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Welcome to another KCRW DJ Takeover edition of 5 Songs to Hear This Week! This time, the expansive array comes courtesy of John Moses.
We have heady and revelatory hip-hop on offer via producer Will Archer (Wilma Archer) and rapper Donnell Williams Jr., a.k.a. Vritra teaming up as Wilma Vritra. Global Beat: Australia alumni Gabriella Cohen is here to demonstrate once again why she might just be Melbourne’s best kept secret. Cinematically-minded Brooklyn duo Test Subjects, ethereal Chicago-based singer-songwriter Stu Pender, and LA’s bossa nova baby Will Fox round out this expertly mixed and ready to mingle list.
Follow us on Spotify to keep up with our current obsessions, including 5 Songs to Hear This Week, Global Beat Australia, and our weekly sampler of KCRW’s Top 30 most played records.
Wilma Vritra - “One Under”
Behold, the heady lead single from Wilma Vritra’s forthcoming LP, Grotto. This collaborative project is the brainchild of producer Will Archer and rapper Donnell Williams Jr., a.k.a. Vritra, who create elegance through deeply orchestrated instrumental work and lyrically sincere mediations of self-preservation. There’s something about “One Under” that inspires nostalgia and romanticism, and rap singles this exploratory and classically epic tend to come along once a generation (if we’re lucky). What a revelation to have this one immediately at our fingertips.
Test Subjects - “Tumbleweed”
Sam Glick and Melody English are Test Subjects, the duo behind one of last year's most stylistically perplexing and aurally compelling releases, Study. Standout track “Tumbleweed” sees Glick and English apply their kaleidoscopic creative sensibilities to a cinematically-informed sound palette that spans classic Westerns, ‘80s fare along the lines of Weird Science and Teen Wolf, and more eerie modern fare like Vivarium. Soaring whistles, slide guitar, and vocal duets inspire visuals of expansive desert landscapes nestled under a twinkling, starry night sky; their music is as expansive and serene as it is experimental and unexpected. Pour this one into your canteen — it'll quench your thirst for something deeply original.
Gabriella Cohen - “Son of a Gun”
Is Gabriella Cohen Melbourne's best kept secret? (If you’ve heard her on KCRW’s Global Beat Australia, you’re already in the know.) However, to a more casual observer, one listen through her latest full-length effort Blue No More might suggest as much. Soulfully authentic and authentically soulful, “Son of a Gun,” in all of its slow-moving minimalism, captures Cohen's unplaceable and undeniable talent for crafting a sonically religious experience.
Stu Pender - “Palms”
Somewhere between Andy Shauf and Blake Mills exists Chicago-based guitarist, composer, and producer Stu Pender, who crafts sentimental sounds with introspective ambience. Taken from Pender’s latest album, Stillness in Motion, “Palms” sees Pender trade six strings for 88 keys, bypassing his usual writing process with an acoustic guitar and incorporating his own vocal work for the first time. Written in the privacy of a piano-shop after close, the result is intimate, haunting, and alluring — a meditative ballad perfectly suited for the wee hours.
Will Fox - “Isolation Blues”
An amuse-bouche ahead of his forthcoming full-length Old News, LA's own Will Fox creates a colorful cocktail of swirling bossa nova rhythms, tender vocals, and a pinch of clarinet in this buoyant standalone single. Pop it on your stereo for a Sunday afternoon stay-in, or a joy ride down the PCH. Whether the wind is blowing through your hair down the highway or you're stuck in traffic, “Isolation Blues” is infectiously breezy.