One of the strangest months in living memory was matched in kind by one of the wildest for music; new gems from Art Blakey and Bob Dylan (17 minutes!), alongside new albums at last from Four Tet, The Weeknd and Childish Gambino, the last released as nameless livestream with no cover. These alongside fantastic cuts from Jarvis Cocker, Haim, Nicolas Jaar, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Jay Electronica, The Dixie Chicks, Disclosure, Norah Jones, Run the The Jewels, Bicep and The Dirty Projectors… If there was every a time to scale this bracing mountain of new talent and thriving legends then it’s now, from the sofa, washing your hands. Find the Apple Music and Spotify playlists below:
We love all of these songs, but here’s more on five of the standouts:
Spotlight on Five:
La Malquerida (Versión Acústica) – Natalia Lafourcade
This acoustic rendition of ‘La Malquerida’ is as many Natalia Lafourcade songs are: at once supple and delicate in it’s balladry, and yet decidedly firm in its intent. With a title which translates to ‘The Badly Loved’, the Mexican singer released the track in the same month as her native country’s remarkable women’s strike, where tens of thousands of women left their places of work to take. a stand against horrific levels of domestic violence in the country, where ten women die in such crimes daily. The song isn’t explicit tied to the movement, but the sentiments are strikingly familiar: “they call me the unloved/with a sacred fabric/they killed my thoughts/mutilating my dreams so”. Non-Spanish speakers may not be able to understand the words as sung, but the soft pain in Lafourcade’s voice is universal, the Spanish language allowing for the circular and infectious lilting chorus “Ay, qué dolor/Qué dolor que le da” – “Oh, how painful/How it gives such pain”.
Steps – HAIM
As was true of much of the material from their sophomore Something To Tell You, this first true preview of their upcoming album Women In Music Pt. III feels like an old classic, even upon first listen. With a warm familiarity that borrows quite unreservedly from Fleetwood Mac – opening with a slide guitar and featuring bonafide belting choruses – it’s a track of uncomplicated pleasures which shamelessly revels in liberation. You can almost hear lead singer Danielle Haim grinning as she sings “And every day I wake up and make money for myself/and though we share a bad you know that I don’t need your help/Do you understand/You don’t understand me, baby!”
On The Floor – Perfume Genius
The kind of single which can very quickly make an album your most anticipated of the year; this near-perfect cut from Mike Hadreas is a new direction for the Perfume Genius moniker, which has at times swaggered, but never outright danced like ‘On The Floor’. Producer Blake Mills returns with guitar licks which are compressed into a silky crunch, and a krautrock tempo which makes this pop cut feel like it’s gleaming surfaces have been warped around the oddities of his outsider music rather than the other way round.
Quick Trick – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
It’s remarkable that in 2020 we get to hear a brand new song from titan drummer Art Blakey and his jazz messengers ensemble. The whole upcoming record was cut on March 8, 1959 in Rudy Van Gelder’s living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. The session featured a short-lived line-up of The Jazz Messengers with drummer Art Blakey, trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt – and it’s Timmons’ keys which shape this sweet tune, laying down a tempo which sees every member of the Messengers shine.
U.D.I.G (United Defenders of International Goodwill) – RAP Ferreira
Under his new moniker Rap Ferreira, underground MC Milo spits some of his finest, most verbose and obscure bars in years – yet despite his dexterity, it’s producer Kenny Segal which makes this one such a gem, with building in cacophony like a LCD Soundsystem track rather than a track off an underground rap album, creating a complex pocket which “king poetical kingbat” Milo negotiates with ease.
Words by Liam Inscoe – Jones with thanks to Ellie Freedman.