Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team chooses some of the essential new tunes. From the first of Chris Stapleton’s two 2017 albums to two long-awaited singles from indie stalwarts LCD Soundsystem to another One Direction solo jam, here are the week’s most noteworthy releases.
Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Volume 1
After spending years as one of Nashville’s favored scribes, Chris Stapleton broke big as a solo artist in 2015. His debut LP, the wonderfully earthen Traveller, earned high critical praise, took home the Grammy for Best Country Album, and went platinum following a bananas CMA Awards duet with Justin Timberlake. From A Room: Volume 1 is the first of two albums Stapleton has planned for 2017 — and it doesn’t disappoint. With well-worn grooves and his ever-precise lyricism, it soars. “I’ve found who elevates me as a player and performer,” Stapleton told EW in an interview about the project. “From [producer] Dave Cobb to my wife singing with me to everybody on the back end, everybody is an all-star.” —Madison Vain
LCD Soundsystem, “Call the Police” / “American Dream”
The New York dance-funk icons returned Thursday with two new songs. Other than “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” the one-off they released on Christmas Eve 2015 before announcing their reunion tour, the songs are the band’s first new music since their 2010 LP, This Is Happening. And they’re both vintage LCD: “Call the Police” is a grandiose dance number in the vein of “Home” or “All My Friends,” while “American Dream” recalls the slow-burn intensity of “Somebody’s Calling Me” or “Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up.” The cuts also notably political lyrics from frontman James Murphy. “Well, there’s a full-blown rebellion but you’re easy to confuse / By triggered kids and fakers and some questionable views,” he sings on “Call the Police,” and on “American Dream” he speaks of “the revolution … that would set you free from the bourgeoisie.” —Eric Renner Brown
Niall Horan, “Slow Hands”
After introducing himself as a solo artist with the folksy ballad “This Town,” One Direction member Niall Horan says he was channeling the solo work of the Eagles’ Don Henley on this funky follow-up. —Nolan Feeney
Mac DeMarco, This Old Dog
On his third LP, the buzzy indie-pop auteur blends quirky junk-shop synth melodies and strummy guitar riffs with vivid odes to his simple bohemian life. The result is as cozy and familiar as your favorite vintage hoodie — and one of the most inviting albums of the year. —Kevin O’Donnell
Perfume Genius, No Shape
After two albums of muted, haunting indie-pop, Perfume Genius (a.k.a. Mike Hadreas) cracked open his sound for 2014’s Too Bright, which added fuzzy guitars and grimy synths to his sonic arsenal. Now, with the help of producer Blake Mills (Alabama Shakes, John Legend), he’s aiming for something even grander: Tracks like the first single “Slip Away” and the standout “Wreath” are among the most epic and otherworldly songs Hadreas has ever released — the sound of the heavens getting beamed right down into your headphones. —N.F.
The new-wave icons sound as vital as ever on their 11th LP, which finds collaborators such as Sia, Charli XCX, and Dev Hynes channeling the spirit of the band’s classic material into brand-new compositions. Read EW’s full review of the album here. —N.F.
Grizzly Bear, “Three Rings”
The indie-rockers have been teasing their follow-up to 2012’s Shields since this time last year; they finally released the first taste of their forthcoming LP on Thursday. Less baroque than their beloved 2009 album Veckatimest, “Three Rings” still ripples with understated saxes, slinking bass, and arpeggiated guitars for a propulsive track that suggests the band hasn’t missed a beat in their half-decade off. —E.R.B.
John Moreland, Big Bad Luv
The Oklahoma songwriter made his name with the devastating songs of 2013’s In The Throes and 2015’s High On Tulsa Heat, which both left mountains of tissues in their wakes. But for his latest, the 31-year-old punched up the volume — and the fun. —M.V.
Pond, The Weather
Aussie psych-rock outfit Pond contains multiple members of Tame Impala’s touring band and that group’s mastermind, Kevin Parker, produced The Weather. The project dials back the goofiness of 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again — there’s no track titled “Heroic Shart” here — and achieves heady psychedelic bliss, from the dub and sax undulations of “Zen Automaton” to the twinkling funk of “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” which has serious shades of Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know the Better.” —E.R.B.
Sigrid, Don’t Kill My Vibe EP
The Norwegian singer’s fiery debut single, “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” is the year’s most addictive eff-you anthem. Now, this four-track EP proves the 20-year-old is pop’s newest MVP with songs like the grime-influenced “Plot Twist” and the heartbreaking ballad “Dynamite.” “The common thread [of my lyrics] is that everything is very personal,” which is very scary,” Sigrid recently told EW. “But also exiting.” —N.F.
The first album from the shoegaze pioneers in 22 years picks up where they left off. Atmospheric bliss-outs like “Falling Ashes” and toothier jams like “Star Roving” make the full-length a compelling return — and one that could turn on younger fans of the band’s descendants, like Beach House. —E.R.B.
At the Drive In, in•ter a•li•a
Chug a Monster and prepare to thrash. On their frenetic and deafening follow-up to 200o’s Relationship of Command, the seminal post-hardcore band serves up more of the intricate guitar ragers on which they built their name two decades ago. —E.R.B.
Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’, TajMo
On his new album, blues titans Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ join forces for a late-career gem. TajMo is a low-stakes stroll through the best flavors of the Delta blues: The souped-up, brassy strut of “Don’t Leave Me Here”; the languid, back-porch acoustic twang of “Diving Duck Blues”; and a Cajun-tinted cover of the Who’s “Squeeze Box” are just a few highlights from the set. —E.R.B.
Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow — the studio mavens behind pop confections for Britney Spears, Icona Pop, Madonna, and others — are black with another slab of futuristic pop. And while “Hunter” doesn’t pack the cartoonish maximalism of their breakout singles “”Runaway (U & I)” or “Peanut Butter Jelly,” it’s still a welcome soundtrack for your early-morning, post-club comedown. —K.O.
Rogue + Jaye, Pent Up
“Zach has almost gotten to be like a big brother to me,” singer-songwriter Courtney Jaye told EW of her collaboration with Rogue Wave’s Zach Rogue. Their full-length debut teems with country and California pop tunes that evoke artists from Loretta Lynn to Fleetwood Mac. —E.R.B.
Ho99o9, The United States of Ho99o9
“We’re not a political band and we’re not trying to be politicians,” Eaddy, of the experimental rap duo Ho99o9, told EW recently. As the title of their debut, The United States of Horror, suggests, that’s not exactly true; they may not be name-checking President Trump, but Eaddy and his collaborator the O.G.M. are intimately attuned to the sociopolitical issues currently facing the country. And Ho99o9’s music — a fusion of raucous punk, cacophonous industrial, and hardcore hip-hop — provides the optimal sonic backdrop for their lyrics. —E.R.B.
Day Wave, The Days We Had
Jackson Phillips spins jangling dream-pop with the best of them, but his sharp ear for melody — coupled with a voice that evokes Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo at his most romantic — elevates Day Wave above other acts in the crowded genre. His lovely full-length debut is also his most accomplished work yet, polished with an ’80s sheen that never sounds tired or dated. —E.R.B.
James Hersey, Pages EP
The Austrian singer-songwriter first broke out thanks to a Dillon Francis and Kygo remix of his delicate single “Coming Over” in 2015 — but this year it’s all about his own work. His latest 5-song EP includes the original version of “Coming Over” and infectious new jam, “Everyone’s Talking.” The 28-year-old told EW he’s hopeful another batch of tunes will drop before the end of the year. —M.V.
Emily Warren, “Hurt By You”
The voice of several of Chainsmokers hooks (and the songwriter behind several more) is making her solo debut with this unexpectedly soulful track. “My solo stuff is different in the sense that people are surprised when they hear more stripped down, organic sounds because they’re used to hearing my voice over more heavy electronic production,” she recently told EW. “The common thread, however, is you’ll never hear me singing lyrics that aren’t 100% true and based on something real in my life.” —N.F.
The Bloomington, Ind. outfit blends shimmering guitars, woozy keyboards, and clacking drum tracks for their sun-flecked brand of indie-rock, which evokes peers like Real Estate and DIIV. “There’s so much great music coming out of the Midwest,” Hoops’ Drew Auscherman told EW recently. “I think there always has been, just people don’t really pay attention.” Their full-length debut is the perfect accompaniment for the warmer days ahead. —E.R.B.
Kylie Jenner is a fan, but don’t let that turn you off. The classically trained chanteuse throws it back to the heyday of early-’90s R&B with a dozen sultry stunners. —K.O.
Forest Swords, Compassion
As Forest Swords, producer Matthew Barnes creates stunning and exquisite electronic soundscapes. Spooky chimes, taut bongos, wheezing saxes, rich synthesizer cascades, and a multitude of other textures swirl together on his daring, entrancing second album Compassion. —E.R.B.
Cayetana, New Kind of Normal
Cayetana’s second album is another blast of riffed-out, ’90s-inspired indie-rock. Like Waxahatchee and All Dogs, both of which Cayetana have toured with in the past, the trio pairs jagged guitars with confessional lyrics for immediate rockers like “Bus Ticket” and “Grumpy’s.” But New Kind of Normal‘s closing track “World,” a somber ballad that sonically recalls blink-182’s “Adam’s Song,” could be the impressive LP’s best moment. —E.R.B.
Various Artists, Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story — An Album to Benefit War Child
To raise money for the charity War Child UK, songwriter Brandi Carlile has tapped top artists like Pearl Jam, Dolly Parton, and Miranda Lambert to cover tracks from Carlile’s 2007 LP, The Story. Adele’s stunning album closer, “Hiding My Heart,” is the highlight; brace yourself for an ugly cry. —K.O.
Billy Raffoul, “Driver”
This Canadian songwriter, who recently signed a deal with major-label Interscope, is just 22-year-old, but he could have easily been a rock star in the 1970s. His debut single, “Driver,” is a streamroller of John Bohnam-style drums, fuzz-bomb guitars and Raffoul’s bluesy wailing.