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 Lin-Manuel Miranda’s star-studded charity single to Sam Smith’s Timbaland-produced jam, here are some of the week’s most noteworthy releases. Got Spotify? Stream all of EW’s picks by following our playlist (embedded below) for this week.
1. Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Almost Like Praying”
Just like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton Mixtape star-studded standout “Immigrants, We Get The Job Done” was built around a show-stopping line from a musical, his new track “Almost Like Praying” — created for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico — kicks off with a lyric from West Side Story. The Hamilton creator puts his enviable Rolodex to use on the Latin-and rap-infused track, calling on stars like Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Luis Fonsi, Fat Joe, Camila Cabello, and actress Gina Rodriguez to perform what’s essentially a celebratory roll call of 78 Puerto Rican towns. Like anything Miranda touches, the song is an earworm — and the fact that its proceeds aid the hurting island is icing on the cake. —Isabella Biedenharn
2. Sam Smith, “Pray”
In announcing his forthcoming album, The Thrill of It All, Smith also followed last month’s “Too Good at Goodbyes” with “Pray.” Timbaland contributed production work, and the song recalls the clattering, symphonic ballads of Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. —Eric Renner Brown
3. Liam Gallagher, As You Were
The Oasis singer soars on his first solo album. Gallagher loads As You Were with allusions to ’70s classic rock and ’90s Britpop, flanked by stellar collaborators, including superproducer Greg Kurstin, who worked on four standout tracks. —E.R.B.
4. Rachel Platten, “Perfect For You”
Where to go after recording the anthem for America’s first major-party presidential nominee? To the dance floor, it seems. Platten’s “Perfect For You” slinks along with an irresistible funk groove — somewhere, Hillary’s busting out her dancing shoes. —E.R.B.
5. Kelela, Take Me Apart
Swirling with heady R&B, lurching electronica, and emotive lyricism, the immersive debut album from the D.C. singer-songwriter makes good on the promise of her 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me. —E.R.B.
6. Alex Lahey, I Love You Like A Brother
“If I was to write something and be like, ‘I would never say that,’ then I wouldn’t put it in,” Lahey tells EW of the confessional pop-punk jams on her exceptional debut album. “I don’t go out of my way to be anyone other than myself.” For more, read EW’s full Breaking Big interview. —E.R.B.
7. Rationale, Rationale
“It all starts with my voice,” the 33-year-old producer and singer told EW in July. “A lot of the time people enjoy the production behind my music, but when I sing, I found a place where it feels powerful and every word has a complete and utter message to it.” His striking debut suggests why artists Rag’n’Bone Man and Bastille collaborator Mark Crew were drawn to work with him — and affirms why it’s so good he’s releasing music in his own right. —E.R.B.
8. Dhani Harrison, In///Parallel
The son of late Beatles legend George Harrison has had numerous musical projects over the years — but the dark, abstractly beautiful In///Parallel marks his solo debut. Filled with one long cut after the next — only two songs clock in under five minutes — the album will take a number of listens to fully appreciate, but it deserves the attention. —Josh Glicksman
9. Ty Dolla $ign feat. YG, “Ex”
Ty Dolla $ign called upon YG, who he previously collaborated with on “Only Right” and DJ Mustard’s “Dolla $ign,” for “Ex,” set to appear on his upcoming album Beach House 3. The ode to staying out with an ex won’t sit well with the “main chick,” but the song’s vibe fits the album’s title — after all, YG raps about riding on a jet ski. —J.G.
10. Cults, Offering
On their third album — and first since 2013 — the indie duo have once again shifted gears. Don’t expect many of the cheery, upbeat vibes of their 2011 breakout hit “Go Outside.” Instead, Offering concludes with “Gilded Lily,” which almost hauntingly asks, “Haven’t I given enough, given enough?” Some of the songs on the album melt into each other, allowing listeners to fade out and still appreciate the body of work — the synth-heavy tunes and smooth vocals from Madeline Follin will command your attention when you’re least expecting it. —J.G.
11. Kele Okereke, Fatherland
Kele Okereke’s latest solo album, Fatherland, has little sonic connection to his work in Bloc Party. The 35-year-old musician remarked last year that the album is an intimate work for his dad, and he’s held true to his word, packing Fatherland with acoustic guitars and covering heavy topics throughout the work. Key track? The stellar pop song “Grounds for Resentment,” which features Olly Alexander, a catchy loop, and a poignant lyrical message. —J.G.
12. The Weather Station, The Weather Station
Folk and Americana label Paradise of Bachelors’ hot streak continues with Tamara Lindeman’s fourth album as the Weather Station, where she evokes Joni Mitchell’s spirit on 11 immaculate tracks. —E.R.B.
Listen to a playlist of the tracks from this week’s New Music Friday above.