AutoTune and Daft Punk references from The Who sounds like a nightmare. Listen to these songs instead, trust me.
Kendrick Lamar — “i”
Rap’s crown prince doesn’t need to call out Compton again to channel California. Rap’s crown prince doesn’t need to claim to be the greatest MC alive to say he loves himself. Other rappers before Kendrick, specifically the Beastie Boys, have sampled The Isley Brothers’s “That Lady,” a familiar funk hit that currently soundtracks Swiffer commercials. But Lamar filters it all so effortlessly through his own well-rounded vision and wide-ranging flow, you’d never accuse Kendrick of biting off someone else’s jam.
Marianne Faithfull — “Late Victorian Holocaust”
The name Marianne Faithfull comes with a certain amount of historical baggage for those who follow rock’n’roll history. Although “Late Victorian Holocaust,” the centerpiece of her forthcoming album Give My Love to London (out November 11), was written by Nick Cave, Faithfull fully inhabits the piano-and-strings ballad instead of serving merely as a muse. “Haunting” should be retired as a musical descriptor following this song.
Escort — “If You Say So”
If you’re not familiar with New York’s 17-piece modern disco collective Escort, their new single “If You Say So” is perhaps a better place to start than their kitschier fare, like “Cocaine Blues.” Duo MNDR helped write “If You Say So,” and their influence peeks through: synth-pop production flourishes help modernize the soft-focus Donna Summer revivalism — or at least bring it into the 1980s.
Jeremih — “Nobody But U”
Quickly rising R&B star Jeremih, who finally hit the Top 10 on the charts this week with “Don’t Tell Em,” offers up another tweak on the genre’s current mainstream sound with “Nobody But U.” House-inflected beats and production that squirms uncomfortably saves “Nobody But U” from being typical in the execution of well-treaded sexual themes in R&B.
Iceage — “How Many”
The latest song off Iceage’s new album, Plowing Into The Field Of Love (out October 7), has four distinct parts that define the space in this arrangement (from most prominent to least): atonal percussion, manic piano, tortured vocals, and finally, guitars seemingly in the background. It’s an interesting pecking order for a punk band, and it works in flipping the script.