Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".
PopMatters Picks is the new Spotify playlist curated by me, the editor-in-chief of PopMatters. Every day I seek out the best new songs to share with PopMatters readers, and in this little mini-column, I'll provide a bit of background on the artists and songs featured. My aim is as wide as my genre tastes, with forward-looking music my primary focus, but that shall nestle cozily alongside tracks rooted in older styles and music performed with the utmost virtuosity also key to the mix. So, get that finger ready to hit play as we feature the PopMatters Picks of the day.
Stellie - "Colours" (premiere)
Photo: Jackson Thornbury / Courtesy of artist
Australia's Stellie is a rising alternative pop singer-songwriter that received more than 700,000 streams of her 2019 single, "Love Me First". That's down to her smart, emotionally engaging songwriting and a lustrous voice capable of conveying layers of meaning. Stellie released her self-titled EP back in August, and now she's sharing the video for "Colours", a track that has "hit" written all over it as the warm vibes lure you into her world. Stellie doesn't want to waste a minute of precious life energy as she bathes those sentiments in nighttime colors.
Stellie tells PopMatters, "When I initially started writing 'Colours', I just had one lyric in mind: 'I'm too old to die young, so I don't want to die at all.' That line is really what kickstarted the whole mood of the song. It's almost that feeling of being too scared to waste any time, because life is too short and you want to make the most of every second. I wanted to emphasise the darkness that this song emulates when it came to creating the visuals. This is why the whole clip was filmed at night time, with my face really only being lit by different coloured neons. I really want the audience to feel the lyrics as much as they can hear them."
The Brooks - "Gameplay"
We already premiered a song by the Budos Band today, but you can never get enough funk in your life. Canada's the Brooks have been bringing the hot electrofunk for the past eight years, and they have a deeply groovy new tune, "Gameplay", on tap. The eight-piece P-funk group add psychedelic synths, slinky guitars, deep plunks of bass guitar to the song that displays their love for artists like Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins. The second half of the song brings in a NOLA brass band vibe. I can only imagine how incredible this song would song live on a huge stage at Montreux Jazz, where the Brooks have previously played.
Maude Latour - "Block Your Number"
Twenty-year-old New Yorker Maude Latour has been raved about in Billboard, The Fader, and others for highly melodic and smart indie-pop. Last year, Latour released Starsick EP and aimed to reveal all her secrets in an attempt at catharsis. Her music is deeply personal and emotionally revealing, but it also has killer hooks, energy, and passion. On "Block Your Number", the singer-songwriter examines heartbreak and pain in a set of clever, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that just click and work perfectly. Latour may be quite young, but she's already fully arrived with her unique spin.
Berne - "Heat"
Photo: Courtesy of the artist
London electropop duo Berne are as deeply committed to environmental issues as they are their music. Last Friday, they released their debut EP, Stay, which contains this beautiful and haunting new song, "Heat". Stay is focused on climate issues and Berne built a 100% solar power-fuelled website to accompany the record. "Heat" is an intoxicating dose of folktronica with delicate synths, warm harmonies topped with gossamer vocals, and deep, serious messages about how we are destroying our planet. The heat comes from the fire that won't stop burning until there is nothing left to burn. So, you're going to get a message with your music, but then this is mind music of the highest order, so it's only fitting.
Berne say that their "debut EP is a reflection of what keeps us up at night. It comes at a time when humans need to work together towards common goals more than ever. We really believe that small changes will collectively make a big impact and that is the common thread in all the songs."
Jaguar Jonze - "Deadalive"
Photo: Courtesy of Nettwerk Records
Indie pop's Jaguar Jonze (aka Deena Lynch) recorded the vocals for her latest EP while recovering from COVID-19 in a hospital ward, not a fully-laden studio. That did nothing to diminish the power of her vocals; indeed, it probably helped lend an urgency to the proceedings. She ended up spending 40 days in hospital but showed the grit and passion for carrying on with her artistic work. Anti-Hero will release soon via Nettwerk Records, and the Australian is sharing her latest single, the propulsive and thrilling "Deadalive". She and her band wrote the song while holed up in a one-bedroom in Gramercy Park, and have labeled the tune "the melodic manifestation of a reeling mind".
Jonze says, "Those weeks just blur together. I had a fever for five weeks straight and excruciating chest pains. The music industry was completely decimated. I was so worried. For many weeks, I had no voice. I couldn't sing. It was just me on my own. There were breakdowns. But I've been through a lot in life and have always trained myself to see a silver lining and be positive."
Meresha - "Look How Far"
Producer Meresha describes her sound as "alien pop", but her soulful voice adds a delicious contrast to the electronic music she creates. The Berklee-trained musician has a knack for both catchy melodies and the kind of beats that fill dance floors, as evidenced on her latest, "Look How Far". The song celebrates the joy of new love as Meresha thrills over how far she's come and how her heart beats out now. It's pure, relatable, universal emotion which powers some of the best dance tracks, and "Look How Far" is very much of that ilk. The buzz on this young producer is immense, and "Look How Far" shows why that is so.