Listen Up

Dramatic, cinematic, soulful, mellow, funky, sultry, sexy and glam new music from around the world this week

Moses Sumney: Cut Me

The single “Cut Me” appeared on the first half of Moses Sumney’s two-part græ album, released in February. In anticipation of the second half (out 15 May), Sumney treats fans with a self-directed video that radiates with his next-level artistic vision. A loose storyline includes Sumney’s journey to a hospital, a dance-laden stint there, and his subsequent escape—a less than subtle metaphor. It culminates in a spectacular scene that sets the bar for music videos: Sumney—dressed in all-black, with leather reigns in hand—commandeers the ambulance from its roof, guiding it through the desert as a playful synth beat acts as sonic contrast.

serpentwithfeet: A Comma

Released via Adult Swim Singles, the stunning “A Comma” by serpentwithfeet (aka Josiah Wise) marks the wildly talented musician’s return, and the announcement of Apparition—his EP due in April. For the album, which was entirely produced by Wynne Bennett, Wise says he asked himself the question: “What ghosts am I welcoming into my house?” From that contemplative (and slightly ominous) theme comes “A Comma,” which is dramatic, dreamy, haunting and cinematic—much like the artist’s previous sublime works. The song, while wistful, is viscerally hopeful—perhaps pleadingly so.

Mavis Staples: All In It Together

A message of hope rings through Mavis Staples’ soulful new single, “All In It Together.” Produced by and featuring (on backing vocals and guitar) Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the song “speaks to what we’re going through now—everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” Staples explains in a statement. All proceeds go to Chicago non-profit My Block, My Hood, My City, which provides essentials to seniors in times of crisis.

Amber Mark: Heart-Shaped Box (Nirvana Cover)

NYC-based Amber Mark’s cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” is so radically different from the 1993 version that it’s almost unrecognizable at first. Reimagined as a funky, simmering R&B tune, the song is a far cry from its grunge origins. Mark says that her newfound approach to working on music is the only positive to come from our current, collective isolation. “All the pressure I normally feel when working on music is lifted. And I just have this ‘f**k it’ mentality. People get to really see you in your most bare state and vice versa. That’s the beauty in the music I’m making right now. It’s just me whipping up whatever I’m feeling,” she says.

Nation of Language: September Again

A single from Brooklyn-based synth-pop band Nation of Language’s forthcoming debut album, Introduction, Presence, “September Again” carries an underlying melancholy that’s balanced by a singable chorus and plenty of sonic glam. “So you go back to church to reclaim the feeling / you say you don’t understand why / And you spend extra time standing naked in the mirror / When you wanna wear something nice / And it’s September again” sing-shouts frontman Ian Devaney, in a style reminiscent of ’80s new wave.

Jenevieve: Baby Powder

The follow-up to Jenevieve’s debut track “Medallion,” the breezy “Baby Powder” incorporates plenty of influences—from ’80s and ’90s R&B to neo-soul, funk and disco. The song samples prolific Japanese singer/songwriter Anri’s “Last Summer Breeze” from 1982’s Heaven Beach and emulates its mellow but sultry vibe. With production by Jean Benz, this groove-laden and enthralling tune bodes well for Jenevieve’s future releases.

Bill Withers: Lovely Day

Three-time Grammy Award-winner, the beloved Bill Withers died this week at his home in Los Angeles. Withers, born the last of six children, overcame a childhood stutter before pursuing music. He would go on to become a legendary performer known for his smooth voice and often inspiring love, hope and optimism in his listeners. Withers withdrew from the music industry in the mid-’80s after several soulful hits, including “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” and “Lovely Day,” wherein Withers holds the word day for nearly 19 seconds.

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.