If you want to catch up on the best new music releases this spring, look no further than our New Music Emerging Now: Spring Fever playlists. As always, this past season has unlimited music to discover from your favorite indie, pop, singer-songwriter, and alternative artists. Strong album releases came this month from Ed Sheeran, The National, and Joy Oladokun. Hot new spring singles included drops from Babe Rainbow, The Japanese House, Anderson Hao, and Diving at Dawn. Take a deep dive into our New Music Spring playlists below as the holiday weekend kicks off into summer.
New Music Emerging Now // Spring Albums & EPs
Ed Sheeran--Subtract // Singer-songwriter
Ed Sheeran shares an emotional diary of personal turmoil in relationships and professional life on -Subtract. The preliminary concept of Subtract was always acoustic and stripped down, but recent events in his private life tragically lined up with the theme. Sheeran sought instrumentals from Aaron Dessner of The National to channel some of Subtract’s more profound, intimate moments. Sheeran processes the loss of best friend Jamal Edwards and touches on grief, depression, and uncertainty. He pens his deepest, darkest songs with “Salt Water,” “Sycamore,” and “Borderline.” “Life Goes On” relates to grieving the loss of his friend while the world spins on with the daily grind.
In contrast, “Dusty” is the perfect parent-child track about listening to records and being carefree in a moment of childhood innocence. The song is squeezed between heavier tracks, bringing sunshine as Sheeran recounts a shared morning ritual with his oldest daughter. Subtract lulls to a close with a Celtic-inspired tune, “The Hills of Aberfeldy,” written with Foy Vance, to give a solemn and yearning end to a primarily heartbreaking album.
Joy Oladokun-Proof of Life // Singer-songwriter/Folk
Joy Oladokun delivers Proof of Life, a stepping-out for the upcoming artist. The album sends an uplifting message to those going through “Changes,” trying to remain hopeful and working on self-improvement. Standout tracks that convey the message of the album include “Taking Things For Granted,” “Somebody Like Me,” and “Trying.” On these tracks, Oladokun longs for acceptance and understanding while challenging herself to be unbothered by opinions.
The range of artists on this album flaunts Oladokun’s genre-crossing flair. The Nashville-local singer is opening for Noah Kahan on his headlining tour, who is featured on “We’re All Gonna Die.” Other emotive collaborations on Proof of Life feature Mt. Joy, Chris Stapleton, Manchester Orchestra, and Maxo Kream. “Sweet Symphony” ft. Chris Stapleton accentuates the soulfulness of the two artists’ voices. Proof of Life is soul-searching, eloquent, and introspective, often sounding like pages of a musical diary.
The National-First Two Pages of Frankenstein // Alternative
Excerpt by Kate Freeman–@what.kate.listens.to
The National’s most recent LP almost didn’t happen. Twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner crafted their signature undulating instrumental pieces, while lead singer Matt Berninger struggled to pen lyrics due to depression and writer’s block. Thankfully, two things helped spark Berninger’s return to form: his wife and lyric collaborator Carin Besser using the phrase “your mind is not your friend;” and picking up a copy of Frankenstein from the bookshelf. The lonely, desolate setting of the book’s opening felt relatable at the time. It was an appropriate starting point for the characteristically melancholy band’s ninth album.
First Two Pages of Frankenstein sees The National shed their earlier angular guitar sounds and harshness in favor of more delicate tracks, perfect for their vulnerable yet wry lyrics. The album is arguably their heaviest emotionally, but to counteract this, it is also their shortest in over ten years. In the standout lead single, “Tropic Morning News,” Berninger proclaims, “There’s nothing stopping me now from saying all of the painful parts out loud.”
The album features three collabs that are any indie fan’s dream – Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift. The most notable, “The Alcott” with Swift, earns her a writing credit and gives fans another heart-wrenching duet following “Coney Island” from evermore.
Frankenstein is relatable yet elusive, with glimpses of joy between waves of sorrow. Perhaps the exception is closer “Send For Me,” where Berninger stops looking inward and offers sincere kindness—a hopeful close to the album and the beginning of a new chapter for our favorite sad dad band.
