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June 2021 Singles 2: Gold to Grim to Gold

I don’t usually header these lists anymore, but I feel like I need to give you the heads up on this one. This one starts off chipper and then goes deep into ominous, dark vibes for most of the mix. It comes up for sunlight in the last two tracks. If you’re not in that headspace, I get that! We’ll have more singles soon.

1. “Keumgang” – Tampo. This sextet plays South American cumbia and mambo in traditional ways, even down to the recording style. The melodies are charming and the vibe is impeccable. Also they’re from Finland?

2. “From a Golden State” – Grover Anderson and the Lampoliers. The third single from All The Lies That I Have Told is a tearjerking letter to a mother who died of cancer. The storytelling is impeccable, driving the mid-tempo ballad along beautifully.

3. “Vol de Nuit” – Jon Durant & Stephan Thelen. This duo blurs the boundary between ambient and post-rock to create a wind-swept, evocative, cinematic landscape that takes more than 10 minutes to fully unfold.

4. “Fashion” – Flowers 15. The Russian based creatives known as Flowers 15 reimagine the direction of Eastern European alternative rock with this mind blowing single from the upcoming album Friends Team. The soul of icon David Bowie fused with David Byrne of the Talking Heads graces this. Embracing the human body’s beauty with a Grecian essence of androgyny, singer and composer Vlad’s partnership with electronic composer and musician Artiom is essential to the nuanced edge the piece achieves.–Lisa Whealy

5. “The Skull” – ^L_. This track starts off with an extended barrage of gunfire, explosions, and emergency sounds before forming up into a grim, bleak, murky cut. There’s a pause, and then it takes off in a dead-eyed blast of percussive beats, distorted synths, and ominous swathes of sound. This is not friendly or happy music, but it’s uniquely intriguing electronic work. The horror of the single art adds to the feel.

6. “Emcimbinii” – DJ Black Low & Tap Soul feat. Licy Jay & Eto. DJ Black Low’s work here is a mix of celebratory vocals and chipper percussion against darkly enigmatic synths and eerie piano work. It’s a traveling party that wandered into a haunted house.

7. “A Blues for My Father” – Giancarlo Erra. Lots of ambient tunes sound like clouds moving slowly by, but the grief is palpable in this one; the slow movement of keys, gentle synths, and guitar-esque lead melodies work together for a reason, making this a beautiful, moving tribute.

8. “Of Scents and Dust” – Fallen. Have you picked up a theme yet? Here’s another ominous/beautiful ambient cut that relies heavily on reverb and empty space to create mystery.

9. “Nue Sous sa Chemise” – Thomas Simon Saddier (feat. Rem Rembuzzi). Okay here’s a song that is almost cheerful! At the very least this dreamy indie-pop track has a dancer in it; that’s gotta be some sort of penance for all the heavy tracks I’ve put forward so far. Saddier’s whispery voice fits nicely against low-key guitar and synth to create a fun vibe.

10. “Lemon Lime” – Emancipator, Cloudchord. Okay, here’s your jam: lightly funky lo-fi instrumental hip-hop with wispy flute action and a beat so leaned back it’s basically touching the ground with its head, drum-major-style. You’re welcome.