There is so much great new music out this month that I’m excited to highlight. Ready, set, get listening!
1. Kaki King - “Tunnel”
Musician and composer Kaki King (pitcured above) just released a stunning video for her new single “Tunnels” with Stereogum. Both her fingerpicking and the video visuals are hypnotizing. She’s a masterful guitarist, and makes it look effortless. It’s a brief song, but an apt intro to her skill, if you’re new to her, and a welcome return, if you’re a years-deep fan. “Tunnels” comes from her latest EP, Everybody Glows, which came out this week and is available here.
2. Shookrah — “Woman”
Irish trio Shookrah make R&B and neo-soul influenced pop music with a feminist slant. Their debut EP, “Implicit Content,” came out in October, leading with the anthem “Woman,” which celebrates “womanity” and all the glories therein. Listen and buy the EP here, and check out the single’s video below.
3. Field Division – “Faultlines”
Field Division are a duo originally from Des Moines, now working out of Nashville. Their sound has the same haunting, emotive quality as Fleet Foxes, led by Evelyn Taylor’s wistful vocals. Audio for the single is below, and their gorgeous latest EP, “Reverie State,” is here.
4. Jessica Lea Mayfield – “No Fun”
Alt-country singer Jessica Lea Mayfield manages to make pink deliciously menacing in her grungey new single “No Fun,” from this fall’s 7” Standing in the Sun. The star of the video is clearly Mayfield’s glittery guitar, which she named Barry after discovering it at a Guitar Emporium in Louisville. “I took it as a sign from Satan to play the guitar more,” she says of the drive to move out of country and into rock for the recording of Standing in the Sun. If the moody Nirvana-adjacent guitar work on “No Fun” is going to be the result, then Lucifer ain’t wrong.
5. Moira Smiley & VOCO – “Laughter Out of Tears”
If, like me, you spend some of your days missing Enya and wondering what would happen if Enya and Abigail Washburn made an album together, wonder no longer. Laughter Out of Tears is the stunningly beautiful new album from singer Moira Smiley and VOCO, a collective of Eastern European musicians that add Croatian, Serbian, and Bulgarian lyrics to Smiley’s Appalachian-style folksong. The combination of voices is breathtaking, as is this record’s ability to synthesize disparate folk traditions seamlessly. This is music for mourning and dancing at the same time.
6. denitia and sene – “side fx”
SXSW 2014 discoveries denitia and sene are back with “side fx,” which incorporates more video-game-leaning electronic instrumentation than the more sultry R&B of their debut album. This song has an ebullience and danceability to it, made even more delectable because the lyrics are about a messy breakup. Who doesn’t love dancing through their damages?
7. Jennifer Knapp – Set Me Free
Jennifer Knapp is a former Christian music star who came out as a lesbian and left her career in religious music to pursue secular singer-songwriting. Now signed to Righteous Babe Records, Knapp (who is still a Christian) has written a memoir about her experience called Facing The Music and has founded a nonprofit organization called Inside Out Faith that seeks to engage communities of faith to include LGBTQ people. The music from her new album Set Me Free is straightforward, Lilith Fair folk-rock. She sings about feeling trapped and finding release—a message that will ring true for people of faith and marginalized populations alike.
8. Radclyffe Hall — OMG EP
This impeccably-named L.A. group (Radclyffe Hall was the pen name of Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, a famous lesbian writer in the late 19th century.)recently released a new EP of dark, moody pop this fall, akin to My Midnight Hearts or Robyn. The group was started by Berklee grad Dhy Berry, whose previous band was also a literary-title goldmine (The Mrs. Danvers). Clever nomenclature aside, their brand of digi-pop is evocative, intense, and skillfully orchestrated. The EP is here for listening and purchase, and the video for the title track is below.
9. Zola Jesus – Taiga
In a fantastic review of the operatically trained noise-pop singer Zola Jesus’ 2011 album, Conatus, Bitch contributor Mac Pogue wrote that Jesus has a voice that “bursts through the sludge” of her sometimes overwhelming atmospheric instrumentation. Her new album Taiga is more accessible than much of her past work, but her voice remains a powerful show-stealer. On “Go (Blank Sea),” below, she croons through her verses and swoops through the chorus, commanding every ounce of attention all the way.
