The year is only half over, but it seems like a decade's worth of musical happenings have transpired since January, from the deaths of beloved icons such as Prince and Bowie to a series of high-profile album drops. And the new sounds just keep coming. Hear what we at Rolling Stone have been spinning lately, including fresh tracks from up-and-comers (Lizzo, Car Seat Headrest) and established favorites (The Strokes, Paul Simon).
The Strokes are back – and not the goofy synthpop Strokes, either. "Oblivius," from their new three-song EP, has darting, skeletal guitars, desperate over-the-phone vocals, and a chorus that shoots you from the gutter to the stars in seconds.
Simon has been singing about mortality for decades, though rarely as cuttingly as on this Afrodelic story song: "Most obits are mixed reviews," he observes. But this is life-affirming art.
On this euphoric hip-hop soul throwback, Minneapolis rapper-singer Lizzo makes a trip to the beauty shop ("Hair tall/Check my nails") sound like the best party in town.
The Chicago MC's gospel-steeped Coloring Book is the year's richest hip-hop LP so far, and "Blessings" gorgeously sums up its message: "I don't make songs for free/I make 'em for freedom."
Will Toledo battles his angst and bear hugs the world. The result: a perfect underdog anthem.
A fine, forlorn rocker – off the second LP from Tom Petty's re-formed pre-Heartbreakers band – about love and loss and dancing to Skynyrd in a sad mobile home.
Performing at the Billboard Music Awards, amid her legal battle with former producer Dr. Luke, Kesha sang the Dylan classic with stark, somber determination, making it a statement of against-it-all empowerment.