Carly Rae Jepsen, The Beths, Zensoul, Tegan and Sara, Death Cab for Cutie, Joji, Freddie Gibbs and many more
By: NEXT Magazine
Carly Rae Jepsen
The Loneliest Time
Sound: An undeniable dance party
If you like: Caroline Polachek, MUNA, Betty Who
Why you should listen: Time and again, Jepsen has proved that she’s a bonafide pop star, refining her song-writing on every album. On The Loneliest Time, she takes a step back to explore neighbouring genres (Go Find Yourself or Whatever, Western Wind, Shooting Star) while simultaneously creating strong pop tunes (Talking to Yourself, Beach House, Surrender My Heart).
Best track: Talking to Yourself
Expert in a Dying Field
Genre: Indie Rock
Sound: Upbeat power pop that packs a punch
If you like: Beach Bunny, Best Coast, The Regrettes
Why you should listen: On The Beths’ third LP, the Kiwi band solidify their place in the modern indie-rock scene. Though it’s a breakup album, it’s far from sounding blue. Not only are the lyrics sharp, but the guitar melodies are not to be underestimated.
Best track: Expert in a Dying Field
Sound: R&B filtering with Afrobeat with a spritz of sultry ’90s soul.
If you like: Monica, Jon Vinyl, Asa
Why should you listen: Singing primarily about her love fairy tale, Nene — Zensoul’s legal name — steeps this project with soulful brass vibratos, sensual saxophone instrumentals and a subtle touch of Afrobeat. The Nigerian-Canadian honours the complication of love with her soothing, rich fervent vocals and riffs.
Best Track: If I Lie
Tegan and Sara
Sound: Shimmering pop songs with visceral lyrics that will have you singing into the head of a hairbrush.
If you like: Metric, Lights, Stars
Why you should listen: The emo party of the year studded with danceable gems that make it nearly impossible to hold still, Crybaby is vibrant, but there’s a delightful friction at play between the airy melodies and the confessional lyrics. The words confess unsavoury feelings and messy thoughts — the duo grapples with these in their usual poetic way, all as sweet melodies dance about their words.
Best Track: Whatever That Was
Death Cab For Cutie
Genre: Indie Rock
Sound: Introspective and elevated tunes backed by a driving force
If you like: The Decemberists, American Football, The Shins
Why you should listen: If you haven’t listened to Death Cab For Cutie since the early aughts, it may be time for you to revisit the beloved indie rock band’s discography. There’s just something about Asphalt Meadows that feels like they’ve come home.
Best track: Roman Candles
Sound: Delicate, lo-fi beats and soaring vocals
If you like: The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy, Giveon, James Blake
Why you should listen: This former YouTube star became a TikTok soundtrack this year with his soul-crushing, piano-based ballads. If you’re going through a breakup or just need a good cry, this short and sweet album, with its atmospheric beats and melodic vocal delivery, is just what you need.
Best track: 1AM FREESTYLE
Genre: Indie rock
Sound: Vocal and instrumental wailing with an unapologetic attitude
If you like: Georgia Harmer, cleopatrick, Deanna Petcoff
Why you should listen: Three years since her last release, this Toronto rocker returns with an aptly-named record that’s a love letter to herself. Opening up about the hardships of finding success as a woman in music, it’s brutally honest. A mix of electric and acoustic, there’s something for every mood.
Best track: Everything Is Fine
Genre: Hard rock
Sound: Riff-heavy guitars, thrumming percussion and soul-searching lyrics
If you like: Theory of a Deadman, Seether, Three Days Grace
Why you should listen: Combining former Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier’s unmistakable vocals and Staind founder Mike Mushok’s expert guitar skills, Saint Asonia return with an anthemic, emotionally-charged EP. Their second release of the year, it dissects the chaos of our current world and ends on a note of hope.
Best track: Break the Mold
Genre: Alternative Pop
Sound: Disney-friendly upbeat pop music graced with soulful, introspective lyrics.
If you like: Mauvey, Fionn, Aly & AJ
Why should you listen: Fused with confidence-boosters, this retro-tempo, self-titled album encapsulates joy, self-liberation and self-assurance. Raised in Edmonton, AB., Charles is now completely aligned with her authentic musicality. As she masterfully mixes jazz, rock and R&B into her latest album, this project is for those who are needing an awakening.
Best Track: Heavy
See What’s On The Inside (Deluxe)
Genre: Hard rock
Sound: Gritty vocals, impressive guitar solos and an orchestra that takes you by surprise
If you like: Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Bad Wolves
Why you should listen: These British rockers show off their classic rock influences on this powerful record. With guest features from Within Temptation and In This Moment’s Maria Brink, the special deluxe issue also features a few delicate acoustic reimaginings.
Best track: Faded Out
$oul $old $eparately
Sound: Braggadocious verses layered with boom-bap and voicemail recordings
If you like: Joey Bada$$, Run The Jewels, Kendrick Lamar
Why you should listen: Freddie Gibb’s fifth trailblazing album sees the departure of frequent collaborators Madlib and The Alchemist. It explores Gibb’s fame and personal life with in-your-face bar delivery and stellar production from Kaytranada and James Blake made for celebrating laurels.
Best track: Feel No Pain (ft. Anderson.Paak & Raekwon)
Sound: Airy soft-tempo soca sync to infectious bases.
If you like: Nessa Preppy, Shenseea, Nadia Batson.
Why should you listen: This 19-track, upbeat, feel-good soca album is an all-encompassing tropical musical fusion. The Trinidadian’s ethereal sopranino vocals interwound with pop, electronic dance, baile funk, amapiano, afrobeat, traditional soca elements and more on her second album. Ending the project with an emotional flare, Nailah remixes No One by Alicia Keys with her angelic voice.
Best Track: Blessings
Vieux Farka Touré & Khruangbin
Genre: Desert blues/Psychedelic rock
Sound: Meditative psychedelic blues and Malian music made for a long journey
If you like: Fela Kuti, John Lee Hooker, Rodriguez
Why you should listen: The son of the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré collaborates with Houston-based psychedelic group Khruangbin. In Ali, the duo honours Touré’s late fathers work, keeping traditional Malian music with elements of psychedelic blues as a celebration of life.
Best track: Lobbo
Mr Jukes & Barney Artist
Genre: Hip hop
Sound: Deep bars with shades of boom-bap
If you like: Mobb Deep, Quasimoto, Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Why you should listen: With a departure from the energetic ’90s hip hop style, U.K. rapper Barney Artist and producer Mr. Jukes return. Their EP, Eternal, explores growth and morality using various instrumentations suited for breakdancing or contemplation.
Best track: 93
Natural Brown Prom Queen
Sound: A grand entrance brimming with swagger and confidence
If you like: Charlotte Day Wilson, Poppy Ajudha, Princess Nokia
Why you should listen: Fittingly apt for an epic homecoming bash, the Cincinnati-born, L.A.-raised violinist and beat-maker boasts versatility in multiple genres from afrocentric soul to hip hop while calling for representation of dark-skinned Black women in media.
Best track: ChevyS10
Tragedy stalks singer-songwriter’s newest work
By Karen K. Tran
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