New Music Friday: 12 releases to hear now
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. With fresh offerings from The Chainsmokers, Harry Styles, and Father John Misty, here are the week's most noteworthy releases.
The Chainsmokers, Memories…Do Not Open
The hitmaking duo have four songs in the Hot 100 at present, which is partly due to their savvy strategy of releasing earworm-y singles one at a time over the last several months. So can Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall recreate that pop magic on their first proper full-length album? Judging by pleasant enough EDM-lite numbers like "Wake Up Alone," featuring the R&B songstress Jhene Aiko, and "It Won't Kill Ya," featuring the French singer Louane, they've got a few more chart-climbers to come. —Kevin O'Donnell
Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times”
The title suggests an homage to Prince's 1987 masterpiece, Sign O' the Times, released 30 years ago this year, but the 23-year-old One Direction member looks to other masters of classic rock for his debut solo single — namely the bombastic piano balladry of singer-songwriter Billy Joel and Wings-era Paul McCartney. And that gorgeous, lyrical slide-guitar melody? Straight outta the George Harrison playbook. Not bad. —Kevin O'Donnell
Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
Josh Tillman's breakthrough second album as Father John Misty, 2015's I Love You, Honeybear, was a paean to love and all its flaws. On Pure Comedy, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter goes macro, with a 74-minute opus about the ills of the modern world. For more, read EW's full review. —Eric Renner Brown
Jack White, “Battle Cry”
You won't hear White's voice on "Battle Cry," his first new solo cut since 2014's Lazaretto, but the brawny track — which will soundtrack a promotional video for the sporting goods company he co-owns — bursts with the 41-year-old axesmith's signature electrified squall. —E.R.B.
Michelle Branch, Hopeless Romantic
After fighting her way out of record-label purgatory, Michelle Branch has returned with her first solo album in 14 years. Produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, Hopeless Romantic sounds like, well, what you'd imagine a Black Keys-Michelle Branch hybrid would sound like. It's more understated than the power-pop stylings of her early '00s albums, but Branch still offers plenty for fans to sink their teeth into on highlights like "Fault Line" or "Not a Love Song." For more, read EW's full review. —Nolan Feeney
Cold War Kids, LA Divine
The California band's sixth album kicks off with the blues rock sound they became known for with 2007's "Hang Me Up to Dry" — but LA Divine switches up midway, with gospel-tinged "No Reason to Run," eerie "Open to the Heavens," and dance-ready "Invincible." But album closer and highlight "Free to Breathe" strips away flourishes, relying instead on minimal, ethereal instrumentation and frontman Nathan Willett's quiet vocals. The resulting ballad ends the mostly energetic 14-song set on a somber, reflective note. —Ariana Bacle
Various Artists, Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle Album
Amazon commissioned Brian Burton — better known as Danger Mouse — to organize a covers collection of songs from the '50s and early '60s to accompany the dystopian, alternate history drama The Man In The High Castle. And the superproducer delivered, co-producing the effort with Sam Cohen, a signee to his 30th Century Records label, and recruiting artists including Beck, The Shins, and Norah Jones to record vintage cuts like "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Spoonful." And listen beyond the A-listers for stellar contributions from 30th Century artists Waterstrider, Maybird, and Big Search. —E.R.B.
Joey Bada$$, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$
As its title suggests, the rising, 22-year-old New York MC doesn't pull punches politically on his second studio album. But on top of his considerable lyrical acumen and accomplished guests like Schoolboy Q and J. Cole, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ teems with silky, impressive beats that place Bada$$ squarely in the lineage of the Big Apple's finest rappers. Start with the incisively poetic "Land of the Free," which pulses like the most introspective moments on Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die. —E.R.B.
Future Islands, The Far Field
With "Seasons (Waiting On You)," off 2014's Singles, Future Islands became an online sensation: Listeners old and new queued up their performance of the track on The Late Show With David Letterman to marvel at frontman Samuel T. Herring's wacky, mesmerizing dance moves and deep, soulful vocals. On The Far Field, his pipes proudly stand out over synths that emphasize this is still a record to dance to even if the occasionally melancholy lyrics — "I don't believe anymore / Cause all we know is gone and cold," he sings on "Cave" — suggest otherwise. —A.B.
Karen Elson, Double Roses
On her 2010 debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, the British model-turned-songwriter partnered with her then-husband Jack White to create a thoroughly vintage collection of rockabilly, French chanson, and other pop styles from the early- to mid-twentieth century. But Elson has since divorced from the White Stripes frontman, and on her long-awaited follow-up, she's going in a more modern and pop-friendly direction — and with the help of ace collaborators like producer Jonathan Wilson (Jackson Browne, Conor Oberst) and musicians Laura Marling and Father John Misty, she's delivered immaculately produced pop numbers that come on like long-lost Fleetwood Mac B-sides. —K.O.
K.Flay, Every Where Is Some Where
The Stanford grad emerged at the beginning of this decade injecting indie-rock sensibilities into hypnotic hip-hop jams like "No Duh" and providing endless fodder for thinkpieces about female rappers. Rapping isn't as much a part of what she does these days, but between the alt-rock radio hit "Blood in the Cut" and tongue-twisters like "Champagne," she entertains enough to defy categorization. —N.F.
White Reaper, The World’s Best American Band
Ambitious branding or prescient describing? The Louisville garage-rockers channel "classic rock radio" staples like Van Halen, Springsteen, and the Cars on their exhilarating second album — and make the case that even if they're aren't the world's best American band now, that designation isn't out of the question in the future. —E.R.B.