This week we get a shot of GIRL power on International Women's Day. Plus there's new music from an introspective MC, a return to glory for a California band, and a star-studded set from a French DJ. These are the highlights from this week's New Music Friday.
It starts with a statement. Maren Morris begins GIRL with the anthemic arena-sized title track, making the mission clear that there's no wavering or weakness on the way. Power is the point for all of GIRL, a confident collection of songs from an artist who has gained a massive amount of momentum and many new fans over the last year thanks to the crossover success of "The Middle." With the bright light of pop stardom bearing down on her, her second studio album could have gone a thousand different directions, but the Country star stands with the firm grip of control on GIRL by delivering mighty messages about the strength of self. Through all of her tales about love, lust, and living in your own lane, Morris never shrinks from the moment or apologizes for her unfettered accomplishment. In romance she is the aggressor, even in the sweetest of ways. Never an object or a victim, these grown woman songs smile in the satisfaction of their own power. GIRL has a little bit of everything, but it's always all Morris. She is commanding and captivating as a storyteller who refuses to let you write her description. - Michael Cerio
With one of the most anticipated sophomore albums in hip-hop history finally unleashed, Juice WRLD has begun drawing comparisons to some of rap’s untouchables. To be honest, it’s not too far off to think that if the 20-year-old continues on this hit-after-hit pace, he could one day stand among those hip-hop heavyweights. His story continues on Death Race for Love, an emotional ride through this young man’s mind. Rhymes flow brilliantly throughout the entire album, bringing Juice WRLD’s raw, sharp-tongued, emotional lyrics to life. Each track, including the recently released “Hear Me Calling” and “Robbery” may seem to just pick up where “Lucid Dreams” left off, but they really are more than just a continuation. Take the trippy track “10 Feet” or the hardened “ON GOD” with Young Thug for example. Both demonstrate a flow that is unique and diverse enough to start a legacy, bold like the last generation of icons. - Kyle McCann
It’s been more than three years since Buckcherry released an album, and that’s because frontman and lone original member Josh Todd was intentionally taking his time. "It was a long labor of love," Todd told Billboard recently. "We (he and guitarist Stevie D) were writing and rewriting. We knew the kind of record we had to make. At the end of the day it comes down to the songs.” The result on Warpaint – the Southern California hard rockers’ 8th LP – is the Buckcherry you’ve come to know and love, but with more attention to detail. There’s a heavy cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” that makes you realize Todd and Trent Reznor may share the same vocal chords. Buckcherry has also been known to slow it down from time to time and there are two ballads here, “Radio Song” and “The Hunger.” Overall the album is a good sign that the band that has survived numerous line-up changes since forming in 1995 is still starved for more. - Bob Diehl
Gesaffelstein is an enigma that’s perplexing new listeners with everything from how he pronounces his name to the plain black square that serves as an album cover for his brand new Hyperion. His latest album comes complete with heavy-hitting features from The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams, lending their vocals to help boost the French DJ into the mainstream. A nightmarish tone highlighted by organ chords in closer “Humanity Gone” returns to his roots as a soundtrack creator. Set and ready to serve as the backing track to a sci-fi film, the 10-track Hyperion weaves from Top 40 hits like “Lost in the Fire” to hauntingly hypnotic tracks that bend the mind. - Tiana Timmerberg