Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and this feels like one of the most all-over-the-place collections of music we’ve had here in a while. Azealia Banks and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis make for a peculiar duo; Kristin Kontrol, M83, and School of Seven Bells offer widely varying takes on electronic pop; Mitski and Sheer Mag deliver raw, gritty rock.
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! This week we’ve also got a big bonus playlist to get you hyped for this summer's Panorama festival. Let’s go:
Azealia Banks, "Used to Being Alone"
"Used to Being Alone" finds Azealia Banks putting her trollish impulses to good use: she incorporated a sample used prominently in an Iggy Azalea song after beefing with her on Twitter. It’s also a potent reminder of her talent: she can churn out club-ready dance-pop and ferocious diss tracks in equal measure.
"Bourbon" is the newest single released from Gallant’s forthcoming debut LP Ology, which is coming out on April 6th. It’s the kind of bubbly funk you’d hear coming from Prince or Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis a few decades ago, and it revolves around an indelible bit of imagery: a healthy splash of bourbon in coffee to calm the nerves.
Kristin Kontrol, "X-Communicate"
Here’s one of the week’s biggest curveballs: Kristin Welchez (aka Dee Dee, frontwoman of the veteran rock group Dum Dum Girls) is releasing a collection of solo electro-pop as Kristin Kontrol on May 27th. "X-Communicate" is the title track, and if you told me it was some lost Kylie Minogue or Annie track from the early ‘00s I’d probably believe you. It’s cool, sterile, and super catchy.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "St. Ides"
I’d love it if Macklemore focused and wrote an album full of songs like "St. Ides," a muted meditation on addiction and faith with an arrangement somewhere between U2 and alt-country. It’s diaristic and piercing without being cloying. Embrace the mackling, everyone! It won’t kill you. This is a good song.
Mitski, "Your Best American Girl"
I love the pulverizing effect of songs like Mitski’s "Your Best American Girl," the lead single from her new LP Puberty 2 (it’s out June 17th). This is a song about surrendering to the crushing weight of expectation, even when you know it might hurt you in the long run. When you give up and let the waves of feedback and noise wash over you, it feels like you’re letting the tide drag you out into the ocean.
M83, "Do It, Try It"
The lead single from M83’s new album Junk has been divisive: at least one of my coworkers has publicly lamented the return of "‘70s lounge disco," and I can’t blame them in theory. This is an objectively corny, ridiculous song, and yet … I think it might be awesome? Anthony Gonzalez is working with the same reference points you’d hear in Todd Terje’s music, but he’s handling them with an unrelenting, disarming sincerity. I’m positive this’ll sound incredible at festivals this summer. The dog is cute and weird. Give in to the cheese.
The Range, "Five Four"
I can’t wait for The Range’s new album Potential, a collection of erudite electronic tracks built around obscure YouTube vocal samples being released on March 25th. "Five Four" is its second single, and it’s darker and more hip-hop-oriented than lead single "Florida." James Hinton’s touch is remarkably deft: this is a complicated, lengthy sample, and the beat he builds around it fits so naturally you’d think he was in the studio with the person rapping. It’s impressive, and the song holds up even after the novelty fades.
Santigold, "Chasing Shadows":
Santigold’s clever new album 99¢ was released last Friday (read Kwame Opam’s interview with her here), and "Chasing Shadows" might be its most immediately engaging song. It sounds almost exactly like a Vampire Weekend song, and that’s not a surprise once you look at the credits: the band’s former member Rostam Batmanglij co-wrote and produced this song. Santi White sounds at home working over Batmanglij’s spare, ghostly art-pop.
School of Seven Bells, "On My Heart":
SVIIB is probably School of Seven Bells’ album-length farewell, and it comes with a tragic backstory: it’s made up of material written before band member Benjamin Curtis died of T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2013. "On My Heart" starts by detailing some kind of relationship turmoil, but it ends up swooning: Alejandra Deheza keeps repeating, "With me, your love’s safe." It’s gorgeous and heartbreaking in equal measure.
Sheer Mag, "Nobody’s Baby":
Philadelphia power-pop titans Sheer Mag released their new EP III yesterday alongside a new video for "Nobody’s Baby." The band has come close to perfecting the art of aggressive guitar-pop, and "Nobody’s Baby" is a perfect example: it’s lovesick, tough, prideful, concise, and impossible to forget. In a perfect world, you’d be hearing this blaring inside NHL arenas within a week. Cross your fingers some Philadelphia Flyers assistant hears it and gets inspired.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!