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Listen Up

Written by on March 18, 2020

Monophonics: Last One Standing

California-based band Monophonics makes music that sounds plucked from another era, with tinges of Curtis Mayfield and Al Green. There’s a timelessness to their releases and their newest single, “Last One Standing,” is no exception. The seven-minute song ebbs and flows: there are groovy, cinematic cuts carried by drums, a bass guitar and horns, and crescendoing choruses built around vocalist Kelly Finnigan’s soulful voice. “I will be the last one standing,” a choir chants alongside Finnigan.

Natalia Lafourcade: La Malquerida

Dedicated to “all our sisters,” Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade’s acoustic rendition of “La Malquerida” spotlights the love and pain women feel. Its title roughly translates to “the badly loved,” but its mission is empowerment. Lafourcade sings alone, at first, strumming a guitar next to a fire, but a choir of young women chime in when the track reaches its chorus. Together, they create an emotionally impactful collective—one that is delicate, powerful, and transcends language.

Deradoorian: Saturnine Night

Angel Deradoorian returns with “Saturnine Night,” seven minutes of rolling, thunderstorm-like soundscapes and vocal surges. The track introduces the art-pop singer’s latest album, Find The Sun (out 22 May from ANTI-). “A lot of these songs are about trying to reach yourself,” Deradoorian says—and the expansive, celestial stylings of the single certainly underscore this.

Kacy Hill feat. Francis and the Lights: I Believe In You

Pretty and powerful, “I Believe In You” from Kacy Hill’s forthcoming album, Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again, grapples with doubt and the repetition of everyday life. Ultimately, however, the song offers thoughtful affirmation. Halfway through, the break’s distorted vocals contrast Hill’s otherwise airy crooning. The silken tune’s hopeful subject matter reflects a real-life “coming to” moment for Hill, as she explains in a release: “I found comfort in the small bits of happiness that make life a little easier every day. Things get better and sometimes all I have to do is be present to enjoy them.”

Lunar Vacation: Unlucky

Atlanta-based, four-piece “pool rock” band Lunar Vacation returns with “Unlucky,” a beautiful, self-reflective single. It’s Lunar Vacation’s first release since 2018’s Artificial Flavors EP and features production from Daniel Gleason of Grouplove. Lead singer Grace Repasky sails upon the song’s relaxed melody and anchors honesty to the lyricism.

M. Ward: Unreal City

Filmed on the streets of Paris, the Beatrice Pegard-directed video for M. Ward’s latest track, “Unreal City,” brings the spirit of New Wave filmmaking into the present day. Clémence Poésy stars as the adventuring, everyday heroine and her movements bring the beautiful of the song to life. “Unreal City” appears in advance of M. Ward’s forthcoming album, Migration Stories, recorded within Arcade Fire’s Montreal studios.

Slodown: CRAZY OUTSIDE

Singapore-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Slodown verbalizes exactly what countless people are feeling in his new song “CRAZY OUTSIDE.” The downtempo tune may sound a little melancholy or forlorn at first, but the lyrics soon prove to be positive and include messages of gratitude and encouragement. The languid, piano-led song incorporates crackles reminiscent of old vinyl or staticky radio, which adds to its nostalgic tinge.

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.

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