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‘Jaago’ is one of the most critically acclaimed albums to have been released by an Indian independent artist this year. Lifafa is the solo project of Suryakant Sawhney who is also the frontman at Peter Cat Recording Co. that came to life as a part of a quest to find his identity. Adopting a more organic approach, the album builds up as a live set to an audience would, the tracks start off slow with prolonged harmonium and gradually build up to more danceable disco worthy grooves. A perfect combination of vintage soulful Bollywood in a modern electronic setting bridges or eliminates the gap between the highly commercial movie industry and the independent music scene.
Having featured on Denzel Himself’s brilliant COLORS session, South East London based singer, rapper and producer KEYAH/BLU shared the hypnotic ‘Sweet’ last year. This past month, the rising newcomer followed up the single with another innovative and atmospheric new track in the form of ‘Choker’. On ‘Choker’, KEYAH/BLU manoeuvres her way through the stop-start instrumentation with a playfulness that comes with a bit of a bite as she sings/raps about breaking free and doing whatever you want.
Opening with the line “I feel like a god right now” couldn’t be more apt for ‘I Know’, the latest single from Sri Lankan-Canadian artist and producer Yanchan. Fusing a fiery hip-hop beat with Carnatic nuances, ‘I Know’ is a collaboration with fellow native Shan Vincent de Paul who blitz through his powerful and hard-hitting verse with ease. Together, the pair have created a song that empowers and celebrates both the Eastern and Western influences, masterfully blending the sounds to create a seamless, powerful statement.
South Korean born, New York raised singer, songwriter and producer Alice Kim aka Hunjiya (pronounded hun-jee-yuh) shares her breezy new single ‘give it/what i get’, which follows up previously released single ‘said’. Backed up with a breezy soundscape which intertwines the world of R&B/soul with electronic and trap-inspired flourishes, the track encompasses a refreshing atmosphere as Hunjiya’s serene voice permeates through with ease. The perfect soundtrack to those hazy summer days, listen as Hunjiya, soothes your soul with those golden tones.
After last year’s brilliant ‘Ginger Juice’, Switzerland based rapper Makala has become inseparable from Varnish La Piscine who produced his highly anticipated debut album ‘Radio Suicide’. Encompassing a dirty yet sensual funk aesthetic, the two Swiss acolytes celebrate an hybrid and refreshing sound that resonates wonderfully on each track. The MC, of Congolese origin, whose name means “embers” in lingala, delivers punchy rhymes and bewitching flows on retro yet modern moods. The Superwak Clique member displays and cultivates his unique sound with ease… and it suits him well.
Swedish based artist and producer Simon On The Moon shares the latest single from his forthcoming ‘Milk’ EP in the form of ‘Sleeping With You’. The dazzling single serves as the follow up to previously released offerings ‘Lied 2 U’, ‘Stromboli’ and the titular ‘Milk’. Sparkling guitar riffs are accompanied by Simon’s delectably smooth, falsetto-laden tones to create a refreshingly vibrant and groove-inflected atmosphere.
Mumbai based producer and vocalist Your Chin has recently dropped new single ‘Horticulturist’ his first release in three years. One of India’s most seasoned artists, he has never failed to impress listeners with his whimsical take on electro-pop. His music often comes across as effortless mood music, but there is a solid groundwork of talent and aesthetic sense that supports it all. Rich layered beats with catchy choruses giving out a sombre message disguised in feel good metaphors, resulted in a multifaceted sound totally unique to him. Highlighting a contrast when listening to music, that of being a joyous experience to thought provoking the artist returns to his sonic roots making this the first of many releases lined up for the year.
Formerly of indie-pop outfit Chairlift, singer/songwriter Caroline Polachek unveils her sparkling debut solo effort in the form of ‘Door’. Accompanied by an otherworldly music video and serving as the lead single from her forthcoming debut album, ‘Door’ is a dazzling pop song that sees Polachek’s crystalline vocals shine across a twinkling soundscape as the cryptic lyrics allow your imagination to run wild. An exemplary taste of what’s to come from Polachek’s debut full length (two thirds of which is produced by Danny L. Harle), ‘Door’ is everything you need and want in a pop song.
There’s something utterly enchanting about London based singer/songwriter Joviale’s debut single ‘Dreamboat’. Everything from the stop-start, minimalist production and the nonchalant delivery to those mesmerising vocals evokes a hypnotic atmosphere – one that draws you in with each passing beat, note, word. With ‘Dreamboat’, Joviale has shown that she’s one of the most exciting and unique voices to come out of London in quite a while.
French-Congolese duo TSHEGUE serve up a dazzling slice of Afropunk in the form of new single ‘M’Benga Bila’ which is lifted from their newly released EP titled ‘Telema’. Comprised of vocalist Faty (who moved from Kinshasa to Paris at age eight) and producer Nicolas ‘Dakou’ Dacunha, it’s safe to say that TSHEGUE’s music packs quite the punch. A rhythmic whirlwind of sounds that transcends borders and language, ‘M’Benga Bila’ is the ultimate feel good song of the summer.
