It goes without saying that these last couple of weeks have been like nothing anyone of us has ever experienced before. No matter the publication, no matter the TV-channel, no matter the Instagram account, everywhere we look we come across information, humour, or conspiracy theories somehow relating to COVID-19, otherwise known as the (novel) coronavirus. The disease has taken the world by storm, prompting national lockdowns and almost the entirety of this planet’s population to rethink and restructure their day-to-day. And while this is for certain not a topic to be taken lightly, we do want to encourage you to spend your time in quarantine with other things than obsessing over the ever churning mill of corona-news.
To bring you up to speed on what recent past had in store for us music-wise—aside from Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino’s live-streamed, then removed, then re-released new record—we cultivated a list of our favourite releases to come forth during this dreadful period, the majority of which probably flew beneath your radar, lost somewhere in the vast midst of virus updates. Note, too, the featured titles below are a) singles only, and make no further mention of newly dropped, also very listen-worthy full-lengths by the likes of Jay Electronica, Jhené Aiko, Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion or The Weeknd. And b) don’t include corona-inspired, rewritten versions of already existent songs à la JoJo or Neil Diamond.* But now, without further ado, turn on your speakers or grab your headphones and take a dive into this genre-trespassing, alphabetically sorted list of March’s finest.
ALINA BARAZ FEAT. 6LACK – MOROCCO
For years now, Alina Baraz and her sultry tunes have amassed subtle, but sustainable online hype. Following an immensely popular Soundcloud project with Danish producer Galimatias, and an EP of her own, the 26-year old is set to unleash a first, proper full-length later this year. One of its first installments takes shape as ‘Morocco’, the type of track that actually makes you want to stay inside, so long as you have a special someone to do so with, if you know what I mean …
DVSN FEAT. SNOH AALEGRA – ‘BETWEEN US’
Another smooth and sexy collaboration comes from Drake’s label-signees dvsn and Swedish soul-barer Snoh Aalegra. The cozy, romantic R&B-feat is less sexual, and more sensual than the above-mentioned ‘Morocco’, and might work best played before or after it – dvsn and Snoh are kind of like the emotional yin to Alina and 6lack’s physical yang.
EMPRESS OF – ‘GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE’
Following 2018’s sophomore effort, Us, Empress Of’s Lorely Rodriguez triumphantly returns with ‘Give Me Another Chance’. The irresistibly rhythmic dance recording and its accompanying video ring in a new era for the Latinx-American singer/songwriter/producer, and lead the way for a (hopefully) just as eclectic, bouncy and flouncy third album.
GIRLPOOL – ‘LIKE I’M WINNING IT’
For their latest offering, LA-outfit Girlpool shed their indie-rock skin and trade it for a more industrial, trip hop-y sound – think Björk’s ‘Army of Me’ kind-of-vibes. Unexpected, but awfully appealing, the new song and bizarre visual feel like a welcome move to more fleshed-out, distinctive territory and away from some of their earlier work.
HAIM – ‘THE STEPS’
For the third time in a row, sisters Danielle, Este and Alana Haim join forces with mega-director Paul Thomas Anderson, to offer a visual companion to their attitude-heavy, Calfifornia-Valley-Girl-blues. A taste of what’s to come from their third full-length Women in Music Pt.III, ‘The Steps’ is a rather traditional rock number, whereas its predecessors tap into synthier, folkier sounds respectively.
HAYLEY WILLIAMS FEAT. BOYGENIUS – ‘ROSES/LOTUS/VIOLET/IRIS’
On the brink of her first official solo collection, Paramore’s Hayley Williams has been releasing petite bundles of new music since the beginning of 2020. This latest piece is a spooky yet hopeful, atmospheric flower analogy on feminism and coming-of-age. On backing vocals, we hear the current holy trinity of indie rock – Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker – otherwise known as supergroup boygenius.
JESSIE WARE – ‘SPOTLIGHT’
Jessie Ware initially made a name for herself as one of the leading ladies of the “Alternative R&B”-phase in the early to mid ’10s, and as a go-to voice for electronic acts like SBTRKT and Disclosure. Over time, she ventured into more classic pop territory, though. In 2020 however, Ware is ripe and ready to reawaken her dance music roots, and does so with the flashy, lavish disco tune that is ‘Spotlight’.
