Weekly Playlist – In Focus

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Featuring Keane, Lil Uzi Vert, and Foreign Talks

Last week, we highlighted some great new releases, including the long-awaited fifth Brand New album. We had a new Grizzly Bear record, a Maxwell feature, and some great new faces in indie rock.

Here’s what we’ve cooked up for you this week.

Brandon Allin: The Fever 333 – We’re Coming In
The first cut from former Letlive frontman, Jason Butler’s new project The Fever 333 is oozing with angst and wears its Rage Against the Machine influence proudly on its sleeve. Upon first listen it felt like a shell of a song, an incomplete thought, but Butler’s trademark vocal stylings kept me coming back. Its power chords and barrage of F-bombs won’t win it any awards, and you won’t want to throw it on during a Sunday drive with the family, but what’s there is determined to kick you in the chest and never to let up. Mission accomplished.
Premal Bhatt: Miguel f. Travi$ Scott – Sky Walker
Miguel’s back with a summer anthem featuring Travis Scott. This one’s catchy using a heavy synth, trap beat, while still having Miguel’s signature wavy, dream-like sound. While Miguel has released a few songs and been covering other artists’ on social media, this is his first true splash since 2015 crossover album, Wildheart. Miguel sings about living up the moment, “Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters/ Celebrating every day like a birthday.” And Travis comes in with an auto-tuned verse that complements the hazy vibe to the song perfectly. This collaboration pins the two artists together again after their previous work on Miguel’s “Waves” remix. Big time bonus points for making Star Wars hip-hop.
Matt Bram: The War on Drugs – Strangest Thing
Three years ago, I went into a Tallahassee record store and walked out with three records. One of them was a Mountain Goats record (guess which), but the other two were recommended to me by the owner. The first one was Perfume Genius’s magnificent blend of 80s rock and chamber pop; his latest album is one of my favorites this year. The other was the War on Drugs record Lost in the Dream. Adam Granduciel has a knack for producing lush, gorgeous records. No one comes close to Granduciel’s ability to make spacious guitar records except maybe Martin Courtney of Real Estate. While not as consistent as his previous record, his highs are just as high, if not higher. As is the case with “Strangest Thing,” which is among his best work. This is the perfect record to throw on in the car and lose yourself in your drive. But be careful if you’re only going down the street, Granduciel pulls you in so convincingly you might end up driving around for longer than intended.
Cody Conley: EMA – I Wanna Destroy
I recommended EMA’s latest album, Exile in the Outer Ring, to a friend of mine and he asked me to give him a recommended-if-you-like to make a comparison. The album seethes with seductive horror film menace, floats on dreamy guitar strums, clatters over industrial noise, and pins up the worst parts of America with empathy and wisdom. I don’t have a comparison. It’s rock and roll music. ‘I Wanna Destroy’ is just that: simple, tense, ominous, confrontational. It’s rock music, man.
Grant Evan: Filthy Friends – Any Kind of Crowd
If you’ve ever wondered what Corin Tucker would sound like if she joined R.E.M., this band answers the question as literally as possible by having Tucker join forces with Peter Buck. Hopefully, you’re a bigger R.E.M. fan because this is a more subdued, polished performance than you’d be used to with Sleater-Kinney. This song is a fun, catchy rock tune with a dose of political undertones and lyrical openness. It’s great driving music and the album as a whole will pump you up.
Charlie McDonald: The Four Seasons – Beggin’
There’s only one show on Broadway that I’ve been lucky enough to see twice- once in its first year of production and once in its last- and the music has stuck with me ever since. The musical “Jersey Boys” follows the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as they rise to stardom in the 1960s. The tight harmonies and songbird nature of Valli’s voice created such a unique sound that took the world by storm and continues to flatten me to this day. “Beggin'” was released in 1967, though you might recognize it from Madcon’s hip hop version released 40 years later. The driving claps, drums, bass, and piano create an exciting track that was begging (I’m sorry) to be sampled for decades. But in the original version, Valli’s behind the beat, almost lackadaisical vocals add something special to the chorus that is missing from Madcon version. Do yourself a favor and put some time away today to dive into the Four Seasons.
Drew Steele: Queens of the Stone Age – The Way You Used to Do
I’ve been on a rock kick as of late, listening to classic albums from the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s that I’ve just overlooked. Wasn’t really into the genre growing up, so listening to Pinkerton for the first time was a treat. One band that I’ve been listening to for quite some time, though? Queens of the Stone Age. Their latest album, Villians, is another very good album for their strong, consistent catalog. “The Way You Use To Do” is one of a few fun tracks on the record. From the crunchy guitar riffs to the overall tempo, you can’t help but rock out to this song. If you enjoy this song, you’re going to enjoy this Queens of the Stone Age album.

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