The ninth 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 April’s new releases.
Unfortunately, April was a month of mostly singles, which this series generally doesn’t cover. However, seeing as there were some extremely strong individual songs released this month, these articles will start to highlight popular or promising singles from artists each month.
Sunday Cruise – “SCREAMING IN THE MIRROR”
Sunday Cruise, the Chicago suburbs’ biggest indie pop rock act since Beach Bunny, have come out swinging with a cleaner, stronger follow up album to their 2020 debut, “Am I Pretty?” The 11-song, full-length “SCREAMING IN THE MIRROR” dropped April 1.
The best components of their previous releases are showcased with an even cleaner production this time around. This isn’t to say that they’ve lost their edge because the punk rock feel of the frantic drumming and insane bass lines keep that alive.
“Even Though You’re Not Here” is without a doubt a standout track on the album. The song mashes Sunday Cruise’s signature sound with elements of grunge and Billie Eilish’s style to make a haunting lullaby of sorts. The seemingly Soundgarden-inspired guitar tones help bring a darkness over the ballad-like track, truly making it unique among the rest.
It’s safe to say the group avoided a sophomore slump and would be more accurate to say they did the exact opposite. “SCREAMING IN THE MIRROR” enhances everything the group did right on their first album while improving in areas no one knew were missing.
Miguel – “Art Dealer Chic 4”
Nearly a decade after the first three “Art Dealer Chic” extended plays (EP) were released, Miguel is back with the fourth and longest installment in the series. “Art Dealer Chic 4,” released April 9, is the R&B artist’s first multitrack release since 2019’s “Te Lo Dija.”
The EP opens with “Funeral,” which starts with an ethereal, Pink Floyd-esque set of vocal layers that reappear throughout the track. Shortly after, the groove takes over and introduces the feel for the next three tracks.
Heavy bass comes in different forms throughout the EP while still serving as the glue that keeps everything together. The rhythm of these songs complement Miguel’s silky smooth vocals to carry listeners through the 13-minute runtime.
There’s no cohesion in the sound, but “Art Dealer Chic 4” is undeniably a unit. Each track flows effortlessly into the next, interrupted only by a strange set of samples in “Love Triangle,” but even those seem to have a place in the music.
Goof – “All Scraped Up”
It was only April 1 when Chicago-based pop artist Natalie Carioti, who performs under the stage name Goof, put out the first pop hit of the summer. Dance-inducing percussion plays in the background of Carioti’s tremendous vocal performance, drawing on everything that makes pop great. With just three songs out, there’s a lot of anticipation for more music from her that would fit on the airwaves in 1984, 2015 and especially now.
Lil Nas X – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”
This is a March 31 release, but this series wouldn’t be complete if the single had been ignored. Lil Nas X is out to prove that “Old Town Road” wasn’t a fluke, and he went above and beyond to do so. With an intoxicating beat, amazing vocal performance and viral music video, it’s safe to say the artist is solidifying himself as a mainstay in the Top 100.
Lucy Dacus – “Hot and Heavy”
Lucy Dacus released the opening track (and second single) from her forthcoming album “Home Video” April 13. Dacus has a tradition of introducing her albums with some of her best songs, and “Hot and Heavy” is no exception, though it’s quite different from the previous two openers. The song is slower and more nostalgic, likely emblematic of what’s to come from the appropriately titled “Home Video.”