Listen Up

Sprawling experimental jazz, synth-heavy alt-pop, expressive alt-folk and more new music

Princess Nokia: lo siento

At first “lo siento” by Princess Nokia might not be what fans expect from the Harlem-based artist, but what begins as a soft, piano-led ballad soon incorporates a drum machine, metallic elements and more. The gentle, bilingual lament about the end of a toxic relationship will appear on Princess Nokia’s upcoming EP, i love you but this is goodbye.


“Hold Her,” by London-based singer-songwriter and musician MADELEINE, is a luminous, synth-led track that blends nu-jazz, pop and soul. The track (produced, performed and arranged by MADELEINE, with drums by Jack Robson) is set to appear on the artist’s upcoming Sun Daughter EP. Part love song and part plea, it’s a lush, layered bop.

Homeschool: Bound To Be

Following the success of last year’s acclaimed EP Homeschool: Book II, as well as this year’s recurring role on Apple TV+’s new prestige drama Dear Edward, NYC-based actor and recording artist Homeschool (aka Tom D’Agustino) debuts “Bound To Be,” an anthemic indie-pop note to self about the meaning of success. “‘Bound To Be’ blends all these different genres like electronic music, salsa beats and indie rock, to show me that my music can be more than one thing—that it can be unfixed and fluid,” D’Agustino says in a statement. “I’m finally allowing myself to exist outside of the neat boxes that society tries to place us all in—with my music, my acting and my identity.”

Bernice: Underneath My Toe

Toronto-based group Bernice shares the pretty tune “Underneath My Toe,” carried by singer-songwriter Robin Dann’s delicate vocals. With elements of soft jazz, lo-fi funk and pop, the track is an ode to an absent friend. Dann says, “We were really missing our friend Devon Sproule. We were missing a lot of friends back when we wrote this album. Thom and I sat down and asked ourselves what we wanted to say to her, what does any friend want to say to their pal who’s far away? Toe became the balm for the missing feeling, and when we shared it with her, she (as usual) distilled the feeling perfectly, saying ‘It feels like two important things smooshed together: how complicated it feels to be a person, and to live with other people, in a house or a city…and then how simple love can feel, like love from an animal friend, or how it feels to be connected to the Earth.'”

Natural Information Society: Stigmergy

Natural Information Society—an ensemble led by avant-garde composer and musician Joshua Abrams—is poised to release Since Time Is Gravity next month, and from it shares the 13-minute “Stigmergy.” The mesmerizing, sprawling piece of music blends jazz with psychedelic elements and an otherworldly feeling. Meditative and hypnotic, the track is “an ensemble ostinato orbiting an Ace Tone Rhythm Ace refracted through Echoplex, dedicated to Arkestra pioneers Robert Barry and Ronnie Boykins,” Abrams says in a statement.

Prima Queen: Back Row

Prima Queen—the indie-rock project from Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden—introduces their debut EP, Not The Baby (out 3 May), sharing its first single, “Back Row.” Conveying the conflicting feelings of breaking someone’s heart, the song is immediately moving, from its guitar-driven production and floating harmonies to its soaring horns and tender lyrics. The accompanying music video portrays the song’s tangled feelings with a series of braids, fish and interlocking ties.

Hayden feat. Feist: On A Beach

The third single from Are We Good, the first full-length studio album from alt-folk recording artist Hayden (aka Hayden Desser) since 2015, “On A Beach” not only features vocals by beloved singer-songwriter Feist but was also crafted after an invitation from her to join a songwriting workshop with other notable figures. “I was terrified, but joined in as an attempt to jolt myself out of submission,” Hayden says in a statement. “The idea was to write a song a day for seven consecutive days, sharing them later each evening with the other writers. A great combination of pure feet to the fire expression and accountability.” “On A Beach” was Hayden’s submission for the fourth day and proved to the musician that “after all these years, a song can still appear nearly fully formed in one quick inspired moment.” The clever music video, featuring cameos by Steve Buscemi and The National’s Matt Berlinger, plays upon the song’s hypnotic nature and innate cleverness.

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 detail of Natural Information Society’s cover art by Lisa Alvarado