As we move past the dreary April rain, there’s no denying the recent outpour of tunes that have served to brighten up even the darkest of days. In the past month alone, we’ve been gifted music from the likes of Joey Badass, Feist, Snoop Dogg, and many others. This past week proved no differently when it comes to sonic freshness, and we’ve laid out all of the best picks for you right here. On this week’s SoundCloud playlist, we’re featuring another surprise loosie from Frank Ocean, a solo offering from Migos member Offset, a brain-tingling banger from Shabazz Palaces, and much more.
Phoenix - J-Boy
The French indie rock phenoms Phoenix reached a new level of upon releasing their critically-acclaimed 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The band soon took a left turn from their disco-infused tunes towards a more straightforward pop sound with the follow up project Bankrupt!, before vanishing from the music scene in 2013. But this past week, the group made a triumphant return with the single “J-Boy,” an ‘80s-style number packed with glimmering synths and punchy basslines.
Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars seems to sing from the dual perspective of an unsettling breakup, as his glassy voice softly purrs lines like “you talked me into letting you go.” His vocals float effortlessly over this radiant offering, which will be featured on the band’s sixth studio album Ti Amo, which is set to be released on June 9.
ODESZA - Line Of Sight/Late Night
After skyrocketing from the underground dance scene to mainstream club music with their 2014 sophomore release In Return, the Seattle electronic duo ODESZA decided to take a lengthy break and rework their sound before making a surprise return with not one, but two tracks this past week. "Late Night," the more memorable cut of the pair, is a trance-inducing dance track commanded by in-your-face disco grooves and sparkling guitar riffs.
Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight decide to forgo actual lyrics this time around, opting out for distant howls that provide a humanizing feel to this electronic jam. The hypnotic track is the perfect song to spin while driving over to the club. In fact, it even begins with the sound of someone getting into a car. Self-proclaimed as “feel-good summer songs,” both “Late Night” and their other new single “Line of Sight” foreshadow what should be another game-changing album by ODESZA.
Offset - Monday
When all members of the Atlanta trap trio Migos hop on the track together, the gang shines with their braggadocio swagger and inimitable, triplet-laden rhyme schemes. Quavo usually takes the lead with his charismatic persona and arsenal of features for big-name artists, Takeoff is praised for his barrage of catchy hooks, but Offset is proving himself to be no slouch, either. The suave spitter is poised to take the spotlight for himself, and that’s exactly what he did on his latest cut, “Monday.”
OG Parker and Deko supply the Migos affiliate with luxuriant electronic piano samples and rapid firing hi-hats, giving Offest free reign to wreak havoc over this mellow trap beat. Even when separated from the pack, the rapper still recognizes that he’s sitting on top of the hip-hop food chain, and his haters have no chance in touching the same level of success as Migos. “Drop my top, let the roof loose/Look at these diamonds, fruit loops/Ride like the president, bulletproof/Shoot it all you want, you ain’t getting through,” Offset rhymes.
SZA (ft Travis Scott) - Love Galore
After receiving rave reviews for her studio debut Z, R&B singer SZA's next project initially appeared as if it were being held hostage by her record label Top Dawg Entertainment (specially after she tweeted “I actually quit” back in October). But after a lengthy wait, the neo-soul singer finally has emerged with the single “Love Galore,” a sensual jam featuring none other than Los Angeles rapper Travis Scott.
Backed by slippery percussion and swaying synths, SZA and Travis swoon over one another, going back and forth with sensual lines. “Promise I won’t cry over spilled milk/Give me a paper towel/Give me another valium/Give me another hour or two, hour with you,” the R&B singer pleads. There’s a perfect balance between SZA’s powerful crooning and Scott’s droning murmurs, creating a thumping ballad that will seduce anyone who’s listening. The release of “Love Galore” came equipped with a music video directed by Nabil, which starts with a sensual relationship and quickly escalates into a bedroom scene where Travis gets murdered while tied up in bed.
D.R.A.M. (ft. A$AP Rocky & Juicy J) - Gilligan
Although his biggest hits have come in the form of bubbly and fun-loving songs like “Broccoli” and “Cute,” the Virginia singer-rapper hybrid D.R.A.M. knows how to turn up the heat on more menacing cuts. In "Gilligan," his first single of 2017, the talented artist teams up with A$AP Rocky and Juicy J, bringing listeners to an extravagant island that turns out to be chilly and heartless.
