New Music Round-Up| Six Must Hear Songs

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder (Contributor)

It was a bad week for humanity if you’re keeping score. Between military coup attempts in Turkey to Bastille Day terror attacks in France to Donald Trump announcing a running mate that makes him look good, we’ve been besieged by bad news that seems to be getting worse. Instead of looking back on a dark week, let’s look forward to the weekend as we’ve been gifted with some songs of summer. This week’s new music roundup may not cure our ills, but they can shed some positive light onto what have been some very dark days. 

Justice  – “Safe and Sound”

That other Grammy Award-winning French electronic dynamic duo is back. No, I’m not referring to Daft Punk, who did release some beach towels this week (WTF?), but their Parisian DJ peers, Justice, whose new “Safe and Sound” marks Gaspard Michel Andre Augé and Xavier de Rosnay’s first new single in five years. The disco-tinged track (available for free download here) is a pure “D.A.N.C.E. floor slide and glider that marks a happy return to their debut album, t, and hopefully breaks them out of the sophomore slump that was, Audio, Video, Disco. Although they haven’t announced a new full-length album, fans should be feeling “Safe and Sound,” after this promising start. 

Zhu – “Palm Of My Hand”

Every track Zhu has teased us with from his upcoming Generation Why album grabs onto you like a powerful drug, instantaneously changing your mood and opening you up to whatever he wants you to feel. The appropriately titled “Palm of My Hand,” has a Michael Mann, Miami Vice (the Don Johnson TV version, not the Colin Ferrel movie debacle), vibe with wailing police sirens followed by a drippy guitar solo that would make Prince proud. The six-minute-plus single was built for nighttime drives. You can almost here the ghost of Glen Frey singing “You Belong to the City” as you cruise the streets with the wind in your hair.

Banks & Steelz — “Speedway Sonora”

Superhero music team-ups always sound good on paper, but they never quite live up to their premise — remember the disappointment that was Jay-Z and R. Kelly’s Best of Both Worlds? Thus, when I heard that Wu-Tang Clan‘s RZA and Interpol’s Paul Banks were working on an unlikely project called Banks & Steelz it had my curiosity, but it didn’t have my attention until now with “Speedway Sonora.”  The third single from their upcoming album Anything But Words (Aug. 26), is a one-two-punch combination of RZA’s stalking hip hop beats and lyrical flurries that give way to Bank’s hard-driving rock vocals and pummeling guitar assaults. It’s a perfect audio wake-me-upper for a long road trip drive.  

Omar Rodríguez-López – “To Kill A Chi Chi”

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is the mad genius behind now broken-up bands The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In who seems to everywhere, yet nowhere. You will be hearing a lot from the prolific, yet enigmatic multi-hyphenate as Rodriguez-Lopez announced that he will be releasing a shitload of music — 12 solo albums over the next six months. A majority of the songs were recorded following the death of his mother as he literally worked through his grief. Among this treasure trove of new music was the announcement of an upcoming work from “Arañas en La Sombra,” which consists of Mars Volta’s original lineup of Jon Theodore, Eva Gardner and the late keyboardist Ikey Owens, along with former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar god John Frusciante. Until then, Rodriguez-Lopez’s first batch of squawk-rawk songs were released yesterday and can be streamed and purchased on Bandcamp (here).

Chance the Rapper  – “Muhammed Ali Tribute”

Sorry, Kanye, but Chance the Rapper has won the hip hop crown of 2016. Shit, the 23-year-old Chitown artist was arguably the best part of Yeezy’s Life of Pablo album, but enough of Ye. Chance’s Coloring Book is both a critics darling and fan favorite, which Kanye himself praised as “a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it.” This week, Chance stole the ESPY’s awards show with a lights-out tribute to the late great Muhammed Ali. He performed the as-yet-untitled song, backed on stage by a choir and spliced the song with inspiring Ali quotes for a stirring ode that was worthy of the GOAT.

AlunaGeorge – “Mean What I Mean”

Singer Aluna Francis has been at the center of top of the chart hits from the likes of Disclosure, Jack U and DJ Snake, but has never receiving top-billing herself. Now, the enchanting British frontwoman is ready for her close-up with songs like “Mean What I Mean.” The dancehall flavored, synth-pop banger that touches on sexual harassment is produced by George Reid (the “George” in AlunaGeorge) and is bookended by fiery cameos from rappers Leikeli47 and Dreezy.