Now Hear This is a daily dive into the standout songs of the day. Today: if it seems like new music has come to a standstill, PR companies clocking out early for the holidays, you're mostly right. We scraped together the best of what we could find. And, hey, only 50% is Christmas music.
Nine Inch Nails, "Burning Bright (Field On Fire)"
For NIN fans, this must be like discovering that Christmas gift you thought there was no way Santa could actually deliver. On Friday, there will be a new Nine Inch Nails EP. Like that one special present you got to open on Christmas eve, "Burning Bright (Field On Fire)" is an early sample. Trent is back behind his lectern, but the tune sounds different: larger, freer form, dooming like a storm cloud.
Nine Inch Nail's Not Actual Events is out December 23. Pre-order here.
Speedy Ortiz bandleader Sadie Dupuis has left us a little something under the tree every Christmas. Last year, it was "a depressing xmas song" about Krampus. This year, Sad13, her popstar alter-ego, has a jingle about returning to your hometown on the holidays and arguing alt-right politics with your extended family over the dinner table. It gives a new meaning to "White Christmas."
Chance The Rapper and Jeremih, Merry Christmas Lil' Mama
Of course the world's most likable artist got you something for Christmas — handmade from his hometown, too. Merry Christmas Lil' Mama sees Chancellor Bennett and Jeremih team up to talk about love and good times and the holidays (and, because he makes it explicit, the birth of Jesus) and bring out some friends to make merry. It's like some Chicago version of The Muppet Family Christmas with Hannibal Buress instead of the Fraggles. There really is no place like home for the holidays.
Grouper, "I'm Clean Now"
On the winter solstice, when night most fully overtakes day, Liz Harris unveiled a surprise 7" called Paradise Valley and shared its b-side. "I'm Clean Now" is an atmospheric guitar and voice composition, graceful, soft and serene like falling snow.