Hear Hear: Music to start your spring 🌸
ft. Benny Sings, Caroline Polachek, Omar Apollo + more
With a release perfectly timed to the first Friday of spring, I couldn’t stop smiling on my first listen of Benny Sings’ Young Hearts.
Fans of Rex Orange County will recognize the breezy sound of this earnest Dutchman from his feature on “Loving Is Easy,” the 2017 soft rock gem. His jubilant new album continues that collaborative spirit — all ten tracks are produced by Kenny Beats, influential beatmaker for artists like Dominic Fike, Vince Staples, Denzel Curry, and more. Here, Kenny applies his signature bounce with a much lighter touch to match the singer’s loungey vibe. Rising star Remi Wolf joins the party too, supplying the earworm hooks of “Young Hearts” and “Pjyamas.” Take a stroll and turn it up!
But if Benny’s cheesy, simple tunes aren’t your thing, have no fear — I’ve got more albums, songs, and playlists for ya. As always, you can find them all in the Hear Hear playlist.
Atmospheric electro-pop: Caroline Polachek. After her indie-pop rise with the band Chairlift, Polachek became a force as a solo artist with 2019’s Pang. This year’s strong sequel features tracks with delightfully “twisted, irregular structures” as Cat Zhang writes in her Best New Music review for Pitchfork: “Within the span of one song, Polachek’s voice will smear like paint, swoop like a crane, and bubble like lava.” That’s especially true on “Sunset,” where her “woo-ooo” wailing recalls the wild White Lotus theme. [Top tracks: “Blood And Butter” // “Fly To You (ft. Grimes and Dido)” // “Pretty In Possible”]
Retro soul with a modern twist: Omar Apollo. Apollo “has been on a meteoric rise since he uploaded “Ugotme” to Spotify a mere five years ago,” writes Sharlene Chiu, covering his sold-out Kings Theater shows last autumn. If you watch his Tiny Desk Concert it’s easy to see why — Apollo is immensely talented and charming. Following his debut full-length in 2022, new single “3 Boys” is a modern slice of doo-wop that has me excited for whatever comes next. [Top tracks: “3 Boys” // “Talk” // “Evergreen”]
Folky, open-air ambient rock: runnner. With shades of Pinegrove’s emo twang and Katy Kirby’s inventive bedroom pop, the LA-based musician Noah Weinman makes extremely compelling, catchy songs under the stage name runnner. His new album is a chill, free-flowing, warm hug. [Top tracks: “i only sing about food” // “running in place at the edge of the map” // “chess with friends”]
Sweet, existential coffeehouse pop: Joy Oladokun. Building on her growing collection of thoughtful, gentle folk songs, Oladokun’s latest track is an anthemic sing-along in collaboration with another talented rising songwriter, Noah Kahan. Together, they sing the chorus with a joyful irony: “we’re all gonna die trying to figure it out.” [Top tracks: “We’re All Gonna Die (ft. Noah Kahan)” // “Changes” // “Keeping The Light On”]
New songs from Hear Hear favorites
“Smog,” Indigo De Souza. After making my favorite album of 2021, De Souza is readying her next record for April 28 and shows no signs of slowing down. The first single, “Younger & Dumber,” is a wonderful slow-burn piano-and-guitar ballad — but I’ve been more drawn to the buzzing synth-pop of the follow-up track, “Smog.” Excited to hear the rest.
“coogie,” dijon. As Jordan Coley writes for Pitchfork, dijon’s intimate sound seems “to invite listeners to a late-night session in a smoke-filled room.”
“Naturally” and “Crooked Creek,” Bonny Doon. More “propulsive indie-pop twang” from the Waxahatchee collaborators, as Stereogum’s Chris DeVille writes, as they sign to a new label ahead of their upcoming full-length in June.
“Over,” CHVRCHES. Another addition to lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s catalog of effortless, soaring choruses.
“Winslow Gardens,” Ben Folds. Just in case this issue didn’t have enough corny, earnest music from an artist named Ben! After many years away, it’s nice to hear Folds again with his trademark brand of piano-power-pop.
2 spring playlists worth following 🌷🎧
Forever Spring, longstanding indie rock classics curated by expert playlister Adam Sharp. // ft. Dr. Dog, Grizzly Bear, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Alabama Shakes, Wilco
Love Songs for the Coming Springtime, Vol. 3, a romantic mix of seasonal tunes curated by cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib. // ft. Dijon, Mereba, Liv.e, MICHELLE, Frank Ocean, Mary J. Blige, Hellogoodbye
Pop culture corner 🍿📺
Ted Lasso’s latest episode closed with the recognizable strings and vocals of Andrew Bird — a nice song from his 2020 album that I didn’t know, called “Night’s Falling.”
Creed 3 is a treat, made even better by its booming soundtrack from J. Cole’s Dreamville label — including artists like JID, Ari Lennox, Kehlani, Baby Rose, Tierra Whack, SiR, Syd, Mereba, Big Sean and more.
The best Q1 strategy report you’ll see 📈📊
(Because it’s actually a new music video from Tanlines.) After a long 8-year hiatus, the synth-pop duo has returned with a catchy single and clever take on corporate strategy presentations — informed by the real-life marketing career of percussionist Jesse Cohen.
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