5 Songs to Hear This Week: Ana Tijoux, Jorja Smith, Vundabar

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5 Songs to Hear: Wild out with Ana Tijoux, Jorja Smith, and Vundabar. Photos by Pilar Castro Evensen, Mike Excell, and CJ Harvey

Hey! Did you know that there’s an entire aspect of KCRW music discovery that you might be missing out on? Fear not, because our 5 Songs to Hear This Week newsletter is now a weekly feature on our website. Watch this space for rundowns of the five songs that you need in your life immediately, curated by KCRW Music staff. Don’t want to wait for your latest taste of fresh tunes? Sign up for the Friday newsletter here, and always be the first to know.

Ana Tijoux – “NIÑX” 

Been sleeping on Ana Tijoux? You’re excused — but this track’s your wakeup call. The French-Chilean singer and musician first knew stardom as a member of hip-hop group Makiza, but found her solo footing on the fertile and colorful grounds of Latin pop through the 2010s. 

Known for her deft handling of sensitive topics in both her lyricism and musical style, Tijoux’s long been celebrated for her feminist activism. Just one rinse of this track and you’ll feel the power she holds. Her first new album in nine years is on the way, announced just yesterday by this red-hot, club-ready, power-packed dance/hip-hop track. 

Cornelius – “Sparks”  

Bright and poppy while inviting an air of contemplation, this track takes notes from ‘00s indie rock, alt-pop, and a touch of electro to form a solid comeback. Cornelius, a longtime leader of the Japanese rock scene known to some American critics as the “Japanese Beck,” has been releasing music since the 1990s, but this sparky single harkens his first new release since 2017’s Mellow Waves — which itself was his re-emergence from an 11-year break. Click play to find out if it lights your fire. 

Chenayder – “Off the Wall”

If, like most grown-ass adults, you still often suffer the cold sweat of a high school bullying nightmare, Chenayder’s here to help you process that old trauma. At only 16 years old, the budding singer-songwriter is grappling with the everyday realities of highschool life in real time, only perhaps with more elegance and talent. 

This track covers familiar ground: rumors, making and losing friends, yearbook desecration, and revenge fantasies. Musically, Chenayder displays an appreciation for trip-hop elements, subtle electronic nods, and warm bedroom vocals layered in unexpected ways over a steady hip-hop beat. Tap into this one to get in the mood for next week’s release of KCRW’s Young Creators Project — class of 2023

Jorja Smith – “Little Things”

Velvet-voiced UK singer-songwriter Jorja Smith is back with new music and a new attitude. This track contains multitudes: Jorja’s undeniably excellent vocals pair perfectly with classic instrumentation on the piano and bass; then, in a final stretch made for the dancefloor, a throwback dubstep beat slithers between drum ‘n’ bass rat-tat-tats to get you high on that nightlife vibe. Flirtatious (wo)man-on-the-street interviews pepper this Saturday-night-scene music video that’ll have you ready to mix n’ mingle.

Vundabar – “Digital Forest”

Fuzzy like a peach and, at times, hard like the pit, this thrashy lo-fi single from Boston indie rockers Vundabar is your stompy-stomp single of the summer. Frontdude Brandon Hagen’s lyrics tell a surrealist story of a man losing his arm to “the dystopia that is modern healthcare,” only for Hagen to break his arm and finding himself in a strikingly similar situation IRL only a month after completing the track. Premonition? Maybe. We sure hope not… In the meantime, use all of your limbs to let loose to some satisfying rock riffs, chanting verses, and wild, full-kit percussion.