Photo: Max Wanger
Chamber Ensemble yMusic Step Into The Light On New LP: "We've Been In Training For This Moment"
Contemporary chamber ensemble yMusic have backed up GRAMMY winners from Paul Simon to John Legend and St. Vincent. On their eponymous new LP, they reveal themselves to be a self-contained universe.
Over the course of a decade and a half, yMusic have pointed their arrow toward collaborators, happy to exist chiefly as facilitators and augmenters — until Paul Simon had something to say about it.
"Every time we'd work with songwriters and bands, they'd say 'So, when are you guys going to write your own stuff?'" the chamber group's violist, Nadia Sirota, recalls to GRAMMY.com. "And we'd be like, 'Oh no, what are you talking about?'"
If you know classical, you'll know this is par for the course. But when yMusic appeared with Simon on his 2018 album of reimagined deep cuts, In the Blue Light, "He was like, 'You guys have to figure out what your voice is as an ensemble yourself,'" Sirota says. "We took him seriously."
With that encouragement from the 16-time GRAMMY winner under their belts, yMusic partitioned time in their rehearsal schedule for writing — and that built a bridge to their autonomous, eponymous new album of originals, which arrived May 5.
YMUSIC places the young sextet — Sirota, flutist/vocalist Alex Sopp, clarinetist Hideaki Aomori, trumpeter CJ Camerieri, violinist Rob Moose, and cellist Gabriel Cabezas — within a concise framework, emphasizing each composition's innate singability and dramatic arc.
"One organizing principle that we kept coming back to was the idea of song form, because that almost felt foreign to our body of work in a cool way," Moose, who has won two golden gramophones, tells GRAMMY.com. "But also, because we've collaborated with songwriters so much, it felt at home to us."
As you absorb YMUSIC's multivalent highlights like "Zebras," "Three Elephants" and "Cloud," read on for an interview with Sirota and Moose about the group's 15-year creative journey, what they bring to the table for singer/songwriters and how this consolidative work came to be.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
The press release for YMUSIC says it finds "the group focused on discovering an artistic voice all their own."
Nadia Sirota: A really important thing to know about the group is that we've been around for 15 years, but every single thing that we've done prior to the album has been a collaboration with another artist.
We have worked with a ton of amazing composers, bands and songwriters, and it's been a joy and a pleasure to work with all those people, but we had never created any original music until we started the process that resulted in this album.
So, it's been really amazing to double down on the creativity within the group. We've always been pretty hands-on in our collaborations with other people — and certainly super-opinionated, and very into editing and honing and re-orchestrating.
The whole time, we had a very creatorly hand, I think, on these collaborations, but we've never really made music ourselves — so that's what this is about.
Was this by design over the past 15 years? To augment other musicians?
Sirota: Yeah, and I think a lot of it, honestly, comes from the fact that we all come from a pretty classical background despite where we ended up in the world. In the classical-music world, it's more common than not that you are either a composer or a performer.
There are some people who do both things in an explicit way, but if you're training as a performer, you're training as an interpreter…. who's working on Brahms and Beethoven and Rebecca Clarke and all that stuff.
Even if you're doing new music, you're working with composers. We took that as we became a young new music ensemble, like so many other new music ensembles.
Rob Moose: I feel like our origin story — our mission from the beginning — was about empowerment.
We were active as freelance performers equally in new classical or classical music, but also in working with songwriters and bands. We had a lot of respect for the groups we were working with outside of classical music, and felt like they were being underrepresented in who was performing their music — or even how they were looking at their collaborative work.
So, I think built into the group's DNA was this idea of helping to — not elevate by our presence, but just lift up these people who were doing great work and give the best possible presentation to it.
We were always interested in underdogs, in a sense, and it just took us a long time to look at ourselves in the same way: Can we help our own voices get out there?
I think we realized that we've been in training for this moment all those years and we're really excited to step into this new role.
Sirota: Another angle of this is that these pieces have really been written collaboratively. It's not like one of us came with a whole bunch of ideas and doled out parts and figured it out.
In the very earliest phases of this, the six of us would get into a room with nothing and just try to create something — and six people is a lot of people to be in that creative space. I think we were all just delighted at how well it worked.
Then the pandemic hit. Everyone had to go our separate ways, but because we had forged this way of working together, we were able to keep that up over digital spaces and figure out how to collaboratively write and hone and record all this stuff.
I'm most intimately aware of your work on Okkervil River's Away and Paul Simon's In the Blue Light, although I've heard yMusic in any number of other contexts. How do you tailor your approach and methodology to each artist you work with?
