Listen Up

A posthumous single from Mac Miller, a live performance by Mykki Blanco, magnetic folk-pop melodies and more new music this week

Albon: Big Sur Theme

The warm, folk-pop melody of LA-based singer-songwriter Albon’s “Big Sur Theme” evokes sun rays on the mountainous strip of Californian coast. Albon (aka Alexander B Lappin) wrote the song on a trip through the area and took inspiration from the orcas in the water beside. Woodwind instruments join strings and light percussion to build the beautiful soundscape, ribboned together by Lappin’s vocals. The track will appear on Dream Weaver/Bee Keeper EP, out 31 January.

Mac Miller: Good News

The first single from Mac Miller’s posthumous record, “Good News” moves slowly, emphasizing the artist’s somber but clear-minded lyrics. He had finished a significant portion this new album, Circles (out 17 January via his estate), and together with Swimming (his fifth and last album), it would complete a concept—Swimming in Circles—producer Jon Brion and Miller (born Malcolm McCormick) planned to release. After Miller’s passing, Brion was dedicated to completing the album. In the final verse of “Good News,” Miller details his hopes for the album: “There’s a whole lot more for me waitin’ on the other side / I’m always wonderin’ if it feel like summer.” Now, rather, these lyrics sound like a heartfelt goodbye.

Gil Scott-Heron + Makaya McCraven: Where Did The Night Go

Chicago jazz musician Makaya McCraven brings new life to “Where Did The Night Go,” a track from the late spoken-word poet, musician and performer Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, I’m New Here. McCraven reassembles the original with bustling, zesty woodwinds and impactful percussion. The track will appear on We’re New Again, a complete reimagining of the last Scott-Heron album, released 10 years after the original. Jamie xx’s also reworked I’m New Here in its entirety, with his 2011 release We’re New Here.

Agnes Obel: Broken Sleep

“This song was, surprisingly enough, written in a period where I was struggling with falling asleep,” Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel says of her new single “Broken Sleep.” Obel wrote, recorded and produced the track, on which she plays the piano and sings. Exquisite string work adds volume to the ethereal number, which will appear on Obel’s forthcoming album, Myopia, out 21 February.  A perfect tonal pairing, the mesmerizing official music video was created by Obel’s longterm collaborator and partner Alex Brüel Flagstad.

Mykki Blanco: Lucky (Live in London)

As a follow-up to Mykki Blanco’s “Lucky (Live in London)” track release in December, directors Diana Kunst and Mau Morgó have produced a performance art music video with kinetic choreographed by Tom Heyes. Blanco’s powerful presence anchors the piece, which is enhanced by a three-piece string section and more. The riveting visual treatment is the first collaborative #GucciGig, by the fashion brand and Dazed magazine.

Wolf Parade: Julia Take Your Man Home

A third teaser from Wolf Parade’s forthcoming Thin Mind album, “Julia Take Your Man Home” gains sonic momentum with each passing note, as synths and percussion meaningfully collide. All the while, Wolf Parade vocalist (and musician) Spencer Krug tells a tale of toxic masculinity and its impact. Despite the gravity and theatricality of the track’s narrative, it’s also just a solid rock track.

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.