Listen Up

Incandescent indie, reflective hip-hop, jangly post-punk and more genre-bending tunes from the week

Juletta + Ishan: Gut Feeling

Juletta + Ishan’s “Gut Feeling” is best described through its beautiful contradictions: haunting and luminescent, smooth and uneasy, buoyant and weighty. Written and produced by both artists, the track appears on the NYC-based duo’s debut album, If I Never Hit Land (out this Friday), which is based upon real stories Juletta heard from 30 women she interviewed in New York over the course of two years (catalogued online for all to hear). “I hate your guts I love it so much,” she repeats as the hazy synths and heartbeat percussion drift away.

Rostam: Unfold You

The birth of “Unfold You,” the beautiful new single from producer and vocalist Rostam, began with a voice memo that the former Vampire Weekend member made in Paris after listening to the music of Nick Hakim. Rostam continued to tinker with the song’s layers, writing enveloping saxophone parts along the way. To accompany the track’s release, Rostam directed a meditative music video, featuring the actress Hari Nef. “Hari and I found ourselves in the same quarantine pod in Massachusetts this past July,” explains. “The video was shot on the Dune Shacks Trail during the last several days of the trip.”

Rejjie Snow feat. Snoh Aalegra + Cam O’bi: Mirrors

Irish rapper Rejjie Snow (aka Alex Anyaegbunam) collaborates with Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra and Chicago-based producer Cam O’bi on his second single of the year, the breezy “Mirrors.” Blending elements from jazz, funk, soul and classic hip-hop along with the two vocalists’ enchanting and seemingly insouciant contributions, the song exudes a sense of languid contentment. The perfect (albeit temporary) antidote to late-2020 anxieties.

REASON: Something More

Rapper REASON (aka Robert Lee Gill Jr) released his first-ever studio album New Beginnings this week. Introductory track “Something More” begins with vocals from singer Zacari that set the stage for REASON’s origin story—from former relationships with lovers, friends and foes, to getting signed by Top Dawg Entertainment, up to the day his debut album dropped. When REASON steps in, he unleashes all the talent that brought him to this point. “Tryna clear my mind, I gotta make room for vision / did bad to gain a lot / I had to pay dues with sinnin’, but I’m still here,” he raps.

Chika: U Should

Premiering as a live performance on Showtime’s DESUS & MERO, Chika’s  slow-burning “U Should” is drenched in confidence. The Montgomery, Alabama-born artist’s track begins with a sung introduction—which repeats in the chorus—and Chika (aka Jane Chika Oranika) unpacks a lot in her subsequent verses. From love to her career, confidence and perseverance, her verses play with the track’s title, leaving the listener wondering whether Chika will offer instructions to another or herself.

Ólafur Arnalds feat. Bonobo: Loom

For “Loom,” Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Ólafur Arnalds collaborated with British musician and producer Bonobo (aka Simon Green). An electronic orchestral soundscape, it will be the opening track of Arnalds’ forthcoming album, some kind of peace (out 6 November). It’s the fourth release from the LP and another preview of how personal the complete work will be. The accompanying video, directed by Neels Castillon, features the mesmerizing choreography of Fanny Sage amidst Iceland’s pristine natural beauty. Arnalds will be closing the first night of this year’s Iceland Airwaves, which will be held virtually from 13 to 14 November.

Prismatics: Outside Looking

Missouri-based four-piece Prismatics returns with “Outside Looking,” a jangly post-punk track that’s turbo-charged by the otherworldly vocals of Brooke Austen. The single is the first from of their forthcoming sophomore release, Endlessly (out 15 January), which was recorded remotely in parts, due to COVID-19. A spooky black-and-white music video, which nods to horror classic Night of the Living Dead, aligns perfectly with the song’s energy.

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. Hero image courtesy of Takuya Kuroda