Don’t press skip: Music highlights you might have missed in March

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A year since COVID-19 caused the music scene’s temporary collapse, this March is a new month for music: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard brought energy to L.W., Julien Baker found sincere catharsis and Zara Larsson’s disco-pop sparkled. Still, there were a few things that may have passed under your radar. Have no fear, dear reader! Music beat reporters Vincent Tran and Taila Lee are here to recommend a few highlights you might’ve missed in the music world this past month.

IMMEDIATELY Remixes, Perfume Genius

Mike Hadreas, known as Perfume Genius, follows up one of the best records of last year with an album of remixes that showcases the malleability of its outstanding source material. Featuring contributions from artists such as Westerman, A.G. Cook, Jim-E Stack, Jenny Hval and more, Immediately Remixes re-envisions Hadreas’ “current of energy” through the lenses of techno, synth-pop and other forms of experimental music.

An immense feeling of yearning surrounds Immediately Remixes as Hadreas’ songs blissfully surrender to dance, from the breakbeats that speed up and suspend Planningtorock’s “Jason There’s No Rush Remix” in a single moment in time to the various mesmerizing loops that make up Nidia’s erratic version of “Moonbend.” Elsewhere, other contributors go big with more straightforward remixes, such as Initial Talk’s “On The Floor” and Katie Day’s “Borrowed Light.” Despite the range of collaborators, the album is a unified yet varied reinterpretation of texture, highlighting and amplifying the array of emotions lying at the core of every song.

— Vincent Tran

“White Dress,” Lana Del Rey

“White Dress,” marked by its doleful but beautifully reflective qualities, already feels like a Lana Del Rey classic. On the opening track of Chemtrails Over The Country Club, Del Rey dreams of her life before fame. She paints a bleak white dress as an emblem of purity and free-spiritedness, longing for a time before the crown of stardom rested upon her brow. Del Rey’s signature breathy vocals remain transcendent as ever, and “White Dress” is a particularly poignant reminder of her elegant talent.

Taila Lee

 “Moonman,” Nick Hakim, Roy Nathanson

Nick Hakim and Roy Nathanson’s “Moonman,” the lead single off their upcoming collaborative album Small Things, is a soulful odyssey of muted keys and R&B. The track is spacious and full of wonder while the two float away towards new sonic horizons, resulting in a euphoric, gently swelling crescendo at the song’s final moments of inspiration. Hakim’s vocals assume an ethereal form, hanging in the air as he glides freely from line to line; Nathanson’s saxophone is equally yearning and expressive. The track’s accompanying music video depicts the two as astronauts finding their LP on the surface of the moon; the heavenly dreamscape they sought after is much closer to our ears than that.

— Vincent Tran

“Peaches,” Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar, Giveon

While we haven’t quite forgiven him for birthing the atrocity “Yummy,” Justin Bieber’s latest single is admittedly one of the most promising songs of his career. To put it simply, “Peaches” is Bieber at his best: It’s a rare track where he sounds genuinely happy. Shedding the colorless monotony of his Changes era entirely, the singer’s warm tone hits a sweet spot and infuses the song with breezy lightheartedness. Further softened by Daniel Caesar and Giveon’s soothing features, this summery track puts listeners at ease with its balmy style. Give “Peaches” a listen even if you’re not a Belieber — I mean, never say never?

Taila Lee

“The Kiss of Venus,” Dominic Fike, Paul McCartney

Singer Dominic Fike’s rendition of Sir Paul McCartney’s “The Kiss Of Venus” is an exciting reinterpretation, turning what was once romantic acoustic balladry into youthful, vibrant pop. Arriving ahead of the upcoming remix album McCartney III Imagined, Fike’s cover swaps many of McCartney’s lyrics for his own, refocusing the love song to serve as commentary on public divisiveness in the news. McCartney’s sparse acoustic guitar is surrounded by a livelier, brighter arrangement full of electronic embellishments, drums and electric guitars; the “early morning glow” of the original is preserved by a faint harpsichord as Fike pushes the playful feeling of  “The Kiss of Venus” to bigger and bolder new heights.

— Vincent Tran

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, Jack Harlow

Back at the beginning of quarantine, TikTok helped propel Jack Harlow’s catchy rap track “Whats Poppin” to No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Though Harlow is one of many breakout artists of the quarantine era, his NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts proves that he isn’t just a one-hit wonder. Harlow’s charismatic concert offers 18 minutes of feel-good, polished rap delivered from a cozy, vintage set in Los Angeles. Along with support from a talented band and radiant backup vocalists, Harlow’s stage presence fills the room with an infectious, delightful energy that’s certain to brighten your day.

Taila Lee

Other notable releases: Notes With Attachments — Blake Mills & Pino Palladino, Ungodly Hour (Chrome Edition) — Chloe x Halle, “Sagittarius Superstar” — COIN ft. Faye Webster

Vincent Tran and Taila Lee cover music. Contact Taila at [email protected] and Vincent at [email protected].

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