Listen Up

Blissful funk, techno-tinged house, compelling ballads and more new music

Steve Arrington: The Joys of Love

Prolific funk legend Steve Arrington says his enchanting new tune, “The Joys of Love,” is a “trust me song.” He explains to Stones Throw, it’s “a song of fun when it all goes right. A song of thanks for every day of life.” Produced by Mndsgn (aka Ringgo Ancheta) and Devin Morrison, it’s soulful, a little jazzy, and tinged with ’70s funk and R&B—altogether it creates a laid-back and blissful listen.

Caribou: Never Come Back (Four Tet Remix)

Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden) has officially released his soaring, almost-eight-minute remix of “Never Come Back” by Caribou (Dan Snaith), which he played during his Boiler Room: Streaming From Isolation performance last month. With plenty of ’90s house and techno touches, the rework is a juicy, banging iteration of the track from Suddenly—which came out earlier this year. The two artists have remixed each other’s plenty of times, and Snaith says, “Kieran is already part of my music before he remixes it. He spent hours listening to drafts of tracks from Suddenly and giving me feedback, as he has done with my previous albums.”

Sharon Van Etten feat. Josh Homme: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?

Penned by Nick Lowe and popularized by Elvis Costello & the Attractions four years later, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” now has a riveting rendition from Sharon Van Etten and Queens of the Stone Age frontman, Josh Homme. The collaboration certainly honors the energy of Costello’s iteration but different dimension comes from the dual vocalists. It’s pretty and powerful, too.

Yebba: Distance

Meditative and ethereal, “Distance” by singer-songwriter Yebba (aka Abbey Smith) blends folk, jazz and neo-soul. Featuring bassist Pino Palladino (The Roots) and co-produced with Mark Ronson, the delicate tune is carried by Yebba’s exquisite vocals. Heartbreaking but beautiful, the song will appear on the artist’s upcoming debut album.

Brandon: Weep

From Riverside, California-based singer-songwriter and producer Brandon, the new track “Weep” delivers a narrative of disconnect and vulnerability through soulful, stacked vocals. Brandon wrote the track during shelter-in-place orders and its balance of raw emotion and soothing harmonies feel timely. The single comes with an intimate music video, directed by Justin Segura, that hones in on Brandon as a compelling performer.

Brockhampton: things can’t stay the same

A deviation from the group’s recent pop releases and a return to their hip-hop roots, Brockhampton’s “things can’t stay the same” centers on verses from two of the group’s 10+ members. Sampling a pitch-shifted “Trouble Will Remain” by Amnesty, the beat was produced by Kiko Merley, Romil Hemnani and Kevin Abstract (the group’s frontman) and provides a dramatic backdrop for Abstract and Matt Champion’s vocals. The single, which premiered alongside “N.S.T.” on the group’s invite-only Technical Difficulties Radio stream, will appear on one of their two albums planned for 2020.

Chicano Batman: Blank Slate

From LA-based Chicano Batman’s new album, Invisible People, “Blank Slate” doubles down on the group’s funk and ’80s pop influences. Using seemingly simple lyrics, the band focuses on fuzzy guitar solos and an energetic and memorizable chorus. “I just want to love you / I need you to love me / I just want to love you / We can fall in love now,” the group sings in unison, encouraging listeners to join in.

Betty Wright: Clean Up Woman

Talented soul, funk and R&B singer Betty Wright (born Bessie Regina Norris) has passed away at 66 years old. Perhaps not a household name, Wright’s influence stretched further than many might realize. Releasing her first album, My First Time Around (1968), at just 14 years old, she went on to make her breakout funk hit “Clean Up Woman” three years later. That song and many others of hers have been sampled in hip-hop, R&B and pop—by Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Chance The Rapper, Avicii, Sublime and others. Throughout the ’70s, Wright was often in the R&B and Billboard charts, and later worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, The Roots and David Byrne. Anybody who has listened to contemporary music has likely heard Betty Wright in one form or another—such is her influence.

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.