Welcome to the latest edition of Be Here Now, the column/playlist for folks who would like to discover outstanding contemporary artists but could use a little help navigating all of the new music out there.
Here is a link to the Be Here Now Spotify playlist, which includes songs from all the artists mentioned in this column and many more:
After a summer of heavy immersion, the following songs get better with each play. These are tracks worthy of repeat listening:
Rüfüs Du Soul, “Alive” – This Australian trio has been making hypnotic, hooky electronic music for a few years now and their following has grown to the point that they are now headlining festivals. Unlike a number of artists in the genre, they also write great songs, and the shimmering “Alive” is irresistible.
Yola, “Starlight” – Yola burst on the scene in 2019, getting a nomination for Best New Artist at the Grammys and mining a rootsy groove with the assistance of producer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). A knockout singer, her new song “Starlight” taps into old school Tina Turner and Bonnie Raitt but keeps it oh so fresh.
Foo Fighters, “Making A Fire (Mark Ronson Re-Version)” – The Foo Fighters are one of the great bands of the 21st century but one doesn’t think of them as funky or loose. Super-producer Mark Ronson transforms “Making A Fire,” a perfectly fine track from their new album, into a soulful celebration complete with turn of the ’70s Stones-style backup singers and jamming guitars.
Grandson, “Dirty” – Grandson is Jordan Benjamin, a charismatic Canadian, who combines topical songwriting with earworm breaks. He writes from a pessimistic perspective, but the music is often celebratory, and he is a force in concert.
Wet Leg, “Chaise Longue” – Minimalist, irresistible, might be a novelty song, might be a sign of something much bigger. A series of provocative phrases – “Would you like us to send someone to butter your muffin?” surround a one-line chorus and irrepressible guitar riff.
Parcels, “Comingback” – Parcels makes jubilant, sleek pop music and their rousing new single is an optimistic paean to finding joy and perseverance in these challenging times.
Big Red Machine, “Phoenix” – Big Red Machine is a sort of indie supergroup led by Aaron Dessner (The National) and Justin Vernor (Bon Iver) with help from a variety of esteemed indie icons. “Phoenix” is retro-comfy with a back-to-the-country vibe, sweet harmonies and a lightly lilting piano leading the way.
Brandi Carlisle, “Right On Time” – The first single from her upcoming album is a heartbreaking, towering ballad that allows her the opportunity to flex one of the most remarkable voices in contemporary music.
The Knocks featuring Foster The People, “All About You” – Electronic music producers the Knocks (named for all the knocks they received on their door for playing their music too loud) have teamed with a number of acts to produce great pop songs over the last few years. Their new collaboration meshes Foster The People’s melodic chops with a bouncy track featuring a drop dead break and church-style background vocals.
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Header image of Wet Leg by Hollie Fernando.