Listen Up

A dreamy tune from Girlpool, Yoko Ono's new take on "Imagine," genre-spanning Phony Ppl and more in this week's musical round-up

Phony Ppl: somethinG about your love.

From their new album mō’zā-ik. (available to stream in its entirety on NPR today), Phony Ppl‘s “somethinG about your love.” is a sunny tune that—like all of the BK-based band’s music—bounces between several genres. The entire album spans neo-soul, hip-hop, funk, bossa nova, pop and just about everything between, in a delightfully satisfying and infectious manner. While the five-piece has gone through a few line-up changes since 2015’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow, the music remains unfettered and playful without feeling hollow.

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Nu-disco, ominous psych-rock, a bilingual bop and more in our weekly musical wrap-up

Holy Ghost!: Anxious

Holy Ghost! (aka Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel) has been making synthpop, nu-disco bops for a solid decade and after two years of no new music, the duo has just released a new tune. For their new track “Anxious,” they’ve worked with pioneering disco label West End Records. The tune is a flawlessly produced, almost-five-minute disco jam—with soaring, dramatic synths and a wildly satisfying, juicy bass line. Even better, a portion of all sales of the record (available for pre-order online) will be donated to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and LifeBeat.

Yaeji: One More

Super-talented singer/songwriter/DJ/producer Yaeji (aka Kathy Yaeji Lee) has released yet another hypnotic track that blends classic 4×4 house with pop sensibilities. “One More” is a lush, layered song with Korean and English lyrics that are part spoken, part sung and part whispered. Yaeji keeps her listeners beguiled from beginning to end. Yaeji is currently touring the USA and Canada, and will head to Australia in December.

Sharon Van Etten: Comeback Kid

Sharon Van Etten returns with a big, uptempo track, “Comeback Kid.” The song accompanies the news of a January 2019 album, which follows in the wake of 2014’s acclaimed Are We There, various musical projects and a sublime performance on David Lynch‘s recent Twin Peaks revival. There’s something unexpected pulsing within, rattling to get out with the boldness and beauty Van Etten always delivers.

Elvyn Rhud: Orange is For Love

From their 7-inch split with label-mate Alpha Du Centaure, Elvyn Rhud‘s “Orange is For Love” could be from the soundtrack of a forthcoming Spaghetti Western if the cast were all French… and tripping on LSD. Or, that’s at least how it sounds. French duo Cassandre Arpin and Léo Puy comprise Elvyn Rhud and they’ve once again delivered something psychedelic and timeless.

Thom Yorke: Has Ended

“Has Ended” is the second single from Thom Yorke‘s soundtrack for Luca Guadagnino‘s remake of Dario Argento’s 1997 horror Suspiria. The psychedelic tune slowly and ominously creeps along, as Yorke calls out over the minimal piano, sitar and percussion. “The witches all were singing / and the water turned grey / and the mirrors and the phones / caught flame, caught flame,” he sings. “Has Ended” will appear on the soundtrack’s double LP—set for release 26 October on XL Recordings.

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Fast-paced dance, reflective hip-hop, a sublime rework and more in our weekly musical wrap-up

Empress Of: Love For Me

Empress Of (aka Lorely Rodriguez) is preparing to release her second full-length album Us—the follow-up to 2015’s Me—and has just dropped the super-catchy “Love For Me.” The track, co-produced by the duo DJDS (Jerome Potter and Sam Griesemer), is sweet and dreamy. And, like most Empress Of tunes, it’s infectious—warranting repeat listens. Her new album will be out 19 October on Terrible Records.

MØ: Imaginary Friend

Ahead of her sophomore album Forever Neverland (out 19 October on Columbia Records), singer/songwriter (and frequent Major Lazer and Cashmere Cat collaborator)  released a fast-paced single titled “Imaginary Friend.” The track, produced by Illangelo, is sure-fire proof that MØ can turn any track into a solidified, unique dance tune. Her voice, at times more an instrument than an accompaniment, resonates emotionally and seems more irreplaceable than most electro-vocalists. On this one she sings, “Just watch me / watch me with your hands / let my body be your brail / I’ll be your imaginary friend,” while the sounds of a harp, a ticking clock and rhythmic bass embody the background.

Brockhampton: Tonya

Brockhampton, a multi-member rap group forged from the chatroom of a Kanye West fan site, just released their major label debut, Iridescence. After dropping a string of album-like mixtapes, this work comes amidst a turning point. Their most outward-facing member was dropped amidst abuse allegations; they signed to RCA Records; they battled with promising to hopeful fans about whether an album on a major label could carry the same youthful, and at times rootless, energy that their early releases did; they grappled with the fact that with the departure of their (arguably) most talented member, sonic space needed to be filled. “Tonya,” the second-to-last track on the album is a wonderfully woeful, piano-backed track about regret, self-worth and letting down those closest to you. In the first minute of the track, a direct reference to the tale of Tonya Harding, group member bearface raps: “There’s no money on my mind, but my money or my mind, what’s the first to fall?”

St Vincent: Slow Slow Disco

Stripping away all the original synths to effortlessly morph her track into a piano-led ballad, St Vincent has offered up yet another version of her glorious “Slow Disco.” The song—from 2017’s MASSEDUCATION—has been renamed “Slow Slow Disco” and it’s a seductively melancholic take. St Vincent (aka Annie Clark) says, of her rework, “Songs are living things. They grow, they evolve, they change their moods and personalities over time.”

