Listen Up

Slow jams for late nights, funky R&B, lush neo-soul and more new music

Arletis: Horses

NYC-born, Berlin-based Arletis samples Erykah Badu’s “On & On” for her sublime, smooth single “Horses.” Made in collaboration with DJ and record producer Suff Daddy, the song borrows elements from neo-soul and old-school R&B to create a sultry, silken slow jam.

The Last Morrell: The Party

Anyone who’s ever been trapped at a party will resonate with the lyrics of London-based singer-songwriter The Last Morrell’s newest track. And while the wordplay within “The Party” speaks to abandonment, excuses and temptation, the bright instrumentation definitely sets an optimistic, celebratory stage. Altogether, it’s a soulful number with dynamic sonic shifts—and a first single from The Last Morrell’s debut EP, Sarcasm.

Photay: Pressure

Part electronic, part global funk, Photay’s “Pressure” focuses on strings and vocals, with plenty of creative percussion—lending it a genre-bending uniqueness. Photay (aka Evan Shornstein) cites Aphex Twin as an early inspiration and the catalyst for him to experiment with drums, turntablism and composition. Since then, he has explored sampling and drawn inspiration from countless musical styles from all over the world. Waking Hours (released this June), features “Pressure” and is the Woodstock, New York artist’s debut album on independent label Mexican Summer. He offers this explanation for his first-ever recorded vocals: “Please find a collection of lyrical reminders and mantras within, intended for repetitive use in the years and decades to come.”

Sons of The James: Everlasting

From the upcoming 12-track album by Sons of The James—composed of singer-songwriter Rob Milton and producer and multi-instrumentalist DJ Harrison (aka Devonne Harris)—”Everlasting” has a big ’90s R&B, neo-soul and Soulquarians vibe. Jazzy cymbals, twinkling keys and exquisite vocals come together to form a lush, alluring tune. According to the duo, the album (also called Everlasting) draws inspiration from Richmond, VA and fans of Richmond-born D’Angelo might hear some pleasing similarities.

Berhana feat. Mereba: Golden Pt. 2

Berhana and Mereba’s delicate new duet, “Golden Pt. 2,” acts an extension of Berhana’s “Golden” which appeared on his album, HAN. On the new version, the collaborators trade verses until they meet—on the track and in the Boma Iluma-directed video. Electronic elements mingle with the pair’s airy vocals, while digitally generated drums and a funky bass line play in the background.

Brooks Hudgins: February

Following the atmospheric introduction and ensuing electric strum of Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and singer Brooks Hudgins’ latest track “February,” lyrics of conflict paint a picture of distaste and concern over a person caught up in vice-laden and content-streaming lifestyle. Almost two minutes in, the song takes on new life as it commits to its jazzier undercurrent. It’s another glimpse of Drive Thru Communion, Hudgins’ debut full length, expected this December.

Desmond and the Tutus: Hard Work

Shot impromptu on guitarist Doug Bower’s phone, Desmond and the Tutus’ video for “Hard Work” flexes on how much fun this band has even when Covid-related budget cuts force them to shoot in a parking garage. Ironically, their low-maintenance, no-filter approach captures the sentiment of the song perfectly. The freshly dropped track is the first release from the South African band’s forthcoming 10-song album, DESMOND, which comes out 4 December 2020.

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 Berhana / Mereba