So many great albums came out in the last month, and I wasn’t going to let a single one of them crawl past my headphones unnoticed! Here are five brand new tracks from genre-bending artists you should check out right now.
1. Paul de Jong – IF
IF is multi-instrumentalist Paul de Jong’s first solo album. He is best known as one half of the enormously influential found-sound-collage-pop duo The Books. Working alongside Nick Zammuto (who has had an acclaimed solo career since the band called it quits), The Books sculpted pure unfettered joy out of old scraps of tape and vinyl, adding instrumental textures and melody with edit-drums all over the place. De Jong returns to the limelight with what is sure to be one of 2015’s best albums. His label, Temporary Residence Ltd. perhaps says it best: “De Jong’s ability to find the musical in the mundane has always been uncanny… and that gift is what makes IF such a marvelous curiosity, and such a true pleasure to hear.” Let this man take you into his world for a few minutes and you’ll never look back.
2. ESKA – ESKA
If you haven’t yet heard of this incredibly soulful Zimbabwean-British singer, you’re not alone. Her self-titled debut album just. came. out. Which is surprising since she’s been making serious waves around the gleefully-active underground London soul scene for two years now, building off the break-out success of Laura Mvula. Her vocally-stylish melding of gospel, new R&B, and electronic production has me thinking of a female D’Angelo. And yet she completely stands on her own with the distinct African influence she brings to the table. In fact, throughout the album she rolls through so many different styles, it’s hard to imagine which one she calls home. ESKA’s voice is magical and her music is a unique achievement of nu-soul.
3. Roomful Of Teeth – Render
Roomful of Teeth is a vocal octet who embrace their classical training, wearing it on their sleeves, as they vigorously rip the sleeves off their suit jackets running through the forest. And they are creating and performing some of the most daring new works around that forest. Only fitting that they are represented by New Amsterdam Records, one of our country’s last great hopes for presenting and elevating the work of boundary-pushing emerging 21st century composers. The pleasure that this group brings into their work is made immediately apparent whenever they take to the stage or studio. And it rubs off. This music always finds a way to fit nicely into my life. The whole album is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp, and it’s full of good stuff — I especially like Caleb Burhan’s “Beneath.”
4. Marie Davidson – Un Autre Voyage
Montréal-based Marie Davidson has been on my radar for a while, as a member of the under-understood project Les Momies De Palerme, her collaboration with prolific disco synth-meister David Kristian DKMD, and local experimental staple Essaie Pas. Un Autre Voyage is her new solo album, and what a voyage it is! Davidson speaks confidently in this form. Through her repetitive drum machine grooves and synthesized stabs, there is a wonderful feeling of being taken for a ride. There’s a very cinematic quality to her sound, so grandiose in scale, but balanced by the immediate intimacy of her spoken word vocals. It reminds me of how otherworldly, yet scarily close to home Twin Peaks felt.
5. Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power
There’s a block party happening somewhere in Bamako that we’re all missing right now. And it’s guaranteed that Ngoni Ba’s music is blasting through those speakers. I wanted to stick to somewhat emerging, or under-appreciated, artists for this mini playlist, and this band is neither. But when I found out that Ngoni Ba’s highly anticipated new album, Ba Power, their fourth, had just come out I couldn’t resist. Named after the n’goni, an instrument that Bassekou Kouyaté has virtuosically transformed, this Malian rhythmic powergroup could not be more fun to listen to. Just check out how many bobbing British heads there are during their performance on Jools Holland!
Have you found any exciting new artists this month? Share them in the comments below!