Some weeks it’s all about the indies, and other weeks it’s all about the stars. This week saw the release of the Rihanna’s anticipated followup to “FourFiveSeconds,” titled “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and Jamie xx dropped a Romy Madley-Croft-featuring single from his debut solo album In Colour. We’ve got some Syrian stuff, some chill stuff, and some pure ’90s indie rock stuff for you, too.
Jamie XX ft. Romy Madley-Croft — “Loud Places”
Technically, this is not an xx song, but it definitely could be. The production of Jamie xx has always been the strongest part of the xx’s career aesthetic, so it’s no surprise that this song, which features Jamie’s xx bandmate Romy Madley-Croft, is stronger than anything on that group’s last album, Coexist. The beat is all open bells, chants, and hand claps, over which Romy sings of her trademark malaise in her trademark whisper, “I go to loud places/ to search for someone/ to be quiet with/ who will take me home.”
In Colour is set for a June release via Young Turks.
Rihanna — “Bitch Better Have My Money”
With the all-denim, all-despondence of “FourFiveSeconds,” it was easy to expect that Rihanna’s eighth album was going to be a sleeper, a more sensitive side to Bad Girl RiRi. Thankfully, what we got as a followup was a pure goddamn banger, Rihanna singing “blop, blop, blop“s over one of the best beats she’s ever been given.
Toro y Moi — “Run Baby Run”
Toro y Moi is Toro y Moi, and that’s why he’s both always forgotten and also worth remembering. “Run Baby Run,” off of his upcoming album What For?, is a pop song soaked in the ’60s nostalgia that so many bands aspire to yet fail to capture in the same way as Toro’s Chaz Bundick can. It’s kind of the same thing he’s been doing ever since the height of chillwave, but unlike most of his peers, he’s managed to evolve just enough to turn his sound from that of the niche into something that is pretty unassailably catchy.
Omar Souleyman — “Ensaa El Ataab”
Try not to dance while listening to Omar Souleyman. Try it, I dare you. The Syrian wedding singer-turned-dance-producer recently signed to Monkeytown, and that label threw a whole slew of producers at his upcoming album. This one, produced by Modeselektor, is nearly 10 minutes of nonstop amazing, and is a must-listen for anyone unfamiliar with his work.
Jen Cloher — “Needle In The Hay”
Off of a split 7″ with fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett, Jen Cloher’s sound is definitely the boozier of the two. “Needle In The Hay” is a gem of a thing, its seeming sloppiness belying the fact that this track truly rips, guitars and otherwise. If this came out 20 years ago, it’d be revelatory. But it came out this week, so, unfortunately, it’s simply great. And no, it doesn’t sound a thing like Elliott Smith.