Welcome to New(ish) Music Tuesdays, our monthly feature in which members of the TYF staff write about our favorite new songs. This month, we have our first big edition in a long while as several of our writers contributed to write about a bunch of cool songs in several different genres, from EDM to folk to indie rock and pop. If you loved these songs as much as we do, all of them are available on all major digital music stores and most are available for streaming.
Jon Winkler’s picks
Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna) “This Is What You Came For”
Calvin Harris and Rihanna have proven to be quite a pair in the last five years with the smash success of “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been.” Both songs are towering club anthems that have pounding drumbeats to get everyone moving. So it’s all the more surprising that their latest collaboration is surprisingly mellow.
“This Is What You Came For” is a Harris-led track, with its emphasis on his beat drop instead of Rihanna’s vocals and lyrics. Rihanna uses her sexy voice to narrate a club goer being the apple of the hot girls eye as “lightning strikes every time she moves.” The beat is tropical, akin to Rihanna’s “Work,” with simple keyboard rolls and bopping electronic drums. It’s not meant for EDM crowds or anything huge, but sounds like the perfect soundtrack to cruise along the ocean in a yacht or dance on the beach while drunk and tripping out (super relatable, am I right?).
Zedd (feat. Kesha) “True Colors”
So this is it, Kesha’s comeback moment. After a horrible legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, the 29-year-old released her first piece of music in three years with EDM wizard Zedd and it’s…..okay.
First off, this is actually a new version of the same song from Zedd’s 2015 album of the same name and the low-key opening organ keys sound eerily similar to Future’s “March Madness.” The build to the chorus is actually surprisingly restrained as a church bell and orchestral drums give the song a larger-than-life feel without the need to blast it with more electronics. The lyrics are that of a redemption song with a promise to show one’s “true colors, it ain’t no rainbow.”
The X-factor in it all is Kesha herself, who’s legal battle and years of abuse put into context make the lyrics all the more fitting (“What we thought we knew, has been swallowed by the truth….We’ve escaped our capture/Yet we have our masters”). And then there’s her singing in the most powerful vocal performance of her career. It’s a shame that someone thought to add a fader in post-production to make it sound like she’s singing through a megaphone because when she hits the high note on the last chorus, it’s like she’s singing from Mount Everest. “True Colors” is a fine reminder that Kesha can still sing, but the real test will be when she puts pen to paper and writes her own story through song. Hopefully she’ll trust herself enough to let the raw power of her voice break through.
Camille Espiritu’s pick
Halsey – “Colors”
I’ve been a fan of Halsey since her hit, “New Americana”, hit the radio waves. But it wasn’t until recently- my friend having her cd on shuffle in his car to be exact- that I finally had a chance to listen to some more of her tracks that weren’t on the air or as popular. The track that immediately grabbed my attention and became my new favorite was “Colors.”
The music video for the track has Halsey attending a prep school and it leads you to believe that she’s in love with one of the top popular kids in school. But you later find that she’s in love with his dad and not him. Musically, the track has a light pop and electric vibe to it. The lyrics are metaphoric and poetic. “Colors” also centralizes around the idea and essence of the color blue. In past interviews, Halsey explained that blue encompasses a multitude of emotions and meanings. It can be calm in one instant but if you change the shade, ever so slightly, it can be dramatic and electric. Collectively her album, Badlands, is without a doubt one of the strongest albums I have gotten a chance to listen to recently and trust me, her album shouldn’t be overlooked.
William Eguizabal’s pick
Saosin – “The Silver String”
“The Silver String” is the new track from the band Saosin. Here original lead singer and Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green wails his way through this anthem of forget-me-nots and wishes unfulfilled. Green uses aquatic allegory to tell this tall tale of terrible experiences. The sonic aesthetic that’s always permeated this bands music, even with former singer Cove Reber, is present here. There’s a longing and droning to the guitar sounds as they stumble over one and other wonderfully. All culminating at a teased crescendo that never gets there. There’s a beauty in the band climbing the mountain only to never let the audience see the top.
Ryan Gibbs’ picks
Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place – “Business Interruptus”
Last year, indie rock lifer Rob Crow made comments that indicated that he would be retiring from music to spend time with his family and subsequently dissolved his much loved indie band Pinback. However, his retirement seems to be short lived as he soon launched a new group, Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, in Pinback’s stead.
“Business Interruptus” is the single from the band’s debut album You’re Doomed, Be Nice and has a lot of the trademarks that made Crow’s work with Pinback so endearing. The song exhibits Crow’s gifts for catchy hooks, witty lyrics and angular guitar lines. It’s a bit more poppy and accessible than some of Pinback’s work, but left-of-center pop rock has always been something that Crow has excelled at. “Business Interruptus” is a must listen for fans of math rock and indie pop alike.
Carly Rae Jepsen – “First Time”
Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion was the best album of 2015 (at least for me), but it didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire. It’s no surprise then that the remix album Emotion Remixed+ was only released in Japan, where the album was released first and did best. The album comes with two brand new songs, the best of them being “First Time”.
The song is a killer disco jam that recalls several songs off Emotion and Jepsen’s joyous vocals on the chorus are a particular highlight. It’s a cool pop number and it’s a surprise that, given its quality, it was left off Emotion and wound up on an import release. Either way, it’s good to hear more CRJ in 2016, no matter how it was released.
Alana Jane Chase’s pick
Lake Street Dive – “Mistakes”
This little gem is one of my absolute favorite tracks on one of my absolute favorite bands’ newest album, Side Pony. “Mistakes” is all butterscotch and dark chocolate: rich and indulgent, smooth and just sweet enough. Front-woman Rachael Price’s deep jazz voice – one that’s both impressive and addictive – lends itself naturally to the 70’s-toned tune and its twinged lyrics. It’s soul materialized, and begs for you to hit the replay button over and over again. The only mistake you could be making now is not diving into the magical waters of Lake Street Dive. You won’t be sorry.
Allyson Johnson’s pick
Birdy – “Shadow”
Melodic, sweet and soulful, Birdy has always had a wonderful voice and songs such as “Words as Weapons”, “Wings” and her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” highlighted this. However, it wasn’t until her newest album Beautiful Lies where she seemed to fully come into her own as an artist and the second song on the album “Shadows” is her embracing her full artistic licence to play with melody and rhythm.
Structurally unlike anything else she’s done, “Shadow” is hauntingly piercing and had me hitting the replay button before the song had even ended. It’s a beautifully constructed piece of music and at only 19 years old she’s already showing signs of experimentation inside a singer songwriter/pop genre, which can only promise interesting things in her music to come.
Amber Mack’s pick
Zara Larsson (feat. MNEK) – “Never Forget You”
The song starts out with Zara’s verse which is melodically strong and gives room to show off those fine vocals of hers. The chorus itself is catchy as hell and the middle eight has some delicious conversation singing with great vocals by both. This all makes for a perfect collaboration and I am quite sure international radio ate this up, I know I already did.