Phoenix Playlist Picks: March 2021

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The eighth installment of Phoenix Playlist Picks — a series of monthly articles where Phoenix editors make Spotify playlists of the best new music each month and then select some of their favorites to write about — focuses on March’s new releases.

March holds the new record for the longest playlist in this series, featuring debut albums from R&B star Givēon and Florida alt-rock band Home Is Where as well as extended plays (EP) from Selena Gomez and Boston-based Future Teens.

Givēon – “When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time”

Just two days before he would lose the Grammy for best R&B album to John Legend, Givēon dropped his debut full-length record, “When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time” — and there couldn’t have been a better response to being snubbed.

To put it lightly, his debut release “TAKE TIME” was nothing short of a masterpiece, and the album is an expansion on the previously released tracks — hence its name. The record takes the Grammy-nominated songs of his first release and puts them into a greater context. 

The eight tracks from “TAKE TIME” appear again in order here, though a turning point is reached when the five new songs come in. Givēon expands on the relationships detailed in his first release, but gives a fuller range to them with the follow up.

“When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time” itself has range. The album works as support music for any emotion you can think of, courtesy of Givēon’s powerful voice and raw lyrics.

Selena Gomez – “Revelación”

In her first fully Latin release, Selena Gomez’s “Revelación” topped the charts in its debut week, which according to Billboard, was the “biggest week for a Latin album by a woman since 2017.”

The percussion in each of the seven tracks sounds incredible, which comes as no surprise since Marco Masís — also known as Tainy — helmed the production. His career speaks for itself, though his recent work on Cardi B’s “I Like It” and J Balvin’s “No Es Justo” show he has a knack for creating hits.

The credit can’t just go to the producer, though. Gomez manufactured two top five hits and continues to add to the increasing amount of reggaeton and reggaeton-adjacent music making it into the popular music scene.

Even if reggaeton isn’t your genre of choice, “Revelación” is worth checking out. Its beats are infectious, and Gomez’s voice is amazing as always. The former Disney star provides more than just vocals, though — it’s an immersive performance worthy of being among the best music has to offer right now.

Home Is Where – “I Became Birds”

Florida-based band Home Is Where released their debut album March 5, and along with their Puppy Petter Choir — check the third track’s lyrics for context — put out one of the exciting releases of 2021 so far. 

The record is, at times, reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel while also being entirely its own. Jeff Mangum is a good writer, but he could never rock the ending of “Long Distance Conjoined Twins” like Macdonald does.

On the note of range, songs like “Sewn Together from the Membrane of the Great Sea Cucumber” perfectly transition between a melancholy shuffle and a cathartic burst of energy with screaming, distorted guitar and heavy drums. 

While the debate rages on Twitter whether or not this 19-minute release is an album or EP, it simply doesn’t matter aside from wishing there was more of it to enjoy. Home Is Where has something special, and they play like they know it. 

Future Teens – “Deliberately Alive”

In an attempt to top their peak (covering Smash Mouth’s “All Star”), Future Teens released their most recent EP, “Deliberately Alive.”

Their style mostly draws from indie rock but also the last decade’s pop music to create one soothing track after another, their dual-vocalist approach once again allowing them to create a wide range of sounds and emotions within a single release.

The upbeat-sounding “Guest Room” is a refreshing change of pace among the mellow tracks despite lyrics that take a look at the existential questions in everyday situations. It’s arguably one of co-vocalist Amy Hoffman’s best performances with the group to date 

And what better note to end on than a Cher cover? The group’s take on “Believe” is less of a cover and more of a complete makeover of the track to fit their style. 

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