1. St. Vincent - Pay Your Way in Pain
In one of St. Vincent’s most enthralling tracks yet, a spaghetti-western style piano riff leads off what quickly becomes an eclectic blend of 70’s funk and Bowie-esque glam. On this lead single to her upcoming record Daddy’s Home, Vincent (real name: Annie Clark) revisits much of the quirky electropop influence heard on her most recent record Masseduction; here mixing it with classic retro funk instrumentation and plenty of Prince-isms to boot. While Clark very much owns this track, delivering a powerful and layered vocal performance throughout, it is also a major standout for producer to the stars Jack Antonoff. Here Antonoff puts together one of his busiest, most complex, and fully realized efforts yet. Proudly wearing her influences on her sleeve, on “Pay Your Way in Pain,” St. Vincent looks into rocks past to continue carving out it’s future.
2. Xiu Xiu (ft. Liars) - Rumpus Room
The newest track from the legendary experimental rock act, “Rumpus Room” is the auditory equivalent of a sleep deprived bout of mania. Angus Andrews of Liars features here; and his monotone voice compliments frontman Jamie Stewart’s patented nervous energy nicely, especially on the lively chorus. The spoken word passages that make up the verses, call back to Xiu Xiu’s last full length Girl With Basket of Fruit, though this track is notably less harrowing than anything found on that record. Here, a solid post-punk energy permeates the whole track as skittering and unconventional (but consistently present) grooves make for a strange but ultimately addicting listen. All in all, this song perfectly splits the difference between Xiu Xiu’s more challenging material with some of their conventional releases, making for a solid introductory track that long time fans should still enjoy quite a bit.
3. No Rome - Spinning (feat. Charlie XCX and The 1975)
Three alt pop icons team up for this instantly infectious and party-ready tune. A subtly J-pop inspired house beat kicks the track off, never letting up but leading the vocalists from one section to the next; building and becoming denser as the track moves forward. While not quite as experimental or ground breaking as some of the recent work from Charli or The 1975, it’s hard to deny just how simply fun this track is with its instantly gratifying hook and impassioned vocal performances from XCX and 1975 frontman Matt Healy. At just under three minutes, No Rome’s newest effort is an all killer, no filler dance-pop banger.
4. Uma - Nebula
The newest single from her debut LP, Uma’s “Nebula” is a charmingly sparse bedroom pop track with immaculate vocals and intimate production. Here the singer/songwriter leans on her background living in Barcelona, as Spanish guitars and handclaps begin to build the beginning sterile synthetic instrumental. Consistent samples of bird song also serve to lend a naturalistic feel, grounding the song even during some of its spaciest moments. Overall, Uma wows with this promising track which displays a self-assuredness most songwriters don’t get until much later in their careers.
5. Genesis Owusu - Gold Chains
The lead single to the Australian artist's recently released debut, “Gold Chains” sees Genesis Owusu talking about the trappings of fame. Structurally, the song takes the form of a funk-rap number with heavy André 3000 influence. The percussion here is high and hot in the mix, this on top of the ripping synthetic bass and skittering funk guitars give the track a bit of a crunchy, lo-fi edge; and it manages to maintain these edges without ever diverting from the addicting and familiar funk staples that maintain the tracks backbone, making for a fully engaging and addicting listen.