Listen Up

Dreamlike tracks, blissful instrumentals, sentimental serenades and other releases from the week

Röyksopp: (Nothing But) Ashes…

Despite stating that their 2014 album, The Inevitable End, would be their final LP, icons of contemporary electronic music Röyksopp (aka Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge) have released rarities and B-sides since then. Now they return with a new track called “(Nothing But) Ashes…” which could possibly tease a new project dubbed Profound Mysteries. The moody two-minute track opens with soft keys before introducing dark strings and then expanding through the warbling synths and twinkling effects that the Norwegian duo has mastered.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: SB-09

Each year, Unknown Mortal Orchestra releases an instrumental song over the holiday period and the latest, “SB-09,” provides listeners with 19 minutes of laidback, meandering, genre-blending bliss. With Ruban Nielson on guitar and his brother Kody on percussion, the song comprises elements of post-punk, surf-rock, reggae and more with tropical guitar, barking dogs, voices and other effects. On Twitter, Nielson said the shapeshifting track is “dedicated to chance.”

Bats: Golden Spoon

Bats—the solo project of Nashville-based singer-songwriter Jess Awh—recently shared “Golden Spoon,” an easygoing indie track whose endearing instrumentals ease its heavier, grief-laden lyrics. “‘Golden Spoon’ is a song about the grey area between habit and addiction, and what it’s like to love someone who is in that area. More broadly, I think it’s about how to love a person you can no longer completely connect with,” says the artist. These themes, coupled with scenes of the band hanging around in the accompanying music video, make for an approachable, lighthearted song on heartbreak.

KAYA feat. Kuya: Harana x Half Free

Romantic and dreamy, “Harana x Half Free” by Brooklyn-based rapper and poet KAYA comprises two parts. The first half, “Harana,” is an R&B-laced take on the Filipino rural serenade tradition where young men formally meet single lady visitors. Then, the tempo picks up for the hip-hop counterpart, “Half Free,” a term KAYA uses to describe the Filipino diaspora in NYC. This section sees KAYA, along with frequent collaborator Kuya, trading smooth, enchanting verses. Altogether, the music video, filmed in Queens’ Corona Park, mistily encapsulates a celebration of being Filipino American, finding liberation in—and beyond—identity.

Curtis Godino Presents The Midnight Wishers: No Place Like Home

Masterminded by multidisciplinary artist, songwriter and producer Curtis Godino, with lead vocalist Jin Lee, and singers Racheal Herman and Jessica McFarland, the beguiling act Curtis Godino Presents The Midnight Wishers will release their debut album on 11 February via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise Recordings. From the scintillating self-titled LP, which began as Godino’s pandemic pastime, initially recorded on his eight-track tape machine at home, the track “No Place Like Home” lays forth the uncanny, dreamlike sonic aesthetic, complete with glockenspiel and organ. The accompanying hazy music video (filmed by Godino) doubles down on the hypnotic Lynchian vibes.

Sondre Lerche: Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All

Accompanying the announcement of Sondre Lerche’s forthcoming double album, Avatars of Love (out 1 April), the sensational Norwegian singer-songwriter has released two preview tracks, “Cut” and “Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All.” The emotionally engrossing sonic and lyrical environs of the latter immediately swept us away. “‘Turns Out I’m Sentimental After All’ was the last song I wrote before leaving LA right as the pandemic started,” Lerche explains in a statement. “I like the contrast between it and ‘Cut,’ which it follows on the album. ‘Cut’ tries to capture an ephemeral feeling that may not even be real, while ‘Sentimental’ can’t help but fall back into nostalgia.”

Kevin Holliday: Expensive Taste

Following his OMNI EP from last year, Kevin Holliday now releases the bouncy, funk-inflected R&B tune called “Expensive Taste” with an animated video that premiered on Fader. Writing from two perspectives, Holliday provides both sides of the song’s story. With a vibrant bass line, subtle synths and effortless vocals, it’s an infectious bop from the Brooklyn-based artist.

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 Bats