A bunch of new tunes were released this week by some big name artists , including The Shins and The xxTheo Katzman’s second full length came out today, as did an EP of previously unreleased songs by Night Moves.

You can check out some of those new releases in this week’s playlist. But here are a few of this week’s best of the best.

Electric Guest – “Dear To Me”

Electric Guest’s debut record from 2012 – Mondo – is one of the few albums I return to multiple times each year. The lead single off that – “This Head I Hold” – got some traction among a national audience, and rightfully so. But the whole thing is a soulful, indie pop masterpiece if you spend some time with it.

The duo is comprised of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton. Taccone is the brother of Saturday Night Live/Lonely Island star Jorma Taccone, and helped with production on classics like “Dick in a Box.” It was with the help of his older brother that Asa got hooked up with highly sought after producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. 

Production of Mondo reportedly took more than five years. Given that, I had pretty much assumed by this point that maybe it was a one-and-done.

Not only is “Dear To Me” a pleasant surprise, but more importantly it’s silky smooth. Taccone sings about the ups and downs of a relationship he ultimately understands is worth fighting for.

Hippo Campus – “Close To Gold”

I thought Hippo Campus was a one-hit wonder when “Suicide Saturday” blew up for a bit in 2015. That song helped score the young rockers from St. Paul a spot at Austin City Limits and a late-night appearance on Conan.

It turns out I just hadn’t given them enough of a chance. “Close To Gold” is a great representation of what the band’s guitar-driven sound is capable of. The tempo is in flux throughout and that keeps you waiting for what’s going to come next. And I love their vocal harmony at the end. All four of them nearly screaming together over guitarist Nathan Stocker’s playful riff makes for some kind of island-punk (new genre?).

After releasing two EPs in 2015 – South and Bashful Creatures – Hippo Campus will release its first album – Landmark – on Feb. 24. They begin a tour at the end of the month, which includes a stop at Union Transfer on March 28.

Lady Wray – “Do It Again”

Lady Wray’s sound has grown drastically since she made her musical debut back in 1998. The singer – born Nicole Rayrecorded under the name Nicole as Missy Elliot’s first signing to her Gold Mind label.  Nicole’s “Make it Hot” off a record of the same name was certified gold and has more than one million streams on Spotify.

Wray has since left her hot 100/R&B roots behind and developed a stunning and sultry voice. She shows great range all across 2016’s Queen Alone“Guilty” is the song that first got my attention, but “Do It Again” confirmed Wray’s potential as neo-soul royalty.

-Mike Still

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