Listen Up

Mellow hip-hop, '80s-inflected R&B, a stirring ballad and more new music

Samia: Breathing Song

From singer-songwriter Samia’s upcoming second album, Honey, “Breathing Song” feels sparse at first, but builds into an evocative, powerful ballad. With minimal keys, the track is carried by Samia’s stirring vocals and confessional lyrics. “I tried writing ‘Breathing Song’ a thousand times and couldn’t get it right,” she says in a statement. “Played one of its iterations for Molly Sarlé on Zoom and she was like ‘You just told me a really powerful story before you played this, write it again and just tell the story,’ so I did; I just said what happened, from my perspective. Got to play it for her again when it was finished and we cried.”

Cordae feat. Anderson .Paak: Two Tens

Maryland-raised rapper Cordae taps Anderson .Paak and J. Cole for the jazzy “Two Tens.” Apparently the track is one of many by the trio, as the artist told Zane Lowe recently, “We literally got a mixtape full of joints of me and Paak… Well, we got an EP full of joints with me, Paak and Cole beats.” Over a mellow soundscape, Cordae and .Paak trade verses swiftly and effortlessly, crafting a slick, breezy bop.

Runnner: runnning in place at the edge of the map

Ahead of his debut album, Like Dying Stars, We’re Reaching Out (out 17 Feburary), Runnner (aka Noah Weinman) shares “runnning in place at the edge of the map.” The indie-rock track is tender and touching with atmospheric guitar, unhurried percussion and Weinman’s exacting lyrics. “I wrote this song about feeling frustrated in my communication and video games,” says the artist. “I’d work myself into a kind of mute, catatonic state and the more I tried to think through it the more stuck I felt. The only way I could picture it was like when your character in some open world game is just running into that invisible wall over and over again.”

Josh Ritter: Sawgrass + For Your Soul

Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has released an official long-form music video that combines two new singles, “Sawgrass” and “For Your Soul,” drawn from his forthcoming album, Spectral Lines (out 28 April). The melodic first track is driven by hopeful spoken-word lyrics that ultimately yield to Ritter’s signature vocals, while the second track turns the energy up via bold instrumentation and a sing-a-long chorus. Ritter’s longtime collaborator Sam Kassirer produced the album—and also captured the Super 8 film footage that forms the combined video (which was created and edited by flatspot).


“LUV (I KNOW I WANT THIS FOR REAL)” is another ’80s-inflected jam from singer-songwriter Q (aka Q Steve Marsden). Following the thread of his previous singles “TODAY” and “STEREO DRIVER“, the latest track encapsulates Marsden’s genre-defying panache: it’s retro with synths and an alluring, compressed beat but remains contemporary. With the artist’s soulful vocals and robust percussion, the single is a lush bop.

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 Runnner