Listen Up

From psychedelia-tinged, anti-folk to a meditation on racism and a banger about freedom

Shamir: On My Own

Following March’s nine-track Cataclysm, Shamir (aka Shamir Bailey) returns with “On My Own,” a song that’s set to appear on an upcoming full-length album. The guitar-heavy banger about freedom after a break-up marks the artist’s return to more accessible pop—he has traversed all kinds of genres since his 2015 breakout, Rachet. Still, Shamir clearly pulls influence from all kinds of genres (from club-friendly dance-pop to lo-fi, outsider rock, punk and country) and the tune is anything but formulaic, thanks in part to his inimitable vocals. Shamir alone appears in the colorful, self-directed video which perfectly suits the unabashed, uplifting ode to independence.

Blitzen Trapper: Masonic Temple Microdose #1

Within “Masonic Temple Microdose #1”—the second psychedelia-tinged, anti-folk single from of Portland, Oregon-based Blitzen Trapper’s forthcoming record Holy Smokes Future Jokes—frontman Eric Earley address “American apathy and the nihilism that emerges from the bogus idea that complete personal freedom should be man’s ultimate goal.” Earley says humans should seek ecological balance above all else, and this is supported by the track’s mind-bending music video which only enhances the potency of the existential tune.

Leon Bridges feat. Terrace Martin: Sweeter

Neo-soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges teamed up with jazz and hip-hop artist Terrace Martin for “Sweeter,” a meditation on racism and hope. Over a drum machine, Bridges sings “Somebody should hand you a felony / ‘Cause you stole from me my chance to be… I wish I had another day / But it’s just another day,” as Martin’s saxophone adorns the gentle tune. The song was intended for a future album, but the duo decided to release it sooner as a reflection on current events. Martin says in a release, “This is meditation music; it is not music for the ears but rather music for the heart.”

Tricky feat Marta: Fall Please

Prolific, pioneering trip-hop producer/rapper Tricky (aka Adrian Thaws) has just released the lead single “Fall Please” from his upcoming 14th LP, Fall To Pieces. Recorded in late 2019, while Tricky was mourning his daughter’s death, the album comes with his statement: “I feel like I’m back… I’ve managed to do something I’ve never been able to do before, which is that everyone will feel it—even people who ain’t into my music. It’s my version of pop music, the closest I’ve got to making pop.” The song “Fall Please” (and much of the album) features Polish singer Marta Złakowska’s mellow vocals that contrast this track’s anxious, jittery percussion.

Chris Garneau: Now On

Intimate, pared-back and powerful, singer-songwriter Chris Garneau’s latest release, “Now On,” rests heartrending lyrics over sparse piano. Produced and recorded in Hudson, New York by composer Patrick Higgins, the track—which will appear on an album expected in January 2021—emphasizes the emotional power of Garneau’s voice. “On the surface, this song is about leaving a relationship,” he shares with us, “but ultimately, it’s about leaving shame behind and finding out what’s underneath. While this can often be more painful than the cover, it’s more rich, it’s who we really are—it’s our wealth and it belongs to us.” All proceeds from the track’s sale on Chris Garneau’s bandcamp will go to the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.

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.