The Drop: Your Guide To New Music Friday Featuring Twin Shadow & Wallows
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 prevent that tragic scenario with The Drop — a cheat sheet to get you through New Music Friday. By now, you’ve probably heard 5 Seconds Of Summer’s surprisingly great (no, really) “Want You Back” and possibly checked out Imagine Dragons’ very first love song. But that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s start with some ’80s-inspired pop/rock. The last time I heard from Twin Shadow, he was channeling Freddie Mercury on the brilliant (and very underrated) “To The Top.” The pop chameleon returns this week with “Saturdays,” a breezy, Springsteen-evoking anthem featuring Haim. Unsurprisingly, they turn out to be a match made in music heaven. The Aces explore a similar retro-soundscape on “Lovin’ Is Bible,” the latest time capsule from their debut LP, When My Heart Felt Volcanic (due April 6). At this rate, it’s shaping up to be all killer, no filler.
Another female-fronted band with massive hype is Pale Waves. Their debut EP arrived earlier this week and it’s an essential listen thanks to shimmery indie-pop gems like “New Year’s Eve” and “My Obsession.” The highlight, however, is “Heavenly.” A riot of jangling guitars and tinny synths, this wouldn’t sound out of place in a teen movie from the ’90s. The same applies to Wallows’ absurdly good new single. The band, which boasts 13 Reasons Why actor Dylan Minnette as a member, caught my attention last year with grungy gems like “Uncomfortable” and “Pulling Leaves Off Trees.” The trio takes it to the next level with the John Congelton-produced “Pictures Of Girls,” which is a burst of lo-fi, shoe-gazing goodness. More please.
Next up is country queen Kacey Musgraves. She hasn’t veered as close to pop as contemporaries like Maren Morris and Carrie Underwood, which is a good thing. Otherwise, New Music Friday wouldn’t be blessed with a song as beautiful and devastating as “Space Cowboy.” Play this while driving down a lonely highway. Moving on from country to soulful rock, Bishop Briggs has been pummeling us with emotional gut-punches since breaking through with “River.” The London-born rocker now teases debut LP, Church Of Scars (due April 20) with “White Flag” — a song that grabs you by the neck from the opening line.
The most exciting debut single of the week belongs to King Princess. The New York-based artist/producer describes “1950” as “a love song told through the lens of queerness,” which gives you some idea of her very necessary perspective. This is as soft and pretty as it is gutsy and bittersweet. She is definitely One To Watch. Another artist reinterpreting the stuffy love song is Bea Miller. The “Fire N Gold” singer is fed up with players and sings about the joys of self-love on “Motherlove.” Think of this as the millennial answer to the Divinyls’ “Touch Myself.”
As usual, some of the week’s best pop comes from the southern hemisphere. Australia’s Hatchie graced The Drop late last year with “Sure.” I was mesmerized by its multi-layered dream-pop sound, which sounded like something the Cocteau Twins cooked up decades ago — which is why it makes perfect sense for one of them to remix it. In Robin Guthrie’s capable hands, “Sure” transforms into sun-dappled day dream. New Zealand’s Robinson also comes through with a breathtaking single. After going viral with “Crave You,” she has world domination in her sights with “Nothing To Regret.” This anthemic mid-tempo was co-produced by Joel Little (the mastermind behind Lorde’s debut LP).
The UK is also a hotbed of bops. With smash hit club collaborations (Jax Jones’ “You Don’t Know Me” is still that song), Charli XCX co-writes and a string of flawless bangers, RAYE has generated enough hype to power a car. She lives up to it on new single “Cigarette,” which features fellow superstars-in-the-making Mabel and Stefflon Don. Play it loud. Sigala also gifts New Music Friday with a bop, calling on Paloma Faith for “Lullaby.” The producer is wise enough to put the diva’s gravelly vocals to good use, softly cushioning them with house beats.
This edition of The Drop has been fairly heavy on guitar-driven pop, but a couple of artists delivered excellent electronica. Swedish diva Clara Mae, an ex-member of a later incarnation of Ace Of Base, made waves in 2016 as the voice of KREAM’s “Taped Up Heart.” She now comes through with “I Forgot” — a bittersweet floorfiller with a cute drop. Detroit’s Svrcina has been building a following with ambient-pop gems, of which “Whispers” is a perfect example. This is light and airy electro with a memorable chorus. Discover her in my playlist below.