Moose: I think each collaborator we've worked with has really set a tone for the way in which we'll approach the results we're looking for.
Ben Folds and Bruce Hornsby were two really important people for us that helped us get off the page and encouraged us to do the homework and create the parts — but also find freedom in live shows, or in recording studios, to create in a less conventional way for us.
Paul Simon did too, but also, he was the most meticulous about editing and refining the ideas. Which makes sense, because if you look at his work — his words, the stories, the structures of what he's created, the interaction with different styles and cultures of music — I think thoroughness is something you would never imagine would be a missing ingredient there. I feel in some ways, he pushed us to be in the moment, but also be the most under the microscope.
I think our group always approaches collaborations the same way: with great seriousness and joy and admiration for who we're working with. We take cues from the people we're working with about what's going to work best for them, as well as their audience.
Sirota: We've learned to be adaptable to all different processes, whether it's from audio first or chords first or written notation or just a vibe.
Sometimes, when I'm trying to create something alone, I get mired in my critical brain and it's really hard to work. I think the cool thing about the systems yMusic has built to work with is that they don't start from a critical place — although we get super-critical.
Moose: Being there's so many people in the group, one of the benefits is that we're still able to observe each other and pull ideas out of each other like those collaborators did for us.
A lot of pieces of music that we composed for the record started with almost eavesdropping on our neighbors as they were warming up, like: "What was that sound you just made? What is that technique that you're doing?" We would be able to shine a light on somebody else's idea that they might consider completely insignificant and perfunctory, not the basis of a composition.
To be able to bear witness to that and encourage it, that's something we learned from our collaborators; they helped us see that in ourselves, and I think we also helped them find things in that way. So, we've been really excited to keep that as part of our process.
As the violist and violinist in yMusic, how would you two characterize your interplay and function as cogs in the musical machine — both between you two and the ensemble as a whole?
Sirota: I feel like there's definitely a certain amount of rhythm viola that I sometimes play in the group. There are our most obvious functions, and then our auxiliary functions.
In the group, the only tools we have as a bassline are the cello and bass clarinet, really. So, there are ways in which those guys really end up functioning that way, and then sometimes, we totally subvert that.
The broadest spectrum of the group is piccolo to bass clarinet, kind of. Sometimes, we use that spread to kick it up a little bit. If we want to add some energy, we'll either pull something up or pull something down in a really nice way.
Being a violist is a funny thing, because you're always adding butter to the sauce. You're not necessarily the main thought of it, there's a way in which you can really add an unctuousness to the sound. Usually, I'm just trying to add a little bit of texture and excitement.
Sometimes, Rob and I are in the stratosphere doing light disco string lines or whatever. There's all sorts of flexibility in the way that this group works. Sometimes, we throw viola over to the wind side and have flute and violin do string things. There are really so many different options with the group.
I don't know if you know this, but the [template of] instrumentation that we have hasn't existed before. So, we have had the great luxury of trying to figure out every single thing that it can do, and there's some neat stuff.
Sometimes, the cello is up in the violin and viola range, too, so we have this crazy high-string section for the violin section, but made up of things that are in that register, with timbres that are slightly more exciting, in my mind.
Moose: I think, in some ways, the role that you have, Nadia, is maybe the most diverse in the group.
With cello, you can form that core low-string, warmth, support thing. Then, some of my favorite combinations are when we pair bass clarinet with viola and horn for that warm triadic lifestyle. Then, like you pointed out, you'll be doing high stuff in octaves or unison with me.
Sometimes, two or three of us can represent what the guitar or piano would do. I do love being on this bright team, sometimes, with trumpet and flute. Part of my journey has been to learn how to attempt to mimic the way their notes end, which is so abrupt compared to the way our notes end.
yMusic. Photo: Max Wanger
What were the core ideas that dictated the framework of YMUSIC?
Moose: We didn't start with an intention to write a record, necessarily. It was more of a commitment to figure out what would happen if the six of us, 13 years into our journey, decided to collaboratively compose in real time with no cheat sheets, no prep, no collaborators.
Sirota: Anything can inspire the beginning of something, and then the material itself dictates where it ends up having to go. Oftentimes, we set out to do something that was not where we ended up, but it brought us somewhere else that was really cool. I think that's the nature of writing.
YMUSIC really breathes as a listening experience; it's sequenced rather well, in my opinion, and the drama seems to expand and retract.
Sirota: That was certainly the goal, and I will say we had a lot of material for this album. Pulling it together in a way that felt both exciting and kind to the listener was the goal.