Having marked their return with the glorious ‘Talk to Me’ earlier this year, Danish quartet Liss have released their long awaited ‘Second’ EP. Featuring the previously released single ‘Reputation’, the self-released project is another blissful affair with the band’s exceptionally slick productions hitting the spot and lead singer Søren Holm’s endearing tones stealing the show on each track. The EP captures what it’s like to be a young adult – exploring topics of sexuality, identity, relationships, self-reflection and more.
L.A. based duo DJDS (comprised of Same and Jerome) team up with R&B singer Dijon on the magical ‘Magic Loop. Serving as the first taste of music since they released their star-studded sophomore album ‘Big Wave More Fire’ which featured the likes of Amber Mark, Vic Mensa as well as COLORS alumni Marco McKinnis and Empress Of, ‘Magic Leap’ is delectable slice of electro-R&B. Whilst the song encompasses a slightly more mellow and softer sound compared to the pair’s more underground techno sounds, it shines just as bright with Dijon’s exceptional vocals accompanying the infectious “do do do”s that carry the track along.
Influenced by Flume, Mura Masa, Odesza and Mr. Carmack; young electronic producer Chrms (pronounced Charms) has been experimenting with design, film and music since he was nine. Not subjected to any genre, his productions mainly vary from indie dream pop to lush, ethereal, bass heavy electronic music. Garnering a secure hold within the independent music scene in India, his debut EP ‘Lover Boy’ takes one through the diverse genres that have been explored by this young producer. Bone Soda ft Rae is a smooth composition infused with distinctive synth elements making for a tune one can groove to on the dance floor. The contrast of the rap and the subtlety of the production makes for the perfect balance merging two different worlds together.
London based rapper, producer and BBC Sound of 2019 winner proves why he’s one of the most exciting voices around with the release of ‘Endorphins’. The twelve-track project, which follows up last year’s ‘Spaceman’ tape, is another brilliant showcase of Octavian’s unique flow and intriguing sound. With contributions from the likes of Jessie Ware, Skepta, Theophilus London, ABRA and more, ‘Endorphins’ is a trippy, melodious affair boasting the Londoner’s superb songwriting and raspy, calculated delivery.
Aiya are a Melbourne based duo comprised of Ayten + Felicity who create mesmerising electronic-led cuts that draw you in and enchant from start to finish. Since debuting with the glitchy and crisp atmospherics of ‘If I Could Get’ over four years ago, the pair have released just a handful of other tracks in the form of ‘Go’ and ‘Girl’. Marking Aiya’s return, is ‘Focus’, a moody and utterly captivating number which commands your undivided attention as the sparse electronics teeter in and out of the haunting vocals.
Having shared a handful of gorgeous acoustic demos on his SoundCloud over the past year or so, New York based singer/songwriter dhruv delivers his first studio single in the form of ‘double take’. Produced by fellow New Yorker frankis, the sparkling track features a sharp electronic, trap inspired soundbed which boasts a pounding bass which is topped off by dhruv’s exquisite vocal delivery. It serves as dhruv’s first. A brilliant debut offering, ‘double take’ is a dazzling introduction to dhruv’s artistry and according to his SoundCloud, there’s more new music on the way.
Swedish rap sensation Z.E. opens up his banger ’74 Bars’ with the fiery line “Tar inte klubbspelningar, bara festivaler” (no more club shows, only festivals), setting the scene wonderfully for his equally explosive flow. Z.E has been topping the Swedish music charts ever since the debut a little over two years ago. With the gift of eloquently incorporating his life experiences into the rapping, Z.E has reached out to every Scandinavian music lover from the upper North to the South.
On ’74 Bars’, Z.E. looks forwards, after touring around the country at different clubs, Z.E. sets his sights on playing for bigger crowds and festivals. The past months have seen the rapper flourish with a slew of unexpected releases, where each song has it’s special signature sound. Z.E is and will always be one of the top dogs of Swedish hip hop.
Urban ecologist, Aditi Veena aka Ditty gracefully transitions between spoken word and singing in her debut album ‘Poetry Ceylon’. Inspired by the natural world and people on the island of Sri Lanka, the album is an earthy, diverse and experimental journey of music that offers listeners an invitation to feel all that is beautiful and heart wrenching about being a human. There is a natural ease in her delivery of lyrics mainly written around her knowledge of the earth, of cities, of her own self and the ruin of nature coupled with melancholic vocals. The album is recorded by Shantanu Pandit and arranged by Dhruv Bhola who have added a touch of finesse to her captivating voice rendering an irresistible charm.
Hounslow,London based producer, singer and songwriter Grace Acladna shares an intoxicating new single in the form of ‘Apnea’, which is lifted from her newly released ‘Phonophobia’ EP. Since debuting her gorgeous single ‘London’ in 2015, the rising artist has continually impressed with her evolving soundscapes and poignant songwriting. That’s exactly the case ‘Apnea’, a somewhat delicate yet powerful offering which sees the singer’s sensual vocals glisten atop a murky electronic beat sprinkled with intricate piano progressions.
Originally from Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Grace-Attalie’s striking debut EP ‘Polluted’ is arguably one of the most intriguing and exciting things you’ll hear. Each of the project’s three brilliant and exploratory songs unravels and showcases a different layer to the singer/songwriter’s exceptional musicality – whether it’s the infectious melodies and unique vocal delivery on ‘Eggshell’ or the haunting atmospherics on ‘Sombre Storm’, Grace-Attalie keeps you on your toes from start to finish.