By Meredith Nardino
As the year comes to a close, it is evident that the music industry is entering a vastly eclectic phase. Chart toppers have spanned all genres, from cookie-cutter pop to groundbreaking indie. The end of each week brings an almost overwhelming array of new content, a never-ending cycle that keeps my ‘must hear’ list constantly updated. It’s hard to narrow down a solid list of new and noteworthy music, but this selection sums up the best new releases of the last few months.
1. “Dead Alive” – The Shins
After years of silence, The Shins released a new single and chilling music video just in time for Halloween. “Dead Alive” is a textbook Shins tune, complete with jangly guitars and distant vocals. The understated melody and vaguely foreboding lyrics recall the Albuquerque natives’ pre-Port of Morrow work.
Wistful and introspective, the tune takes a psychedelic turn to embrace “figments of imagination.” Lead singer James Mercer claims his songwriting is stronger now than ever, leaving fans desperate to hear more of the upcoming album.
2. “Boyish” – Hippo Campus
As the first single off Hippo Campus’ debut album, out in February 2017, “Boyish” is a demonstration of growth through its obvious youthfulness and whimsy. Jack Luppen’s vocals have become stronger thanks to a full year of touring, his range expanding and less reliant on the trademark growl of the band’s earlier EPs.
With lyrics as eloquent as “our stucco arms are forever tied loose, your velvet touch sends me back to the moon,” it’s hard to believe these band members are in their 20’s. The band is unapologetic in its exportation, still cultivating its musical identities with each song it releases.
3. “Cross My Mind” – ARIZONA
In a style comparable to alt-pop powerhouses like Bastille and Imagine Dragons, this New Jersey trio masks heartsick anthems beneath upbeat electronica. The group has garnered more than 16 million streams on Spotify in a few months, proving the power of passionate individualism.
“Cross My Mind” is a slow-burning pop phenomenon, starting off almost acoustically then bursting to life. ARIZONA is an exciting addition to an already diverse group of alternative-pop crossover artists with a remarkable capacity for lyrical clarity.
4. “I’ll Make It Worth Your While” – Artificial Pleasure
Artificial Pleasure is new to the London alternative scene but has made an outstanding first impression with this track. Lyrically, this is a less compelling version of The 1975’s hit “Love Me,” but the obvious 80’s influences are nearly identical.
Front man Phil McDonnell cites his own self-consciousness as inspiration for the song’s unabashed, bombastic attitude — sometimes it’s best to lose yourself in the music and just dance. With an infectious melody such as this one, that goal is easy to achieve.
5. “Loveless” – Lo Moon
Though this song is seven minutes long, its atmospheric and minimalist tone make it brilliantly easy listening. Lo Moon is still relatively under the radar, though the L.A. trio have begun to be classified with big names like The xx and Beach House.
Well-timed crescendos and precisely placed moments of silence keep you in a trance through all seven minutes. “Loveless” is an ambitious debut, but one that instantly becomes the soundtrack to the fake movie you cast yourself in while pensively staring out the window of the subway.