Too Free: No Fun
“No Fun,” the second single from trio Too Free’s forthcoming debut, Love In High Demand, features an intergalactic instrumental full of synths and encouraging lyrics from vocalist Awad Bilal. “‘No Fun’ is a series of affirmations that I wanted to speak into existence. Reclaiming agency over your mind and your body—accepting love and using it to activate others,” Bilal says. The song’s video, which leans into the track’s freestyle nature, features Bilal in a dance studio, joyfully dancing around to the beat. It was produced by band members Carson Cox and Dan Goodwin.
Empress Of: Call Me
LA-based singer/producer Empress Of (aka Lorely Rodriguez) has contributed the ’90s-tinted song “Call Me” to Floria Sigismondi’s The Turning soundtrack. Rodriguez wrote the tune with Lawrence and Yves Rothman (who produced the soundtrack, which also includes music by Courtney Love, Mitski, Kali Uchis and others). She says that the lustrous piece of dream-pop was created to be the film’s swan song.
Joe Hisaishi: Summer
Originally a part of the score for the 1999 film Kikujiro, prolific composer Joe Hisaishi’s “Summer” (which reappears, now remastered for an upcoming “best of” compilation) delicately balances piano and orchestral instruments to form a soundscape of immense depth. With an accompanying black and white video of Hisaishi guiding the ups and downs of the track’s introduction and subsequently playing the piano, “Summer” reenters listeners’ lives just in time for the arrival of 21 of Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki films—all but one are scored by Hisaishi—on Netflix next month.
Porches: Do U Wanna
Accompanying the announcement of a new album, Ricky Music, Porches (aka Aaron Maine) has shared a new song, “Do U Wanna,” and its official music video, directed by frequent collaborator Nick Harwood. The song digs into the isolation of desire and the sensation of feeling unable to pursue what you want. It’s Maine at his best: equal parts compelling and haunting.
(Sandy) Alex G: Bad Man
(Sandy) Alex G’s “Bad Man” originally appeared on the artist’s 2019 album, House Of Sugar. Unexpectedly, the artist released an alternate version of the track, and an accompanying video directed by Zev Magasis. The 2020 take on “Bad Man” trades the twangy accent and generated drums for a pared-back piano and mandolin, and far more emotional and resonating vocals. Paired with the lo-fi visuals, the song as it is now makes a more meaningful impact on the listener.
PREP: Love Breaks Down
A blend of pop, yacht, disco and funk, PREP’s “Love Breaks Down” is an infectious arrangement of synths and computer claps. It’s altogether enjoyable and easy to dance along to, especially when the bass and electric organ kick in toward the end. “It came to life after we decided to write a party track—something that would work well in our live show and would be more dance-floor based,” drummer Guillaume Jambel says of the release. With that in mind, PREP begins their US tour next month.
Heart Bones: Don’t Read The Comments
A second single from Heart Bones’ upcoming LP, Hot Dish, “Don’t Read the Comments” pairs pop musicality with clever and relevant lyricism. The act—comprised of Har Mar Superstar (aka Sean Tillmann) and Sabrina Ellis (of A Giant Dog and Sweet Spirit)—duets with delight. Soon, they’ll embark upon a US tour to support their album.
Stephen Malkmus: Xian Man
A single from Stephen Malkmus’ forthcoming solo record, Traditional Techniques, “Xian Man” is far more acoustic and western rock-influenced than his previous release—an electronic album titled Groove Denied. The guitars (which act as the song’s guiding force) flow together until separating at the onset of a 12-string solo. Reminiscent of work by the Velvet Underground, this release will please longtime fans of the genre and Malkmus.
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.