Every month, we’re flooded with new songs, EPs, b-sides, video clips – pretty much any medium that music comes in, we’re listening to it. While we can’t cover everything that comes our way, there are some standout efforts we obssess over. From the anthemic trap of Princess Nokia’s “Tomboy” to the navel-gazing psych pop of Fantasmes’ “Frog It,” here are 10 songs we bumped all month.
Xenia Rubinos - "Lonely Lover"
After her releasing her highly praised debut LP Magic Trix in 2013, Brooklyn-based keyboardist and vocalist Xenia Rubinos offers the first jazz-funk single off her new album Black Terry Cat. Inspired by Nina Simone, Judy Garland, and Billie Holiday, Rubinos channels the greats in her experimental yet soulful track “Lonely Lover.”
Her smooth voice carries over the swinging bass line as she sings about not being able to escape the rain, literally and metaphorically. From losing her glasses, to receiving a phone call from a person who has been playing with her heartstrings, Rubinos asks for “a little space ’cause I’m going insane and I just need to breathe today.” Although she can’t seem to catch a break in “Lonely Lover,” her unique and “rhythmically fierce” vocals make for an impressive first glance at her new album. –Zoë Montano
Kali Mutsa - "Interstellar"
Ever since 2014’s Souvenance LP, the mystical being of cumbia and light we call Kali Mutsa has been plotting her phantasmagoric return to our playlists. With new creative partners in Chilean producers Imaabs and Pablo Stipicic, Kali Mutsa is now on her way to releasing Mesmer, a new EP through London-based label ENDMK. The first taste of Mesmer comes in the form of “Interstellar,” a spellbinding hymn of psychedelic cumbia and tribal chants inspired by Peter Sloterdijk’s historical philosophy masterpiece Globes.
Both completely fresh yet perfectly in character for Kali Mutsa, “Interstellar” finds a sublime middle ground between sultry earworm and freaky head trip. Lines about ultraviolet rays and galactic stardust are delivered over a velvety cumbia beat that brings Stipicic’s beautiful production to the foreground. The song reaches frenzy during the bridge’s breakdown, which she delivers with unnerving childlike glee, somehow only making the song catchier.
The video for “Interstellar” was shot on the coast of the Metropolitan Region of Chile, on the outskirts of Santiago. Kali Mutsa teamed up with previous collaborators Enciclopedia Color to produce a thematically dark and mournful video that still showcases her mysterious sensuality. Seaside shots of chiffon clad dancers and a veiled Kali Mutsa recall images of Andromeda, Yemaya, and the classic Meryl Streep film The French Lieutenant’s Woman. –Richard Villegas
Mint Field - "Ciudad Satelite"
Tijuana trio Mint Field just embarked on the adventure of their young lives, as they performed during both weekends of this year’s edition of Coachella. An adventure, by the way, that had a soundtrack put together by the band itself. That’s why it’s very fitting, and totally not coincidental, to have some new music from them coming out just now.
“Ciudad Satélite,” the first single off their forthcoming debut album on Crane Records, is a 7-minute track that showcases what Mint Field is all about. It begins with gentle but rhythmic bass notes, quickly followed by a melancholic guitar motif, and velvety vocals that instantly set the mood. Estrella Sánchez sings “mis fantasías me hacen daño/no puedo ya encontrar” simultaneously melting and breaking hearts. It doesn’t take too long before things get distorted, as it turns into a lengthy shoegaze jam before hitting the 3-minute mark. This is just stunning. –Cheky
Delorean - "Muzik"
Although Spanish quartet Delorean put out their single “Crystal” and B-side “Bena” only last year, we haven’t had a proper full-length from them since their unfairly slept-on 2013 album Apar. Just weeks ago, the band announced the release of Muzik through their brand new Phlex imprint, engineered by Hans Krüger and mixed by Chris Coady (Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and now we finally get the first taste of what’s coming our way.
“Muzik” is an electronic number that’s more related to their 2010 album Subiza than to the organic approach they took on Apar, counting on a little help from Madrid producer Pional. It starts off in a nostalgic, 80s ballad mood set by the gloomy vocal melody and chord progression. Little by little, the song picks up steam, gradually building to a Balearic house beat that takes things to a more festive place. Before you realize it, you’re in the middle of a party with sparkling, arpeggiated synths and a fat and catchy bass hook. This is the uplifting Delorean we know and love.