The thing about the six of us is we can get in this hyper twin-language thing where we keep wanting to gild the lily, and keep on wanting to work. We could probably obsessively rewrite every single one of these songs until we die, if we wanted to.
Moose: We have pieces in there that felt like anchors that you want to arrive at in different moments, like "Baragon," "The Wolf" and "Three Elephants" — the structural beams that are [tracks] one, four and seven.
I think it felt important to end with the piece "Cloud" — the last piece that we worked together on in the room before the pandemic started. The idea of that piece was to try to introduce something positive and soothing and nurturing in a moment of uncertainty.
Sirota: Interestingly, "Baragon" is one of the most recent things that we wrote. So, we bookended the album with these two works that were important for us in the process of writing, and figured out a way to get from point A to point B.
As 2023 rolls on, what's in the works for yMusic, and what would you like to eventually do?
Moose: We got to play the entire record for the first time at Carnegie Hall in January, which was really exciting.
I know we're really looking forward to presenting the work more — especially the concert that we did — the first half being music we composed, and then the second half being two premieres from two composers that we really admire.
I think it's important] to hear our work alongside work like that, and not separate them and be like, We did that before, we're doing this now, but be like, All of these things are who we are.
Sirota: We've got some upcoming collaborations we can't quite talk about yet. So, there's the stuff on the songwriter side that will be percolating.
The stuff on the composer side that we can talk about is: we're excited to record this brand-new major work by Andrew Norman soon, and a new piece by Gabriela Smith coming in the next season or so. Alongside this, we're going to carve out more time to write more stuff.
A neat thing about this group, which has always been true, is it's not the only thing that any one of us is supposed to do. We have always treated it like an extremely important part of our lives, but we all also do other creative things, and they're not all in the same realm at all.
So, I feel like a nice thing is that when we do come together, we're always coming with a fresh perspective.
The Oral History Of Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color
58th GRAMMY nominees Brittany Howard, Shawn Everett, Blake Mills, and others tell the inside story of the Album Of The Year-nominated Sound & Color
Alabama Shakes' Boys & Girls was among the most soulful and celebrated debuts of 2012, yet few anticipated the degree to which frontwoman Brittany Howard and her Southern cohorts would up the ante on Sound & Color. The band's evolution earned four 58th GRAMMY nominations, including Album Of The Year and Best Alternative Music Album.
With a spacious and evocative sound that defies genre barriers, Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color was written and recorded over the course of a year, during which time Howard would hole up in her basement with a stash of granola bars for 12-hour songwriting marathons. Most of the songs were recorded during four two-week sessions at Sound Emporium in Nashville, Tenn., followed by a final recording and mixing session at Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles. The process included recording furnace vibrations, therapeutic coloring books and escaping into a world of one's own creativity.
Following, Howard and other key participants behind the chart-topping collection give the inside story of Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color.
Brittany Howard (artist/co-producer): Instead of saying this record is really, really different, I would just say it's more evolved. Recording a Boys & Girls Part 2 would have been really boring for me. We'd had plenty of time to learn more, to learn different types of music, and of course our tastes are always growing. So this record was half looking forward and half looking back. It was like, "I've always wanted to do this. I've always wanted a vibraphone, I've always wanted to arrange a string section." But I can only play a few instruments, so when I was doing a demo for a song like "Gemini," everything was on keyboards. And then we'd go into the studio and have to figure out how to map that across the band.
Shawn Everett (engineer/mixer): I always loved "Gemini" a lot. In the initial demo Brittany had this insane digital harmony on her voice and it made her sound like a god. She already sounds like a god, so it was like a god times two. We tried to approximate that effect in our version as well. I also love the crazy guitar that keeps appearing out of nowhere on that song.
Blake Mills (co-producer): Generally the band felt that their wide range of influences weren’t necessarily making their way into their own music. Their sound previous to this record felt like an attempt to capture the live sound of the band, like you might approach recording an orchestra. Many of the records they love don't sound like a recording of an artist's rehearsal, but rather an attempt to transport their listeners to a world of their own making.
Howard: I was definitely making it up as I went along. I was like, "OK, there's four days before we go into the studio. How many songs do I have ready?" Sometimes it'd be two and sometimes it'd be none. And that's when I'd go down to my basement and just keep writing songs without taking a break. I've worked on [my basement] a lot, but there's still a bat that lives in there, and there's a little mouse family. So I wasn't lonely.
