Music We Loved This Week: Kendrick Lamar, M. Ward, and more |


Music We Loved This Week: Kendrick Lamar, M. Ward, and more

(Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Need a break from the new Coldplay and Jeremih albums? Can’t enjoy Springsteen’s massive reissue of The River because you’re not that into New Jersey? Give some of our other favorite, overlooked tunes from the week a spin.

Kendrick Lamar, “Black Friday”

Amidst the topical brilliance of this year’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s easy to forget that Kendrick Lamar is also one of the funniest rappers currently rhyming. For Black Friday, Lamar and his peer J. Cole rapped over each other’s beats, naming both cuts “Black Friday.” Cole’s, which repurposes Lamar’s bona fide anthem “Alright,” is worth a listen, but Lamar’s four-minute freestyle over Cole’s “A Tale of 2 Citiez” stands among the most clever verses he’s put out in recent years. “I’m rollin’ deep in that paper like two Adeles,” he rhymes, before coupling an astute observation of his music with some pure hilarity: “Nothing more influential than rap music / I merge jazz fusion with the trap music / I mix black soul with some rock and roll / They never box me in, I’m David Blaine-ing all you hoes.” —Eric Renner Brown

M. Ward, “Girl From Conejo Valley”

The slyly masterful alt-folkie announced that in March he’ll release More Rain, his first solo album since 2012. “Girl From Conejo Valley” is textbook Ward: silky smooth harmonies, driving Americana-inflected rhythms, and a fuzzy guitar solo that’d sound out of place in the hands of anyone else but works just right. Ward’s been concentrating on his collaboration with Zoeey Deschanel, She & Him, since 2012 — we’re happy to have him back. —ERB

Astropol, “Make Love Stay”

“Make Love Stay” has a hazy pop with a killer hook that opens up more with every listen. The Swedish supergroup does everything we’ve come to love from their country’s pop experts: tightly formed songs that somehow still feel free and burst with fun. —Madison Vain

La Sera, “High Notes”

Enjoyed Ryan Adams’ melancholic, country-tinged take on Taylor Swift’s 1989? Try out this jam by La Sera, the project of former Vivian Girl Katy Goodman, which Adams produced and credits for inspiring him to record his Swift covers. “High Notes” is an assuming bit of rockabilly that’d sound equally at home next to Johnny Cash or Best Coast on a playlist. —ERB

Phonat, “Fire”

Italian producer Phonat has gotten big ups from Skrillex and it’s not hard to see why with his earworm “Fire.” This week the jam got a video to match: a dozen or so interpretive dancers try to externalize their internal fire and, well, it works. —MV