September 11, 2020
From Janelle Monáe to SZA, Gorillaz, New Order and the newest Sylvan Esso track, there are some heavy hitters this week.
Janelle Monáe - Turntables
Janelle may have a TV show and multiple movies this year, but she's still somehow able to release a new song that feels powerfully prescient. Balancing a laidback rap ripping the status quo with a powerful chorus that raises us up with the dreams of possibility.
SZA - Hit Different (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
As a late '90s R&B fan, this song hits that nostalgic note. Playfully trading off versus with Ty Dolla $ign to try and figure out why this relationship is different from all the others over an 808 beat. To keep things interesting, they switch it up for the last minute for a slow jam showcasing SZA's honied voice.
New Order - Be a Rebel
Do not enter if you are expecting a classic New Order-sounding song. This is organ syths and high-hat club beats. I want to be hot and sweaty on a dance floor when this one comes on. It's a peppy, optimistic song to make you forget everything else for a brief moment.
Sylvan Esso - Frequency
I wish it was still summer so I could name this a song of the summer. This is melted ice cream on your fingertips, licking-that-sweet-mess music about falling for someone and wanting to be near them all the time. It's a hot and steamy song from the duo's soon-to-be-released album, Free Love (out Sept. 25).
Gorillaz - Strange Timez (feat. Robert Smith)
Part of a massive project that the band started in January to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, a full album is on the way from Gorillaz (October 23) with collaborations from Beck, St. Vincent, Schoolboy Q and now, The Cure's Robert Smith. It's called "Strange Timez," but the combination of Smith's ageless voice with a classic Gorillaz sound feels grounding in the best possible way.
Painted Shield - I Am Your Country
It's hard to say that 2020 has done any musicians a favor, but if there is a silver lining, it's a massive influx of creative time and space. Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard used that time that he would have been on tour with the band to work on a new project with keyboardist/vocalist Brittany Davis and (Minnesota's own) Mason Jennings. Their new group offers up an "I Am Your Country" that centers on a steady propulsive drumbeat stalked by a dark and haunting melody.
Matt Berninger - One More Second
October 2, the solo record from The National's frontman will come out. The album is produced entirely by Booker T. Jones, and some of those iconic Hammond B3 organ keys ring out towards the end of Berninger's baritone lament over a doomed relationship.
M.I.A. - CTRL
Raise your hand if you thought there would be new M.I.A. in 2020. It's a funny, smart, and quirky dance jam that slaps back at all its haters. What else would you expect?
Shame - Alphabet
The U.K. rockers are back with their first songs since their debut Songs of Praise from 2018. The new track is a chaotic ripper that asks "Are you ready to feel good? Do you feel like you should?" without giving answers.
Of Monsters and Men - Visitor
When you get a new Of Monsters and Men song, it can either be delicate and ethereal or be a glittery, shimmery rocker. We get the latter with their new song "Visitor." Iceland's answer to Arcade Fire have mastered their sprawling and anthemic sound on the new song about reaching out and hoping that someone will reach back.