Every week, there are hundreds of thousands of new songs hitting the airwaves. It’s too much for just your two ears to handle. With all those options, you can’t be wasting your time on tracks worthy of the thumbs down button. Don’t worry, we’re going to save you the hassle. We listen to some of the most hyped and interesting songs each week, and tell you what ones are worth using your bandwidth on.
Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
Kendrick Lamar made his major label debut in 2012 with good kid, m.A.A.d city, a critically acclaimed concept album that tackled Lamar’s own childhood growing up in the roughest parts of Compton. The record burned so bright it seemed like it would be tough to sustain. Every artist goes through a sophomore slump, especially coming off a huge hit, but Kendrick’s always been a little different.
On his latest record To Pimp a Butterfly, he’s back to bucking convention, while still producing music so undeniable that it breaks through regardless. The record as a whole is ambitious, and it’s chock full of guest spots that don’t feel cheap or superfluous. For every address to inequality and racial tensions, he backs it with beats that make the tough themes easily digestible. No track better captures his ability than King Kunta, a funk-powered jam with a backing track that packs a James Brown bass, while Kendrick gets tough about his come up, telling the world, “Look at me now.”
Earl Sweatshirt – Grief
Like Kendrick Lamar, it’s hard to believe that Earl Sweatshirt is so young. At just 21, he’s already at the front of the class and might as well be giving the lecture. On Grief, the first single from his upcoming album, he’s nervous, paranoid. It sounds like he feels trapped, and it’s not clear what’s keeping the door locked on him from the other side. He airs out his issues, and introduces each of his demons in a scatterbrained way, over the top of a gunky, lo-fi beat that seems as clouded and worn down as Earl himself.
Allison Moorer – Tear Me Apart
Not all country music fits into the stereotypical mold. It’s a genre at its best when the artist is honest, stripped bare, and willing to share their pain. Allison Moorer has no problem doing that on her latest album Down to Believing. She discusses everything from her recent divorce, to the difficulties of raising a child with autism, and she does it over guitar riffs that lean more rock than country, like the ones found on the raw and angry Tear Me Apart.
Of Monsters and Men – Crystals
Following 2011’s debut album My Head Is an Animal, Of Monsters and Men had a lot to live up to. If Crystals is any indication, the Icelandic indie folk duo are up to the task. The teaser from upcoming album Beneath The Skin produces about as big of an athematic buildup as the two-person outfit is capable of, with rolling drums and crashing cymbals that deliver at an impressive scale, leading up to the chanting chorus, “Cover your crystal eyes/And let your colors and blend with mine.”
Alabama Shakes – Future People
Alabama Shakes has been on the promotional trail, working up hype for the group’s forthcoming release Sound and Color. Helping them get the word out is new single Future People, a track full of a tasty blues licks beat driven by a funky bass line. Lead vocalist and guitarist Brittany Howard soars as she sings, and you can feel some of the notes touch the sky. If you’re looking for some soulful rock to jam to with the windows down, look no further.