Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and this week’s musical news was dominated by two giant, controversial institutions: Kanye West and the Grammys. The Life of Pablo tumbled onto the internet early Sunday morning, finding a temporary home on Tidal and dividing listeners the world over. One night later, Taylor Swift used her Album of the Year victory speech to clap back at West over a provocative reference on one of his new songs, "Famous." (Did she deserve the award over Kendrick Lamar? That’s a whole other discussion.) All of the world’s other artists kept on chugging, of course. This week’s particularly heavy on comebacks: Bat for Lashes, Holy Fuck, and Pantha du Prince all released new singles after extended absences.
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Basia Bulat, "La La Lie":
Canadian folk-pop singer Basia Bulat recorded her new album Good Advice in Louisville with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Opener "La La Lie" might be the most immediate song she’s ever recorded, and it ditches her signature autoharp for clanging guitars and a robust organ melody.
Bat for Lashes, "I Do":
Natasha Khan hasn’t released an album since 2012’s superb The Haunted Man, but new single "I Do" suggests that’s about to change. The short, sweet track was released alongside a "save the date" note for July 1st, 2016 and a necklace reading "The Bride." Mark your calendars! Get out your formalwear! It sounds like this mysterious release is going to be rather matrimonial.
FKA twigs, "Good to Love":
FKA twigs’ newest single is arriving on the heels of last year’s daring, suggestive EP M3LL155X, though it’s catchier and more straightforward than any of the songs included on that release. Taken together with its self-directed video, "Good to Love" reminds me of Madonna singles like "Like a Prayer": it’s reverent, striking, and sensual.
Frightened Rabbit, "Death Dream":
Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit are releasing their new album Painting of a Panic Attack on April 8th. It’s their first LP since 2013’s Pedestrian Verse. "Death Dream" is the lead single, and I promise it’s not as depressing as its title. Yes, it revolves around the lyrics "You died in your sleep last night," but it’s not a real death! There are no fatalities in this slow-burning, nourishing rock song.
Future, "Lie to Me":
Future’s new album EVOL is a little more than a week old, but it was kept on Apple Music for its first week of availability. (Windowed and exclusive releases really mess with this column!) "Lie to Me" might be the best song he’s released yet this year, which means a lot when you remember he’s already dropped an album, a mixtape, and a handful of loosies. DJ Spinz’s synths slide around like sheets of ice shearing from a glacier.
Holy Fuck, "Tom Tom":
Canadian electro-punk veterans Holy Fuck are making a comeback after a half-decade of silence with Congrats, a new LP due out on May 27th. "Tom Tom" is a bracing reintroduction to their musical capabilities. It’s not as pretty or spacious as something like "Lovely Allen," but it’s chunky, plodding, and makes smart use of weird textures.
J Dilla, "The Introduction":
J Dilla’s phenomenal swan song Donuts was released 10 years ago this year, and the legendary producer’s work and untimely death are being commemorated by the posthumous release of a new album, The Diary. Nas announced the project on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show earlier this week, and a single — the throat-clearing, acid-washed "The Introduction" — is promoting the full album’s release on April 15th. Dilla’s more widely recognized for his innovative work behind the boards, but he had no problem stepping behind the mic and delivering verses of his own. "The Introduction" still feels vital more than a decade after it was originally recorded.
Pantha du Prince, "The Winter Hymn":
Minimal techno wizard Hendrik Weber’s last album as Pantha du Prince came out in 2010, when he released the patient, beguiling Black Noise. The drought is ending on May 20th, the date Weber’s picked to drop his new LP The Triad, and "The Winter Hymn" is a taste of what’s coming when the album’s made available in full. "The Triad opens the structure to more human ways of interacting, not digitized ways of interacting," said Weber in a press release. "It’s not about Facebook; it’s about meeting up and jamming. I wanted to cut through the digital dust that surrounds us." Sounds interesting!
I’ve totally fallen for Cardinal, the debut LP from New Jersey quintet Pinegrove: it’s full of affable, warm alt-country and thoughtful, open-hearted rock music, and the band flips between the two modes with ease. "Aphasia" chugs through a rootsy opening section, a rambling guitar solo, and a full-room sing-along over the course of four-plus minutes, and it makes for a rousing listen.
Tim Hecker, "Castrati Stack":
Tim Hecker is one of the most exciting, prolific experimental musicians around, and he’s releasing his new album Love Streams on April 8th. Lead single "Castrati Stack" was unveiled this morning, and while I’m pretty sure it doesn’t feature any actual castrati, it does make heavy use of soaring, distant vocal parts that Hecker corrupts with rippling noise.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!