Sampa the Great: The Great Mixtape
For “The Great Mixtape,” poet and vocalist Sampa the Great sings and rhymes with a political conscience, dragging words out slowly or stuttering them out rapid fire over producer Godriguez’s jazzy beats. Exploring hip-hop, R&B and spoken word with experimental flourishes, the mixtape shows off music as a “soul language,” as Sampa puts it. Mos Def and Lauryn Hill’s influences are clear, as is her childhood in Zambia and Botswana.
Here We Go Magic: Ordinary Feeling
While Here We Go Magic got the locals at Rockaway Beach dancing with the energy in “Falling,” they juxtapose it with their second offering from their upcoming album Be Small (out 16 October 2015 via Secretly Canadian). The unhurried “Ordinary Feeling” especially shows off the interwoven, intimate nuances of the self-produced, home-recorded album (a notable creative decision considering they worked with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich for their most recent, 2012’s A Different Ship). Starting bare with acoustic guitar and a simple drum set-up, Luke Temple’s voice later drifts to another world, carried away by synths like gossamer. Catch the band on tour this fall.
Petite Noir: MDR
Describing his sound as “Noirwave,” Cape Town-based singer and producer Petite Noir (aka Yannick Ilunga) is set to release his album La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful next month. From it comes his latest release, “MDR.” It’s a track that—as Petite Noir himself puts it—has “a new African aesthetic,” but also blends elements of new-wave and funk, while his hearty voice contrasts beautifully with the light, breathy vocals of his backup singers.
Junior Boys: What You Won’t Do For Love
Junior Boys are back from their “hibernation,” as they’ve tweeted, with an electronic music-driven cover of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love.” It’s very fitting—as the opening lyrics are “I guess you wonder where I’ve been.” Arpeggiated synth lines and techno-like percussion raise the energy, while the effects on the vocals channel The Human League.
Foals: What Went Down
Since their global debut in 2008, English band Foals has released raucous, nuanced and thoughtful music worth moving one’s body to. On 28 August 2015, they dropped their fourth full-length album, What Went Down, featuring 10 blistering tracks that unfold with power and potency. Title track “What Went Down” conveys the essence of what the album offers: angular, emotive force.