Happy Sunlighter Sunday! Festival lineups were the theme this week. Beyond that, we’re (still) in disbelief that Condé Nast consolidated Pitchfork into GQ. Pitchfork was an important pillar for indie artist coverage and against-the-grain music journalism (even if it was, at times, a detriment to their brand). They stuck to their guns, and at Sunlighter, we applaud their mettle and accomplishments in music media.
Rating Rationale: There’s nothing like another solid 30-minute album to kick off 2024. The Vaccines are back with their sixth studio album, and the British indie rock band is having a…pop moment? The energy and well-executed cohesion of sound make it the perfect soundtrack for a walk (or strut) through any big city. Our only critique would be sonic redundancy - more variety between tracks would’ve been a nice surprise. Nevertheless, our favorite tracks from this record are “Lunar Eclipse” and “Discount De Kooning (Last One Standing).”
Coachella and Governors Ball release 2024 lineups, NFL performances set
Undoubtedly, the biggest music news this week was the reveal of Coachella’s 2024 lineup. While Lana Del Rey, Tyler, the Creator, and Doja Cat were revealed as headliners, the music world was also graced with two surprise reunions: No Doubt (Gwen Stefani’s ska band) and Sublime. We see this year’s lineup as a heavy music discovery year with a continued focus on Latin and electronic music.
Governors Ball also released their 2024 lineup, featuring Post Malone, The Killers, and SZA as the headliners for the festival. Similar to Coachella, Gov Ball is expanding the presence of Latin music with artists like Rauw Alejandro, Peso Pluma, and Farruko.
Other festivals that released notable lineups this week include Hinterland and New Orleans Jazz Festival (this lineup is stacked!). Based on the current sample of festival lineups, we’re expecting these artists to be playing this year’s festival circuit through the fall: Vampire Weekend, Sabrina Carpenter, Reneé Rapp, Faye Webster, Tyla, Kevin Abstract, Bleachers, The Japanese House, and Chappell Roan.
Finally, with Super Bowl LVIII on the horizon, Post Malone, Andra Day, and Reba McEntire are set to kick off pre-game performances, while Gwen Stefani headlines the “TikTok Tailgate” pregame show. Usher will be performing the Apple Music Halftime Show.
New albums from Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker and Khruangbin, Cage the Elephant makes comeback
Adrianne Lenker, lead vocalist of Big Thief, will be dropping her sixth solo record, Bright Future in March. Houston trio, Khruangbin, is joining the album release party, announcing their upcoming album, A la Sala, which will arrive in April. Finally, Cage the Elephant makes their return to music, releasing their first song since 2019, “Neon Pill.”
FKA twigs will be releasing a techno-inspired album, Shygirl releasing new EP
After moving to Prague two years ago, FKA twigs has fallen in love with… techno. This year, she’s leaning into that newfound interest by releasing an album inspired by the spirit of electronic music. Separately, London-based artist-provocateur, Shygirl, will be releasing an EP that includes collaborations with SG Lewis, Empress Of, Boys Noize, and Lolo Zouaï.
Primer: Since the release of her debut album, The Baby, in 2020, you may have seen Samia on tour with Noah Kahan, Maggie Rogers, or Sylvan Esso; this summer, you can catch her supporting Bleachers’ From the Studio to the Stage Tour. Throughout her second studio album, Honey, she explores the emotional depths of toxic relationships; you can expect poignant, pitch-perfect vocals along with an authentically alternative production, contributed largely by North Carolina producer, Caleb Wright (Hippo Campus), and Rostam, former and founding member of Vampire Weekend.
Influences: Nirvana, Liz Phair, Lana Del Rey, The National, Ruston Kelly
Current Label: Grand Jury
Audience: ~563,600 monthly listeners on Spotify
What’s Next: Shortly before the new year, Samia shared, “more poems now, gonna put em somewhere,” teasing the potential for new music—a perfect opportunity for her sold-out performances at Red Rocks and The Ryman this spring. Until then, listen to our favorite tracks: “Is There Something in the Movies?” and “Charm You.”
🏎️ MBUX SOUND DRIVE: Revealed at CES 2024 last week, Mercedes-AMG recently launched a new technology, in partnership with will.i.am (?), allowing music to become more immersive and responsive based on driving dynamics. Sounds like a great driving experience, but… is it safe?
🗣️ AI Song: That’s the name of TikTok’s new AI generative lyrics feature, powered by Hugging Face’s large language model BLOOM, currently being tested by users on their platform.
💥 Breakthrough Artists: Amazon Music has unveiled a curated playlist of emerging UK artists to watch in 2024. Expect us to cover some of these artists throughout the year. Separately, Shazam has made its 2024 predictions of 50 emerging artists based on recent Shazam data.
♾️ Sync Licensing: With this feature now available on BandLab, user songs are now eligible to be used in TV, film, gaming platforms, and advertising.
🔱 Music Loses Pitchfork: Media publisher, Condé Nast, decided to (sadly) merge Pitchfork Media with GQ while downsizing the music editorial team - a big loss to constituents of the music industry and music media.
Upcoming Layoffs: Following reports of personnel reduction, Universal Music Group confirmed layoffs are coming, but the exact number of affected employees is still unknown. Separately, YouTube is reducing headcount by ~100 employees as it restructures its music and media teams.
💰 Securing the Bag: Adaptive AI sound company, Bronze, raised a $1.3 million pre-seed round led by Disclosure and Arca. Web3 superfan company, TRAX, raised a $2.9 million round to support their content aggregation platform geared towards artists. Danish startup, Artelize, raised €1 million to launch services supporting arts organizations and showcasing artists.
Lyrical Lemonade’s highly-anticipated compilation album will be released next week
📅 For upcoming albums, tours, and festivals access our comprehensive music calendar here.
⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week:
Lyrical Lemonade, All Is Yellow
The Smile, Wall of Eyes
Bad Gyal, LA JOIA
Kevin Gates, The Ceremony
Future Islands, People Who Aren’t There Anymore
Charlotte Sands, can we start over?
Benny the Butcher, EVERYBODY CAN’T GO
The Merch Table
🧢 Alter Ego Activated: Drake is dropping a new hat on Monday in collaboration with Stake, sporting his alter ego, “Anita Max Wynn,” hilariously translated from “I need a max win.”
⌚️ Just In Time: To commemorate their 15-year partnership, Rolex released a new edition of their Vienna Philharmonic Oyster Perpetual watch.
🌵 Sweatchella: Don’t be a Coachella newb and forget your sweats because yes, the desert is freezing at night.
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