Rob Moose (string arranger): The main challenge we faced was to not make [the album] feel like "Alabama Shakes plus strings." The idea was certainly not to have bells and whistles, or something that just sounds expensive, or even to play a huge role in the emotional expression of the record, as strings can do. It was really "detail work" that we wanted to do, and I'm proud of some of the touches, especially the ones that most listeners wouldn't know are strings.
Everett: In addition to Rob Moose's incredible string parts, there are several moments in which you think you're hearing strings but it's actually furnace vibrations or other strange acoustic sounds rattling. The individual frequencies have been melted and distorted into sounding like a string section or some other otherworldly texture.
Howard: When you're in the studio, you might be listening to someone hit a snare drum for about an hour and a half. So while that's going on, we're doing coloring books — you know, adult coloring books, not children's coloring, not The Lion King — and we're doing art, and we'll sit in the lounge writing country songs. And sometimes, before the session would start, we'd go in there and record country songs. Then Blake would come in and we'd be, "OK, back to work!"
Mario Hugo (art designer/video producer): The label had me come in and listen to the new music, and I was taken by it right away. It was very visual, enigmatic and spacey, but also honest and raw. And challenging as well. I listened to the final mixes through the entire design process, which is exceedingly rare. I can say that Sound & Color was, musically, one of my favorite albums to work on.
Mills: I think it's very unusual these days to find a majorly successful band who can be this fearless in challenging their audience. We dumbed nothing down, no one seemed to second guess their convictions and their fans have really stepped up to the plate and supported that bravery.
Moose: The band had some friends visiting the studio and they cooked a southern feast, which was actually amazing. I've never seen home-cooked food in the studio, and the vibe that day kind of summed up the soulful, down-to-earth qualities of the band for me.
Howard: We're just a normal group of people who believe in writing and making something. And honestly, it was truly from a point of having fun. It wasn't to get famous or anything like that. We wanted to play gigs, that was our goal, but we didn't have anywhere to gig. So it's crazy now that we're nominated for [an Album Of The Year] GRAMMY. It's remarkable and really divine, I think. But we also worked really, really hard to get here. And I won't let something like this make me relax.
Bill Forman is a writer and music editor for the Colorado Springs Independent and the former publications director for The Recording Academy.
Tune in to the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.
Photos (L-R): The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images, Jody Dominigue, Jack Bridgland, courtesy of the artist, Michael Tranafp, Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images, Paras Griffin via Getty Images
15 Must-Hear Albums This October: Troye Sivan, Drake, Blink 182, NCT 127 & More
Don't let the falling leaves bring you down — read on for 15 albums dropping in October from Taylor Swift, Gucci Mane and Riley Green.
Fall has already begun, and 2023 enters its final act with the beginning of October. However, that doesn't mean the music has to slow down — this month offers plenty of new releases for everyone from rap fans to country aficionados.
The month starts with Sufjan Stevens and the release of Javelin, his first fully-written album in eight years. On the same day, after several postponements, Drake will finally put forth For All the Dogs. Later in the month, blink-182 will make a long-awaited return with One More Time…, their first album featuring the original members since 2011, and Migos rapper Offset will drop his sophomore record, Set It Off.
Don't let the falling leaves bring you down — below, GRAMMY.com compiled a guide with 15 must-hear albums dropping October 2023.
Sufjan Stevens - Javelin
Release date: Oct. 6
The last time Sufjan Stevens released an album fully written by himself was 2015's Carrie & Lowell. Javelin, his upcoming tenth studio album, will finally break this spell.
Mostly recorded at Stevens' home studio and featuring contributions from several friends (including the National's Bryce Dessner), the 10 tracks of Javelin bring back sounds of "70s Los Angeles' studio opulence" and vibes of a "detailed yet plain" self-portrait, according to a press release.
The album also features a cover of Neil Young's "There's a World" and an ambitious, 48-page art book with collages and essays written by Stevens. Javelin is preceded by the soothing single "So You Are Tired" and the spaced-out "Will Anybody Ever Love Me?"
NCT 127 - Fact Check
Release date: Oct. 6
Within the NCT constellation, NCT 127 is the subgroup anchored in South Korea's buzzing capital, Seoul. Since debuting in 2016, the nine-member ensemble has been infusing the city's vibrancy with innovative EDM and hip hop mixes.
On Oct. 6, NCT 127 will return with their fifth studio album, Fact Check, bringing in another round of their experimental K-pop sound. Consisting of nine songs, including lead single "Fact
Check (Mysterious; 不可思議)," the album expresses 127's confidence.
So far, they released a wealth of teasers that are linked to NCT's overall "dream" concept, video contents, and a highlight medley of the album tracks. After the recent ronclusion of NCT Nation, NCT's first full-group concert in South Korea and Japan, fans are expecting 127 to announce tour dates.
