Listen Up

From the ethereal to the chaotic, the lo-fi and laidback, our favorite songs from the week

Leonard Cohen: Happens To The Heart

The first single from Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance, “Happens To The Heart” is gentle, mesmerizing and a somber reminder that the beloved artist is gone. On the contemplative song that dissects our universal outcome, Cohen sing-speaks, “I’ve broken every window / But the house, the house is dark / I care but very little / What happens to the heart.” The accompanying video—directed by Daniel Askill—references Cohen’s time spent as a zen monk. “This film is a quiet, symbolic narrative that charts the letting go of ego and the trappings of fame,” Askill explains. Altogether, it’s an enthralling, exquisite piece that’s buoyed by Cohen’s poetic lyrics. Each track from the album will be accompanied by a video of its own—each premiering on Nowness.

Låpsley: My Love Was Like The Rain

From the forthcoming EP, These Elements (out 22 November on XL Recordings), “My Love Was Like The Rain” proves self-reflective, as Låpsley (aka Holly Lapsley Fletcher) outlines some of her attributes. The track is “about accepting the elements that make me human and make me an individual; both the positive and negative aspects. The beauty in the darkness and the light. Embracing contradiction,” she says. Those contradictions lie in every line, and prod the listener: “Remember when you said / My love was like a rose / Not the sweet bloom / But the pain as it scratches your hand,” she sings.

Dan Deacon: Sat By A Tree

The lead single from his upcoming Mystic Familiar album, “Sat By A Tree” is almost immediately recognizable as Dan Deacon, through its unbridled energy and organized chaos. The dizzying tune is set to a music video directed by Encyclopedia Pictura’s Daren Rabinovitch and features Aparna Nancherla decomposing among many, many flesh-eating beetles and maggots. This is Deacon’s first new solo record since 2015’s Gliss Riffer and has been announced along with plenty of tour dates throughout the US, UK and France.

Thom Yorke: Last I Heard (…He Was Circling The Drain)

Composed of more than 3000 hand-illustrated frames, the otherworldly black-and-white video for Thom Yorke’s “Last I Heard (…He Was Circling The Drain)” employs various animation techniques (including 16mm and 3D) to set a song of isolation to life. Director Saad Moosajee and Brooklyn-based experimental studio Art Camp looked to Yorke’s lyrics and the visuals of frequent Radiohead artistic collaborator Stanley Donwood for inspiration. As Art Camp explains, “At its core, our intention was to communicate the experience of feeling completely on your own, surrounded by people you see yourself in but don’t understand, who have lost their minds to the city and can’t see that you need their help.” Undeniably—and spookily—they’ve succeeded.

Gang Starr: Bad Name

Unlike many posthumous releases—particularly those within the hip-hop genre—Gang Starr’s One of the Best Yet neither stretches the late Guru’s raps too thinly, nor gives in to sentimentality. The duo (Guru aka Keith Elam, and DJ Premier aka Christopher Martin) was founded in the late ’80s and is widely considered one of the most influential rap groups ever (despite lack of broad commercial success). From the record, “Bad Name” blends Premier’s signature style (using short samples and plenty of boom-bap) with Guru’s effortless vocals. Premier started working on the album (apparently with Guru’s urn in the studio) in 2017, some 14 years after the duo disbanded and seven years after the rapper passed away.

Toro y Moi: drip bounce _ 7_24_18

From Toro y Moi’s lo-fi mixtape Soul Trash (which initially debuted as raw files on Dropbox), “drip bounce _ 7_24_18” fuses bluesy guitar with textural drums and vulnerable vocals. While clearly recognizable as Tor y Moi (aka Chaz Bear), the song feels like the beginning of something—the title perhaps offering insight into future tracks or versions. While the tune and Bear’s vocals are laidback and languid, there’s an undeniable warmth conveyed. Listen to the mixtape’s 11 other tracks on all streaming platforms—in total, they clock in at just over 20 minutes.

Alex Winston: Wash

Indie-pop singer/songwriter Alex Winston returns with “Wash,” an exercise in catharsis written in a cabin just outside of Reno, Nevada where the artist spent time working on her music. There’s an underlying beauty to the track—drawn from Winston’s distinct vocals and the supportive instrumentation. There’s also an ethereal potency that truly sets it apart.

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.