Peep this short video where the guys share details on their creative process (Spanish-only, sorry):
Princess Nokia - "Tomboy"
Princess Nokia is back and slaying with her brand new single “Tomboy.” Produced by LA-based producer Saint, the song starts with machine gun snare rolls and a car engine revving, working you up and hinting something huge is coming. The massive trap beat doesn’t take long to drop. Nokia quickly follows, taking no prisoners.
She calls out her haters, celebrating her “little titties and fat belly” with fuck-you flair. And she threatens to steal your man with her little body and heavy soul. The attitude here is so punk we can’t help but bounce with our fists in the air. –Cheky
VOLTA - "Cien Vigilantes"
It’s rare for a group of seasoned artists to have the luxury of starting a new band just for fun. Independent musicians who are out there trying to build careers from art barely have time to spare. But when the circumstances allow it, you get rare gems, like Volta. Formed by Arturo Zegers (who assistant produced Ana Tijoux), Lego Moustache (Astro), and Pol Infante (TV Gamma), and fronted by renowned folk singer Camila Moreno, the group has a not-so-typical origin story. During Lollapalooza Chile, a space opened up between two acts and the festival allowed Volta to play in front of the audience. The band wowed everyone with a solid performance and was asked to perform again later that night.
This month, Volta released their debut single, “Cien Vigilantes.” The band’s dark and seedy lyrics, bolstered by Moreno’s indulgent moan, support nuanced psych pop arrangements that almost evoke a time when jamming onstage was the norm. Whether or not this is a fun side project or the next act to watch out for, they’ve already made a strong impression. –Pablo Dodero
Fantasmes - "Frog It"
The latest from Fantasmes, San Juan’s leading experimental psych rock troupe, is a mesmerizing yet euphoric labyrinth of a track dubbed “Frog It.” Released digitally and as a flexi disc single, the track doesn’t glide or slowly crescendo into grandeur like a lot of 2014’s Thralls to Strange Witchcraft, or the Redness Moon LP before it. Instead, it smacks you with the kind of powerful peak you’d normally find in a chorus right away, and doesn’t let up for its five whole minutes.
You might ask, why “Frog It”? We don’t know, just like we don’t know why they made this clip of a “performance” at the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones. It’s got to be some inside joke between them, and we’ll probably never understand. In bits and pieces, Fantasmes’ sense of humor is showing, which isn’t a trait psych bands are particularly known for. We dig it. –Jhoni Jackson
Salt Cathedral - "Lift Me Up" and "Homage"
NYC-based Colombian duo Salt Cathedral are deep into the making of their first-ever full-length album. They already shared its first single, an electronic ballad called “No Ordinary Man,” but their creative juices are flowing so hard they are even taking the liberty to release an EP with songs that don’t fit the album concept. But that doesn’t mean their two-track Homage EP is comprised of throwaways. On the contrary: these are two solid efforts that embody Salt Cathedral’s rhythmic potential.
Things start off with “Lift Me Up,” a club-ready number heavily influenced by UK dance sounds. It’s spiced up with Baltimore club breaks and samples, as well as a frantic lead synth, and Juliana Ronderos‘ voice brings out their signature mellow vibe and brings it all together. On the other hand, “Homage” relies almost exclusively on manipulated samples for the vocal parts, and it’s founded on processed, soulful piano sounds and hi-hat hits. The song builds up and up until it takes us to the realm of house, without us realizing it. This is Salt Cathedral as we’ve never heard them before. –Cheky
La Mafia Del Amor - "Oh Shit (Paul Marmota Remix)"
Intercontinental perreo ritualism reached new heights this month, thanks to Paul Marmota’s refix of La Mafia del Amor’s “Oh Shit.”
Yung Beef, Khaled, Steve Lean, and Kaydy Kain’s “Oh Shit” is a lo-fi, auto-tune lite ode to parejas reggaetoneras and gata-centric dancehall altercations. With the Mexico-based Chilean producer on remix duty, the track gets the NAAFI Midas Touch for a minor key dive into dark dembow rites of passage.
With the original version of the track staying elusive on the Internet aside from a recently-released lyric video from Kaydy Cain, “Oh Shit” could very well be a teaser of the new material they alluded to at the end of last year. –Sara Skolnick