Listen Up

From sultry R&B to surreal chillwave and moving indie, our favorite emotive music released this week

Serena Isioma: HUH?

A delightfully genre-defying bop, “HUH?” by Serena Isioma (who garnered a bunch of attention for their music on TikTok) combines R&B, pop, funk and more for a glorious celebration of authenticity, self-love and identity. With nostalgic elements and Isioma’s melodic raps, the song feels undeniably triumphant. “I will not stop this gay shit / haters mad cause I’m young, Black, and famous,” they rhyme, with same the charming bravado that saturates the track.

MIKE: Leaders of Tomorrow (Intro)

With the new full-length album Disco!, prolific NYC “loop rapper” MIKE once again affirms his position as a present-day hip-hop pioneer. “Leaders of Tomorrow (Intro),” a collage-like track stylistically split down the middle, finds MIKE delivering potent lyrics atop soulful guitars, which are frequently punctured by horns. On the LP, which MIKE self-produced under his DJ BlackPower pseudonym, this track follows up the previously released single and album opener, “Evil Eye” and the enrapturing “alarmed!” which features Sideshow. From there, it’s hard to stop a complete listen through.

Tachys: When The World Wakes Up

The debut single from Danish duo Tachys (aka childhood friends and frequent collaborators, Jonas Bjerre of Mew and Tobias Wilner), “When The World Wakes Up” channels anthemic electronic sounds into chillwave sensibilities. The official video, directed by Hugo A López, matches the track’s upbeat energy, beautiful emotional landscape and surreal undertone.

Patrick Watson: A Mermaid in Lisbon

Patrick Watson’s new three-song movement, A Mermaid in Lisbon, finds the acclaimed singer-songwriter collaborating with vocalist Teresa Salgueiro (from the Portuguese band Madredeus) and the Grammy Award-winning Attacca Quartet. Encompassing a little more than eight minutes, the entrancing EP took inspiration from Watson’s walks throughout Lisbon. Together, the three tracks form a world unto themselves; at times symphonic, at times molecular.

H.E.R. feat. Thundercat: Bloody Waters

Smooth, soulful and sultry, “Bloody Waters” from H.E.R.’s debut full-length studio album, Back of My Mind, features Thundercat and KAYTRANADA. Mellifluous vocals by H.E.R. (aka Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) glide effortlessly over the mellow instrumental, one of the 21 songs from the album, which also features cameos from Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Baby. She says of the record, “This collection of songs comes from feelings and thoughts that I’ve had in the back of mind. That’s where I live sometimes. Some things I talk about in my music and other things I may have been afraid to say or admit. I’m finding freedom in being truthful with expression.”

Paper Idol: Seen This All Before

LA-based recording artist Paper Idol (aka Matan KG) returns with the dance-party pop track, “Seen This All Before.” Under its sunny, synth-driven exterior beats the song’s lyrical edge. As for the official visuals, “We shot the video in a single day in 2019 while [keyboardist] Adam’s brother, Sam, was visiting from out of town,” KG explains. “Sam happened to bring his video equipment and was like ‘you guys wanna shoot a music video?’ We went to every possible tourist destination in LA we could think of and just kind of fooled around and sang to people. The song release was delayed due to Covid, which gave us the perfect opportunity to frame it as two guys entering a 2019 simulator.” The comedic framing works—and although the footage dates back in time, the song it supports is a perfect fit for summer 2021.

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 courtesy of MIKE