The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Ruth B & NYLO
Fridays can be overwhelming for pop fans. Every week you’re bombarded with a glut of new music, which can lead to ear candy falling through the cracks. I’m hoping to circumvent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet (of sorts) to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard Fergie’s “Life Goes On” and possibly bopped along to Zara Larsson’s sexy buzz track, “I Would Like.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Given everything that’s going on in the world, it’s not surprising that introspection is a major theme for most of this week’s new releases. Let’s start with a trio of calming female artists. Birdy appears in The Drop for the second week in a row but “Ghost In The Wind” couldn’t be more different than soaring Sigma collaboration “Find Me.” This is a return to the stripped-back singer/songwriter balladry of her first two albums and I’m ok with that. “Lost Boy” hitmaker Ruth B explores a similar soundscape on new single “In My Dreams.” Produced by Joel Little (Lorde, Broods etc.), the 21-year-old’s latest tune offers a more sophisticated and mature twist on her signature piano-pop sound. She’s definitely headed in the right direction. That takes us to Lykke Li’s super-group, LIV. Comprised of the Swedish diva, producer Jeff Bhasker and various members of Miike Snow and Peter Bjorn and John, the collective delivers sprawling, multi-layered and vaguely ’70s pop on the gorgeous “Dream Awake.”
Looking for something a little more upbeat? Australia’s Washington returns with a hazy alt-pop anthem called “Saint Lo” and it’s as pretty and mysterious as the title suggests. The “Limitless” singer already has two top 5 albums under her belt at home. It will be interesting to see if she can carve out an international following this era. If future-R&B is more your speed, let me introduce you to NYLO. The Chicago native has been making waves for the last couple of years with sparse, cosmic productions like “Space” and “I Use,” but this could be her most ambitious offering yet. Press play and drift away. Last but not least is Katelyn Tarver. The singer/actress first appeared on my pop radar in 2015 with “Weekend Millionaires,” but things went a little quiet after that. She makes up for lost time, however, with “Hate To Tell You.” Produced by BURNS (Britney Spears’ “Make Me”), it’s accessible pop presented in a clever and credible way. Her debut EP drops next year.
While the ladies lead the way this week, it’s also a fairly good week for indie-pop bands. Germany’s Milky Chance ranked as one of the breakout acts of 2014 with unavoidable earworm “Stolen Dance.” Debut LP Sadnecessary produced further AAA hits with “Down By The River” and “Flashed Junk Mind,” but they haven’t bothered pop radio since. That could well change with “Cocoon,” another sing-along anthem built on warm jumble of instruments and loops. The award for the week’s most endearing and unexpected cover goes to Canada’s Paper Lions. After mining ’80s pop/rock on 2016 LP, Full Color, they go straight to the source with a disarmingly faithful interpretation of Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.” Just go with it. Next up is ever-reliable duo Timeflies. I feel like these guys completely change their sound every couple of years and that’s true of “Gravity,” which is dreamier and more electronic than their last few singles. It’s only a matter of time before one of their (very good) songs catches fire on radio.
If you just want to party your worries away, don’t stress I’ve got you. LA-based DJ Wolfgang Gartner teams up with John Oates (yes, of Hall & Oates fame) for a furious disco-tinged banger called “Baby Be Real.” It’s a funky dancefloor delight. Less retro but equally fun is Phantoms’ “Someone To Talk About.” I know the duo more for their remixes than originals, but they get it very right with this slinky banger. Voiced by rising singer/songwriter Grace Mitchell, the track sounds like a futuristic update of “Sexy Back.” I’m feeling it. That leaves us with Robin Thicke, who has been struggling to land a radio hit since that whole Paula fiasco. I loved the simplicity of “Morning Sun,” but “One Shot” is just the kind of booze-fueled, sex-filled banger he needs to win fans back. Listen to the Juicy J-assisted anthem in my playlist below.