"Ascent Through Clouds" by Dirty Projectors
The latest Dirty Projectors album, Dirty Projectors, is correctly billed as a break-up album—a designation that doesn't hint at much joy, unless one enjoys wallowing in angst. But "Ascent Through the Cloud" is the album standout that recalls the warm bliss of the band's earlier work without getting too bogged down by all the added emotional weight.
"Saving Light" by Gareth Emery and Standerwick ft. Haliene
Trance is a genre that highly values song structure, but one of its underrated qualities is the high romantic stakes at the core of many of its songs. "Saving Light" by Gareth Emery and Standerwick is a prime example, because while their pulsating production is uplifting, Haliene's powerful singing provides the track's real engine.
"Good Day" by Yellow Claw ft. DJ Snake and Elliphant
Last year, the French producer DJ Snake released his debut album, Encore, and one of the album's better deep cuts ("Ocho Cinco") featured the Amsterdam duo Yellow Claw. While their music can typically be fairly abrasive, "Good Day" is an upbeat near crossover pop jam perfect for when you're in the mood to reminisce about past loves.
"Chasing Colors" by Marshmello and Ookay ft.Noah Cyrus
Though he's only a couple of years into his career, Marshmello has already found a signature sound in his technicolor synths, and the top-tier festival star seems to be rapidly making his way toward pop stardom. "Chasing Colors" finds him and producer Ookay partnering with burgeoning pop star Noah Cyrus—yes, that would be Miley's younger sister—to create a thumping explosion of EDM confetti.
"Open Your Eyes" by Sam Feldt and Hook N Sling
Even if its initial moment in the pop spotlight may have passed, tropical house is still producing perfect warm-weather hits. At just three minutes, "Open Your Eyes" builds and rises with a radiant exuberance that'll shine no matter the season.
"U-RITE" by THEY
While their one-word name and relatively obscured internet presence might have you thinking of the Weeknd at first, THEY's "U-RITE" is a delightfully bratty R&B song from the young duo that leans much closer to the reckless bratty vibes of Rae Sremmurd—but with a more heaping dose of melody.
"Rolex" by Ayo & Teo
Ayo & Teo aren't rappers. They're a duo of eccentric dancers, probably best known for their ever-present masks. "Rolex" is an energetic bop that may namecheck the timepiece, but is really about them stunting on dancers whose outfits and moves can't match up to their own.
"Selfish" by Future and Rihanna
The last time Future and Rihanna collaborated it was on the surprisingly tender "Loveeee Song," and "Selfish" continues that exploration. If Anti revealed a more musical side of Rihanna, this duet with Future shows off the true vocal abilities of both stars—talents that are not given centerstage often enough.
"Good Drank" by 2 Chainz ft. Gucci Mane and Quavo
Youth is so valuable in rap music that a single day of relevancy after the age of 30 (or even 25!) can be a cause for celebration, but 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane continue to be exceptions to the rule. "Good Drank," produced by fellow rap veteran Mike Dean, almost feels like a gospel record—that is, until you have to suppress a snicker as Quavo sings, "Take your babies not Harambe."
"March" by Alexander Lewis
"March" takes its time revealing itself. Alexander Lewis delays the arrival of the pounding horns and expansive synths to allow the tune to build to a proper climax. That considered approach brings to mind British record label Night Slugs, who tweaked southern rap production in innovative ways long before the sound would be neatly codified into what we now know as "trap."
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