Weekend Replay: Union J, The Vamps, Amy Shark, and Twenty One Pilots

Union J have had their ups and downs over the last few years. Back in 2016, founding member George Shelley announced his departure from the band, leaving the band with three members. Union J replaced him with Casey Johnson, formerly of Stereo Kicks, but Johnson left less than a year later. Now, they’re back as a three-piece and have released their first single since 2014, titled “Alive.” Opening with understated piano chords and quickly building into a slick chorus with tight harmonies, it’s actually kind of similar to the Backstreet Boys’s latest release. If this is the new formula the boy bands of the ’10s are following, it’s working.

Australian singer-songwriter Amy Shark released her debut album last Friday. She may be relatively little-known outside of Australia, but fans of the movie Love, Simon might recognize her from the film’s soundtrack. And her collaboration with Mark Hoppus, “Psycho” is nothing to sniff at, either. But of all the new tracks on her album, titled Love Monster, “I’m a Liar” is a standout for the simplicity. Where the majority of the album is colored with the sounds of the modern pop landscape, this track feels more stripped back and intimate. And Shark’s voice, layered over itself, feels anthemic, like it could fill any size room whether it’s a basement venue or an arena. She’ll be one to watch in the coming years.

And to round out the Weekend Replay, Twenty One Pilots burst back onto the music scene this past week. Following the success of 2015’s Blurryface (which spawned radio like “Stressed Out” and “Ride“) and “Heathens,” which featured on the Suicide Squad soundtrack, the duo took a few years away to craft their new album. Last week they dropped two new songs, as well as an album release date of October 5. “Jumpsuit” is a driving piece of alt-rock, while “Nico And The Niners” sees a combination of rapping and singing over a psychedelic beat.

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