Every Friday, artists drop anticipated albums, surprise singles, and hyped collaborations. As part of New Music Friday, EW’s music team will choose some of the essential new tunes. With new songs from Ed Sheeran, Kiesza, Julien Baker, and more, here are the most noteworthy new releases this week.
Ed Sheeran, “Shape Of You,” “Castle On The Hill”
Ed Sheeran is no guitar-looping one trick pony - and his first releases since 2014’s x prove it. “Castle On The Hill” is a nostalgic folk-pop winner that, with delightful detail, recalls Sheeran’s childhood town. He goes grittier on “Shape Of You” where, over oddball tropical house effects and strummy acoustics, he throws back shots with friends. “The club isn’t the best place to find a lover, so the bar is where I go,” he explains in the song’s opening lines. Welcome back, Ed. -Madison Vain
[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A66qlqxhEMpSHOzjRK4il0b" /]
[spotify id="spotify%3Atrack%3A0FE9t6xYkqWXU2ahLh6D8X" /]
Kiesza, “Dearly Beloved”
The Canadian pop singer made us ooh! and aah! back in 2014 with the 90s house homage “Hideaway,” but now she’s honoring a whole other era with the funky, disco-inspired “Dearly Beloved.” The song is a tribute to a friend who passed away, she explained in a statement, but if the title has you thinking of Prince, that’s not far off either. -Nolan Feeney
The Shins, “Name For You”
James Mercers’ the Shins return with their fifth LP, Heartworms, in March and while the set dips between rock, pop, and even country influences - all polished off with plenty of synthy production - this is one of the album’s most straightforward, retro pop tunes. The band said it was inspired by Mercer’s three daughters and stands as a call for female empowerment, so let that and the Brian Wilson-style falsetto wash all over you. -M.V.
Julien Baker, “Funeral Pyre”
In 2015, Tennessean singer-songwriter Julien Baker released her acclaimed debut, Sprained Ankle. Packed with sparse guitars and poignant lyricism, the release earned her accolades - and, as announced today, a signing to vaunted indie label Matador Records, currently the home to other respected rock acts like Kurt Vile, Car Seat Headrest, and Savages. Along with news of the signing, Baker announced the reissue of Sprained Ankle and shared “Funeral Pyre,” a fresh track as starkly beautiful as her best work. “[I’m] steadily accruing material, so hopefully soon, at the end of this touring season I can go back and really refine it,” Baker told EW last April, suggesting more new music could be near. -Eric Renner Brown
The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus, “We a Famly”
Miley Cyrus is collaborating once again with the Flaming Lips for a new single, “We a Famly,” from the Lips’ forthcoming album Oczy Mlody, out Jan. 13. Though the band has worked with Cyrus before on her album Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz and a cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” frontman Wayne Coyne told EW, “We a Famly’ was the first track we attempted to do with her, three or so years ago.” Over melodic guitar strums, slow, otherworldly synths, and a healthy dose of AutoTune, Cyrus and Coyne sing back and forth about the greatness of fwendship. -Jessica Goodman
Dirty Projectors, “Little Bubble”
Indie-rock stalwarts Dirty Projectors last put out an album in 2012, but with the release of the warped cut “Keep Your Name” in September, buzz around the group began to pick up. Speculation about what’s next from the Projectors continued to grow when they released a second song, “Little Bubble,” this week. Like “Keep Your Name,” the track exclusively focuses on creative mastermind Dave Longstreth - and his plaintive lyrics about heartbreak make it one of the most affecting Dirty Projectors tunes yet. -E.R.B.
Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band, “Sorrow” featuring Jenny Lewis
David Letterman’s longtime bandleader Paul Shaffer and his group the World’s Most Dangerous Band got a helping hand from Jenny Lewis on a new cover of “Sorrow.” First performed by the McCoys, the tender track was later made even more famous when David Bowie released his own version on 1973’s Pin Ups. Shaffer and Lewis’ rendition is just as pretty, with sensuous trumpets and delicate keys. -J.G.
Brian Eno, Reflection
The seminal experimental musician returned on New Year’s Day with his latest ambient album, Reflection. Like his best ambient works, the 54-minute project - a single track that’s available in an abbreviated, four-minute version on Spotify - is richly textured and subtly gorgeous. For more from Eno, see his extensive 2016 interview with EW. -E.R.B.