BoyWithUke - Lucid Dreams
Release date: Oct. 6
Mysterious masked singer and TikTok phenomenon BoyWithUke will continue his dream-themed saga with the release of Lucid Dreams, his fourth studio album.
According to a statement by the Korean American star, Lucid Dreams is meant to express "my desires, my fears, my past, and my dreams." He also adds that the each song on the album is "like a different step on the path. I'm facing past traumas, making the music I want to make, and figuring out who I am."
That development can be seen on pre-releases "Migraine" and "Trauma," where he opens up about mental health and childhood struggles over signature ukulele strings. In his own words, this album is truly "BoyWithUke blossoming, spreading his wings, and finding himself."
Drake - For All the Dogs
Release date: Oct. 6
The album's tracklist is still a mystery, but it will reportedly feature names like Nicki Minaj, Bad Bunny, and Yeat, with production credits from 40, Bnyx, and Lil Yachty, among others. For All the Dogs is also linked to the Canadian rapper's debut poetry book, Titles Ruin Everything: A Stream of Consciousness — a 168-page collection written in partnership with longtime friend and songwriter Kenza Samir.
The album follows Drake's two 2022 studio albums: Honestly, Nevermind and Her Loss, in collaboration with 21 Savage. Currently, Drake is finishing up his It's All A Blur North American tour — one of the reasons why the album has been postponed before.
Troye Sivan - Something to Give Each Other
Release date: Oct. 13
On an Instagram post, Australian singer Troye Sivan stated: "This album is my something to give you — a kiss on a dancefloor, a date turned into a weekend, a crush, a winter, a summer. Party after party, after party after after party. Heartbreak, freedom. Community, sisterhood, friendship. All that."
Something to Give Each Other is Sivan's first full-length album in five years, following 2018's Bloom. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he revealed many of the inspirations behind this work, including partying, movies like Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise, and simple, ice-cold glasses of beer.
The trippy atmosphere of the album can be felt through pre-release singles "Rush" and "Got Me Started" — which features a sample of Bag Raider's omnipresent 2011 hit, "Shooting Stars."
Offset - Set It Off
Release date: Oct. 13
Migos rapper Offset said in a statement that his sophomore album, Set It Off, took over two years to finalize. "This season is personal for me. It marks a new chapter in my life," he added.
A follow-up to his 2019 debut LP, Father of 4, the album will feature appearances by stellar names such as rapper Future, Travis Scott, Chloe Bailey, and Latto, as well as Offset's wife Cardi B, who appears on single "Jealousy."
Later in the statement, Offset said he feels "like Michael Jackson coming from a successful group breaking records to superstardom on my own. This body of work is healing for me and a letter to my fans and supporters." Lead single "Fan" brings back that comparison through many Michael Jackson references in the music video — a clever choice for the rapper's keen self-awareness.
Metric - Formentera II
Release date: Oct. 13
Exactly one year after the release of Formentera, indie royalty Metric took to social media to announce their ninth studio album, Formentera II. "Sometimes I feel like I'm in a damn maze and maybe you do too, or maybe you have it totally together, or maybe you feel like you're always floating somewhere in between," they wrote. "Wherever you're at right now, I am here to guide you to the rocking️ conclusion of our Formentera I & II odyssey."
The Canadian band also shared lead single "Just the Once," which was described by vocalist Emily Haines as a "regret disco" song in a press statement. "It's a song for when you need to dance yourself clean," she added. "Beneath the sparkling surface, there's a lyrical exploration of a simple word with many meanings. Once is a word that plays a game of opposites."
In support of the release, Metric revealed another single, "Who Would You Be For Me," and will be playing special concerts in NYC, L.A., Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Santiago starting Oct. 10. The concerts will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut LP, Old World Underground, Where Are You?
Riley Green - Ain't My Last Rodeo
Release date: Oct. 13
Alabama country star Riley Green has a moving story behind his second full-length album. Echoing the 2019 hit "I Wish Grandpas Never Died," Ain't My Last Rodeo came from one of the last conversations the singer shared with his late grandfather, Buford Green, who was an essential figure shaping his love for music and nature.
"I was fortunate enough to grow up within about three miles of my grandparents, so they were a huge part of my growing up and who I am — and this album is a lot of who I am," Green said in a press release. "This is really the first time I was able to really take my time, write and record songs that really felt like a cohesive album."
Ain't My Last Rodeo features 12 tracks (including a cover of Tim McGraw's "Damn Country Music") and collaborations with Jelly Roll and Luke Combs. In February 2024, Green will embark on a 34-stop tour throughout the U.S.
