British indie-pop quartet Pale Waves will return in early 2021 with their sophomore album, and the first taste of the project is downright thrilling. “Change” can be grouped with recent alt-rock winners from Soccer Mommy and Beabadoobee, but with an even bigger hook that will have you flashing back to Avril Lavigne’s imperial phase.
Anne-Marie has become a master of explaining the satisfaction of fractured romance -- “Yeah, we got problems/ But I need you/ So we deal with it,” she puts it succinctly on “Problems” -- but the most interesting aspect of this new single is its heavy stabs of electric guitar, as if the British pop star is ready to go full arena-rock at the drop of a hat.
Justice Carradine, “Can’t Feel a Thing”
It’s understandable to experience any type of derealization in this wildly disorienting year, and singer-songwriter Justice Carradine beautifully deploys his voice to capture that type of confusion on “Can’t Feel a Thing,” which reaches its apex in its suave, ‘80s-indebted chorus.
Pilar Victoria, “I Left a Party For You”
Argentine-American singer-songwriter Pilar Victoria is only 14 years old, and she’s already making more accomplished songs than most indie bands achieve in their lifetimes. “I Left a Party For You” is the best kind of lilting bedroom-pop -- with an intro that will have you thinking of Post Malone’s “Circles” -- and grows the hype for Victoria’s 2021 debut EP.
Pom Poko, “Like a Lady”
Here’s something that’s a little stronger than your Monday morning coffee: Norwegian noise-rockers Pom Poko explore the idea of femininity while oscillating between fragile pop melodies and hair-raising blasts of guitar. “Like a Lady” is not background music, and that’s a good thing.
Bleached, "Stupid Boys"
Bleached's latest packs a punch, as the L.A. duo chant and rant about all the f--kbois they loved before: “Stupid boys with broken hearts/ Love to watch you (Hey!) fall apart/ Stupid boys with broken hearts/ Be a dick and call it art (Oh!).” There's even a marimba breakdown!
Mandy Moore, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
It's as good a time as any to remind you that Moore released her criminally underrated album, Silver Landings, on the cusp of the pandemic, and her first offerings since then (the new original tune “How Could This Be Christmas” and a cover of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”) are just as pleasing to the merrymaker’s palate.
Wiz Khalifa, "The Thrill"
Built around a sample of Empire Of The Sun's "Walking On A Dream," Wiz Khalifa's "The Thrill" is finally available to stream 11 years after its original debut as part of the rapper's Burn After Rolling mixtape. That nostalgia sure does burn, doesn’t it?
Emancipator & 9 Theory, "Tangerine Sour"
Emancipator, the Portland producer who definitely has a doctorate in Chill Vibes, has unveiled "Tangerine Sour," the first taste from an upcoming joint EP with L.A.'s 9 Theory (Gabe Lehner). Due Dec. 11, the EP will be their second team-up, after 2019's Cheeba Gold.
The Bird and the Bee, “Merry Merry”
Finally, a holiday album from The Bird (Inara George) and The Bee (superproducer Greg Kurstin)! Diehard fans have known about the duo's holiday chops since their viral 2007 cover of "Carol of the Bells," and they’ve finally leaned in with Put Up The Lights, which features classics like “Deck The Halls” as well as originals like “Merry Merry.”
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