Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I’m exhausted after working through one of the craziest weeks in recent musical memory. Rihanna finally released a new album! B.o.B. thinks the Earth is flat! Kanye is totally uninterested in butt stuff! I’m actually a little bummed out by the frenzy, because a ton of interesting, exciting music came out this week and ended up overshadowed by social media shenanigans. At least we can celebrate it here, right?
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
A$AP Rocky ft. Pharrell, "Hear Me":
"Hear Me" was released just a few hours after Kanye and Wiz Khalifa’s Twitter kerfuffle fizzled out, and it’s too enjoyable to get lost in the shuffle. If SoundCloud loosies have a Platonic ideal, this is close to it: it’s smooth, buoyant, and does just enough to remind you to Rocky’s still worth your time and attention between album cycles.
Chairlift’s excellent new album Moth went public last week, and it warrants one last appearance in this space before we move forward with new music. I have a soft spot for songs that change in response to something happening in the lyrics, and "Polymorphing" is a great example. Caroline Polachek sings about change and the song starts to melt, stuttering and ballooning before snapping into place. It’s an exciting, satisfying trick pulled off by smart musicians.
Dawn Richard, "Not Above That":
Dawn Richard (aka D∆WN) is one of R&B’s most ambitious performers, and she’s planning on releasing a new LP called RED•emp•tion later on this year. (It’s following up last year’s dense, arty Blackheart and capping off a trilogy that started in 2013.) "Not Above That" was produced by electronic musician Machinedrum, and it occupies a liminal space between pop, R&B, and dance music. The parts are familiar, but the combination doesn’t really sound like anything else, and it’s fun trying to figure it out.
Earl Sweatshirt, "Wind in My Sails":
Earl Sweatshirt is somewhere between albums right now — he released the challenging, dark I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside last year — which is why the release of three new songs early Tuesday morning was such a pleasant surprise. "Wind in My Sails" is the only one of the three that features Earl’s rapping, and it’s built around an immaculate beat that fuses an oft-sampled ballad and a jazzy piece of psych-soul. (You can trace it back through Flying Lotus and Madlib. Earl is a pillar of focus and quiet strength.)
Eleanor Friedberger, "Because I Asked You":
I can’t quite explain it, but "Because I Asked You" makes me want to have a picnic in the park. It’s warm and casual to the point of being seductive. It’s January, of course, and here in Canada that’d mean frozen wine and snowbank seating at any outdoor gathering; I’m not brave enough (or dumb enough, depending on your perspective) to haul sandwiches and drinks outside until May at the earliest. Until then, listening to New View will have to do.
Frankie Cosmos, "Sinister":
Greta Kline makes amateurish, eager pop music as Frankie Cosmos, and she’s releasing new LP Next Thing on April 1st. (Her Fit Me In EP came out just a few months ago.) "Sinister" is the lead single, and it balances weird imagery — Kline’s "soul is not like a water park" — with standard teenage stuff like making out in parked cars. There’s a relatable quality to Kline’s music; she sounds like an undergrad recording on a laptop in a tiny kitchen, a person you might know. (It’s an interesting impression given the fact she’s an Oscar winner’s daughter.)
Jessy Lanza, "It Means I Love You":
I’ve listened to this Jessy Lanza single over a dozen times, and it still finds a way to surprise me. It’ll make you feel a little like a frog plopped in cold water and boiled. A humid, knocking beat slowly morphs into something more florid and tropical; after two minutes, you’re shimmying in your chair and have no idea how you ended up there. Lanza is a calm, cool presence at the controls. Her new album Oh No is being released on May 13th, and I can’t wait to hear more.
Katy B & Kaytranada, "Honey":
This collaboration between Katy B and Canadian producer Kaytranada doesn’t get much louder than a murmur, and it doesn’t move much faster than a slow, steady throb; it’s probably the sexiest song named "Honey," which is a serious compliment given the quality of the competition. It’s also the title track from Katy’s new record, which can’t come out soon enough. (It’s being released on April 29th.)
It’s difficult for me to verify this, but I’m confident "Evil" is the only danceable bit of disco-punk that doubles as searing commentary on the scourge of institutional homophobia. It’s the catchiest song on Savages’ new LP Adore Life, and you should check the rest of the album out if this song strikes something within you.
Here’s a brief list of conclusions we can draw from "Pillowtalk," Zayn Malik’s debut solo single and first release since leaving One Direction last year: Zayn has had sex; Zayn thinks sex is dope; Zayn thinks Miguel’s last two albums are really dope; Zayn is familiar with Georgia O’Keeffe’s body of work. His voice sounds lovely here, but I’m not particularly impressed by his lyrical artistry. Let’s hope he’s getting some help with the pen on the rest of Mind of Mine, which is due out March 25th.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have an awesome weekend!