There’s an optimistic bounciness to “Savage Good Boy,” the first track on Japanese Breakfast’s third album Jubilee; like the New Pornographers when they feel like being upbeat, this bright slice of indie-pop boasts a hard-won, joyful attitude that’s contagious.
Billie Marten, “Human Replacement”
Billie Marten excels at gorgeous indie folk, but as the cover art to her third album Flora Fauna – which shows her smiling face covered in dirt, teeth and all – makes clear, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter is ready to stretch out of her comfort zone. With an icy vocal, a brooding bass line, and some woozy strings, “Human Replacement” is a harrowing protest against what Marten describes as the “absurdity of simply not being able to go out anywhere at night as a woman.”
PawPaw Rod, “Glass House”
On “Glass House,” PawPaw Rod’s follow-up to “Hit Em Where It Hurts,” the rapper-singer demonstrates the buzz to his 2020 debut single was hardly misplaced. A syncopated beat and a quirky looped vocal provide the forward motion in this hazy, intoxicating brew of laid-back R&B vibes that’s a must for any 2021 summer playlist.
Beverlee, “Logic Is Lost”
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Beverlee lets her inner oddball soar on the appropriately named “Logic Is Lost,” a romantic piano-based song that quickly detours into an engrossing, moody alt-pop landscape with pitch-shifted vocals and eerie, vintage samples.
Holly Humberstone, “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”
U.K. singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone has released some compelling dream-pop singles in the recent past, but on new track “The Walls Are Way Too Thin,” her formula reaches its apotheosis. A song about emotional claustrophobia is juxtaposed with spacious pop-rock production, as Humberstone gasps for air and wraps her vulnerabilities around a stellar hook.
The video for Jeffe’s new single opens with the U.K.-by-way-of-Australia singer-songwriter twirling in place while bathed in green neon lights; listening to “Home” provides a similar effect, with the shuddering beats and soulful harmonies keeping the listener warm before the hook arrives and provokes light swaying (in either a standing or seated position — your choice).
Hauskey, “Cream Shirt”
“I think it might be like forever,” Australia’s Hauskey sings on new track “Cream Shirt,” a gentle song about the crystallized beauty in the moments before great, sudden loss. Along with contemplating that hurt, “Cream Shirt” revels in the memories of a perfect reality, the percussion skipping forward and pushing Hauskey to process his feelings.
James Vincent McMorrow, “Paradise”
The Irish singer-songwriter has made a name for himself crafting beautifully haunting music, but now he’s exploring a sunnier, more uptempo lane thanks in part to Paul Epworth, who produced the artist’s latest single “Paradise” — which does, in fact, evoke a sense of being in or aspiring to be somewhere warm and worry-free — off his upcoming album Grapefruit Season out July 16.
Rauw Alejandro, “Todo De Ti”
Having collaborated with everyone from Ozuna to Selena Gomez, 28-year-old Puerto Rican artist Rauw Alejandro is becoming a major name on his own, proving he can walk the line between reggaeton and pop. On “Todo De Ti” he’s all in on the latter with retro production and a laid-back energy perfect for those too-hot summer days.
Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, “Like I Used To”
Any time two top-notch singer-songwriters team up, expectations will be high — and on “Like I Used To,” Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen deliver. While the two have been peers for years, often bumping into one another on the touring circuit, Van Etten reached out to Olsen in June 2020 about a proper collaboration, and the result is this subtle explosion of sentimentality.