Year-end season is officially upon us! We published our 50 Best Albums Of 2016 and 25 Great EPs lists this week, and Ryan Leas graced us with an essay on the titanic artists we lost this year. We’ll have more for you next week, but for now dive into some new tunes.
Laura Marling just keeps on evolving. The British musician got her start as a folk singer, and her ambition grew with each new release. Still, none of that output is comparable to Marling’s new single “Soothing.” The song crawls along at a near-glacial pace, and Marling’s signature fingerpicking is nowhere to be heard. Instead, we hear her voice slowly climb to its highest register before it inevitably dips to a low rumble. “I need soothing,” she admits. “My lips aren’t moving/ My god is brooding.” Form follows content so perfectly on this song, and it’s hard to walk away and not feel some sort of release. –Gabriela
Angel Haze went dark after releasing last year’s excellent Back To The Woods, but they’re back with a vengeance on “Resurrection,” a ferocious bit of self-mythologizing that’s fiery enough to make it feel like Haze has been gone for far longer than they actually have. “2014, the year I died/ Now I’m resurrected like Jesus Christ,” Haze spitfires out of the gate, mirrored in the opening lines of the second verse: “2016, the year I rise/ Like the phoenix, yeah man, my shit on fire.” As always, the way Haze works around the beat is intoxicating: this one’s approximating gothic, and their yelps and elongations really do make it sound like it’s the Second Coming. –James
“Bullying bastards and beatin’ on beats/ Sounds like a day at the beach.” Yeah, that pretty much sums up the Jewel Runners. It seems like Run The Jewels 3 will be more punishing lyricism and beats that make you want to slap mom dukes. “Legend Has It” continues the RTJ onslaught, and it’s amazing, as is every other RTJ song, but I’m starting to get worried that the formula will become stale. The singles we’ve heard from RTJ3 could have easily been placed on RTJ or RTJ2, so I’m hoping for more. Because Killer Mike and El-P have been among the best in the game for so long, it’s hard to see any room for growth or how they can continue to have a stranglehold on the critical/underground zeitgeist. Michael Jordan had to go play baseball for a bit to rekindle the fervor he had for hoop, and maybe RTJ will have to do the same thing after their 3-peat, or maybe this is all we’ll ever need. But for now, this is certainly a banger of utmost proportions, and the anticipation for RTJ3 should continue to bubble. –Collin
Strand Of Oaks’ 2014 album Heal was a revelation, a record that took the haunting folk-rock that Timothy Showalter had been making for years, affixed a big-ass nitro-fueled jetpack to it, and just let it rip. So it means something to say that “Radio Kids,” the first single from his upcoming album Hard Love, sounds even bigger than that. This is widescreen, anthemic music built for real stadiums, and it hearkens back to a time when rock bands really were filling those stadiums. Like much of Heal, it’s about the solace offered by music, conjuring up nostalgic images of isolated youths huddled over their radios, blasting their music just a little too loud. Showalter knows that those days are over, and there’s a definite wistful tinge to his musings. And even though it might not get much airtime, with “Radio Kids,” he’s crafted something that might make a few more isolated youths feel just a little less alone. –Peter
On which Abel Tesfaye takes a break from playacting various Michael Jackson classics to reinvent “Sexual Healing” instead. He’s heavily assisted in this endeavor by Daft Punk, who tapped back into their Random Access Memories skill set and built him an unusually warm bed in which to purr about “the heat between your legs.” Given the persona he’s spent half a decade building up, this sort of loverman routine shouldn’t be working for the Weeknd; it’s odd to hear the dude from “The Hills” and “Glass Table Girls” slinging genuine affection over such luscious production. But on an album where Tesfaye’s old routine feels staler than ever, “I Feel It Coming” makes for a blindingly bright light at the end of the tunnel. –Chris