New Music Emerging Now // Spring Discoveries
Anderson Hao “GET a GRIP” // Acoustic/Pop
Anderson Hao is gearing up to release her debut EP featuring recent singles “GET a GRIP” (ft. Lance Redeker) and “SECOND RATE.” The artist’s soft vocals and poignant lyrics are similar to the style of beabadoobee, Gracie Abrams, or Olivia Rodrigo. Hao’s simplistic tone on “GET a GRIP” instantly lures listeners with, “You’ve got your guard up, I’ve got this nagging feeling, so I hide my neck for two weeks.” The track weaves in subtle elements as Lance’s voice accentuates but never overpowers Anderson’s. It culminates to a sonic height with the duality of vocals and instrumentation at the end. Anderson’s knack for candid and straightforward songwriting radiates in every song she has released. Be on the lookout for her EP, What a Hard Winter, on May 31st.
Babe Rainbow “Super Ego” // Psych-pop
Australian band Babe Rainbow recently took the stage at Shaky Knees Fest in Atlanta with their newest single, “Super Ego.” The four-piece band is known for their signature throwback sounds, which dominate “Super Ego” as the stellar production drifts listeners into a daze. “Super Ego” brings all the psychedelic vibes similar to a 60’s chill jam. One line even brings to mind Steve Miller Band’s iconic “Fly Like An Eagle” as the vocals soar over “and we were looking back through your computer.” Stay tuned for their upcoming EP, Fresh As A Head of Lettuce, set for release on June 16th.
Christian James, Laith, & Annalee Beck “Useless” // Alternative
Raleigh artist Christian James drops a collab track with Annalee Beck and local NC producer Laith. The upbeat style and carefree production are juxtaposed with the melancholy lyrics of being “Useless.” “Useless” embodies waves of ocean tides in the introduction, seemingly washing away spring and kicking off summer. “Nothing sounds right / I was slow dancing on the white rug, spillin’ wine / I love the fact that I am useless,” Christian repeats each word perfectly on the beat.
Diving at Dawn “Playing Your Records” // Alternative
Diving at Dawn, the solo project of Pete Hobbs from The Boy Least Likely To, goes on a sentimental flashback of experiencing music on vinyl for the first time. Hobbs paints a vivid image of exploring his father’s record collection as a kid and creating a core memory of spinning vinyl. This track is a must-hear for any record collector who loves the crackle of an old LP. “Playing Your Records” has similar vocals to Beck on “Stratosphere” and a melange of music Hobbs grew up listening to (Pink Floyd, George Harrison, Wings). Some songs were meant to be pressed on vinyl, and this one emulates that exact notion.
Dylan Kelley “Wherever You Are” // Country
Breakup songs have existed for ages but always seem vindictive, overly emotional, or often cliché. Dylan Kelley’s new single “Wherever You Are” is an ode to an ex, wishing them well in whatever journey they pursue after the relationship ends. Dylan’s storytelling on this track is spot on and sends the message softly but clearly in the most endearing way. Country music fans will want to put “Wherever You Are” on repeat and, for once, look back fondly on an old flame.
The Japanese House, solo artist Amber Bain of Dirty Hit, returns with sensational singles “Sad to Breathe” and “Sunshine Baby.” The debut single, “Boyhood,” from her upcoming album, In the End It Always Does, marked her first release since 2020. “Sad to Breathe” is an acoustic, more stripped-back style single that accentuates her pure vocals. The lyrics cut deep on processing the end of a relationship, “I go to bed, and I’m cryin, ’cause it’s sad to breathe the air when you’re not there.” George Daniel, drummer of The 1975, adds his magic to the production with the signature chimes of piano similar to The Birthday Party or The Man Who Married a Robot.
“Sunshine Baby” captures the bittersweet qualities of a relationship when you don’t want a good thing to end. “Putting off the end, ’cause in the end it always does,” is contrasted by “sitting in the backseat, driving with my sunshine baby.” Amber’s voice and diction on this track embody her feelings. Matty Healy’s backing vocals and a smooth sax solo brighten up the song like a warm spring day. In the End It Always Does is set for release on June 30th.
Lost Hearts “Night to Remember” // Rock
Lost Hearts brings pop-rock back to the forefront of the country-dominated city of Nashville. “Night to Remember” is a classic, catchy, live anthem. The lyrics on this single give listeners a glimpse of the mid-2000s. The simple concept of pining for someone that you can’t have rings out in a universal and memorable chorus. Lost Hearts have what it takes to command a stage and be the next big addition to rock tours around the US.
As May nears a close, we are still playing catch-up with new music this spring. Discover everything you see here and more on our New Music Emerging Now // Spring Fever playlists.