Self-produced by Big Baby D.R.A.M. and southern rap icon Juicy J, the result is a trap-influenced banger driven by an ominous darkness. After D.R.A.M. lays down an isolated hook and hard-hitting verse, Juicy comes through with lines referring to his legendary hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, as well as brilliant quips like “sippin’ on purple rain.” And A$AP Rocky joins in to tackle this brazen track with his slippery and self-assured style, boasting lines like “On repeat like a ceiling fan/All pink like I'm Killa Cam/Palms, feet and let 'em feel the sand/On the beach like I'm finna tan.” It’s unclear whether this cut is a one-off release or a single from a followup to D.R.A.M.’s debut album, but one thing is for certain: this track goes hard.
BNQT - Mind Of A Man
Back in 2015, Eric Pulido, the frontman of Texas folk rock band Midlake, announced that he was creating a supergroup named BNQT (pronounced “banquet”) alongside members from Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, Grandaddy, and Travis. It seemed to have taken some time to get the star-studded indie cast in the studio together, but they proved their collaboration was worth the wait when the debut single “Restart” was released back in January. Now, as the group gears up to release their 10-track album Volume 1, BNQT has resurfaced with the self-loathing psych-pop anthem “Mind of a Man.”
The colorful and guitar-driven offering is fronted by Fran Healy of Travis, who whimsically sings about “how fucking dumb men can be.” There’s something unsettling about five males playing a tune about the despicable inner thoughts of men, but the heavenly strings and dreamlike harmonies (hopefully) indicate these guys have put some thought into their take on gender.
Frank Ocean - Lens
For anyone who feared that Frank Ocean would go back into hibernation after dropping both Endless and Blonde in the span of just two weeks, his recent output of remixes and loose tracks on his Blonded Radio show on Beats 1 should be enough to help you rest easy. On the latest episode, the elusive R&B star dropped “Lens,” a self-reflective ballad focused on the complexities of love and social engagement.
The majority of the song features Frank Ocean warbling poetically over a Wurlitzer-style keyboard, eventually carried into a lush soundscape by reverberating 808 drums. “Can't be my type, I'm a low life/Crammed in some time, now I'm your whole life/Can't make those calls in the low light,” Frank croons over the barren track. The release of “Lens” was almost instantly followed by a spaced out remix featuring Travis Scott, who works the watery production over with a metallically autotuned outro.
Shabazz Palaces (ft. Thaddillac) - Shine a Light
After a three-year hiatus, the Seattle experimental rap duo Shabazz Palaces has finally resurfaced with news of their follow up to 2014’s Lese Majesty. Their upcoming concept album is entitled Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, due out July 14 via Sub Pop. Alongside that announcement, the genre-bending rapper Ishmael Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire also unveiled the new single “Shine a Light,” an otherworldly ode to old school hip-hop and ‘70s soul music.
Featuring smooth autotuned chops from the funk band Thaddillac, the former Digable Planets member Butler gives a lyrical preview at the project’s character “Quazarz,” who Shabazz Palaces claims to be a “sentient being from somewhere else.” On the new single, the “Shine a light on the fake/This way my peeps can have it all” hook acts as a ray of realness in a pool of phony mainstream rappers. Maraire conjures up a slick instrumental masterpiece that sounds fit for a MF Doom project, while Butler broods over the three-minute offering with echoey and haunting bars.
Palm - Walkie Talkie
You might not be familiar with the Philadelphia art rock band Palm just yet, but once you peep their single “Walkie Talkie,” you’ll surely have a hard time getting their manic progressions and chaotic rhythms out of your head. Completely disregarding traditional song structures, the math rock-y guitar and hoarse vocals from Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert create a tornado of experimental rock that brings to mind boundary-shedding bands like Battles, Unwound, and Cap'n Jazz.
The duo’s disorderly and unpredictable guitar work will leave you confounded throughout this brief ditty, but by the end you’re left with the utmost certain that these artist fucking rip. "Walkie Talkie” will be featured on Palm’s Carpark Records debut, Shadow Expert.