Music you should hear-Nikitch & Kuna Maze, Katy Kirby, Typhoon, Tune-Yards, Shovels and Rope

2021 had a crazy start…we had a lockdown in a pandemic which left little or no New Year’s celebrations, an overwhelming Georgia win of Warnock and Ossoff, an insurrection on the US Capitol, and then we finally welcomed the calm of inaugurating a new president. I don’t know about you, but my head has been spinning and swirling ever since. As I turn the calendar to February, I am slowly beginning to see the new year with a glimpse of promise and hope. Music always plays a role in my emotions, my impassioned political leanings, as well as my overall outlook. I now feel a break in the news cycle to slow down and give new music a serious listen.

So, my first music search found one with a chill vibe as well as a serious groove. Right now, I need the kind of music which calms me and yet orbits me outside of my usual realm. This song is it. The instrumental provides a sublime dreamy space to imagine a new year with new promise. I love everything about their sound.

Nikitch & Kuna Maze is a collaborative project between Nicolas Morant aka Nikitch and Edouard Gilbert aka Kuna Maze. They channel their instrumental skills to create compositions using their common chemistry while blurring the lines between improvisation, production and the creative art of DJing. Instrumental music is the perfect antidote to stress. I am playing it on repeat when I need to take a break from this crazy world.

Nikitch & Kuna Maze – Hey, This Must Be Deep (Confined Session)

I am all about new artists. Katy Kirby is one that I have totally fallen for.

“Kirby was born, raised, and homeschooled by two ex-cheerleaders in small-town Texas, where she started singing in church. After high school, Kirby moved to Nashville, where she managed to graduate college with a rapidly expanding circle of artistic allies, an amorphous collection of leftist beliefs, and a few handfuls of songs. After a series of painful failures to complete a record that reflected the temperament of those songs, Kirby finally turned to dear friends and co-conspirators to form a band capable of constructing a satisfying full length.”

Her album, Cool Dry Places, will release in February, but we have been graced by a handful of pre-releases. I am sharing “Juniper”, her latest. Her lilting vocals, and the dynamic musical stops and starts, emphasize her stark independence and create a powerful, catchy song.

“This is a song about motherhood, mostly. It sometimes seems like there’s far more material written on how dads can be terrifying and awful, or everyone is just less surprised about it. I’m uncommonly open and close with my mom, (and she’s asked several times if it’s about her — if you’re reading this Lisa, I swear, it’s not!!), but I was trying to work out how many distinct ways that sort of dynamic can uniquely harm. I wound up thinking a lot about vacancy, sort of how abandonment can happen even if someone technically sticks around. I heard Greta Gerwig say in an interview about Ladybird that “nobody doesn’t have a complicated relationship with their mother.” That feels pretty reasonable to me as far as super-broad statements go, and is maybe (probably) part of what scares me to death about raising a kid.”

Katy Kirby-Juniper

When I received this letter, my knees were weak and I literally belted out a “Waahoo” in support of the surprise release of Sympathetic Magic, by Typhoon. Overjoyed can’t even express the crazy emotions that washed over me. 2021 is looking better already. My favorite new music from one of my all time favorite bands.

My Dear Friend,

I hope you’re holding up. What a mess!

Small news in the big scheme, but we finished a record and I wanted to share it with you. I wrote all these songs while puttering around the house these past several months, because, what else was I going to do? The songs are about people – the space between them and the ordinary, miraculous things that happen there, as we come into contact, imitate each other, leave our marks, lose touch. Being self and other somehow amounting to the same thing.

The record is called Sympathetic Magic and it’s a great joy to share it with you. To be honest, it’s a joy to share anything at all in these isolating times.

kyle / typhoon

Typhoon-Empire Builder

Another surprising release was from Tune-Yards. The lyrical message is a beautiful one and one I think we all need right now. Be kind and gentle with yourself as we all learn to survive in this new world of dramatic shifts and changes.

“We all have doubts (We all have doubts)
We all have rage (We all have rage)
We all have trouble being brave enough to turn the page (We all have trouble being brave enough)

But we will
Hold ourselves now

Tune-Yards-Hold Yourself

Shovels and Rope came out with a remarkable collaboration with Sharon Van Etten and I just can’t get enough of it. They covered the Beach Boys tune, “In My Room”. It is a classic tune where they infused their signature sassy Americana honky tonk. Listening to this song today, it seems to have a broader meaning as we all learn to navigate staying home during this frightening pandemic. I am working through so many emotions in my room. Aren’t you? A must listen!

Shovels and Rope (featuring Sharon Van Etten)

Happy February, happy new music! Let me know what you are loving and listening to right now.

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