Listen Up

Contemporary R&B, '80s-inspired synth-pop, modern jazz and more new music

Q: Stereo Driver

Singer, songwriter and producer Q (aka Q Steven Marsden) returns with “Stereo Driver,” his first single since his debut breakout album, The Shave Experiment. Opening with compressed drums, synths and Q’s smooth vocals professing love, the track sounds like it came straight from the ’80s—if it weren’t for hints of contemporary R&B and funky bass. All these elements make the song a transcendent, rich, timeless jam. Accompanying the track is a kaleidoscopic, shifting music video—replete with Q playing the keytar—which fittingly mesmerizes.

Makaya McCraven: In These Times

The title track from Makaya McCraven’s recently released album, In These Times, is a swirling, otherworldly piece that perfectly sets the tone for the album. The Chicago-based composer, bandleader, producer and multi-instrumentalist’s music artfully combines elements of jazz, hip-hop, Motown, folk, funk and beyond to create an elegant melange. The album itself is an amalgam—made up of snippets of improv sessions and live performances that are rearranged and woven together seamlessly in post-production. Equal parts relaxing and thrilling, this album is hypnotizing.

Pierre Kwenders: Kilimanjaro

Kinshasa, Congo-born and Montreal, Canada-based recording artist Pierre Kwenders (aka José Louis Modabi) shares a moody new video for “Kilimanjaro,” a genre- and language-bending track from his latest album José Louis And The Paradox Of Love. Traversing jazz, Congolese rumba, electronic pop and funk—and shifting from French to English to Lingala—the LP’s ninth track is sultry and pulsating as it unfurls with varied tempos and melodies. The new video is just as captivating, seeing Kwenders perform live under an entrancing spotlight and disco ball.

Madison McFerrin: Stay Away (From Me)

New from singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin, “Stay Away (From Me)” is the Brooklyn-based artist’s first release in a couple years. Minimal but layered, the dynamic and danceable track leaves space for McFerrin’s voice to radiate. It comes accompanied by a neon-hued video directed and edited by Arius Reynoso Sotolongo.

The Soft Pink Truth feat. Jamie Stewart: La Joie Devant La Mort

From <em>Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?</em>, the forthcoming album from The Soft Pink Truth (aka recording artist and producer Drew Daniel), the scintillating gothic-disco single “La Joie Devant La Mort” borrows words from French erotica author Georges Bataille as it delves into the thrill of queer cruising. Rapturous vocals were contributed by Jamie Stewart (best known as the founder of Xiu Xiu). As for the pensive album title, Daniel explains, “Years ago a friend was DJing in a club and a woman came into the DJ booth and asked, ‘Is it going to get any deeper than this?’ and the phrase became a kind of mantra for us. What did she really want? This album was created as an attempt to imagine possible musical responses to her question.”

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 Madison McFerrin