Listen Up

From ambient and poignant to buoyant and playful, our favorite new music this week

St Vincent: New York (Acoustic Version)

St Vincent (aka Annie Clark) recorded a stirring, acoustic rendition of her sublime “New York” as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s virtual gala, which is streaming in full until 20 May. Gently lit in a dark room, Clark performs an exquisitely stripped-back version of the resplendent song, a sombre ballad that mourns a relationship and name-checks various spots in NYC—a combination that feels all the more poignant at the moment.

A.K. Paul: Hungry Beat

Returning for the first time since 2016 with a song under his own name, London-based A.K. Paul (Anup Kumar Paul) shares “Hungry Beat,” a song composed during lockdown. Paul performed all instruments and vocals for the track, as well as production and mixing. The result is a sultry, moody and richly layered piece of music with plenty of surprising elements popping up along the way. The somewhat elusive Paul sporadically releases music, but always seems to be working—collaborating with Miguel, Jessie Ware, Mura Masa and others; as well as running the label, Paul Institute, with his brother.

Au Revoir Simone: How Long

Au Revoir Simone’s sprawling new Bandcamp (and Spotify) release, “How Long,” sets listeners upon an orbit of interstellar beauty. With production from Jorge Elbrecht, the wondrous track came as a surprise. It’s the Brooklyn-based, synth-pop band’s first release in several years, though they appeared in 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return (episode four) and member Erika Spring released the acclaimed EP, Scars, in 2018.

Desire: Liquid Dreams

Brimming with disco and ’80s pop influences, “Liquid Dreams” by Desire—singer Megan Louise, producer Johnny Jewel (of Chromatics and Glass Candy) and percussionist Nat Walker (also of Chromatics)—appears on their upcoming album, Escape. Despite the song’s bubbly and upbeat vibe, the lyrics transform it as Louise repeats, “Why you wanna hurt me?”

Tyler, The Creator: BOYFRIEND

Initially exclusive to the vinyl pressing of Tyler, The Creator’s 2019 album, Igor, “BOYFRIEND” appeared on streaming services this week to the delight of fans who missed out on purchasing the limited edition physical release or abstained from indulging in leaked versions. Comprising a complex, constantly morphing instrumental that samples Twink’s “Fluid” and interpolates Tyler’s “Glitter,” the track dips into pop, R&B, rock, electronic, soul and hip-hop, showcasing Tyler’s growth as a producer. Plus, vocalists Charlie Wilson and Santigold appear at opposite ends of the four-minute song.

Jamie xx + The Avalanches: NTS Radio Show DJ Set

The most recent installment of Jamie xx’s monthly radio show for NTS manifested as a joyous, hour-long DJ set with The Avalanches. Jamie xx (aka James Smith) said the back-to-back performance was an “actual dream come true” and the setlist spans genres and eras, including tracks like Hamilton Bohannon’s “Me & The Gang,” Theo Parrish’s “Early Byrd,” Carly Simon’s “Tranquillo (Melt My Heart),” plus several songs from The Kay Gees. Listen for 58 minutes of bops, deep cuts and pleasure.

Julianna Barwick: Inspirit

Accompanying the announcement of her new studio album, Healing Is a Miracle, ambient composer Julianna Barwick released the lead track, “Inspirit,” by way of an appropriately ethereal music video filmed in Iceland. Employing her mesmerizing vocal loops, the song’s hypnotic pull pairs well with the rugged landscapes. The LP, out on 10 July via Ninja Tune, will feature a collaboration with Icelandic singer Sigur Rós’ Jónsi, as well as Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore.

Dijon: rock n roll

Beneath the genre-bending and distortion of singer-songwriter Dijon’s newest song, “rock n roll,” lies a tale about a woman. “She don’t like rock’n’roll / We talked about it / She don’t like radio / We talked about it,” he sings. Dijon (aka Dijon Duenas) name-checks songs and albums by Prince, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, and others, lobbying on their behalf. It’s altogether glitchy, playful but powerful. The single appears on the artist’s new EP, How Do You Feel About Getting Married?, which is available now.

Yellow Days: Love Is Everywhere

New from Yellow Days (aka UK singer/songwriter George van den Broek), the retro-tinged “Love Is Everywhere” is described by the artist as “upbeat existential millennial crisis music.” Steeped in nostalgia, the song’s ’70s vibe can be attributed to crisp percussion, a funky bass line and a little cowbell. Van den Broek also says, “The track is funky as hell… This is really my first record where I can let it fucking all out.” Watch the Kevin Lombardo-directed music video below, and stay tuned for A Day in a Yellow Beat in August.

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.