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A delicate tune, "tiny desk" concert, bass-line heavy bop and more new music this week

Dahlia Sleeps: Storm

Dahlia Sleeps, a London-based four-piece band, shared the first single, “Storm,” off their Love, Lost EP set to be released later this year on Beatnik Creative. The single, anchored by lead singer Lucy Hill’s delicate vocals, sounds like poetry—echoing lines and heavy strings make this one last well beyond its closing notes. “I know I’m not your only one,” she calls, “but I want to be the one you keep.” It’s less pleading than it is self-reflection—like a journal entry for only her to recount. The song is beautiful, boundless and bold (in its admissions).

Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest entrant Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers rose to internet stardom with the viral performance of their jubilant, spoken-word-like track “Peach Scone.” The music from the five-piece act, which was selected to be featured on NPR, is both kindhearted and youthful, but no line is lost in any one of their tracks. They weave clever connections between Romeo and Juliet and the unfortunately high divorce rate, biblical references, loud calls pleading for happy endings and recollections of lost love that pack punches resonating well beyond one humorous moment. Nothing is perfect here—but, nothing is wrong about it either. It’s raw, real and a welcome break from more serious songs discussing similar topics.

Jon Hopkins: Singularity

To begin with, Jon Hopkins’ track “Singularity,” which leads this year’s album of the same name, plunges listeners into a frenzy. It escalates, ensnaring and entwining emotions and human energy. And the just-released music video somehow matches it all. Directed by Sebastian Edwards, the visuals track a woman and man as they dance—or battle—through a dark, abandoned property. It’s pretty bonkers—like the song throbbing behind it.

jives: Your Reality

Tom Rose, known by his moniker jives, released the Strawberry Girl EP yesterday, 17 September, on More Creativity Records. A standout from the three track drop is “Your Reality.” It’s hypnotic—and a mysterious interlude divides the track, with the first half possessing an otherworldly delicacy and the latter functioning as a well of dark beats. The rhythm of the second portion is infectious and attention-grabbing—especially for a song with, aside from its two sentence interlude, no lyrics.

Maribou State feat. Holly Walker: Nervous Tics

English electronic duo Maribou State, comprised of Chris Davids and Liam Ivory, enlist the help of London-based singer Holly Walker for “Nervous Tics.” It’s a single off the duo’s album Kingdoms in Colour which released 7 September on Counter Records. An accompanying video for the steady, sultry tune is a technicolor loop of nervous tics—though, most of them appear as dance moves, carrying a diverse cast of characters up and down, along with the song’s riffing bass line. The video, directed by Hugo Jenkins, gives the standout an even stronger push post-release.

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Noname's sublime debut album, a badass Kelela remix, otherworldly new music by Erika Spring and more

Noname: Room 25

After her wildly impressive 2016 mixtape Telefone, Chicago-based slam poet/rapper, Noname (aka Fatimah Warner) has released her highly anticipated debut LP, Room 25and it’s everything we’ve been hoping for. The record (which Warner funded and released independently) feels effortlessly laid-back as it bounces from intimate and evocative, to minimal to infectious, groovy, seductive and soulful. Her flow is polished yet nuanced, and the entire album is quite mesmerizing—from the first few seconds onward.

Kelela feat. Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, Cupcakke and Ms. Boogie: LMK

Kelela‘s sublime 2017 album Take Me Apart is getting a full remix version—out 5 October on Warp Records—and from it comes quite the star-studded update on “LMK.” The new version, titled “LMK_WHAT’S REALLY GOOD REMIX,” features the likes of Princess NokiaJunglepussy, Cupcakke and Ms. Boogie, and builds in its smooth fierceness with each moment. Concurrently divine and nasty, this remix is wildly infectious.

How To Dress Well: Nonkilling 6 | Hunger

A pulsing collaboration between How To Dress Well‘s Tom Krell, visual artist Justin Daashuur Hopkins and Hopkins’ art collective NOH/WAVE, the just-released video for “Nonkilling 6 | Hunger” offers an intimate, amorphous depiction of the singer/songwriter/producer. The track will appear on the next How To Dress Well album, The Anteroom, out 19 October. It’s Krell’s fifth studio album under the moniker and he describes it to Pitchfork as “a passage into a void of pain in which no human scream can be heard, that will decompose your body in an instant.” The video and track certainly attest to this.

The Ting Tings: Blacklight

It’s been more than a decade since The Ting Tings burst forth from Manchester with powerful, direct and simply lovable pop-rock. Ahead of their fourth studio album, The Black Light, the band has released new single “Blacklight” and it’s got all the makings of a dance-floor hit. It may come across as darker than their previous offerings, but it still gets the body moving.

LCD Soundsystem: I Want Your Love (Chic Cover)

For Spotify’s Singles, LCD Soundsystem has covered a disco classic: Chic’s “I Want Your Love,” and (unsurprisingly) the results are delightful. Blending the song with their own “Home” (from 2010’s This Is Happening), the rendition is faithful to the original yet unmistakable as the NYC outfit’s take on the tune. Disco meets a new wave, post-punk vibe in a seamless manner here.

Erika Spring: Scars

From a forthcoming five-track EP of the same name, “Scars” acts as a reminder that Erika Spring (of Au Revoir Simone) knows how to cast an emotional spell and transfix with otherworldly beauty. Co-written and produced by Dap-Kings’ Homer Steinweiss, the lead single addresses Spring’s grief over an early miscarriage. Sadness emanates from the piano-driven track, but there’s power here, too.

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