Phoenix Picks

Week of 1/16: Phoenix Picks

The first Phoenix Picks playlist of 2017 is guaranteed to bring your ears a lot of happiness. The list starts with SZA, an alternative R&B singer and songwriter signed to the West Coast label spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar, Top Dawg Entertainment. SZA’s new single, “Drew Barrymore,” is a breezy love note and a precursor to her full album, “CTRL,” set to be released later this year. The playlist changes pace with singles from Atlanta rap supergroup Migos, British electronic songwriter Sampha and former Odd Future collective member Syd Tha Kyd. From the rock end of the spectrum, this week’s playlist includes recent releases from The Flaming Lips, Cloud Nothings, The Shins and Twin Peaks.

  1. “ Drew Barrymore” — SZA

In this song, the Top Dawg Entertainment singer shows off both her vocal range and her emotional range. The song starts as a Netflix-and-chill proposition but later becomes a dive into self-doubt. SZA’s new album should be released in the first quarter of 2017.

  1. “Call Casting” — Migos

Their popular single,“Bad and Boujee,” has hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 100, and the group isn’t looking to stop dominating the rap industry with “Call Casting.” This Atlanta-style trap music single comes from Migos’ new album, “Culture,” which is expected to be released Jan. 27. Migos has also released a second single, “T-Shirt,” that has a similar sound but is accompanied by a video that looks like the cut scenes from “The Revenant.”

  1. “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano” — Sampha

This sentimental pop ballad from the producer, songwriter and typically guest vocalist is Sampha’s proper introduction to wider audiences. The artist’s forthcoming debut, “Process,” should be a masterpiece because his genius capabilities have always remained behind the scenes.

  1. “All About Me” — Syd

Although Syd made big waves with neo-soul band The Internet, she is now stepping out on her own, and with confidence. “All About Me” is a melodic soul trap anthem in which you can hear Syd swaggering through each of her verses. Expect to have her upcoming album, “Fin,” on replay.

  1. “Test Me” — The xx

The haunting closing song on the British collective’s new LP is a perfect conclusion to an album that was clearly experimental. If you haven’t already, check out The xx’s new studio album, “I See You.”

  1. “How??” — The Flaming Lips

The Oklahoma psychedelic rock band returns with a brand new album,“Oczy Modly,” and “How??” is only one highlight from the release. The synth-driven single makes you want to jump around your bedroom.

  1. “Little Bubble” — Dirty Projectors

Indie brainiac Dave Longstreth sounds inconsolable on his new single, which is full of exquisite nature and water sounds. Although this song is rather melancholy, the composition is beautifully written.

  1. “Compromised” — Tim Atlas

San Jose songwriter Tim Atlas found the perfect balance between sensible mainstream pop and the chilled vibe of acts such as Toro y Moi and Blood Orange. Laced with half-timed percussion and intermittent guitars, this song is sure to chill you out.

  1. “Modern Act” — Cloud Nothings

“Modern Act” comes from Cloud Nothings’ new album, “Life Without Sound,” and the song is fierce and melodic. Lead singer Dylan Baldi delivers the verses in a nasal tone and sounds like he is going to burst into tears during the chorus.

  1. “Damage” — TeamMate

After touring with OneRepublic and Skylar Grey, this dynamic duo made up of Dani Buncher and Scott Simons is ready to take on the world with its new single, “Damage,” which boasts a feel-good chorus complete with empowering lyrics.

  1. “Name For You” — The Shins

This indie rock band is back with its first new album in five years, “Heartworms.” With a buttery melody, “Name For You” is a hopeful ode to frontman James Mercer’s daughters.  

  1. “I Don’t Wanna Miss You” — Twin Peaks

The Chicago outfit of garage rockers recently released this new track as part of a special release for the band’s upcoming album, “Down In Heaven.” The fresh-sounding song features 60 seconds of tumbling guitars and riffs.

Alex Levitt is the arts and entertainment editor for The PHOENIX. He was born and raised in the city of Chicago and is currently pursuing a journalism degree with a minor in photography at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. In the fall, he will be a junior, and one fun fact: He is ambidextrous.