Jack Harlow, Angel Olsen, The Smile, Vince Staples, LØLØ: Here are 9 songs you need to hear this week

This week’s playlist includes music from Doechii (top left), Jack Harlow (top right), The Smile (bottom left) and Angel Olsen.
By Richie Assaly, Demar Grant, Madison Wong, Manuela Vega and Annette Ejiofor

Fri., April 8, 20227 min. read
Article was updated 2 days ago

Star Tracks compiles the most interesting new music from a broad range of established and emerging artists.

This week’s playlist features new music from Jack Harlow, Doechii, Angel Olsen, The Smile, Hercules & Love Affair, Bree Runway, LØLØ, Rema, Vince Staples and more.

Click here to listen along to the Spotify playlist, which includes additional tracks we loved this week.

Jack Harlow: First Class

One of the crowning achievements of hip hop is its ability to bend any and every genre, lyric, hook, verse or line into the fold. Between delicate, reminiscent keys, woozy synths and ticking hats rests a lush sample of Fergie’s “Glamourous.” It’s slowed for sensuality, and it offers just enough space for Jack Harlow’s mischievous hook, “I been a (G), throw up the (L), sex in the (A.M.), uh-huh (O-R-O-U-S, yeah)/ And I can put you in (First class, up in the sky).”

“First Class” is an exercise in Jack Harlow’s debonair persona. Offering laid-back bars to thank UPS workers while also rapping, “I got visions of my mom sayin’, ‘Wait, this house mine?’” Harlow keeps gracious face, akin to late stage Drake as he continues his ascent into superstardom.

Demar Grant

Doechii: Persuasive

Doechii, Doechii, Doechii — now say it three more times because that name will soon be ringing worldwide.

Born Jaylah Hickmon, Doechii is a 22-year-old rapper from Tampa who recently signed to Top Dawg Entertainment — an independent label that includes Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Jay Rock on its current roster. TikTok elevated Doechii, bringing her into the limelight, after her song “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” went viral on the platform.

Her most recent single, “Persuasive,” takes hints from rap sensation Azealia Banks. The vogue-friendly rhythm and agency-littered lyricism takes listeners back to the era of “212” by Banks, while solidifying Doechii as the artist to watch in the next few months. “Persuasive” is bouncy, bold and the redemption record we all need after the past two years. “Feel like the feeling of a silk press,” she raps. With spring then summer on the horizon, that’s exactly the vibe I need right now. — Annette Ejiofor

The Smile: Pana-vision

The latest single by the progressive The Smile — an English rock trio made up of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner — sounds like a Radiohead song transmitted from a twisted alternative reality.

Anchored by a haunting piano melody and a slightly disorienting 7/8 time signature, “Pana-vision” shifts fluidly between moods and atmospheres, as Greenwood’s cinematic strings swirl around Skinner’s tightly wound jazz percussion. “Forget everything you knew,” Yorke warbles in the song’s cryptic chorus, which sounds like it was scooped off the “Amnesiac” cutting room floor.

“Pana-vision” is the fourth track shared by The Smile so far, and it sounds quite different from the aggressive post punk of “You Will Never Work In Television Again” or the cheeky groove found on “The Smoke.” It’s as if, unshackled by the expectations of releasing music under the Radiohead name, Yorke and Greenwood have embraced the joy of experimentation. It almost sounds like they are having fun. — Richie Assaly

Angel Olsen: All The Good Times

It’s time to walk away.

After contemplating whether to give up, to focus on the good or to find closure (whatever that really means), Angel Olsen arrives at the conclusion that it’s time to look at the past as a cherished memory — and nothing more.

A gentle beat and an organ play beneath the indie-folk artist’s introspection, but the track gradually picks up more twang, and transforms into Olsen’s own new brand of bluegrass. With equal parts fervour and hesitation, the song reaches a crescendo as Olsen makes up her mind. A stunning harmony then introduces a force reminiscent of the 2016 album “MY WOMAN.”

“Well I won’t be the one to keep holding you back/ If there’s somethin’ you’re missin’, then go right ahead,” she sings.

The sound is a return to something old, but on new territory. It marks a clear distinction from some of Olsen’s past albums, such as “Whole New Mess” and “Burn Your Fire For No Witness.”