The Drums - Jonny
Release date: Oct. 13
As its title suggests, the Drums' upcoming sixth studio album, Jonny, dives deep into current solo member Jonny Pierce's life. According to a press release, the album mainly explores "the deep-rooted childhood trauma Pierce experienced growing up in a cult-like religious community in upstate New York."
The singer explains further: "When I finished Jonny, I listened to it, and I heard my soul reflected back at me. It is devastating and triumphant, it is lost and found, it is confused and certain, it is wise and foolish. It is male and female, it is hard and gentle.
"To encapsulate one's whole self in an album, to honor each and every part of you, even the parts that feel at odds with each other, is to make something deeply human, and because my religion is humanism, the album becomes a sacred place for me to worship. Each feeling a different pew, each song a hymn to the human heart."
In the past few months, Pierce gave insight into the 16-track, indie-pop collection through singles "I Want It All," "Plastic Envelope," "Protect Him Always," "Obvious," and "Better." Jonny is the band's first full release since 2019's Brutalism.
Gucci Mane - A Breath of Fresh Air
Release date: Oct. 17
Following 2016's Ice Daddy, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane's sixteenth studio album will be named A Breath of Fresh Air.
In it, Mane is likely in his most vulnerable, relatable state yet. "I kind of wanted to let people know that I go through pain," he stated in an interview for Apple Music (via Revolt). "Like I said, I didn't want to have so much just superficial topics. I hit people and let them know, 'Hey, this was going on,' but it ain't a bad thing. It's okay to be happy. You know what I'm saying?"
According to iTunes, the album is set to have two discs and 24 songs, including singles "Bluffin" featuring Lil Baby, "Pissy" featuring Roddy Ricch and Nardo Wick, "King Snipe" with Kodak Black, and "06 Gucci" with DaBaby and 21 Savage.
blink-182 - One More Time…
Release date: Oct. 20
blink-182's newest single, "One More Time," is a hard-earned reflection about what really matters in life. The punk rock trio, which hadn't been reunited since 2011's Neighborhoods, now realizes how personal struggles impacted their friendship, and how they hope to make it different in the future.
"I wish they told us, it shouldn't take a sickness/ or airplanes falling out of the sky," they sing, referencing Travis Barker's 2008 plane crash and Mark Hoppus' 2021 cancer diagnosis. "I miss you, took time, but I admit it/ It still hurts even after all these years."
A proof of maturity since they stepped into music in 1992, the heartfelt single is also the title track off upcoming LP One More Time... Featuring 2022's "Edging" and "More Than You Know" as well, the album was recorded mostly during their reunion tour this year, and boasts 17 tracks in total.
Sampha - Lahai
Release date: Oct. 20
Lahai is Sampha's grandfather's name and his own middle name. Now, it will become part of his musical history — the singer's sophomore studio album and follow up to 2017's acclaimed Process is due Oct. 20.
Over social media, Sampha described the record through a series of words as intriguing as his music: "Fever Dreams. Continuums. Dancing. Generations. Syncopation. Bridges. Grief. Motherlands. Love. Spirit. Fear. Flesh. Flight." Featuring contributions from singers like Yaeji, El Guincho and Yussef Dayes, it will feature 14 tracks that seemingly take a more positive tone than his previous work.
In a statement about lead single "Spirit 2.0," the south London singer said "it's about the importance of connection to both myself and others, and the beauty and harsh realities of just existing. It's about acknowledging those moments when you need help — that requires real strength."
Starting Oct. 12 in his hometown, Sampha will play a string of concerts throughout the U.K., Europe, and North America, wrapping it up on December 4 in Berlin, Germany.
Poolside - Blame It All On Love
Release date: Oct. 20
"I've spent 15 years being like, 'f—your rules,' and I finally feel like I'm not trying to prove anything or anyone wrong," says Jeffrey Paradise, the man behind "daytime disco" project Poolside, in a statement about his upcoming album, Blame It All On Love.
"It's just pure, unfiltered expression, and that's why I'm really excited about this record," he adds. The album bears 11 tracks described as "funky, soulful, laidback, and full of hooks" — as can be seen in singles like "Float Away," "Each Night" featuring Mazy, and "Back To Life" with Panama. According to the same statement, "the production marks a return to his live music roots and finds ease in simple and radiant layers of sound, even as it comes face-to-face with the complex reality of one's dreams come true."
