This is the first installment of The Phoenix’s monthly playlist series — a line of articles where Phoenix editors make Spotify playlists of the best new music each month and then select some of their favorites to write about.
This month’s playlist contains some of The Phoenix’s editors’ favorite new music from August 2020, spanning a variety of genres and sounds.
Coupons – “Comatose” and “Moz Disco”
Albany-based band Coupons dropped two singles for their upcoming album “up&up,” which will be released Sept. 4. The record is being put out through Counter Intuitive Records, an independent label known for helping to build up some of the fastest rising indie artists — such as Origami Angel, Mom Jeans and Just Friends.
While “Comatose” is best described as Billy-Squier-goes-indie-rock, “Moz Disco” is more reminiscent of the genre listed in its name — at least in the pre-chorus and verses, which force the listener to bounce around to the rhythm in any fashion.
Though the two singles are just a small taste of the 14-song album, both are a departure in sound from the group’s 2016 release “Number One Hit Album,” a just cause for heightened anticipation of what this record holds.
Juice WRLD (feat. The Weeknd) – “Smile”
The sixth and final single of Juice WRLD’s posthumous album “Legends Never Die,” “Smile,” dropped a month after the record was released. The Oak Lawn, Ill. musician died Dec. 8 after suffering from accidental oxycodone and codeine toxicity at Midway International Airport.
The late rapper stuck to the style of his older hits like “Lucid Dreams,” splitting words into syllables at certain points to create a staccato feel to his flow and often matching up with the beat. If the rumor of him having recorded 2000 unreleased tracks is true, fans may have a lot of consistent music to look forward to past this single.
Dikembe – “Muck”
At the crossroads of Blue October, Motorhead and Soundgarden sits Dikembe. “Muck” — their latest album — is a straightforward alternative rock record with a hint of grunge.
The album swings between aggressive highs and lows with songs such as “Throat” having mid-song peaks, while others like “Stay Beat” are permanently stuck in a high-energy craze.
The influence of grunge should’ve been expected seeing as they released a cover of Nirvana’s “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” alongside their own takes on a few other songs last year — including a version of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy.”
Miley Cyrus – “Midnight Sky”
The newest single from Miley Cyrus comes nearly a year after her last and the time off has, seemingly, evolved her sound yet again. Everything about the song — from the instrumentation to the cover art — hints at a heavy 80s influence. A consistent hi-hat groove drives the song forward as Cyrus builds into an aggressive pre-chorus and an even more aggressive chorus.
While the single is more uptempo than “Slide Away,” her last single, it’s by no means as wild as some of her older tunes — which makes sense, considering the former Disney star teased more new music as a continuation of her three extended play (EP) build up into a full-length record.
Cold War Kids – “New Age Norms 2”
The early 2000s indie rock band Cold War Kids released the sequel to “New Age Norms” — “New Age Norms 2” — Aug. 21.
The record retains their style while also being inspired by other successful indie rock bands — the opening track of the album, “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now,” sounds like a mixture of their 2007 album “Robbers and Cowards” and The Black Keys’ “El Camino.”
The eight-song album, while short, is complemented by a large amount of video content from the band — including music videos and track commentary — which help to make it feel much larger.
All of these are available on Spotify and other streaming services.