Just when it seemed like artists were adjusting to the world's new normal with Instagram Live sets, the industry kept receiving unsettling news. Though music streams were down 7.6 percent in March, it didn't stop a crop of new releases from heading our way. Instead, it brought our favorite artists out of hiding, halting eight-year hiatuses from artists like Fiona Apple. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and even The-Dream opened his vault for songs that were nearly a decade old. If anything, quarantine is teaching us that music doesn't have to move at high-speed. Sometimes, it's better when we have to wait.
Fiona Apple, "Cosmonauts"
Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters—her first album since 2012—is the first full-length that feels like a must-listen event in the wake of coronavirus, and its universal acclaim is deserved. While any of the LP's meticulously constructed, resonant songs could make a case as a standout, it's the masterful and jaw-dropping "Cosmonauts" that demands repeat listens. Apple told Vulture the song was originally recorded for Judd Apatow's This Is 40, but it wasn't used. Here she sings of the weight of a long term relationship with lines like, "'Cause you and I will be like a couple of cosmonauts / Except with way more gravity than when we started off."Throughout, every note explodes with vibrant color. —Josh Terry
Bia, "COVER GIRL"
Money is best spent when it's not yours, and Bia doesn't waste three minutes trying to tell you otherwise. Off the heels of her fiery feature on Russ' "Best on Earth," "COVER GIRL" is an arrogant declaration of her expectations: can you afford to waste her time? The Boston native even offers up some sage financial advice. "I'ma spend his money, I'ma save mine," she raps drowsily. "COVER GIRL" is a dissertation on the expensive life, one Bia doesn't plan on footing the bill. — Kristin Corry
Bosq, "Wake Up"
When VICE interviewed Bosq last year, the Medellin, Colombia-based DJ and producer was releasing rave-up collaborations with afro-funk mainstay and Super Yamba Band frontman Kaleta. Now the pair are back with an equally danceable and groove-heavy track in "Wake Up." Part of a just-released four song EP, the continent-spanning and horn-led track was recorded between Medellin, Bogotá, and Brooklyn. In a normal time, the song would be the perfect fodder for an outdoor, summertime dance party, but it's undeniably danceable enough to work in the comfort of your own apartment. —JT
Diana Gordon, "Once A Friend"
"Tell me is it always gonna be sad now," Diana Gordon asks in "Once a Friend," an angsty opener that feels primed for a teen drama. Playing this during Cruel Intentions' final scene could work just as well The Verve's 1997 "Bittersweet Symphony," except Gordon's delivery is less sour. "'Cause I'm doing so good living in this pop star heaven / And if I see you again, it would only bring me down," she sings. Although she's singing goodbye, Gordon doesn't take pleasure in wallowing. She's happier on the other side. — KC
Westside Gunn featuring Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, "George Bondo"
From his latest album, Pray for Paris, this track features Westside Gunn rapping with labelmates, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, on a beat provided by Daringer and Beat Butcha. For longtime listeners, It's nice to hear the Buffalo rappers boast about the trappings of their new success, from the Roc Nation brunches, to the Eminem feature, to promises of getting you "whacked at The Venetian for blasphemous speaking." There's also a good reminder to stay off social media and remain productive, as Benny the Butcher asks, "Are you rapping or tweeting?" —Ashwin Rodrigues
DVSN, "Keep It Going"
Canadian duo DVSN knows a thing or two about R&B, but A Muse in Her Feelings proves that they have a bevy of talents in their wheelhouse. The album is an emotional rollercoaster. At the start, singer Daniel Daley is sensitive and brooding, before transitioning into a flirtatious dancehall midsection. "Keep It Going," a phenomenal marriage of Baltimore club music and New Orleans bounce, does a good job at distracting you from what Daley is actually saying. "Why can't you stay in the moment? I can't lose my mind trying to read somebody else's," he sings. It's like having an entire argument happening before us on the dancefloor and we don't even realize it. — KC
Thundercat, "Dragonball Durag"
Much like 2017's Drunk, his breakthrough record following two apocalypse-themed others for Brainfeeder, It Is What It Is has a sui generis quality to it, a work of deft technical performance with all the winking insularity of an Adult Swim show. A groovy melange of anime, frazzled male sexuality, and copious amounts of cat hair, "Dragonball Durag" exudes his essence with unapologetic sincerity. On the similarly freeform Mile High Club come-on "Overseas," off-kilter Internet humorist Zack Fox chimes in as a flight attendant with an eye for "sloppy toppy." — Gary Suarez
Fledgling Chicago band Stuck make ferocious indie rock that's endlessly listenable. On their debut Change Is Bad, the four-piece rips through 10 searing tracks full of shrieking guitars, pummeling bass, and frontman Greg Obis' emotive barks. The best of the bunch is "Era," an efficient and blistering burst of aggressiveness. Over a clanging riff, Obis intones, "This is a traumatic time / in a chaotic era," which, no shit, man. Stuck, like many of the city's energetic indie rock acts before it like The Hecks, Deeper, and Melkbelly are carving their own path in the crowded field. —JT
Ashton Travis, "CASINO"
It might be a while before vacations are back in our vocabulary, but Ashton Travis' latest single about a night in Las Vegas is the escapism we are desperately craving. "CASINO" has all the drippings of the beginning of night from The Hangover, filled with hands of blackjack, liquor, and a late-night rendezvous. Caesar Palace might be closed, but thanks to Travis' melodic delivery, we're there right now. — KC
Tasha, "But There's Still the Moon"
There's always been a calming and rejuvenating energy to Tasha's songs. The Chicago artist's voice is simultaneously sturdy and soothing, a perfect anchor for her sparse brand of indie rock. While her 2018 debut Alone At Last has still been on regular rotation these past couple of months, her latest new single "But There's Still the Moon" showcases a fuller, more confident sound. On the track, her voice soars, and lines like, "Inside hiding / it’s okay, don’t want to be seen / But there’s still the moon / and I still really love the color blue" feel especially resonant. —JT
Kiana Ledé featuring Ari Lennox, "Chocolate"
Collaborations between two rising R&B female vocalists are few and far in between, but Kiana Ledé and Ari Lennox coexist effortlessly on "Chocolate." The beachy track feels like a relic from the 70s, which adds texture to Ledé's debut album KIKI. Unable to describe her infatuation, Ledé leans on chocolate for an extremely relatable craving. The duet is like leaving your Hershey bar in the car on a hot day: sticky and unrestrained. — KC
DaBaby featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Ashanti, "NASTY"
If anyone could turn Ashanti's seemingly innocent 2002 hit "Baby" into a song fit to soundtrack porn, it would be Dababy and Megan Thee Stallion. Their chemistry was put on display on last year's "Cash Shit," and "NASTY" only ups the ante. Each bar's raunchiness precedes the last and by the end, you get the feeling that Megan and DaBaby enjoy pushing each other's boundaries. — KC
The-Dream, "Body Work" and "Fuck My Brains Out"
On SXTP4 this epic is split into two tracks, but real heads know that spiritually, "Body Work x Fuck My Brains Out" is one song, beat change and all. Originally released in 2011 as a 10-minute song slated to be on the never-released Love IV, it has all the trappings of a Dream classic: descriptions of illicit sex, Terius Nash's irresistible falsetto, and catchy lyrics you can't help but belt out but still make you kinda blush. That this song has finally made it on an album nearly a decade after it was introduced to the world and that listening to it doesn't require digging onto some obscure file-hosting site gives fans hope that more of Nash's promised music that never saw wide release might eventually see the light of day. — Leslie Horn