Listen Up

Glamorous, meditative, intimate, powerful and buoyant new music from the week

Becky and the Birds: Paris

Gentle and meditative, “Paris” by Becky and the Birds (aka singer/songwriter/producer Thea Gustafsson) was written in a hotel in the French capital, as Gustafsson couldn’t escape thoughts about a person back home in Sweden. The atmospheric tune, with distorted vocals drifting over it, appears on Gustafsson’s upcoming EP, Trasslig, which is out next month.

machinegum: Kubes

machinegum (the artist collective that counts Strokes drummer Fab Moretti, Ian Devaney and Martin Bonventre as members) crowdsourced scenes of everyday routines for their “Kubes” music video. Justin Bartha directed the work after the band put out instructions for submission on their website back in February, a prescient move. The track first appeared on their debut album, Conduit, released last year on French Kiss Records. A vinyl edition will be available this July.

JONES: Giving It Up

East London-based JONES (aka Cherie Jones-Mattis) created a buoyant alt-pop song in “Giving it Up”—a tune that she says was a “chocolate addiction confessional turned audio diary entry about a story where I found love in a very unexpected person.” Her soft, soulful vocals carry the song, while production from Fyfe and Mike Spencer lends a bright and airy tone. The Nina Ljeti-directed video contrasts craggy cliffs and grey skies with Jones-Mattis dressed up in opulent gowns.

ROLE MODEL: For The People In The Back

Premiering on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show, “For The People In The Back” by ROLE MODEL (aka Tucker Pillsbury) is an ode to independence, a notion that’s emphasized through the chorus, “I don’t need / No, no, nobody.” Throughout the rest of the track, ROLE MODEL reverts to the rap-sing style he favored on previous releases. In his second to last verse, he comes to a conclusion: “I found a place to be myself / And there’s not room for no-one else.” The accompanying visual treatment, directed by Dylan Knight, mirrors the carefree lyrics through DIY photoshoots, dance routines and more.

Juls + Sango: Angele Ni Fe

A fusion of Brazilian funk, Amapiano (South African house), Afrobeat and Latin-influenced rhythms, Juls and Sango’s collaborative track “Angele Ni Fe” marks the first release from Soulection Records this year. This song (alongside “Ritmo Coco”) appears on their joint EP, Fufu & Grits. Vocal and drum samples comprise the track’s foundation, while horns and deeper bass notes are blended in to form a danceable, upbeat tune.

Celeste: I Can See The Change

Celeste’s expressive, velvety, soulful vocals take centerstage for “I Can See The Change,” a piano-led orchestral song about finding hope. The moving ballad (produced by Finneas O’Connell, aka FINNEAS, who is best known for his work with sister Billie Eilish) will appear on her eponymous debut studio album, which is set for release this summer.

Zella Day: My Game

From Zella Day’s forthcoming EP, Where Does The Devil Hide (due 28 August), “My Game” is retro-inflected delight. Produced by Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys), the track is “a disco game board with a pair of cherry red dice rolling in my favor,” according to Day. With plenty of disco influence, a touch of Motown, and nods to the ’60s in the video, “My Game” proves transportive and true to Day’s glamorous style.

Nils Bech: Foolish Heart (2019)

Starring Silas Henriksen of Norway’s national ballet, the official video for Norwegian singer-songwriter and performance artist Nils Bech’s “Foolish Heart (2019)” swells with instrumental warmth that dresses an intimate physical performance. The track appears on Bech’s latest album, also named Foolish Heart, out today. Its melancholic lyrics address the heartbreak Bech felt at the end of an eight-year relationship. In fact, it was the first song he penned after the separation.

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.