Listen to this week’s 10 tracks here.
Jim-E Stack – Somebody
Brooklyn’s Jim-E Stack owes his diverse sound to growing up in San Francisco, where he was exposed to everything from underground rappers to the instruments of Chinese immigrants. “Somebody” calls back to the ’80s, featuring hazy production and the infectious slap bass re-popularized by artists such as HAIM and the 1975.
070 Shake – I Laugh When I’m With Friends But Sad When I’m Alone
Jersey rapper 070 Shake recounts her growth out of a drug-addicted community and finding solace in music on her 2018 album, “Glitter.” The first song on the record, “I Laugh When I’m With Friends But Sad When I’m Alone” starts with a stripped-down piano melody, then introduces a slapping drum track, which will back her hard-hitting delivery through the album’s remainder.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise – Hide
Contrary to what the colorful name would suggest, Rainbow Kitten Surprise is an indie-folk outfit from the mountains of Boone, North Carolina. The band’s 2018 single, “Hide,” echoes big-name rock bands from the 2010s, such as Kings of Leon, with an unmistakeable Southern twang and bouncy roar of guitars.
The Decemberists – Starwatcher
Portland’s The Decemberists were forbearers of the indie-folk explosion, forming in 2000 and defining the sound before artists like Fleet Foxes brought it to the top of alternative charts. On its eighth studio album, “I’ll Be Your Girl,” the band doesn’t stray from its epic, eclectic sound and folklore-inspired lyrics.
Marian Hill – Differently
This Philadelphia electro-pop duo earned its fair share of radio time last year with the release of the danceable single “Down.” “Differently” is a bit more sinister – the whispery vocals and cutting drum track tell the story of a jealous ex-lover dissing her ex’s new love interest and trying to win him back.
Pouya – Voices
Latching onto the musical movement sometimes called “emo-trap,” this 305-based rapper layers lyrics about struggle and self-loathing over unsettling minor chords. Niche as the genre may be, Pouya will be performing alongside other rappers and trap artists at Miami’s Rolling Loud festival this spring.
Gulfer – Dog Life
This Montreal band is one of the last standing perpetuators of ’90s emotive hardcore – with the melodic dexterity of math rock and the gruff vocals and lo-fi production of punk, Gulfer truly belongs among its predecessors: American Football, Cap’n Jazz and Sunny Day Real Estate. “Dog Life” captures the notes of irony and cynicism that have always been lyrical staples of the genre.
Snail Mail – Pristine
19-year-old Lindsey Jordan, a Baltimore native, is part of a rising movement of emo-influenced female singer-songwriters. Like her peers Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, Jordan’s music is confessional and cathartic, founded on self-taught guitar riffs and lyrics about self-discovery.
Preoccupations – Decompose
Formerly known as Viet Cong, Canadian noise-rock band Preoccupations continues perpetuating its post-punk sound – this time, without the cultural appropriation. “Decompose,” a track off of the aptly-named 2018 record, “New Material,” calls on sounds from ’80s new wave and ’60s psychedelic rock while continuing to push the boundaries of rock’s musical conventions.
grandson – Thoughts & Prayers
Jordan Benjamin is grandson, a Jersey-based trap, rock and rap project. Like twenty one pilots, Benjamin’s gritty, hard-hitting sound marries minor chords and bass drops in ways that we’ve heard before. Trite as his style may be, though, grandson’s message is substantiative – “thoughts & prayers” is a haunting call to action in the wake of mass shootings and unchecked violence.