KELLY LEE OWENS – ‘MELT!’
“Climate change, but make it techno”, is what Welsh producer Kelly Lee Owens must’ve thought when creating ‘Melt!’. The three-and-a-half minute club banger samples different sounds of ice and its textures; whispers of the word, how it melts or the noise it makes when scraped. Part of her looming sophomore LP Inner Song, ‘Melt! can be described as both a political and danceable number.
LITTLE DRAGON FEAT. KALI UCHIS – ‘ARE YOU FEELING SAD?’
On a bit less serious side of things, we find Swedish Avant-Pop ensemble Little Dragon uniting with all-round bombshell Kali Uchis. The pouncing, electronic beat of this spring-appropriate, feel-good track switches between noisy distortions and woozy pop elements, wrapped in whole by the two vocalists’ dreamy voices.
PERFUME GENIUS – ‘ON THE FLOOR’
“How long ’til it washes away? How long ’til my body is safe?” Mike Hadreas, better known as Perfume Genius, asks frolicking around a stone monument somewhere out in the rural country. Given current circumstances, both the lyrics and picturesque backdrop resonate greatly, as we find ourselves pacing through our apartments, waiting to be freed from solitude.
PURITY RING – ‘PEACEFALL’
In hiatus for roughly half a decade, Canadian duo Purity Ring report back with a track true to their signature melancholic, chime-heavy microverse. Nearly ten years ago, Megan James and Corin Roddick emerged alongside the likes of fellow Witch House-y acts like Grimes, and are said to have massively impacted the past decade’s sonic direction. We’ll see if they’re upcoming third album, WOMB, can do their former notoriety justice.
RINA SAWAYAMA – ‘XS’
Taking a step back from the cyber pop aesthetic she’s gained attention for in the past, Japan-born, London-raised Rina Sawayama’s new track combines early 2000’s pop-r&b with heavy metal nuances. What sounds inconceivable spoken aloud, takes an odd but no less compelling shape on ‘XS’, a track that will instantly echoe Britney and Madonna’s collaboration ‘Me Against The Music‘.
SEVDALIZA – ‘LAMP LADY’
Iranian-Dutch chanteuse Sevdaliza channeled her sadness over her home country’s precarious state in the eyes of the virus into song. Where most of her past releases relied heavily on avant garde, otherworldly production, ‘Lamp Lady’ is comparatively sparse, stripped down to guitar and drum sounds, adding an even thicker layer of vulnerability to the elusive multitalent’s versatile body of work.
THE LEMON TWIGS – ‘THE ONE’
If you feel like you’ve heard and re-heard the archives of everything that is or at least remotely reminds of The Beatles, you should tune into musical siblings The Lemon Twigs for more material. ‘The One’ is old-school, nostalgic, and feels like traveling in time – sonically and visually. Perfect to zone out of present day isolation, back to when life seemed alright.
YAEJI – ‘WAKING UP DOWN’
It’s a shame that Korean-American musician Yaeji has so little music to her name, considering it’s so. damn. good. Thank God this is about to change! ‘Waking Up Down’ is an ethereal, minimal dance track, characteristically braiding together soft-spoken, (K-)Hip Hop and house melodies, all to be topped off with an equally trippy music vid and new mixtape announcement.
YVES TUMOR FEAT. DIANA GORDON – ‘KEROSENE!’
Together with Beyoncé-collaborator and powerhouse vocalist slash songwriter slash producer Diana Gordon, experimentalist Yves Tumor invites you into their comfy, mellow soundscape of sway-along psychedelia, infectious heartache and painfully good guitar riffs. ‘Kerosene!’ is made to soundtrack your social distancing walks in the sunset.
* Additionally, UK-rapper M.I.A. released a new track, as of now though exclusively available through Patreon – a platform for creatives to share mainly paywall-protected content.
Head Image: Still from Sevdaliza ‘Lamp Lady via YouTube