Empress Of Is Deeply Relatable, Khalid Shines Again, and Third Time's the Charm for Mariah


Y: Empress Of, Us album – Latin American indie artist Lorely Rodriguez is a musical delight, and this new album (as well as the collab below) sets her up for a win. Following her very personal debut album, Me, this sophomore collection is meant to be relatable and somewhat fun, especially in a live setting—though still hitting on relational issues and the messy fractions of life. In songs like “Trust Me Baby,” she pays homage to her roots with bilingual lyrics. Her sound is refreshing, and doesn’t take itself too seriously—it’s evident that she recently made the move from N.Y. to L.A. When it comes to this number, she tells Stereogum it’s “not a song about smoking weed. It’s about doing things that make you uncomfortable with someone who makes you feel free.” If you’ve been sleeping on Empress Of, take your soul for a whirl with this one. —Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo


Y: Khalid feat. Empress Of, “Suncity” – Twenty-year-old Khalid is growing up in front of us, and I’m feeling like a proud mom today. His new petit and personal EP, Suncity, is proof that he’s got a lot more to give. He took his time with this one, and you can tell why—it’s deep and not over-zealous about bangers, but committed to letting you in on his character and current place in life. My favorite thus far is “Suncity,” which the album is named after, and features our girl Empress Of. Khalid has shown an interest and admiration for other Spanish-speaking artists in the past, including Rosalía, and I’m happy to see him do his first crossover with this bilingual track. —ELC

Yah: Cough Drop, “Mind Your Manners” - I hadn’t heard of Tallahassee, Florida emo-pop group Cough Drop before, well, today, though their drummer Jeremy Probst has been in a handful of popular-within-a-certain-indie-scene bands in Florida (Naps) and Philadelphia (Kississippi). That fact is ironic considering the song “Pensacola” on their debut EP Yell Heah, where vocalist Christine Goodwyne spits, “I’ve joined another fucking band I know you don’t care about.”

Regardless of my ignorance, and to my delight, I was instantly smitten by the release, in particular, the first track “Mind Your Manners.” It recalls New Jersey indie rockers Forth Wanderers in vocals and musicality—Cough Drop exude a hazy, confident, attractive frustration unique to those who make music simply because they want to hear something different. —Maria Sherman


Y: The 1975, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” - The 1975 are a polarizing band; lead singer Matt Healy is open about being pretentious, and the band’s last record was literally titled, I kid you not, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. But if you can get past the artsy fartsy affect, the band has hits. On their latest single, which reminds me of Tears For Fears, Healy spins his struggles with addiction into sparkly but dark ’80s pop, singing “collapse my veins wearing beautiful shoes,” turning a needle into a traditional pop song love interest. —Hazel Cills



The Yes-tance: Mariah Carey feat. Ty Dolla $ign, “The Distance” - Well that’s more like it. After previewing her upcoming 15th album, Caution, with two nice songs (one that’s so melodically subtle you can barely taste it, one that’s incredibly on the nose), Mariah proves that third time’s a charm with a legit stunner. The track, co-produced by Skrillex, marries the ambient-as-vape-cloud sound of now with a lusty lurch of ’90s slow jams and the juicy bass line of a Roger Troutman joint. Carey flutters over it until the second verse, when she changes her flow entirely, as she’s done on some of her her very best songs (“Breakdown,” “We Belong Together”). She does this deliciously (the chanty, “But they can’t, but they can’t, but they can’t take away them precious memories” is the song’s shining moment) but matter of factly, like it all comes so easy to her. Perhaps it does, but it’s wonderful to hear Mariah sounding so engaged and showing us that being great has yet to get boring. —Rich Juzwiak


Y: Amerie, “4AM Mulholland” - On Friday, the reliably enthusiastic and underrated Amerie dropped a pair of EPs or short albums or whatever you want to call them. Slow jams abound, especially on 4AM Mulholland. Despite the ample knocking and protracted thrust of many of the songs, it all has a DIY aesthetic, particularly the echoey vocals, which often sound like they were recorded in one of those faux recording studios amusement parks used to (and maybe still do?) have. Some will disparage this, but I think it just adds to the scrappy charm and speaks to the drive of Amerie to express herself by whatever means necessary. —RJ


Nihongo Hanashimasen.

Mariah is my patronus. I’m so happy to see her engaged and doing her thing. She’s after more #1s.