Blame It All On Love is the follow-up to 2020 and 2021's duo Low Season and High Season. Poolside is on tour across the U.S. until Oct. 14.
Black Pumas - Chronicles of a Diamond
Release date: Oct. 27
Black Pumas' long-awaited second studio album, Chronicles of a Diamond, is "wilder and weirder" than its predecessor, according to an official statement. It is also the Austin-based duo's "fullest expression" of "frenetic creativity and limitless vision."
The album contains 10 tracks that expand on their trademark psychedelic soul sounds, as it can be seen in singles "More Than a Love Song" and "Mrs. Postman." "I wanted to make something we'd be thrilled to play live 200 days a year," says singer/songwriter Eric Burton in the same statement. "I wanted to be able to laugh, cry, bob my head, do the thing: it was all very much a selfish endeavor."
After the release, the Black Pumas will embark on a U.S. tour starting Dec. 4 in Austin, Texas, and follow into an European tour starting March 15 in Paris.
Taylor Swift - 1989 (Taylor's Version)
Release date: Oct. 27
Just three months after the release of Speak Now (Taylor's Version), Swifties will be treated to the singer's fourth re-recorded album this month: 2014's 1989. "To be perfectly honest, this is my most FAVORITE re-record I've ever done because the five From The Vault tracks are so insane," she revealed over social media.
As usual with Swift, the announcement of the album was marked by a slew of hints, starting with the news' date — Aug. 9, or 8/9 — during the final U.S. stop of her Eras Tour at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium. On that day, she also debuted new, blue outfits that alluded to 1989's assigned color. Afterwards, the discovery continued through a partnership with Google Search for fans to solve word puzzles in order to discover the titles of the five "From the Vault" tracks.
The album, which Swift said "changed my life in countless ways" will be available in digital, cassette, CD, and vinyl. She will also release deluxe versions in four different colors: crystal skies blue, rose garden pink, aquamarine green, and sunrise boulevard yellow.
New Music Friday: Listen To New Music From Jungkook & Jack Harlow, PinkPantheress, *NSYNC And More
As September comes to a close, listen to these new songs, albums and collaborations from Ed Sheeran, Lil Wayne and more.
As we close out the month, this New Music Friday has loads of fresh beginnings and highly anticipated reunions.
Two nostalgic releases arrived as well, with Lil Wayne's new album Tha Fix Before Tha Vi continuing his "Tha Carter" series, while *NSYNC fans were treated to the boy band's first new song in 20 years with "Better Place."
Dive into these seven new releases that blend the old generation with the new.
Jungkook ft. Jack Harlow — "3D"
BTS singer Jungkook takes us through a nostalgic journey with "3D," a song reminiscent of an early 2000s boy band hit. The hypnotizing lyrics illustrate his close connection to someone he can't reach, so he'll watch them in 3D.
"So if you're ready (So if you're ready)/ And if you'll let me (And if you'll let me)/ I wanna see it in motion/ In 3D (Uh-uh)," he sings in the chorus.
Jack Harlow pops in, dropping a few verses boasting about his global attraction with women. "Mr. First Class" claims he can "fly you from Korea to Kentucky," as he closes out the song.
Rolling Stones & Lady Gaga ft. Stevie Wonder — "Sweet Sounds of Heaven"
The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder blended their talents, to create a harmonic symphony of a song that lives up to its heavenly title. Seven minutes of gospel- and blues-inspired rhythms, enriched by Gaga and Mick Jagger's distinct riffs, make this collaboration an immersive experience. Stevie Wonder grounds the track with his command of piano and melodic tempo.
The track is the second peek of the Rolling Stones' upcoming album, Hackney Diamonds, their first LP release in 18 years; their first release, "Angry," arrived Sept. 6. With production from GRAMMY-winning Andrew Watt, the soulful essence makes "Sweet Sounds of Heaven" an exciting taste of the long-overdue album.
*NSYNC — "Better Place"
Yes, you read correctly. After two decades and a recent reunion at the 2023 MTV Video Music awards, <em>NSYNC is back with a new single, "Better Place," appearing in the new animated Trolls* movie (due Nov. 17). With a nostalgic dance-pop beat, familiar production and breezy lyrics, this single is a remarkable comeback.
"Just let me take you to a better place/ I'm gonna make you kiss the sky tonight," they sing in the chorus.
The reunion was first teased Sept. 14, through a video of the group's emotional studio session, as Justin Timberlake shared on Instagram. "When the stars align… got my brothers back together in the studio to work on something fun and the energy was special," he wrote in the post.
