Welcome back to New(ish) Music Tuesday, in which The Young Folks staff share their favorite new songs. We took a break last week, but we’re back to share some more of the tracks that we’ve been digging lately. It’s back to school for most of you guys, so hopefully something here will be your jam as you start this year of high school or college or wherever you’re heading off to!
Daphne and Celeste – “You and I Alone”
One of the most surprising returns of the year is that of former Bring It On soundtrack headliners Daphne & Celeste. “You and I Alone,” the duo’s team-up with British producer Max Tundra is one of the best songs of the year. The song has the same playful energy of their earlier material, but channeled through a decade-plus of electropop. In addition to Daphne and Celeste’s killer vocals, there’s a bridge featuring Twin Peaks and Infinite Jest references(!!) and Tundra’s off-kilter production that utilizes unusual things like recorded footsteps. A sure shoe-in for year-end lists of any pop music obsessive (it’ll be on mine)
Ceremony – “The Separation”
This week, I finally went through my 2015 to-be-listened pile and gave Ceremony’s The L Shaped Man a go. Your enjoyment of this record will depend on how much tolerance you have for bands that sound like Joy Division/Interpol, especially at this point, several years after bands like that seemed to peter out. On The L Shaped Man and “The Separation” especially, Ceremony showcases their gift for crafting a good post-punk melody, which pulls them away from the pack. Definitely worth checking out for fans of guitar music.
Nick Jonas – “Levels”
Nick Jonas dropped a new single a couple weeks ago. It took a couple listens for me to get into this synth-y pop track, but eventually the mix of Nick’s vocals with this danceable beat became ear candy. Nick surprised me last year with his self-titled album, and I’m glad he keeps on experimenting with his sound.
Jason Derulo – “Cheyenne”
Don’t mistake him for typical. The Balkan Beat Box sample in “Talk Dirty,” toy flute in “Wiggle,” and titular horns in “Trumpets” were some of the weirdest sounds to hit the radio in 2014 and, if you were to listen to the album Talk Dirty, you’d be greeted with album cuts just as bizarre (try “Bubblegum”).
When “Want to Want Me” was released at the beginning of this year, it seemed to signal a more basic direction for Derulo. Instead, the album that came from it, Everything is 4, ups the ante on the strangeness. Album highlight “Broke” features both Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban, forming an R&B/country combo that works far better than you’d expect. “Painkiller” is a Meghan Trainor duet that’s the best thing she’s done (coincidentally, the worst thing she’s done is also a duet from this year, the dreadful “Marvin Gaye”). He sings a love duet with Jennifer Lopez over an afropop beat and brings on K. Michelle for a cheating song that climaxes with him singing, “Kiss it, grab it, turn it, baby, I’ma keep my Jays on.”
And yet, the Jays-on Derulo song I’ve been playing nonstop is among his most normal, Everything is 4’s sophomore single “Cheyenne.” Over the most intense club beat since, er, Usher’s “Climax,” Derulo sings about a hookup that turned into love, to his dismay. “I never meant to fall in love,” he sings, before a fuzz guitar enters and makes you forget he’s not Miguel. It’s not a particularly weird song. No guest appearances, no samples. And yet, it may be too weird for radio. It’s peaked at No. 66, a big step down from the top five “Want to Want Me.”
The Weeknd ft Lana del Rey – “Prisoner”
Chills and goosebumps. If you haven’t already heard this track from The Weeknd’s latest album Beauty Behind The Madness then that is exactly what you’re going to feel. With Abe’s soothing, melodic voice being complimented by Lana’s signature soulful lethargy, this is an obvious collaboration that I’m glad finally happened. The rhythmically slow beat and the haunting vocals help create the mood set up by the lyrics. This song is perfect if you’re caught in a toxic relationship, or even if you’re just going back to school. Either way, you’ll be a prisoner.
For this new(ish) music week, I’d like to cheat and recommend three albums, more a trilogy, and it’s Kanye’s College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation. Each album has a different vibe toward the first weeks of college depending on your year. College Dropout is recommended to incoming freshman and sophomore transfer students. It embodies a conscious backpack (lyricist) hip-hop. It’s deep and fun, allowing the feel of the seriousness and enjoyment of living on campus for those mentioned. Some quick recommendations off the album are “Get Em High,” “We Don’t Care,” and “School Spirit.” Late Registration on the other hand is riotous, soulful, and self-inflicted with inner greatness; the only bad mood one can derive from this is on “Hey Mama.” Nonetheless the album takes you through a wild and smooth second and third year. Some records off Late Registration I’d recommend are “Crack Music,” “Drive slow,” and “We Major,” (Just for that Nas verse alone). Graduation is more relative on reflections. Records like “Champion,” “Everything I am,” and “Drunk and Hot Girls,” vibe well with this notion.