Listen Up

Acoustic, atmospheric, indie and more in this week's releases

Julia Holter: Words I Heard

With “Words I Heard,” Julia Holter embarks upon an almost seven-minute-long vocal stroll through a landscape of strings. Even as the lyrics beg for salvation, the song’s dark depths yield beauty. All of this is emphasized through the Dicky Bahto-directed music video–a montage of dizzying switches between forest scenes and live performances. The track will appear on Aviary, out 26 October on Domino Records. It’s Holter’s much anticipated follow-up to her previous full-length, Have You In My Wilderness, from 2015.

Dominic Fike: 3 Nights

Dominic Fike, a recent Columbia Records signee and a Naples, Florida native, just released his debut EP, Don’t Forget About Me, Demos. A standout on the six-track release is “3 Nights,” an acoustic guitar-backed alternative hit. It hums along to a recognizable beat (with loads of personality). Fike displays his vocal ability and flexes a bit of his star-power potential here—which is impressive considering it’s his first true release.

Troye Sivan + Jónsi: Revelation

From the upcoming film Boy Erased, comes “Revelation” by Troye Sivan and Jónsi. A minimal and gentle ballad, the song blends the two familiar talents seamlessly and the result is hypnotic and powerful. Between its lofty strings, minimal piano, and Sivan’s pared-back vocals, the song ebbs and flows ethereally. Sivan also appears in the film (out in November) about a young man sent by his pastor father to conversion therapy to “cleanse” him of his homosexuality.

Angelo De Augustine feat. Sufjan Stevens: Time (Live at Reservoir Studios)

From lyrical lacework to a whistling hook, Angelo De Augustine’s “Time” acts as a powerful introduction to the singer/songwriter’s forthcoming album Tomb. Both the track and album were produced by Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, and his complex warmth once again blankets listeners. De Augustine has released two videos for the track—an official music video, directed and filmed by Jess Calleiro and a live version from Reservoir Studios, with Sufjan Stevens on piano.

Millie Turner: Night Running

London-based singer/songwriter Millie Turner has released a steady new tune, “Night Running.” With deep chords and a floating chorus, the song churns along almost reaching anthemic heights. The latter moments of the song encourage listeners to dance and sing along. It’s youthful, independent and even prophetic: “When the dark and day meet in the image of stars / is where we’re gonna find out who we are,” she sings out. Catch Turner at one of her two London shows later this year.

Alfie Templeman: Like an Animal

Its chemistry doesn’t just come from the fact that UK teen Alfie Templeman plays every instrument on “Like an Animal” (and all the other tracks on his just released, debut EP of the same name); it’s that the singer’s voice carries such soul. Templeman assembled the EP in his bedroom amidst school and a job in construction. There’s an honesty to its presentation—and the wisdom of someone youthful understanding the steps they’re taking and having fun with it all. It will be interesting to see where his artistry goes from here.

Continue reading “Listen Up”

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.

Continue reading “Listen Up”

Listen Up

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.

Continue reading “Listen Up”

Listen Up

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.”

Continue reading “Listen Up”

Listen Up

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.

Continue reading “Listen Up”