VH New Music Fridays: Blake Shelton, Rex Orange County and more

The Hustler Life staff reviews this week’s new releases


In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff covers this week’s new music releases, from pop to country to alternative.


Hip Hop/Indie: Brendan Sawyer

“There Existed an Addiction to Blood,” clipping

Hey, have you ever heard of that little musical “Hamilton?” You know Daveed Diggs, the guy who played Lafayette and Jefferson who can rap really fast? Well, he’s also the frontman to this rap group called clipping, and they’re pretty amazing. The trio just dropped a new album about being addicted to blood, just in time for Halloween. The album is full of dark, foreboding production and Digg’s typical rapid-fire flow and storytelling.  Any fan of hard-hitting experimental hip hop and ridiculously technical flow will love this new album.

“10/10,” Rex Orange County

“10/10” is a Rex Orange County song. It’s got bright synths, an upbeat tempo, catchy melodies, and Rex singing about how he’s trying to deal with his emotions, wanting to be a 10/10 even when he feels like a 5. It’s good, it’s fun, but it’s no “Sunflower” (because honestly will anything ever beat “Sunflower?”) Rex stans will definitely appreciate the track, but it’s nothing new for indie’s favorite quirky young man. 


Country & Americana: Alexa Bussmann

“Jesus Got a Tight Grip,” Blake Shelton

When I saw the title of this song, I assumed that it wouldn’t actually be about Jesus–I figured that Jesus would be a passing reference in a song mostly about drinking and women. But “Jesus Got a Tight Grip” is really about Jesus, in a way that most country artists just don’t do anymore. Shelton sings about how Jesus has a tight grip on his soul. This single feels like a throwback to the Blake Shelton of a decade ago– it features lots of guitar and never slows down. It will be interesting to see if “Jesus Got a Tight Grip” is commercially successful with its overtly religious lyrics and more authentic country sound.


“Down Home Sessions V” Cole Swindell

Cole Swindell’s EP release celebrates his five years as a recording artist. Swindell releases a “Down Home Sessions” each year, comprised of songs that he’s written between albums. If the fifth “Down Home Sessions” is any indication, it’s no wonder these songs didn’t make it onto a full-length album. Songs like “Drinkin’ Hours” and “All Nighter” are forgettable, with completely cliche lyrics and no real artistry. I wouldn’t say that Swindell is known for his musical creativity, but “Down Home Sessions V” is especially disappointing.


Indie & Alternative: Angela Karas

“casual sabotage,” YUNGBLUD

YUNGBLUD has released the song “casual sabotage” as part of EP “the underrated youth.” The song is unique in that it marks a departure from the punk-esque, more experimental indie for which the South Yorkshire-based musician is known. In this respect, the song could arguably be a refreshingly new approach, though I personally find the song somewhat boring. I personally think YUNGBLUD peaked circa spring 2018, when the singer only had a few singles under his belt. However, once he released his first LP (and up to now, even though his song “11 Minutes” with Halsey and Travis Barker saw him gain some traction within the mainstream alt-rock community), he has consistently been unable to reproduce the novel quality I feel his first few singles embodied. 

Classical: Isabel Tannenbaum

“Voyager,” Max Richter

If you’ve been searching for something new to listen to while studying or winding down the day, look no further. In his newest album, minimalist composer Max Richter compiles some of his greatest career hits. The selections range from the soundtracks of “Black Mirror” and HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend” to his 8.5 hour-long etherial album Sleep. Some of my personal favorites are “Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons,” “Infra 8,” “Elena & Lila” and “November.” I’m always amazed by how much emotion Richter can evoke through mainly chord progressions and short repeated melodies, a hallmark of the minimalist style. Richter composed the score for the upcoming movie “Ad Astra,” an album that was also released recently.