1. Brockhampton - Buzzcut (ft. Danny Brown)
The lead single for the Internet-Era boyband’s newest record ROADRUNNER, "Buzzcut" is a track that is dripping wall-to-wall with the confidence and undaunted energy of the early 2000’s Southern Hip-Hop bangers from which it takes much of its influence. Comprising largely of two equally hard-hitting verses from frontman Kevin Abstract and guest vocalist Danny Brown and ending with a lush group oriented outro, the song perfectly displays the kind of colorful genre-bending craftwork that made this group so special when they first hit the scene. The song is far and away one of the most aggressive tracks the band has ever released, especially notable following their previous album GINGER in which some of their softest and most downtrodden tracks were put on full display. Following a string of controversies, vast sonic changes, interband turmoil, and mixed critical reception, “BUZZCUT” proves to be nothing short of exactly the comeback single that BROCKHAMPTON needed.
2. Tkay Maidza - Where is My Mind? (cover)
The lead single for legendary indie label 4AD’s 40th anniversary tribute album, Maidza puts together an inspired cover of this Pixies classic. Maidza’s staple genre-bending allows this electropop cover to fully incorporate elements of R&B and hip-hop while still feeling like a faithful interpretation of classic alt-rock track. Maidza’s soft lead vocals maintain the cool melancholia of the original track while the submerged, aquatic instrumentation meshes well with the lyrical themes. Still, the Australian polymath confidently asserts her own voice with the cover, with plenty of synth stabs, a ripping bass, and plasticky production keeping things from feeling too derivative -- making for a cover that ought to please old fans while still wowing new ones.
3. Laura Les - Haunted
On her newest single, the appropriately titled “Haunted,” Laura Les of 100 Gecs fame takes us on a dizzying two minute odyssey with heavy doses of anxiety and dread interspersed. The hook here is distorted beyond recognition, quickly putting us in Les’s panicked state of mind before leading into a more intimate verse which calls back to some of Les’s previous solo work. Despite the apprehensive atmosphere, the sounds here are firmly grounded in the electropop, making for a somewhat more accessible sonic pallet than that heard in her more eclectic work with Gecs. Overall, on “Haunted,” Les combines her refined bubblegum bass sound with some of her most personal songwriting, the results are nothing short of exhilarating.
4. Ecco2k - In the flesh
On “In the Flesh,” the Swedish producer and Drain Gang mastermind Ecco2k leaves behind the ambience of much of his previous work while maintaining the idiosyncratic and dispirited lyricism first explored on his 2019 debut E. Throughout much of this track and it’s accompanying EP, Ecco2k explores some of the brighter and more abrasive sounds from his previous works, with distorted guitar work, icy synths, and garish electronic drums covering most of this track in a colorful cacophony of sound. The sonic experimentation does not cloud his signature brand of off-kilter pop though, making for a fairly infectious listen.
5. Lucy Dacus - Thumbs
After much expectation, Richmond-based singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus has taken this live favorite to the studio. “Thumbs” is a sparse, slow burning synth track that plainly describes an unpleasant evening with a loved one’s estranged father before launching into a raw and bluntly violent chorus. The track maintains a solemnly depressive undercurrent throughout, never expanding, instrumentally mimicking and stewing in the plain discomfort of the evening. Dacus’s lyrics by the end read triumphant, as she lets her well restrained vocal loose to assure the songs subject that, “You don’t owe him s**t, even if he said you did.”