Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and it feels like the music world’s finally waking up after a sleepy holiday break. Plenty of worthy new tunes came out this week, and I found myself having to make difficult decisions regarding inclusion here for the first time in a month. Writing this column is more fun when it’s tough!
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! — and tune into our Periscope broadcast covering this week’s picks when it airs this afternoon. Let’s go:
David Bowie, "Dollar Days":
Let’s take one last moment this week to celebrate the work of David Bowie, whose death cast a shadow over everything happening in music this week. "Dollar Days" is the last entry in a long tradition of grand, beguiling Bowie ballads that stretches all the way back to "Space Oddity," and it’s set apart by its rich, meandering saxophone. The music on Blackstar didn’t need Bowie’s passing to become worthy or resonant, though it certainly cast the album in a new light; songs like "Dollar Days" are impressive no matter the context.
El Guincho ft. Mala Rodriguez, "Comix":
Pablo Díaz-Reixa released two records as El Guincho near the end of the ‘00s, a time when he was surrounded by plenty of kindred spirits making chillwave and Balearic pop. "Comix" is the first single from the upcoming Hiperasia, his first album in six years, and it’s a decent introduction to his warm, fizzy work, even if he’s a little heavy-handed with the vocoder.
Field Music, "Disappointed":
British indie-pop veterans Field Music are releasing their new LP Commontime on February 5th, and "Disappointed" is the best track that’s been cut from it to date. There’s a surprising muscle to the song’s low end, and that’s reflected in the lyrical sentiment. This is a song about feeling stymied by a partner’s unrealistic expectations, and the locked-in bass line is the sound of someone stuck in their ways.
Fort Romeau, "Secrets & Lies":
This week in "things I didn’t expect to learn": an extended sample of Dirty Dancing dialogue can make a perfectly good anchor for an undulating, acid-flecked house jam! "Secrets & Lies" stretches out over almost 10 minutes, but it glides by like it’s half that length; by the time you hear Jennifer Grey’s voice, you’ve somehow slipped through six minutes. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
Madrid quartet Hinds released their debut LP Leave Me Alone last week. "Garden" is fuzzy, yearning guitar-pop, and it’s probably the catchiest song on the record. A ton of music in this vein is released every year, and I’ve found myself thinking about why this song works where others just fade into the background. There’s a bratty, frustrated urgency to the band’s vocals that sticks out, and the presence of multiple singers gives it some unexpected texture; those qualities were enough to leave a mark on me.
Into It. Over It., "No EQ":
Despite its title, I love the way "No EQ" is mixed, particularly the hyper-proficient drumming. It’s an intense, dense song, but you can still pick out almost every light-footed tap and distinct hit darting around your ears. It’s the first single from Evan Weiss’ new album Standards, which is due out on March 11th, and its dynamism has me excited for another collection of wordy, winsome emo.
Laura Mvula ft. Nile Rodgers, "Overcome":
I remember enjoying Laura Mvula’s 2013 debut Sing to the Moon, but not as much as I like "Overcome," an ambitious piece of symphonic pop given a funky touch by the legendary Nile Rodgers. Mvula uses every inch of the low end of her range before closing the song with a gorgeous, layered choral arrangement. It’s a ton to cram into just over three minutes, but she pulls it off.
Lushlife + CSLSX ft. Killer Mike, "This Ecstatic Cult":
Philadelphia rapper Raj Haldar (aka Lushlife) is an omnivorous collaborator, and his upcoming album Ritualize is crammed with guest spots from people like Ariel Pink, Marissa Nadler, and RJD2. The album was entirely co-produced by CSLSX, and together they whip up a bit of breezy electro-funk that serves as the backbone for Haldar and his guests’ inflamed, righteous verses.
Mayer Hawthorne, "Cosmic Love":
R&B revivalist Mayer Hawthorne is gearing up to release his first solo LP in three years this spring, though it doesn’t have a confirmed title or release date yet. "Cosmic Love" is its first single, a twinkling soul track that tiptoes the line between sincere and parodic. (Let me put it this way: there are a few too many women sighing in the back of the mix for me to take this seriously.)
Rostam Batmanglij is one of the creative forces behind Vampire Weekend, and he’s a prolific producer and performer in his own right too. Despite its title, "EOS" doesn’t have anything to do with lip balm: it’s gentle, reflective art-pop. If you like the way Modern Vampires of the City sounds — spare and delicate, like it’s meant for some kind of church — you’re going to feel at home with this song.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have an awesome weekend!