From the sonic earcandy of Silk Sonic to the raucous intensity of Laura Les: your Press Play-list for the week of March 15

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

The past year in solitude has opened doors for a vast amount of artists to sonically and collaboratively experiment in their career.

From Taylor Swift’s eerily bone-chilling “folklore” and “evermore” records to Yves Tumor’s glam-rock bash on “Heaven To a Tortured Mind,” reinvention has been in abundance in the music industry.

To honor that fact, we’ve picked out six artists with fresh tracks that mark a change in sound or character birthed from a year of isolation and self-reflection. Here’s your Press Play-list for the week of March 15.

Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak) – “Leave The Door Open”

As 2020 introduced us to a vast amount of obscure collaborations that no one would have thought to expect, the new R&B/soul duo Silk Sonic is yet another astounding surprise – but a welcome one. Pop superstar Bruno Mars and R&B/indie icon Anderson .Paak have officially formed a monumental collaboration under the name “Silk Sonic,” and the music from the two has, so far, lived up to its name. Their debut single “Leave The Door Open” is a silky, rich and delectable ride of modern soul and raw, late-night love-song R&B. Between .Paak’s charismatic yet brilliantly tongue-in-cheek sung verses, to Mars’s extravagant, cinematic choruses and even a direct co-sign from funk legend Bootsy Collins, this upcoming collaboration is destined to be one for the ages.

Selena Gomez – “Vicio”

In a similar change of direction for mainstream artists, pop star Selena Gomez has just this past week dropped her first-ever Spanish-language project titled “Revelación.” The seven-track EP is a long-awaited showcasing of Gomez’s impeccably executed pure Latin sound, while still holding the same unapologetic popstar flair from her older works. Where these two sounds possibly complement each other the most is on the track “Vicio,” an adoration-doused pop ballad that sways between hopeless feelings of love and lust. Gomez flirtatiously sings over poppy reggaetón production, “Tus labios, tus labios / Son un vicio mío, vicio mío;” in English, “Your lips, your lips / Are my vice, my vice.” Gomez fans have been waiting for over ten years for a Spanish-language project from the artist (she teased the idea on Twitter back in 2011), and “Revelación” surely did not disappoint.

Pussy Riot – “Panic Attack”

Members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot have had quite an eventful year outside of their music. Known for their political activism and passionate engagement in protests for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights in Russia, a majority of the group’s members had been arrested in the past half-year alone, for acts such as attending anti-Putin protests and waving a rainbow flag outside government buildings on the president’s birthday. This drive for equality and justice has always been predominant in Pussy Riot’s music – and their new single “Panic Attack” is no exception. The track’s production feels vaguely optimistic, but is crowded by distant melancholic keys and menacing drum-and-bass. And lead singer Nadya Tolokonnikova’s lyrics are even darker than that – she says that the song’s inspiration stems from the trauma she endured following her time in a Russian prison camp. “After serving two years in a labor camp, I’m still struggling with mental health issues. Trauma, fear and insecurity never fully go away, causing depression episodes and deep anxiety,” she said in a statement, “‘PANIC ATTACK’ was born as the result of me staring at the wall for 24 hours in the middle of the pandemic, feeling 100% helpless. I was trying to write something uplifting to encourage people to get through the tough times. But I was just failing and failing. Magically, at the second I allowed myself to be honest and write about the despair I was experiencing, I wrote the track in like a half an hour.” Tolokonnikova’s brutally honest telling of trauma and struggles with depression invites the listener in for a tragically beautiful moment with her and the band, and the group sounds more intimate than ever.


Laura Les – “Haunted”

Pioneer of hyper pop Laura Les has had fans waiting anxiously for solo work for some time now. The singer/producer is one-half of the hyper pop duo 100 gecs, alongside singer/producer Dylan Brady, and fans of the wild, eccentric world of the gecs are sure to enjoy her first-ever solo track “Haunted” as well. The production sounds like something straight out of a Castlevania video game, complete with 8-bit organ-esque keys and villainous synth productions. This perfectly matches Les’s demeanor on the track – she invites the listener to observe her vampire-like fangs, shatters mirrors as she walks by them, immersing us in the claustrophobic horror set that Les has painted. And perhaps the highlight of the just-under-two-minute track is the loud, in-your-face chorus, where Les is almost incomprehensible as her screaming vocals overlap one another, almost as if she’s channeling some of her Alice Glass influence. As if her incredible vocal deliveries and unheard-of production styles in her works with Brady weren’t impressive enough, “Haunted” is sure to make anyone excited to see where Les goes next in her solo career.

Kero Kero Bonito – “The Princess and the Clock”

After their 2018 release “Time ‘n’ Place,” many were convinced that experimental pop trio Kero Kero Bonito truly couldn’t introduce another sound that they hadn’t already. The album was zany, out-of-this-world and constantly pulled the listener out of their comfort zone with some wild glitch pop and noise sections, only to throw them back into it as lead singer Sarah Bonito delivered a sweet-tooth serenade over some genuine indie-pop production. But, in typical KKB fashion, the trio has proven listeners wrong with their new track “The Princess and the Clock.” The track, coming from their upcoming three-track project “Civilisation ll,” does the job of exploring new sounds for KKB while also paying homage to their past, video-game-soundtrack-esque production. Sarah delivers infectiously catchy hooks and sung verses before, during the last minute-thirty of the song, the song bursts into a glimmering, rapid symphony of crisp electronic synths and explosive drums. KKB is both reinventing pop while staying true to themselves, and we can’t even imagine what dimension of sound they’ll invite us into with their next project.

Vegyn – “B4 the Computer Crash”

UK-based producer, DJ, and graphic designer Vegyn is slowly on the rise in all of his fields. With only one album out and co-signs from artists like Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Kali Uchis already under his belt, he’s gearing up to the release of his 2021 EP, “Like a Good Old Friend.” The track “B4 the Computer Crash” exhibits what Vegyn encapsulates so well in his music, particularly during the time of a pandemic: the ecstasy and pure elation of moving together. With clubs shut down around the world, and dance floors being out of the equation, it’s easy to long for that feeling of unity as you move, groove and sway with sweaty strangers in a club. “B4 the Computer Crash” sounds like those last-call hours at the function, as Vegyn introduces avant-garde electronic to glitch pop electronic, synths reminiscent of an internet dial-up dancing wonderfully with a deep, classically 90’s house beat. Nobody is doing it quite like Vegyn is at the moment, and if this track isn’t enough to prove that for you, be sure to tune into the release of “Like a Good Old Friend” this week on March 19.