With new music flying like warp-speed through the various channels of the Internet, it can be hard to keep up. But worry not! Each week The Fresh Toast will deliver the most-discussed and exciting songs that have recently dropped. Landed. Crashed. And also: soared. Enjoy.
The Weeknd—“Starboy” ft. Daft Punk
For those burned out on the cataclysmic album rollouts today’s biggest pop stars unleashed on audiences this year—the moving target of release dates, the multi-layered experience, the press aversion—The Weeknd provides relief. No secrecy here: He announced his newest album Starboy with a Nov. 25 release date. Two months out, he released the record’s first single. As traditional a rollout as they come.
But what about the song? “Starboy” sees The Weeknd collaborate with Daft Punk—a huge get, the robots don’t just lend their talents to anyone—and continue mainstreaming his pop stardom. Those electronic click-click-clack drums assure this song’s success. Credit The Weeknd’s pitch rising and falling with that rhythm, alluring you further into the track; it’s no easy feat. The Weeknd also delivers some quality one-liners you’re about to see as Instagram captions like “I come alive in the fall time” and “We don’t pray for love, we just pray for cars.” Oh and it’s hard not singing along with that hook, “I’m a motherfuckin’ star, boy.”
The small criticism: It’s the slightly sanitized The Weeknd, pop star. Singer Abel Tesfaye created this problem himself. His dark R&B trilogy of mixtapes—House of Ballons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence—still casts a shadow over everything he releases. The seductively aloof “Starboy” persona he performs in this song wouldn’t be possible without those records. Maybe it’s because “Starboy” just sounds so structured that some have negatively labeled the single “manufactured” and “safe.” That’s a bit harsh. It’s more aligned with the rest of The Weeknd’s rollout: traditional.
It’s been both fun and frustrating to watch Kevin Abstract grow. And for a certain type of music fan—younger, has read KanyeToThe at least once, sensitive—Abstract has been one to watch. To those who love derivative descriptions, he’s a hybrid of Frank Ocean lite and earlier Childish Gambino. The praise doesn’t come lightly; the potential Abstract has engendered also come with expectations, which he doesn’t seem that interested in fulfilling. He goes on by his own drum. He seems to ooze emotional nostalgia and mournful melodies. He’s also able tap into a deeper universal spectrum, one that connects him to so many of his fans, but he’s only shown glimpses of putting it all together.
His latest track “Empty,” then, comes as sort of vindication. It’s perfectly crafted. That hook exudes all the feelings. And that video, which Abstract directed, is so clever. A Boogie Nights-inspired narrative of a high-school football star getting caught by his girlfriend, hooking up with another dude—Abstract, who plays with his sexuality like Ocean. “Empty” is the second single off Abstract’s upcoming American Boyfriend record. It’s shaping up to deliver.
I went to concerts on back-to-back nights this week: Kanye West and Kaytranada. It sounds like a humblebrag, but I don’t recommend it. I’m exhausted. That type of live musical injection may only safely be administered in festival settings.
Anyways, Kanye delivered a wonderful sermon, but Kaytranada placed me in a trance. It’s an unfair comparison, I know, but without the theatrics and messages and iconography, Kaytranada unleashed a frequency inside I didn’t know was there. And all he needed was music and a sweet light show. It’s probably why he won the 2016 Polaris Prize (awarded to the best album by a Canadian artist). But also his new mixtape 0.001% is fresh as hell and a fantastic follow-up to 99.9%. Pitch-perfect vibes.
Danny Brown—“Really Doe” ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt
BARS. If you’re not about these BARS, boy, best to check yourself now. Four of rap’s best spitters just let loose those raps that melt your soul over this menacing and twinkling beat. It’s pure hip hop ecstasy. Apparently Kendrick is the reason this song even came together, adding just one more reason to thank K.Dot for blessing us.
Green Day—“Still Breathing”
Green Day byke? It’s sounding like it. This is that old pop-punk sound that made us all fall for Green Day back in the day. But this song isn’t just doing it for that weird middle school loner still inside me, it’s also doing it for me now. The band has captured the old and blended it with the new. I don’t know. I’m suddenly anticipating Green Day’s upcoming album Revolution Radio? That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
NxWorries (Anderson .Paak + Knxledge)—“Lyke Dis”
Anderson .Paak is winning everything in 2016. Dude’s on a run and every artist is trying to get a piece of him. Not only is his Malibu album one of the best records of the year, he’s on some of the other best records of the year by artists like ScHoolboy Q, Mac Miller, and Kaytranada.
But this collaboration with (slightly) underground producer Knxledge is a throwback. The pair released an EP last year. It included the jam “Suede,” which apparently caught Dr. Dre’s ears and eventually led to Anderson signing with Dre’s Aftermath label. “Lyke Dis” continues in that vein and is from NxWorries’ Yes Lawd album, due out next month.