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Listen Up

Lush orchestral, retro-tinged pop, slinky R&B and more new music

Sky Ferreira: Don’t Forget

Alt-pop darling Sky Ferreira has returned with “Don’t Forget,” her highly anticipated first new track in three years. (2019’s “Downhill Lullaby” was also her first original new single since her 2013 debut, Night Time, My Time.) A glorious teaser for her upcoming second album, Masochism, the song incorporates everything Ferreira fans could hope for: it’s a dark, synth-laden tune about revenge. As she told Vulture in an interview, “It wasn’t supposed to be apocalyptic, but in some ways it is. I did see fire, and I also saw a place between heaven and hell, that sort of vibe. But not in a biblical sense. I felt very stifled for a long time, and I still do.”

Sudan Archives: Selfish Soul

Sudan Archives (aka Brittney Denise Parks) recently released “Selfish Soul,” a vibrant, joyful ode to Black women’s natural beauty—specifically their hair. It comes accompanied by an equally vivacious video—directed by Trey Lyons—wherein a bunch of women play in the mud, hula hoop and dance; and the LA-based artist plays her violin upside down. The singer-songwriter says in a statement, “I feel like there’s an American standard of what beautiful hair is, and I wanted to show in this video that’s not what all beauty is; to showcase different hairstyles and different types of women and their hair. I was inspired by India Arie’s ‘I Am Not My Hair,’ one of the first songs I heard about this subject. She talks about extensions and weaves and natural hair and nappy hair, and that she’s not her hair; she won’t conform to the comparisons that would come up if you had a weave or sew-in or natural hair or Afro—that doesn’t represent her.”

Gabríel Ólafs: The Lily (Orchestral Version)

Icelandic composer and multi-instrumentalist Gabríel Ólafs recently debuted three versions of his stirring new single, “The Lily,” including one solo piano composition and another lush orchestral iteration. All three represent different yet equally successful approaches to the same exquisite sonic journey. “‘The Lily’ is the most expressive piece I’ve composed,” Ólafs says in a statement. “The melody was born on the piano after I read a particularly beautiful poem [by Davíð Stefánsson] with themes of romance and nature.”

Katrina Ford: Go Deep

Lush, layered and easy to love for its retro-tinged pop style, “Go Deep” is the fourth single from singer-songwriter Katrina Ford’s forthcoming first-ever solo EP (out 24 June). Ford, a beloved indie-rock fixture since her debut as the front woman of the band Celebration, also created the track’s charming, collage-like music video. When asked about the song, Ford paints a detailed picture as a deeper explanation, “I had a dream about speeding down a cliff road in a borrowed yellow Lamborghini. Roaring to the shore, to visit a fortune teller on the pier. I was told she lies before I saw her. Confused, I left, walking past piles of riches, gold statues, jewels and cash dumped in the sand littering the beach. A family of beggars in black rags, approached me on the boardwalk. I had nothing, to give. My only valuable was to accept myself without outside influence. Everyone was trying to influence me but I was finding home within, and letting myself be rooted in my own self-belief, despite the cliff dwelling Lamborghini owner, despite the lying fortune teller, despite the beggars. I could hold on.”

Hercules & Love Affair + ANOHNI: One

“Anohni and I wrote this song with the hope of further empowering young trans, queer and feminine spirits,” Hercules & Love Affair founder Andy Butler says of their collaborative new single, “One.” In addition to Anohni’s transcendent vocals, the track and its emphatic beat include contributions by legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees’ drummer, Budgie. Butler’s beloved art-dance outfit, which features a revolving roster of collaborators, returns this June with In Amber, their first album in five years.

Ravyn Lenae feat. Smino: 3D

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Ravyn Lenae teams up with frequent collaborators—rapper Smino and producer Monte Booker—for “3D,” a track from her debut album, Hypnos. The hazy, languid tune is slinky and pleasantly slow-moving. Of the album (which also features Fousheé, Mereba and Steve Lacy), the artist says, “When you listen to the music, I hope you have a better understanding of me and even catch a better understanding of yourself… As artists, we make music as a pathway to help other people understand certain aspects of their lives. I’ve gone through the tunnels and seen the light on the other side. I’m finding my way. I’m clearer on who I am and my power through music and lyricism. I’m pouring more into me, friendships, family, and music. Through all of that, I’m fulfilled.”

M.I.A.: The One

From acclaimed recording artist M.I.A.’s highly anticipated sixth studio album, MATA, the brief and brilliant new track “The One” sets inquisitive lyrics within a bright beat produced by Rex Kudo and T-Minus. “I guess it is just about sticking to what you are and the truth,” M.I.A. says in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. “I think, at the end of the day, that is also what this record is about to me, is still trying to find truth. In a way, it’s kind of rebellious because everybody’s expecting me to put out that really havoc… Everyone’s expecting that, but it’s not, that’s not what it is.”

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 Sudan Archives


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