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New songs make for busy week across genres

Vampire Weekend, Weezer, Dua Lipa release new music

Written By Amanda Myers, Co-Features Editor

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Last week brought an abundance of new music in a month that’s typically barren when it comes to exciting releases. 

There was the long awaited return of Vampire Weekend.  Florence + the Machine and Dua Lipa came forth with powerful work that transcended multiple genres.  Weezer nearly broke the internet with a covers record – dividing their most dedicated fans.

These are the top songs among the lot.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND – “HARMONY HALL”

With their first new track in six years, singer Ezra Koenig contemplates his own mortality as he looks back to his days of boyhood (Harmony Hall is a building at Koenig’s former Columbia University).  While reminiscing over his old stomping grounds, Koenig bounces to a conflicted moral compass.  No more singing of sweaters and Cape Cod, Vampire Weekend look to be in full form as they head into this new chapter of their career.

Their fourth album “Father of the Bride” is due out this spring.  The title looks to be a reference to Koenig’s new role as father to his son with actress Rashida Jones.  Or perhaps, it’s an ode to her pops, legendary producer Quincy Jones?  Let’s hope Quincy approves of him both personally and musically.

DUA LIPA – “SWAN SONG”

Pop songstress Lipa rises from the ashes on this song written for the upcoming movie “Alita: Battle Angel” (in theaters Feb. 14).

With the accompanying music video, Lipa appears in battle armor while fighting against her oppressors in the throes of a dystopian universe.  Lipa’s vocals take a dip in the chorus, but certainly not a “swan dive” as she remains in control of her destiny.  When she hits those marks, she unleashes her inner heroine.

The song is surprisingly fresh for your typical pop, action movie crossover number.

RIVAL SONS – “FERAL ROOTS”

On the title track to their sixth album, Rival Sons embrace a softer side in contrast to their typical wailing rock.  “Feral Roots” calls the band back home to a place away from the lighted stage.

The Californians have had to deal with Led Zeppelin comparisons for years, but they seem to embrace the fairy tale mysticism of the group with this track, referencing mountains and elders.  The album itself is of equal interest and signifies Rival Sons as a band in a constant search for their next peak.

JENNY LEWIS – “RED BULL AND HENNESSY”

Lewis’ debut single from her upcoming album “On The Line” offers a more delicate take from the colorful indie country artist.  She sounds as if she was transported to a different time, her vocals adopting the twang of Cyndi Lauper while evoking the witchy identity of Stevie Nicks.

She sings of beautifully gothic factors that Nicks would love: “Don’t you wanna even try?  And devour the moon.”  After the critical and commercial success of 2014’s “The Voyager,” Lewis shifts her idgaf mentality to include a little soul.

RYAN ADAMS – “F*** THE RAIN”

Adams is one of those rock stars people love to hate, like Jack White or Rivers Cuomo (we’ll get to him shortly.)  With this track, Adams is at odds with himself as his setting bars him from escaping his mental state.  He literally tries to get out of the rain, or the bleakness, to avoid these hurtful realities and embrace “flowers for brains and permanent sunshine,” instead.

In an effort to make the song even more mid 2000s, Adams enlists the help of John Mayer for a blissful guitar solo.  It’s nice to see these artists – who once helmed the rock revival of their generation – joining forces.

“F*** the Rain” will be on Adams’ next album “Big Colors,” one of three albums he’s poised to release this year.

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – “MODERATION”

Florence Welch comes out on all cylinders, regardless of  the recommended “Moderation,” and finds her home among pounding piano chords on this new single.  Her lover wants her affection in moderation, but she questions if they even know what they’re asking.  How can someone control the amount of love they give?

Welch comes to the conclusion that no one wins in this game: “And I’m still tryna figure out if it always, always, always has to hurt.”

She sings the title line with an adoring abundance her lover clearly doesn’t deserve. 

FOALS – “EXITS”

Foals, an indie band from the ever prestigious Oxford, England, often come off as pretentious, rather unintentionally on their behalf.  One may liken them to a poor man’s Vampire Weekend.  They had a big hit with “My Number” in 2013 and haven’t really been able to recapture that status since.  “Exits” offers a new point of entry.

Singer Yannis Philippakis croons his way into this new wave inspired earworm, making it all too easy to let him off the hook when he begs for forgiveness.  He finds himself in a tight spot, however, when he realizes “they got exits covered, all the exits underground.”

Philippakis himself related “Exits” to the state of our current society, telling NME there “isn’t any privacy.”

WEEZER – “SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)”

The surprise “Teal Album” has become the internet’s favorite point of contention in the week since its release.  You either love the band’s white boy take on “Scrubs” or disown their play at punk on “Paranoid” – there’s no in-between.

The album of covers is really just Cuomo and co. having fun in the studio when it comes down to it. 

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is a great example. 

Cuomo finds his nerdy niche when he sings of being abused and used, bringing an insecurity absent from the Eurythmics version.  Fuzzy guitar reels that 80s nostalgia back in full force.

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