‘Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),’ by The Orielles
Though released in February, “Space Samba” screams summer from the first sun-bleached, flanged-out strum of Henry Carlyle Wade’s guitar. Blending funk, rock, disco and samba, the British four-piece creates a bright-eyed dance track that feels like it was plucked from the ’90s, given a Queer Eye-attention-to-detail makeover and unleashed on an unsuspecting 2020. “Disco volador” translates, literally, to “flying disc,” which the band says reflects “both feelings of flight and motion and the notion of human connectivity.”
‘Future Toyi Toyi,’ by Keleketla! featuring Tony Allen, Tenderlonious, Soundz of the South (SOS) and Dj Mabheko Music
Keleketla! is a collaborative musical project between British electronic duo Coldcut and a cadre of South African musicians. “Toyi toyi” is a rhythmic, stomping dance long used in political protests in South Africa; the movement united millions of black South Africans during anti-apartheid demonstrations, a weapon of sorts to intimidate police forces. This track — featuring the late, great Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen (a longtime member of Fela Kuti’s band) — places a revolutionary chant by hip-hop activists Soundz of the South over the minimalist, heavy bass of a gqom track by Durban producer DJ Mabheko. “Keleketla,” by the way, is a Sesotho and Setswana word which means “to participate,” as in get out there and keep making noise until things change.
‘Sunshine,’ by Romare
British DJ Archie Fairhurst studied African American visual culture as a university student — his stage name is a nod to African American artist Romare Bearden, whose work in collage and photomontage inspired a young Fairhurst to take a similar approach with his music. “When you mix sound from different genres, cultures, continents or time periods,” Fairhurst told online magazine Huck, “that’s where you can create some real magic. That’s what makes it such a great way to get people to lose their prejudices.” They say sunshine is the best disinfectant, right? With deep bass and plucky synths, this track begs you to close your eyes, throw your fist in the air and dance like your life depends on it.
‘Kitchen Sink,’ by Nadine Shah
Nadine Shah’s husky voice leads you through this dark, minimal and driving song about being an outsider. The British singer cut her teeth in London singing in the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, and studied art at university. Shah’s lyrics are refreshingly straight-forward: “Don’t you worry about what the neighbours think / They’re characters from kitchen sink / Forget about the can’t witches / Go sip and bunch of boring bitches.” In 2013 she told The Quietus that she’s inspired by the poetry of Phillip Larkin and the art of Frida Kahlo: “Frida Kahlo had a brutal honesty about her — almost too brutal of an honesty.”
‘Eve,’ by Sarah Jarosz
The spacious vocals on this lead single from Sarah Jarosz’ new album, World on the Ground, are a perfect vehicle for the tale of a young woman who wanders off one evening to explore both the Texas land of her home and the landscape of her own mind. Jarosz’ new album is full of “name songs:” “Maggie,” “Johnny,” “Eve.” “Before this record, I had only written about myself and my feelings,” Jarosz told The Current. “Picking names opened that door to make up stories and to make them real by putting a name to it.”