Disco, Drake, pop-punk, and an eerie cover. Let’s get into this week’s best new songs.
Shamir — “On the Regular”
Vegas-bred disco-house singer Shamir quickly became one of my favorite new artists of 2014 following the release of his debut EP, Northtown, back in June on Brooklyn’s Godmode Records (I have blurbed him in this column multiple times). Now he’s topping this year’s rookie list, thanks to his first single on XL this week. “On the Regular” is a proper introduction to 19-year-old Shamir in more ways than one; thematically, it’s all about who he is and where he came from. This sounds like a sentimental theme, but Shamir pulls it off with a fun, bouncy, slightly bratty attitude not unlike Azealia Banks when she emerged. His exquisite vocals are on display towards the end, but it’s a newly highlighted rappers’ flow that shines here; I’m reminded of A Tribe Called Quest when he characterizes his weight as “about a buck 20.” Also, cowbell. There’s no more of it to give, Shamir gave it all.
Belle and Sebastian — “The Party Line”
If you’re not on board with disco twee, the new Belle and Sebastian single will likely not be for you. But for my money (or rather, time), I’m all about the Glasgow indie-pop vets’ sashay into a new decade of influence — or at least a new genre. B&S’s next album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is out January 20. (Read our recent career-spanning interview with the band’s Stuart Murdoch in the meantime.)
Drake — “How Bout Now”
Bitter has often worked for Drake. On the best of the three new songs he dropped over the weekend, Aubrey couples butt-hurt with narcissism atop a slightly chopped-and-screwed/chipmunk-warped Jodeci sample. This is one of the least likable narrators Drake’s ever offered up, but there’s a lot to like about “How Bout Now” itself.
Chumped — “Hot 97 Summer Jam”
If you are a fan of Allison Crutchfield’s highly melodic pop-punk band Swearin’ but wouldn’t mind a little bit of Diarrhea Planet’s gnarly riffs thrown in (plus lyrics about arrested development), try Chumped. Their upcoming debut, Teenage Retirement, is out November 18, and “Hot 97 Summer Jam” is one of the more carefree highlights (it is, in fact, a summer jam).
PJ Harvey — “Red Right Hand” (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds cover)
It’s Halloween and I’m still shipping Polly Jean and Nick, so this is mandatory.