“Moving On” by Babeheaven

Another band to watch for 2017, Babeheaven released this latest single a couple of months ago and it shows a great deal of promise. Nancy Andersen’s vocals perfectly compliment the moody, atmospheric synths and guitars, making the band reminiscent of Portishead with a hint of My Bloody Valentine.

“Burn Break Crash” by Aanysa and Snakehips

Here’s a new artist to keep an eye on for 2017. Snakehips are great as always with the production, but Aanysa has an impeccable presence on this track and knows exactly when to go in on her vocals and when to pull it back and let the rest of the music breathe. When you consider she is only 17, it’s all the more impressive.  Look for her debut to be released sometime next year, but in the meantime keep this song on repeat.

“NIV” by Lambchop

Nashville’s Lambchop is one of the many American bands that fall just far enough outside the mainstream to have a brilliant, while not necessarily heralded career despite being active for over two decades. For FLOTUS (For Love Often Turns Us Still), the band typically more closely associated with indie country/rock or folk has taken on an intriguingly atmospheric and electronic tone. The haunting results are prevalent on the track “NIV,” as Kurt Wagner’s vocals go through a heavily processed vocoder. It’s a beautiful listen through and through, especially for the gray winter days.

“Political Science” by Randy Newman

“No one likes us
I don’t know why
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try
But all around
Even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one
And see what happens”

Because politics continues to be the inescapable topic for many, it is only appropriate to share this immensely cynical anthem from Randy Newman’s brilliant Sail Away. Yes, before he was parodied in Family Guy or writing soundtracks for your favorite Disney/Pixar movie, Newman made a living writing pointed, topical anti-rock songs that dealt with everything from slavery (“Sail Away”), to institutionalized racism and ignorance on “Rednecks.” Here, he offers a simple solution for all of America’s problems– it may feel a bit too close for comfort even some 40+ years later, but outstanding parody has a very long shelf life.

“100 Days, 100 Nights” by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

With undeniable presence and rarely seen vocal chops, Sharon Jones was not only atypical of what it means to be a modern-day soul singer, she was a bridge between Motown and current R&B stylings. In concert with Daptone records, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings helped reignite interest in more traditional R&B and soul music, leading to such artists as Charles Bradley, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and more. Jones may have left this Earth at the age of 60 on Friday, but her influence will last forever.

Friday Five: The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, Run The Jewels, Foxygen, Gabriel Garzon-Montano

“I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd (feat. Daft Punk)

After a disjointed collaboration with the lead single “Starboy,” Abél Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, has released another pair of singles today starting with “I Feel It Coming.” If “Can’t Feel My Face” was Tesfaye harkening back to the earlier days of Michael Jackson, this one is decidedly more Dangerous-era King of Pop. The result is more readily palatable but still could have been so much more.

 

“Redbone” by Childish Gambino

It’s crystal clear now that Donald Glover’s latest album, Awaken, My Love! will be a poignant and immersive release once it comes out on December 2. A stunning single, it seems that he has finally found his sound.

 

“2100” by Run The Jewels (feat. BOOTS)

A frequent collaborator, Boots jumps on the second single from Run The Jewels, a more ethereal affair than their first. El-P and Killer Mike still bring the inescapable energy one would expect, but it’s nice to see them not solely rely on being “in your face.”

 

“Follow The Leader” by Foxygen

In case you’ve missed it, Foxygen is releasing their new album Hang on January 20th next year. If “America” and this single is any indication, the duo has fully embraced a larger than life approach to psychedelic pop. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the album shakes out.

 

“Sour Mango” by Gabriel Garzon-Montano

A rare talent, Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s follow up single is as beautiful and soulful as anything else he has released so far in his young career. It’ll be exciting to hear the rest of his major label debut, Jardín, on January 27 via Stones Throw.

 

“Trampoline” by Kero Kero Bonito

Don’t let the cutesy lyrics and production fool you; Kero Kero Bonito is the real deal. This British trio sound is the result of a seemingly unholy gumbo of J-Pop, video game music, hip-hop, and dancehall that results in something that’s like Cibo Matto meets Carly Rae Jepsen. With their first major label debut, Kero Kero Bonito seems to have all the confidence in the world and elevate their perceived gimmickry to a fool-proof pop music ideology. “Trampoline” is a perfect example with its incredibly catchy hook, inspiring lyrics, and its use of both Japanese and English lyrics. Try to listen to this song once and not get it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Bonito Generation is out now.

Friday Five: Leonard Cohen, Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Quest, The Flaming Lips, SOHN

“You Want It Darker” by Leonard Cohen

We start off this edition of Friday Five remembering singer-songwriter legend Leonard Cohen, who passed away yesterday at 82. As if losing Prince and Bowie was not enough, Cohen, like the others, was a larger than life figure that could take the darkest ideas and make them both approachable and beautiful. From his last album, You Want It Darker, which was just released two weeks ago, here is the title track.

“Me and Your Mama” by Childish Gambino

Donald Glover has been on a roll lately, between his hit TV series Atlanta and landing the role of Lando Calrissian for an upcoming Star Wars project. Now, he’s starting to give listeners an idea of what his next Childish Gambino project will sound like, and if “Me and Your Mama” is any indication, it will be fantastic. Steeped in all of the essence of Parliament Funkadelic (hell, even the album art looks like something George Clinton would’ve dreamed up), the possibility of a genuine funk album being released in 2016 is pretty exciting.

“The Space Program” by A Tribe Called Quest

Their first release in 18 years and sadly after the death of Phife Dawg, A Tribe Called Quest’s latest is an epic taste of old-school hip-hop that stacked with features from Kendrick Lamar to Andre 3000 to Jack White and many others. It’s more than a nostalgia trip, with the dense socially conscious lyrics you’d hope to hear from the crew. We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is now available.

“How??” by The Flaming Lips

With their second release from their upcoming Oczy Mlody, The Flaming Lips use a lot of dissonant effects to create a haunting and somewhat disturbing single. It’s an interesting contrast to their last single, time will tell to see how it all comes together as an album.

“Conrad” by SOHN

On his 2014 album Tremors, SOHN showed a lot of promise but didn’t always deliver. If his first two singles are any indication, those issues are no longer. “Conrad” in particular has a great hook and excellent synth work to create an energizing, anthemic piece.

“On Hold” by The xx

For those of you waiting, The xx are finally back with I See You, due out in January of next year. The lead single “On Hold” starts off with the stark and cold vocals with atmospheric synths that is typical of the band before shifting into more of a dance-influenced track that carries a lot over from Jamie xx’s In Colour. Overall, it’s a great return. Hopefully, the rest of I See You follows suit.