the globe in just a few short days. Looks like their popularity remains consistent, and anticipation only continues to build as fans wait for more new songs from the guys.
Foals – “Mountain at My Gates”
British math rockers Foals have been one of my favorite bands over the past few years, and from the tracks they’ve released to preview it, I’m very excited for their fourth record What Went Down. Just like with Holy Fire a few years ago, they’ve led promotion for this album with a harder-edged single and a more upbeat, radio friendly one. For Holy Fire, I gravitated more towards the latter song (“My Number”) than I did the former (“Inhaler”) and history repeats itself for the What Went Down singles. As much as I like the title track, “Mountain at My Gates” has more of the things I like in a Foals song: dancy angular guitars in an offbeat time signature with an unassuming chorus and a killer vocal from Yannis Philippakis. Definitely a song that should satisfy the group’s long time fans–it even recalls some of the singles from their debut album, Antidotes)–as much as it does the relative newcomers.
Special mention needs to be given to the song’s innovative video, featuring an interactive 360-degree view panaroma filmed using GoPro cameras, similar to the video for “Stonemilker” that Bjork put out earlier this summer.
Spring King – “City”
In Late June, British DJ Zane Lowe launched Apple’s flagship Beats One station, and there was a bit of speculation what he would pick as the station’s first song. He didn’t pick a hit by Taylor Swift or something by the new-to-streaming AC/DC. Instead, he chose “City,” by the virtually-unknown British indie band Spring King, entirely because he personally liked it and wanted people to hear it. Doing something like that on a global scale isn’t a surprise to those who knew Lowe’s M.O. back when he was heir apparent to John Peel at BBC Radio 1, but it shouldn’t distract from the song. Yes, it was released in March and technically shouldn’t count for this column, but who had actually heard Spring King’s “City” before June 30? It’s a raucous, punchy slice of British indie, recalling rambunctious mid-aughts bands like The Libertines and early Arctic Monkeys. While I’m very mixed on Apple Music as a whole, I think Beats One–and the concept of a “global radio station”–is incredibly intriguing. Lowe has been quietly reintroducing some his quirky favorites from his BBC days to his Beats show, so hopefully more little bands like Spring King get their big global break out of him.
Beach House – “Sparks”
Lately, I’ve been waking up far earlier than I normally do, and I usually wind up walking around my neighborhood at sunrise. Mornings have been foggy and muggy lately in Newport, and I’ve found myself playing a lot music on these walks that seem to match this weather–Cocteau Twins, Ride, Ladytron, Phantogram, and Beach House. This song, the first single from Beach House’s upcoming album Depression Cherry, has been in nearly constant rotation in that iPod playlist. It’s hazy, mysterious, and slow-building, and even though it isn’t necessarily catchy, it burrows deep in your head and refuses to leave. It’s not a song that screams “song of the summer” to a lot of people, but it’s definitely become one of mine.
Years & Years – “Real”
Yes, sure, this song has been out for a while now, but the full album dropped within the last month so it’s worth revisiting. “Real” is just about everything I want in a pop song. The verses are dynamic and fun, relying on singer Olly Alexander’s smooth lower vocals, and the choruses are catchy despite being repetitive. Alexander has a voice wonderfully suited for pop music and the beats are infectious. It’s the first song that drew my attention to the group, and it’s a perfect demonstration of what makes them so easy to listen to.
Of Monsters and Men – “I Of the Storm”
I wasn’t a huge fan of Of Monsters and Men’s latest album, preferring their quicker more upbeat songs to their slower and reflective numbers, but “I Of the Storm” is simply a stunning output. Beginning like a lullaby and ending on a crescendoing high, it’s moody and somber and absolutely beautiful to listen to.
Titus Andronicus – “Fired Up”
With a new album that’s being called a game-changer, and a style that’s always been so celebratory of the punk scene, “Fired Up” may not be the best on the album, but it’s certainly a great introductory song. Enthusiastic with energizing vocals, the song is a great late summer jam promising new music from a band that continues to ups its ante, refusing to coast on their prior goodwill.
Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”
Country, alternative, indie and pop music fans alike will love this song. The song opens with “I woke up this morning, didn’t recognize the man in the mirror, then I laughed and said, ‘oh silly me, that’s just me.’” I think it’s my favorite lyric of 2015. The song instantly makes you want to shrug your shoulders and nod your head. Vile is going back to his roots with “Pretty Pimpin”; his first instrument was a banjo. We haven’t heard a song this folk/country from Vile in a while, so we will have to wait and see what this means for his next album.
Baio – “Endless Rhythm”
Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend released the third single of his album, due out September 18th. “Endless Rhythm” shows that Baio is continuing to move away from his electronic/ DJ-style music of the past. You might not hear this song at a club, but it will definitely still make you want to dance. Check out this groovy, fun song that would be perfect for the opening credits of a movie. Don’t you think?
Amason – “Went to War”
Amason is a Swedish band whose stellar debut album was released earlier this year. Last week their Spotify Session came out, and you need to listen! “Went to War,” a duet-style song, features unique female and male voices and delicate harmonies that are exposed even more in the live version. The song sounds like floating down a river in the valley with the winds and water howling around you. The vocals and melody of “Went to War” will instantly soothe and quiet your mind.
While you may never have heard of Amason before, you probably know more about the band than you think. Lead singer, Amanda Bergman, was previously married to The Tallest Man on Earth’s Kristian Matsson, and she provided vocals for Lykke Li’s critically acclaimed album I Never Learn. Band member Pontus Winnberg is a part of Miike Snow and has worked with artists such as Hilary Duff and Britney Spears (he co-wrote and produced “Toxic”).
Drake – “Hotline Bling”
Confession: I like R&B Drake more than I like Rapper Drake. With all the fuss over Drake’s feud with Meek Mill, it’s easy to overlook that he can still drop some smooth R&B in the midst of beef tracks. Debuting on July 25th during his OVO Sound radio show on Apple Music, “Hotline Bling” is actually a remix of D.R.A.M.’s unbelievable stupid “Cha Cha.” Drake does the song a bit more justice by slowing down the beat a touch and bringing his own pseudo-soul voice to the track. Of course, like most R&B Drake songs, “Hotline Bling” is Drake thinking about a girl from home he used to be with who now has a busier social calendar. Drake’s voice is hazy like his work on “Tuesday,” clearly sounding a bit drunk and somber. Regardless, Drake knows how to make a groovy club beat work into a confessional heartbreak song. Whatever (or whoever) is making Drake drop these great new tracks a mile a minute, all I can say is keep it up.