Welcome to New(ish) Music Tuesdays, our monthly feature in which members of the TYF staff write about our favorite new songs. This week, we have six song recommendations from two different writers to fill your playlists with.
Ryan Gibbs’ picks
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Peaness – “Oh George”
Being American, I don’t know too much about George Osborne, the British conservative politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer who this song is about. What I do know is that Peaness are a terrific band who continue to make impossibly catchy tunes brimming with hooks. Back in September, I praised their single “Fortune Favours the Bold”, which I liked so much I would have put it on my Pazz & Jop ballot last year had I gotten one. “Oh George” is just as great of a song, highlighted by its summery guitars and out-of-this-world harmonies. Even if you’re not brushed up on British politics, it’s an effective kiss-off song to whomever it may concern. Another winner from this promising young British trio.
Black Mountain – “Florian Saucer Attack”
This new single from Canadian psych rockers Black Mountain has a heavy, gauzy feeling that channels ‘60s and ‘70s hard rockers like Mountain, Blue Cheer and Blue Oyster Cult through the lens of ’90s acts like Masters of Reality. Plus, the title (and the song’s motorik drum beat) pay tribute to Kraftwerk member Florian Schneider. Yet “Florian Saucer Attack” is much more than a tribute to bands from the past and is a testament to Black Mountain’s strengths as a band. The band has a terrific singer in Amber Webber and are a solid unit instrumentally, especially on this track. Fans of classic rock and Queens of the Stone Age might find a lot to love here.
Jon Winkler’s picks
Aaron Carter – “Fool’s Gold”
Hey, remember this guy? The blonde teenybopper who held kickin’ parties while his parents were away and beat Shaq in basketball? Anyone? Well despite the obvious Google search that comes with mentioning his name, Aaron Carter has returned to music after a 13-year absence (Broadway and rehab keep a man busy) with “Fool’s Gold.” While it could be written off as a fallen teen idol trying to grasp any last form of relevance he has left, here’s the kicker: the song’s actually pretty good. Released on April Fool’s Day (because “Fool’s Gold” hahaha, get it?), this laid-back club jam features Carter talking to a lost love and how she “traded [his] heart for some fool’s gold.” She eventually comes back to him, but he doesn’t appreciate a random sexual fling out of nowhere (the nerve of her, right?). The beat is very solid, something that would fit right in with Justin Bieber’s new set of songs with the tropical background drums and light keyboards. Even Carter himself, previously known for annoying white-kid rapping, is a solid vocalist with an impressive falsetto. The song’s barely memorable, but that’s saying a lot coming from a guy whose career highlights include guest starring on Lizzie McGuire.
Jason DeRulo – “If It Ain’t Love”
Coming off a solid 2015 with “Want to Want Me,” Jason DeRulo is back with this four-on-the-floor club banger. As usual, DeRulo goes back and forth between singing in his begging croon in the verse to full-on falsetto in the chorus. He’s wondering why his latest fling with a girl feels more than just a bunch of hump sessions. DeRulo always sounds so dramatic when he sings, but at least he comes off semi-serious about his intentions here. Though the real highlight of the song is the production from Ian Kirkpatrick and The Monsters x the Strangers. Starting off atmospheric with light synths, it builds to a big but sparse breakdown with wooden-sounding drums and a blasting synth. Even the faded sample of Spiller’s “Groovejet,” is a nice touch, making this sound like the last thing DeRulo will ever get to sing and his libido won’t be stopped, dammit! He’s always been on the mid-card of pop/R&B stars, but man he keeps chugging along like he’s the biggest deal in music. Right on.
Ariana Grande – “Be Alright”
While Grande is pushing the title track of her upcoming third album Dangerous Woman as her new big single, I highly recommend this quietly released follow-up as a substitute for the discount-Bond theme sound of the “Dangerous Woman” song. “Be Alright” is a quick little piece of sugary club pop with a lovely marimba backing the song until it breaks into a Disclosure-esque two-step beat. It’s not hard to imagine Grande strutting along in high heels feeling fierce for her love (whoever that may be). She talks about how despite all the hardships and how they “can’t seem to get where [they’re] goin,” things are going to turn out just fine. It’s barely a three-minute single and one lingers for something to give it an extra punch, but Grande’s voice still has that “it” factor. As long as Grande keeps her focus on that and not donut licking, she’ll get her due.
Fitz and the Tantrums – “HandClap”
While Fitz & the Tantrums may not be the best at doing the retro-R&B/pop mix, it’s hard to deny their energy. With this first single off their upcoming self-titled third album, “HandClap” maybe one of the dumbest and catchiest songs from the band yet. Propelled by a thick bass line and thumping drums (and yes, hand claps), lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick talks about how he’s so good at love he can “make your hands clap.” He even goes for a bit of hashtag rap with the line “I get on my knees and say a prayer: James Brown.” While it borders on “cool dad” territory, the chorus is just fun enough to keep you bobbing your head. Again, it’s another three-minute single that’s missing a good kicker to make it all worthwhile. What makes “HandClap” noteworthy is how Fitz & the Tantrums are getting closer and closer to that yin and yang between retro and relevant. Time will tell.