In VH New Music Fridays, the Life staff cover this week’s new music releases, from pop to country to alternative.
Hip Hop: Brendan Sawyer
JPEGMAFIA, Beta Male Strategies
Jpegmafia dives into the abstract on the latest single for his project All My Heroes are Cornballs. The first leg of the track is a laid back, softly spoken batch of verses with a spiritual theme. Peggy spits lines like “Young Peggy, I’m a false prophet/bringing white folks new religions/my fans need new addictions.” The beat is led primarily by a pitched up vocal “ooo yeah” looped over soft percussion. It’s not ‘till the halfway point where “Beta Male” reaches transcendence as the beat devolves into this distorted eastern-flavored guitar solo that absolutely puts the listener into a trance. JPEGMAFIA is making waves in 2019, and is one of the most prolific voices in hip hop as proved by “Beta Male Strategies.”
Country & Americana: Alexa Bussmann
“Put Me Back Together,” Caitlyn Smith
Caitlyn Smith hasn’t broken into mainstream country, but the slow and rhythmic “Put Me Back Together” is evidence enough that she deserves a spot on the charts. Smith’s pure voice brings life to lyrics that individually aren’t the most creative. I’ve liked Smith’s previous releases a little more for their lyrical novelty, but “Put Me Back Together” is the kind of song that could finally help her to land a spot on the charts.
“We Back,” Jason Aldean
I’m not exactly sure where Jason Aldean is back from, because he’s been polluting the country airwaves with terrible songs like “We Back” for years now. As far as a modern country song, this single checks all the boxes: a six-pack, a girl wearing blue jeans, and the bros. The aggressive guitar that is a signature in most of Aldean’s music is more present than ever in “We Back.” Honestly, this song is so bad that it might be too bad for today’s country radio. We can only hope.
“Over Drinking,” Little Big Town
Little Big Town was once “Day Drinking,” but now they’re “Over Drinking.” This song is simple but masterful; a slow but full sound paired with a steady beat make it more than worth a listen. Honestly, you can’t beat LBT’s vocals. The protagonist of the song is giving up an ex and their love of drinking, so if the musical mastery of this song isn’t enough, “Over Drinking” also promotes a healthier drinking culture than almost every other country song ever.
Indie & Alternative: Angela Karas
“Context,” the second single released ahead of the band’s third studio album, Hot Motion, showcases the band at its best. The single is a strong psychedelic rock offering with thought-provoking lyrics; in short, “Context” effectively builds hype for their upcoming LP, which is slated for a Sept. 27 release. The first new single, “Hot Motion,” felt lackluster in comparison to the Northhamptonshire-based band’s discography as a whole. Fortunately, “Context” suggests that perhaps the first single was an exception to an otherwise exceptional discography.
“Saving Grace,” Alexandra Savior
I must first preface this review by saying that, in my opinion, Alexandra Savior is the single most underrated artist in indie rock at the moment. Her 2017 debut album Belladonna of Sadness was an absolute masterpiece, and the fact she is putting out new music again is a most exciting prospect. Over the summer, she released her first new single, “Crying All the Time,” which was one of my favorite songs of the summer (and, let’s face it, the entire year). Today, she released her second single, “Saving Grace,” which exudes dreamy, cinematic and even somewhat retro vibes. I would highly recommend giving it a listen (though if you’re listening to her for the first time, I recommend starting with “Mirage”).
“holy terrain,” FKA Twigs, Future
FKA twigs has always been known for her genre-bending music (I would roughly consider her indie R&B), though her collaboration with Future shows Twigs further defying genre. While the song certainly excels in being unique, the song would have more of a lasting impact without the Future feature. FKA twigs’ parts of the song feels like they deserve more attention, and Future’s intrusions are admittedly annoying. FKA twigs’ other recent release, “Cellophane,” is much more ethereal and coherent. “holy terrain” is a disappointment from an otherwise established singer.