10. Mirah – “Turned The Heat Off” (The Blow Mix)
11. Charlotte OC – “Strange”
English singer Charlotte OC just released a new EP, Strange, which showcases laid-back, sultry vocals reminiscent of Lana Del Ray, paired with digital backing that denitia and sene would approve of. In a Bechdel Test-bending move, the video for the title track is about a lover, but features only OC. It’s nice to see the focus on the performer, instead of a (usually male, usually distant) subject. Check it out below!
12. Betty Who – Take Me When You Go
There is not a single thing I don’t love about this video. One, Betty Who makes irresistible dance pop music. Two, she’s super tall and proud. (VIVA THE LANKY!) Three, I missed Rosie O’ Donnell’s accent more than I realized. Four, the story of the flash mob proposal using her music in a Home Depot is glorious. Five, KEYTAR. Betty’s new album, Take Me When You Go, which features “Somebody Loves You,” came out last month. Enjoy!
13. Trophy Wife — All The Sides
Diane Foglizzo and Katy Otto make up Trophy Wife, a rock band from Philly who just released their third album, All the Sides. Foglizzo’s intense, echo-soaked guitar work gives depth to the pair’s lighter layered vocals, which are unpolished and emotive. Their Bandcamp tags include the descriptor “heartcore,” which gets at their appeal exactly. Particularly on a song that’s a nod to Neil Young’s “It Comes in Waves…”, one of the album’s best tracks, Trophy Wife demonstrates powerful, wall-of-sound instrumentation that pairs well with their exhilaratingly uncomplicated vocals.
14. Girlpool – “Plants and Worms”
Speaking of perfect music/video pairings, L.A. duo Girlpool just released a strange and wonderful animated video for their latest single “Plants and Worms.” Artist Catleya Sherbow made the digital watercolor-looking backgrounds in the video, which seems like a psychadelic outtake from Princess Mononoke. The video matches the abrasive-yet-intriguing simplicity voices of bandmates Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. Girlpool will release a self-titled EP on Wichita Recordings on November 18th. Keep an eye out!
15. Olivia Jean – “Toot Toot Tootsie”
Rockabilly singer Olivia Jean has lots of great names associated with her music. She’s the singer and guitarist for the Black Belles, she was in Karen Elson’s band, and she backed rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson. She’s now working on a solo career, and has the feisty lyrics, impeccable style, and commanding stage persona to go it alone. Her first single “Reminisce” is making the rounds, but I fell in love with her cover of “Toot Toot Tootsie” (first made famous by Al Jolson in the 1927 film Jazz Singer). She swings hard, growls where Jolson crooned, and otherwise smashes the cover to bits, in every best way possible.
16. Vök — Við Vökum
Folk-pop giants Of Monsters and Men have dominated the world’s view of Iceland lately, aligning their island home with their Scandinavian neighbors, all of whom are famous for creating pitch-perfect folk and pop. Trio Vök are bringing Björk-style delicious weirdness back to Oceania. Lead singer Margret Ran Magnusdóttir is openly gay, and incorporates her sexuality into all aspects of the group’s image. Turn your November into Makeout-vember with the video to “Tension,” below.
17. tamtam – “Gender Game”
This month’s epic roundup closes out with the breakout single from Saudi Arabian singer tamtam, “Gender Game.” It’s a soulful, catchy R&B anthem, and the video features a diverse cast of women grooving to the song (and a scene-stealing young girl lip-syncing a speech excerpt from Betty Friedan). tamtam is now based in Los Angeles, and has launched a #GenderGame campaign on social media. She describes her goal as “to focus not on the gender-based limitations of a patriarchal society, but on what [we], as human beings, can gift to the world.”
Related Reading: Los Angeles Duo Deap Valley Shred Their Way to a Dynamic Sound.
Katie Presley writes about books and music, and tweets about everything else @loveismaroon. She lives in Austin.