The long holiday weekend was a much-needed break, but coming back to work after it was always going to be difficult. To help you survive the work week, MERRY JANE is bringing you the best newly-released songs across the musical spectrum, from the best of the Weeknd’s new album, to a reprised classic by Sigur Rós. Give the tracks a listen, take a deep breath, and before you know it the weekend will be here.
“Sidewalks,” the Weeknd feat. Kendrick Lamar
Toronto-based R&B star the Weeknd kicked this past weekend off right with the highly-anticipated release of his third studio album, Starboy. One of the instant classics on the 18-track release is “Sidewalks,” a triumphant street anthem featuring none other than Kendrick Lamar. The song was previewed in the Weeknd’s recently-released visual teaser “M A N I A,” and the full-length track does not disappoint.
At the start of “Sidewalks,” the rising R&B star proudly reminisces over his rough upbringing on a crisp guitar-powered beat. When King Kendrick soars in for the second verse, he delivers fast-paced rhythmic lines that remind everyone why he’s one of the best in the game. Starboy is littered with bangers and ballads throughout, but “Sidewalks” is one track that stands out from the rest.
“Fresh,” Gucci Mane x Lil Uzi Vert
Old school and new school hip-hop collided the week in the form of a collaborative mixtape released by Atlanta-based legend Gucci Mane and up-and-coming Philadelphian Lil Uzi Vert. The unexpected seven-track release, entitled 1017 vs The World, features production by Honorable C Note, Zaytoven, Manny Fresh, and more.
One of the hottest tracks on the collaborative effort is the Zaytoven-produced “Fresh.” The trap house banger starts with another classic nonchalant verse by Big Guwop, who then passes the torch off to Lil Uzi Vert. As Uzi says on the track, the dynamic duo truly “make it rain together” on “Fresh.” You can listen to the entire project for free via Soundcloud.
“Feel No Ways” (Drake Cover), Chance the Rapper
While the soulful Chicago-based rapper Chance the Rapper sadly had to cancel his “Magnificent Coloring Book” tour in Europe this week due to “personal reasons,” he had a chance to stop by BBC Radio 1Xtra Live Lounge in London to treat us to an emotional Drake cover. During his visit to Trevor Nelson’s daytime show on BBC, Chance performed an expressive live version of the Drizzy song “Feel No Ways.”
Chance and his close-knit live band create an emotional rendition of the popular Views song, showcasing the versatility that Chancellor Bennett is recognized for. By the tail end of the cover, Chance has already ventured off into his own freestyle. During the radio visit, the renowned rapper also sent out “a special prayer” to his close colleague Kanye West, who has been in a recent bout with exhaustion and mental health. On top of that, Chance has been gearing up for his big screen debut in the upcoming A24 film Slice.
“Hoppípolla (Planet Earth II Mix),” Sigur Rós
This past week, iconic Icelandic rock group Sigur Rós released reprised version of their song “Hoppípolla” for David Attenborough’s highly anticipated BBC TV series sequel Planet Earth II. Originally released on their 2005 album Takk…, Sigur Rós’s rework of the classic song presents an even cleaner and more ethereal sound. The new version of “Hoppípolla” is made cleaner to accompany Planet Earth’s magnificent footage of natural phenomena around the globe.
In a statement issued via BBC, the band proclaimed that they were proud to join the show’s “all-important mission to hold us rapt in understanding of, and respect for, this endlessly fascinating, utterly surprising and ultimately fragile place we are lucky enough to call home for a short while.” The show, which is revered by stoners and nature lovers around the world, dropped the first episode of Planet Earth II this past Sunday.
“Revenge,” Theophilus London feat. Ariel Pink
Perhaps the strangest song in this week’s bunch is “Revenge,” by the genre-bending rapper Theophilus London with psych-rock weirdo Ariel Pink. The pop-infused single is an interpolation of the track “They All Run After the Carving Knife (See How They Run),” released in 1981 by the synth-pop group New Musik. Although Ariel Pink and Theophilus London keep the ’80s spirit alive in their unique segmented rendition, they also mix in that modern day psych-rock weirdness that is generally expected from both of their uncommon sounds. The new single can be streamed via Soundcloud or downloaded for free from Fool’s Gold Records.
“Internal World,” Cloud Nothings
Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, the heavy-hitting indie rock group Cloud Nothings recently dropped a new single from their upcoming fourth studio album, Life Without Sound. The song, entitled “Internal World,” instantly starts with distorted guitars and the nasally howl of frontman Dylan Baldi, taking the listener into a hearty soundscape that is bound to make your head bang. The single includes a lush guitar solo and an energetic hook that cries “I’m not the one who’s always right.”
With a consistent discography and catchy rock tunes, Cloud Nothings might just be your favorite punk band you haven’t heard yet. Life Without Sound is scheduled to drop on Jan. 27 via Carpark Records.