PinkPantheress — "Mosquito"
Dive into this musical daydream as PinkPantheress serenades us on her new single, "Mosquito," a dreamy, lucid song reminiscent of old-school R&B. After recently hopping on the energetic remix of Troye Sivan's "Rush" and teaming up with Destroy Lonely on "Turn Your Phone Off," PinkPantheress is transporting us through a new era, full of charm and surprises.
"Cause I just had a dream I was dead/ And I only cared 'cause I was taken from you/ You're the only thing that I own/ I hear my bell ring, I'd only answer for you," she sings in the chorus.
Co-crafted by GRAMMY-winning producer Greg Kurstin, this song is a transcending, surreal experience. This single isn't about romance, instead she takes us through her entanglements with treasures and money. That's further portrayed in the lavish video, which features a European shopping spree starring "Bridgerton" stars Charithra Chandran, India Amarteifio and "Grown-ish" star Yara Shahidi.
Ed Sheeran — Autumn Variations
The era of mathematical-themed albums seems to be over, as Ed Sheeran has entered a new chapter with Autumn Variations, his second project this year. Sheeran is singing from his heart, sharing soulful tales from emotional events in his life including the death of his dearest friend Jamal Edwards and his wife's health challenges during pregnancy — an extension of the stories he told with May's Subtract.
Autumn Variations is very raw, stripped down and authentic as he takes us through his personal journey. Amidst this, Sheeran still brings in some buzzing tracks including catchy songs like "American Town," "Paper Bag" and "Amazing."
Lil Wayne — Tha Fix Before Tha Vi
Lil Wayne celebrated his 41st birthday with a special present to his fans: the release of a new album two days later. The alluring 10-track project,"Tha Fix Before Tha Vi" dives into past vibes with songs like "Tity Boi," a reference to 2 Chainz's initial stage name, which may be a reference to the upcoming joint album between the two. Each song has a different feel including "Tuxedo," which features a more punk-rock melody and "Chanel No.5 ft. Foushee," which features a sensational beat.
His first album since 2020, Tha Fix Before Tha Vi features rather unexpected collaborators, including Jon Batiste, Fousheé and euro. With different sounds and features than past projects, we could possibly be entering a new Weezy era.
Thomas Rhett & Morgan Wallen — "Mamaw's House"
Country superstars Morgan Wallen and Thomas Rhett unite for "Mamaw's House," a country-folk track relishing the memories of their grandparents' home and cozy fireplace tales.
"It's where I spent my summers and she put me to work/ Shellin' peas and shuckin' corn until my fingers hurt/ No tellin' who I'da been without Mamaw's house," Rhett sings in the second verse.
Rhett said the duo decided to write about their small-town culture — Rhett is from Valdosta, Georgia, while Wallen hails from Sneedville, Tennessee — and the significant presence of grandparents brought to their upbringings.
"This song just kind of brings up how our mamaws used to act when we were little kids," Rhett told Audacy.. "It's an ode to all the grandmas out there."
Photo: Renato Rimach
Positive Vibes Only: AMEN Music Offers Up A Spiritual Home In A Joyful Performance Of "Holy Ghost"
Dante Bowe-led worship collective AMEN Music preaches about the power of the holy spirit on their new song "Holy Ghost."
AMEN Music are ready to worship on their new song "Holy Ghost." Against a backdrop of hundreds of lit candles, the contemporary Christian act leads a crowd in singing the praises of the holy spirit in this special performance for Positive Vibes Only.
"Our teacher, my keeper, my all and all/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Sticks closer than a brother and he won't let go/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ Completes us and fills us to overflow/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost/ He endows us with power, now the world will know/ Thank God for the Holy Ghost," founder Dante Bowe preaches as he encourages the audience to raise their hands in the air and sing along.
Led by Bowe, the worship collective recently released their debut album, In the Light, featuring 13 rapturous live performances including "Hero," "Come As You Are," "Beautiful (Spontaneous)" and "Jesus We Love You" in addition to "Holy Ghost."
Prior to founding AMEN Music, Bowe snagged six GRAMMY nominations at the 2022 ceremony, including three separate nods in the Best Gospel Song/Performance category. (His own songs "Voice of God" featuring Steffany Gretzinger and Chandler Moore and "Joyful" earned the singer his first two nods, while co-writing Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's "Wait on You" scored him a third.)
Ultimately, he won his first GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album as a writer on Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's collaborative record Old Church Basement. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a seventh time — this time for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song as a guest artist and co-writer on Crowder's "God Really Loves Us."
Press play on the video above to watch AMEN Music's jubilant performance of "Holy Ghost" and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Positive Vibes only.