Listen Up

From scorching guitar solos to jazzy hip-hop and indie-electro, plenty of new music this week

Kishi Bashi: F Delano

Upbeat instrumentation envelops the complex subject matter of Kishi Bashi‘s new track “F Delano.” As one may assume, the lyrics address the reputation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt—specifically his perception as a hero in contrast to his use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans. From the singer/songwriter/violinist’s forthcoming album Omoiyari, this song falls among many others tackling the geopolitical strife from the past and its parallels to today.

Holy Ghost!: Escape From Los Angeles

Some six years since NYC-based outfit Holy Ghost! (aka Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel) released Dynamics, the duo has announced new LP Work. From it comes “Escape From LA,” a glittery synth-heavy bop that is wildly satisfying. Full of disco influences, the song—and all other tracks from the record—were made using just a Yamaha CS80 and Mini Moog, but the result is luminous. Millhiser says the set-up wasn’t “necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette. David Bowie didn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.” Work is officially released 21 June.

Barrie: Saturated

From dream-pop outfit Barrie’s debut album Happy To Be Here (out early May on Winspear), the very sweet “Saturated” takes a fairly pared-back approach, but is, at times, incredibly rich. With a retro tinge, the song is about that overwhelming, all-encompassing feeling that can come along with a crush. Says lead singer and songwriter Barrie Lindsay, “It’s minimal and exposed, kind of vulnerable, but in a confident way. I want people to relate to that state of pure, open saturation. I want this song to feel like a crush.” The five-piece is also heading out on a tour this month.

Noname: Song 32

Rapper/poet/producer Noname (aka Fatimah Nyeema Warner) has returned with another jazzy, charming tune, “Song 32.” Produced by frequent collaborator Phoelix, the song is typically Noname: soulful, smart and sophisticated—all seemingly effortless. The song appears ahead of her Eurpoean tour.

Kris Kelly: Birthplace

From Brooklyn-based indie-folk artist Kris Kelly comes “Birthplace,” an elegant, poetic track with delicate strings and a steady guitar. Accompanied by an Adi Halfin-directed video, the song unfolds as characters come and go—all of which do so solemnly and suddenly. “He grew tired of carrying / a past so weighted / then forgot to remember / and I thought that he might be a runaway too,” Kelly sings. The song’s poem-like structure creates a mesmerizing musical experience.

Hot Chip: Hungry Child

Fresh from their upcoming record, the gloriously named A Bath Full Of Ecstasy, Hot Chip‘s first new track since 2015 is “Hungry Child”—a song that straddles high-energy and low-key in a seamless manner. Undeniably Hot Chip, the tune is layered and infectious with a deep house influence and glittery glaze. The release comes ahead of a tour across Northern America and Europe that will last through December this year.

Mdou Moctar: Tarhatazed

Mdou Moctar, a Tuareg guitarist raised in northern Niger, debuted his first studio band album, Ilana (The Creator) last week. From it comes “Tarhatazed,” a blazing, seven-minute-long track laden with Hendrix-rivaling solos—especially from the four-minute mark on. Moctar boasts an odd origin story: he was raised in a family that forbade music and built his first guitar out of spare wood and brake wires.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.