Here’s a list of Artsweek’s favorite new tracks from April 2020!:
“Off the Grid” by Alina Baraz ft. Khalid
“Off the Grid,” Baraz’s third collaboration with Khalid, is a dreamy pop-R&B crossover and a definite standout on the singer’s latest album “It Was Divine.” The track is a seamless blend of Baraz’s pillowy soprano with Khalid’s resonant vocals, and the chemistry between the two is electric against the low-tempo production. The song, much like the rest of the album, captures the essence of romantic infatuation and focuses on the intense highs that come with love and lust. “Off the Grid,” a hidden gem among this month’s latest releases, unequivocally establishes Baraz as one of the most promising R&B artists in the music industry.
“PDLIF” by Bon Iver
Bon Iver’s singer-songwriter Justin Vernon has returned with a message of hope when the world needed it the most. In his first single since his last album,“i,i,” Vernon’s message, “please don’t live in fear,” is not only emotionally soothing but creates lasting impact as well. All proceeds of “PDLIF” will go straight to Direct Relief, a humanitarian organization that works in conjunction with nonprofits, businesses and public health authorities to deliver protective gear to health workers treating patients with COVID-19. The song itself is a unique blend of distinct Bon Iver eras, falling somewhere between the soft, stunning “For Emma, Forever Ago” tracks and the production-heavy “22, A Million.” Though the song was made in isolation, passed off between the band members, “PDLIF” is an equally emotional and cohesive track.
“Window” by Still Woozy
Bay Area prodigy Sven Gamsky — better known by his professional name Still Woozy — has released another infectiously fun banger, perfect for midday quarantine escapism. A head-bobbing, toe-tapping track from the very start, “Window” instantly transports the listener to warmer days and the sweaty-palm nervousness of a clandestine romance. “Window” is the perfect bedroom pop anthem for anybody who has found themselves in a friends-with-benefits situation that takes a turn toward an emotionally invested one.
“50” by Inner Wave
As a part of their EP titled “wyd,” released on April 3, Inner Wave’s “50” takes a new approach toward describing heartbreak. Only after reading the lyrics closely is it easy to say the song is about a breakup. It begins with a slow and steady drum beat, which is then accompanied by a high-pitched noise and the line, “There, there’s a shadow that follows me/My whole life tinted by the feeling.” This sound, most likely made on an electric keyboard, resembles the oxymoron of a calm alarm; someone is sending out a warning yet accepting their fate at the same time. Pablo Sotelo’s usual drowsy and muffled vocals continue on this gloomy track, but they can still become especially forceful when the instruments stop for a second and all you hear is his bare voice until the beat starts up once again. “50” represents the urge to forget the pain from a breakup: “Bitter taste on my tongue/I can’t place where it’s from.” But the inevitable return and rush of memories are repeated throughout the song with the haunting echoes of “I remember you.”
“You’re Too Precious” by James Blake
This song is, simply put, beautiful. The intricate details of the music display another James Blake masterpiece similar to “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead.” The narrative is a straightforward love story, but the dream-pop and vocals are what really tell the story throughout the song. The vocals switch from being close up and further away, making the piece a true production masterpiece. But the sound — the quick, glitchy phrases over the distant piano — are overshadowed by Blake’s cloudy vocals. You almost feel the love, not from the lyrics, but from the actual beat of the cohesive, sweet song.
“THE SCOTTS” by THE SCOTTS, Travis Scott and Kid Cudi
With the track being an unexpected collaboration because both artists have slightly different sounds, it is initially apparent that the beat and echoey lyrics are dictated by a Travis Scott vibe. Kid Cudi pairs in surprisingly well — his flow and vibe sounding decent over the beat — even though he sounds a little out of his element. The atmospheric sound with their distinct voices makes the song a successful, solid hype track. Yet these collaborators, known as THE SCOTTS, have the potential to do more together, and hopefully, there is more of this duo to come.