The latest single is Olsen’s first release from her forthcoming album “Big Time,” out June 3. Olsen will be joining Sharon Van Etten and Julien Baker at Massey Hall on Aug. 12 for the collaborative “Wild Hearts Tour.” — Manuela Vega

Bree Runway: Somebody Like You

If there’s one thing Bree Runway is going to do, it’s deliver.

In February, the London-based artist shared her first explosive single of 2022, an Afrobeats-infused track titled “Pressure.” Her most recent single, “Somebody Like You,” infuses ’80s-influenced sounds and rhythms, giving fans an emotive, synth-driven ballad. Runway called the track “an ode to a future love,” made for those who have experienced a love so grand and special that if it came across it again, they’d take the leap of chance and start the journey again.

The music video for the track features a mesmerizing Runway on various moody blue and sunset-coloured sets, delivering an emotional performance as well as smooth choreography to accompany the heartfelt song.

Praised for her creativity and versatility as an artist by her fans, it’s safe to say this isn’t the only masterpiece we’ll be getting from Runway this year. — Madison Wong

LØLØ: junkie

Love is intoxicating, and somehow that toxicity never feels as bad going down as it does coming back up. “Junkie,” the Toronto singer’s latest single, is a resentful admission to a bad-for-you lover that “I should quit you, But when I hit rock bottom, Yeah I just wanna do it again do it again.” It’s heavy, it’s brisk and it’s vulnerable in a way that’s easy to miss, just like the pop-punkers of yore. LØLØ’s vocals are gripping but never grating, and if you’re bringing the visceral energy LØLØ does for songs on end, that’s a requirement. Paramore’s early albums were gems when they came out, but to see their influence beginning to pop up nearly 20 years later is truly a sight to behold. — DG

Rema: Calm Down

It took about 45 seconds for “Calm Down” to firmly lodge itself into my auditory cortex, where it remains to this moment. The latest earworm out of Nigeria’s flourishing pop scene comes courtesy of Rema, a 21-year-old rising star whose debut album, “Rave & Roses,” arrived last month.

Featuring a simple guitar riff, a breezy beat and some tastefully placed beeps and boops, “ the track leaves plenty of space for Rema to pack about 14 vocal hooks into the three and a half minutes. “Calm Down” is also accompanied by a wholesome music video that will have you pining for young love. — RA

Vince Staples: When Sparks Fly

Vince Staples’ view on gang life is all-encompassing. The California rapper has mastered the sorrow that comes with life in the streets, but “When Sparks Fly” — off Staples’ latest album “Ramona Park Broke My Heart” — is a rare look into how love is affected by it. Rapping from the perspective of a paramour, Staples is able to fully harness the emotions that they have for their gang-affiliated lover. Over a lovesick sample of Lyves’ “No Love” Staples breaks down the mentality of a person who’s willing to stand by a gangster’s side, “Did we leave a trail? Did we make mistakes? Can’t drop on your bail, can’t check on your case, Know that you won’t tell, that’s why I’m afraid.” Truly heartbreaking stuff and a tear-jerker that’s an unexpected feather in the Long Beacher’s cap. — DG

Hercules & Love Affair feat. ANOHNI: Poisonous Storytelling

Since the dissolution of the brilliant avant-pop group Antony and the Johnsons, singer-songwriter ANOHNI has emerged as a sort of prophet of the apocalypse, reappearing every few years to deliver dark omens to the hubristic inhabitants of Earth. On 2016’s “HOPELESSNESS,” ANOHNI replaced the gentle pianos and strings that coloured her earlier work with jagged electronica, crafting songs that doubled as urgent warnings about things like global warming and drone warfare.

This week, ANOHNI appeared on a “Poisonous Storytelling,” a new single from the dance collective Hercules and Love Affair — a group she first collaborated with back in 2008 for the raucous post-disco hit “Blind.” Clearly, the mood has shifted.

“We have to be careful with new narratives,” she exhorts amid thunderous percussion provided by Siouxsie and the Banshees drummer Budgie. “Everyone is rotted out from poisonous storytelling.” It’s a gloomy but edifying sentiment for these disorienting times, delivered in a voice that sounds like a beacon of hope. — RA


Richie Assaly is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Read him via email: rassaly@thestar.ca

Demar Grant is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach Demar via email: dgrant@torstar.ca

Manuela Vega is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @_manuelavega

Madison Wong is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @madiwongg.
Annette Ejiofor is an Ottawa-based digital producer for the Star. Reach her via email at aejiofor@torstar.ca


Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com

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