Listen Up

A celebration of Black rave culture, a bubblegum emo track, jangling folk-rock and more this week

Kelela: Happy Ending

Produced by LSDXOXO with additional production by Bambii, “Happy Ending” is Kelela’s newest release and it celebrates Black rave culture. Unlike the ambient-leaning track “Washed Away“—which came out last month; her first new music since 2017—”Happy Ending” is a club-ready banger, yet it still incorporates the Washington, DC-born artist’s sublime silkiness.

Sampa The Great feat. Angélique Kidjo: Let Me Be Great

Zambian artist Sampa The Great released her second album, As Above, So Below, last month and from it comes “Let Me Be Great” featuring the legendary Angélique Kidjo. Today, which happens to be Zambian Independence Day, the duo share the track’s music video directed by Pussy Krew. The animated, hyperreal CGI work shape-shifts between scenes, playing with motion, color and texture. The kaleidoscopic Afrofuturist aesthetic perfectly matches the two artists’ charming and triumphant performances.

Destroyer feat. Sandro Perri: Somnambulist Blues

A minimal, experimental composition from Toronto-based musician and producer Sandro Perri with spoken-word from pioneering indie-rock act Destroyer (aka Dan Bejar), “Somnambulist Blues” is a mesmeric, multi-dimensional and transportive track of precise, powerful components. “I come back to Sandro’s music as something to sing to at the crossroads moments of my life in music,” Bejar shares in a statement. “There is something about the landscape Sandro lays out—it’s a world in which things become imminently singable. A lotta room to roam, and all of it good.” The single debuts as part of record label Mexican Summer’s Looking Glass digital series.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: I Killed Captain Cook

The demise of James Cook is legendary—especially in Polynesia and Australasia, where the English explorer was responsible for a tremendous amount of colonization. In 1779, Cook and his men attempted to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu—the chief of the island of Hawaii—under the guise of showing him their ship. Thousands of Hawaiian people gathered on the beach at Kealakekua Bay, a fight broke out, and Cook was stabbed in the neck by an islander (some stories say it was Kalaniʻōpuʻu himself). Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s frontman Ruban Nielson—whose mother is a Kanaka Maoli from Oahu, and whose father is Māori—wrote the minimal, acoustic “I Killed Captain Cook” from the perspective of that Hawaiian. With vulnerable, tender vocals, the track is set to be the lead single from UMO’s upcoming double album. The video incorporates footage of Nielson’s mother, Deedee Aipolani Nielson.

Babygirl: Always

Babygirl—the Toronto-based outfit made up of Kiki Frances and Cameron Breithaupt—shares a haunting track about heartbreak, called “Always.” Soaked in candid lyrics of longing, soft vocals and quick guitar bursts, the new single is infectious yet melancholic, a quality the duo describes as “bubblegum emo.”

Mr Twin Sister: Resort

NYC band Mr Twin Sister has released their new EP, Upright And Even, and from it comes energetic track, “Resort.” While they often delve into a melange of avant-pop, electronic, dream-pop, chillwave and more, this new record is decidedly geared for the dance floor. “Upright sounds like nighttime after the shops have closed,” they share in a statement. “‘Resort’ is the centerpiece. It’s about the ecstasy of music triumphing over the bullshit of going out to hear it. Club music about club music. We didn’t want to release it back when nobody could be together in person, so we waited.”

Terry Emm: November Evenings

Hertfordshire-based Terry Emm channels vintage pop in “November Evenings,” a jangling folk-rock release with an Americana inflection. It’s Emm’s second single this year—and finds the singer-songwriter fusing thoughtful, emotion-driven lyricism with escalating lead guitar. “‘November Evenings’ is about that feeling when autumn changes into winter and we’re left reflecting on the year. It’s about jealously and a feeling of wanting more from life, when certain things are always just out of reach,” Emm shares in a statement, adding that the Lukas Drinkwater-produced song is “probably the second or third upbeat track I’ve ever released.”

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 Unknown Mortal Orchestra