Aural Fixation: 7/1 (Music You Need To Know)

It’s Monday, Darling—miss me?

We’re ringing in the new month of June (already?!) with some fresh sounds that will hopefully be cool enough to help you chill for the long, hot summer ahead. (I’ll take a brisk fall morning with a side of Ingrid Michaelson and a cup of tea, thanks—hold the 106° heat!)

Now, speaking of sounds: This week’s scattered across the board a bit, as usual. Today’s Aural Fixation features new music from heavy-hitters Beyoncé, Drake, Ciara, and Nicki Minaj—so often grouped into a single category, but offering such a diverse array of sounds that it’s criminal to genre-fy them. Then it’s an indie grab bag, spanning sounds categorized into subgenres from dance pop to alt-rock.

But who says you can’t have fun with all of these sounds? Genres are, like, so passé. So dive into these sounds, and hopefully, find something you love—there’s lots to sink your teeth into!

Listen to the tracks and read along with my review of each song, or feel free to listen to the whole thing straight through as a playlist on SoundCloud.

 

 

— @Litzwich

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John Grant: “Black Belt”

Check. This. Out. With “Black Belt,” former alt-rocker John Grant of The Czars delivers one of the coolest, freshest twists on dude-pop that comes to mind. The track masterfully balances a sound that’s fun, sexy, and still legitimately cool; Grant doesn’t sacrifice personality for polish, and it pays off. It stays exciting, too—this song has that special spark that gives it an irresistible, funky kind of cool.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Beyoncé: “Standing On The Sun”

Beyoncé delivers yet another gorgeously lush track from her (eventually) forthcoming album. Initially featured as a clip in an H&M spot starring Beyoncé, “Standing On The Sun” has arrived in its full form, and damn, does it deliver. Bey’s sound continues to expand, ingeniously incorporating such a wide array of influences in a way that’s coherent and compelling. And still, at the center of it all, there’s the familiar Bey sound long-time fans know and love—given the royal treatment, of course.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

 

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Inouwee: “Essence”

Odd as it sounds, think t.A.T.u. meets Fleetwood Mac meets Ellie Goulding—that’s something like the vibe I get from “Essence” by Inouwee, a delightful Danish electropop import. Signe Marike‘s vocals convey an earnest, authentic naiveté that counterbalances the dark vibe and complements the dreamy production’s sonic blur.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Natalia Kills: “Saturday Night”

I sniffed this one out in a post on MuuMuse (credit where it’s due), one of my go-to places to track down cool new pop sounds. I definitely agree that there’s something reminiscent of Lana Del Rey in Natalia Kills‘ killer “Saturday Night,” but it’s a reference that works. The song’s something like an imagining of an alternate universe where Del Rey indulges in a more synthetic, buoyant brand of Lost-Generation pop—or perhaps where she and Kills collide.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Ciara (feat. Nicki Minaj): “I’m Out”

This song’s pretty solid, definitely a grower, and it’s good to see Ci getting back on her game (I’m looking forward to her upcoming release ‘Ciara‘). That said: Go ahead, Nicki. The track opens with a wicked, snarling verse from Miss Minaj that leaves the rest of the song feeling a tad deflated—and her return for another appearance is perhaps its second most exciting moment—but that’s certainly no fault of hers.

{EXPLICIT}

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

See Also

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Disclosure (feat. Sam Smith): “Latch”

 “Latch” is without a doubt the long lost sibling song of “Black & Gold”—the resemblance to Sam Sparro‘s (sensational) track is striking, but it still feels fresh and unique to Disclosure. If anything, the familiarity is comforting, and the collision of the massively popularized indie dancepop aesthetic with elements of the Robin Thicke/Justin Timberlake sexpop groove that’s setting fire to radio is behind the song’s understandable success (it was release a number of months ago and performed particularly well in the UK). Poised properly, success with this song on the US charts would be a sure thing.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Drake (feat. Sampho): “The Motion”

I have an appreciation for Drake‘s knack for nuance, and “The Motion” is a prime example of why. The hook is resigned and detached, which works for Drake in the same way it does for Rihanna. The ghostly chant bolstering the track gives me “Gangsta’s Paradise” vibes, and along with the verses and the driving march of the drum track, shapes the song into a great find—perfect for laid-back playlists that need just a little bit of edge.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Portugal. The Man: “Modern Jesus”

“Modern Jesus” is heavy on the dystopian ’90s nostalgia vibe—and I’m all in. It’s even dressed in the ultra-popular ’90s radio sound: dark-things-disguised-as-bubbly-sounding-things. This is pretty great stuff, and I think anyone with fond memories of what was on the airwaves as we Millennials were growing up will be into what Portugal. The Man are going for.

To listen to this week’s full playlist, click here.

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Remember to buy the songs you love to support the artists that made them!

Tweet and follow me on Twitter @Litzwich to give your feedback, comment on the column, or just to share your favorite Britney .gif.

 

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