Aly & AJ – “Listen!!!”: This year may mark the first full-length studio album from Aly & AJ in 14 years, but the album’s second single “Listen!!!” proves that the Torrance-based pop duo has still got it. The driving rocker has this after-dark vibe that is somehow both pointed and poignant, making appearances by both Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum simply the icing on this sweet synth-y cake.
London Grammar – “Lose Your Head”: Vibey and atmospheric is what English indie pop trio London Grammar does best, but their newest track, the third single unveiled from their forthcoming third LP Californian Soil, is so much more than that. The fun, feel-good “Lose Your Head” is full of soaring sing-along choruses, incessant hand-clapping, and just this overall upbeat disposition.
Bernhoft – “All My Loving”: Norwegian R&B sensation Bernhoft kicks off his 2021 in a manner that is both infectious and relentless. “All My Loving” is this funky, foot-stomping banger that changes things up just enough to keep listeners guessing. What comes across initially as a “remorseless f**k you song” actually ends up exploring the paralyzing fear of abandonment that we can all relate to on some level.
SZA – “Good Days”: The new single from SZA (and the latest taste from her long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s Ctrl) may have quietly released back on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean it should be left behind with the rest of 2020. If anything, the sunny, dreamy “Good Days” belongs in the here and now, even with its often-nostalgic nature. London-based singer Jacob Collier provides smooth, rich harmonies in the background that pair perfectly with SZA’s own signature neo soul stylings.
ROMES – “Drinking on My Own”: Canadian indie-pop duo ROMES have been pretty steadily pumping out new music since their debut EP in 2016, but their newest single is an entirely different breed from much of their other material. Equal parts rowdy trap rock and bright electro pop, the angst-ridden “Drinking on My Own” examines how we can sometimes feel the loneliest when we’re surrounded by large groups of people. It is ingeniously ironic, yet at the same time incredibly relatable, even for extroverts like myself.
Love and Death – “White Flag”: 2013 saw Brian “Head” Welch release one of my favorite releases of the year with his Love and Death debut. 8 years, 1 unlikely reunion, and 3 Korn albums later, Welch is back with his “other” nu metal band’s much-anticipated sophomore LP on the way. “White Flag,” the second single from Perfectly Preserved, is this pummeling, unrelenting track that, thanks to the help of guest vocalist Ryan Hayes, doubles as a fist-raising rock anthem.