Welcome to The Rotation, a roundup of the week’s key moments in music and why you should listen. Read Volume 14 below, or scroll to the end for playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. Previous instalments available here.
As concerts return and the bars are reopening, it’s beginning to feel like things are getting back to normal. Music releases in recent weeks have also felt more familiar with headline-grabbing new music, tour announcements from the big artists we’ve missed, and new artists emerging as acts for the future.
This week’s selections feature great tunes that will keep you company on your summer evening walks and soundtrack your pints with friends in the sun. Enjoy!
Bleachers | ‘How Dare You Want More’
Jack Antonoff releases another pulsing track with his band Bleachers, and it’s another tune to soundtrack the return of live performances. Antonoff channels significant rage and fear from his personal life into the lyrics. The title is a snarky question asking how do you want more when you’re not sure if you even deserve it. Antonoff has explained that he recently discovered facts about his family that challenged their entire structure, and this has inspired much of his new record.
But the band is the star of the show here. They sound like a they are playing their instruments as fast as they can as they chase the last bus out of town after a night drinking. You can hear the off notes and the missed cues, but it all adds to the wild nature of the track—how far can they push it before the wheels fall off? From the rowdy group vocals to the endearing call and response between the saxophone and the guitar, the similarities to Springsteen are clear but you get the feeling Antonoff loves that.
Their third album, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, is out on July 30 and, based on these tracks, this record was made to be performed on the road for a long time.
Jungle | ‘Talk About It’
Jungle continue their campaign to soundtrack the summer with this soulful offering that follows their first single ‘Keep Moving’, featured recently on the The Rotation.
This is another irresistible track from the duo made up of Josh Lloyd Watson and Tom McFarland. Starting with the classic breakbeat and easing into a dub-flavoured bassline, it features all the disco decadence we associate with Jungle and a memorable singalong chorus. The band worked with producer Inflo on this track, who is known for his work with Little Simz, and their mission statement was to avoid overthinking—they created the bassline early and stuck to basic principles while writing the track.
Jungle’s new album, Loving in Stereo, is out on August 13, and it sounds like they have created a special record, perfect for summer days by the BBQ. Hopefully their upcoming tour extends to this side of the Atlantic as this music was made to be enjoyed dancing outside together.
AUDREY NUNA | ‘Top Again (feat. Saba)’
Korean-American artist AUDREY NUNA is a promising new name on the R&B scene, her style is experimental as she switches between rapping and singing but her talent is clear. This track is certainly influenced by the sound of Billie Eilish, but NUNA makes it her own. The production changes to match her flow and she sounds perfectly in control throughout.
Saba has been quiet since the release of the excellent CARE FOR ME. His verse here is reminiscent of Chance the Rapper, but it is thoughtful and fits the production perfectly. AUDREY NUNA has explained that she is a big fan of his and having him on the record was incredibly special for her.
Her latest project, a liquid breakfast, is out now and is a fascinating listen, from her experimental production choices to her unique voice, she will be an interesting artist to follow in the future.
Mach-Hommy | ‘Kriminel’
The Buffalo-based rap collective Griselda has been on a run of releases that is as impressive for its quantity as its consistent quality. Mach-Hommy, who previously had issues with Griselda, returns under the banner with founding member West Side Gunn executive producing the album and rapping on a few tracks. Mach is a mysterious character who keeps his identity hidden behind a bandana and refused to have his music on streaming services until recently. All of this mystery adds to the allure of the music.
This track in particular showcases his taste for soulful, jazzy beats, his casually clever wordplay, and his practised, scratchy singing voice. His delivery conveys the desperation of his stories about being unable to eat or seeing visions in his sleep. His singing and switching between English and Haitian Creole varies the tone and the texture of the track over the beautiful sample.
Pray for Haiti, his latest album, is out now and is one of the most impressive rap releases of the year so far. Cian Geoghegan also has an excellent review of the album on the HeadStuff that’s worth checking out.
Yebba | ‘October Sky’
To say that Yebba has a special voice feels like an understatement. She has yet to release her debut album, yet she has already won a Grammy for her cover of ‘How Deep is Your Love’ and has featured on albums by Ed Sheeran and Mark Ronson.
But in the middle of this early success, her mother died by suicide due to mental health issues. Her mother was a massive influence on her—her stage name is taken from a nickname her mother called her, Abbey spelled backwards—and this track is dedicated to her. Yebba has described how memories of her mother came to her and the words just flowed out. The track is lovingly produced by Mark Ronson, who has been a big supporter of Yebba’s and the delicate instrumental lets her voice shine.
Her debut album, Dawn, dedicated to her mother, will be released September 10 and is sure to be an emotional listen but it will no doubt be an outstanding piece of work.
FYA FOX | ‘Sunset’
Irish artist FYA FOX is a classically trained vocalist. Following up last year’s debut single, ‘White Lies’, with this compelling track, she is proving that she is an artist to watch.
The production here is made up of an ethereal soundscape with rich textures. The soft keys, muted synths and dark alt pop embellishments add layers to this stripped back instrumental and when the drum pad beat kicks in it adds an urgency to the track. All of this just provides the backdrop to the mesmerising vocals from FOX. Her angelic tone is reminiscent of London Grammar in the verses and then the chorus kicks in like a mantra with delicate harmonies. The chorus suggests this urgency to meet, and FOX has explained that she is referring to meeting again in the afterlife. The sunset represents the space between this life and the next.
These confessional lyrics and stunning vocals show all the hallmarks for success in the future for FOX. As we await her debut album, she is set to perform at Whelan’s in November and I’m sure this track will take on a life of its own in a live setting.
Molly Burman | ‘everytime’
19-year-old London-based Irish artist Molly Burman has strong family connections to the music industry. Her mother sang with The Pogues and her father played in bands alongside members of Bow Wow Wow and Sex Pistols, so it’s no surprise that she is now releasing impressive pop songs.
In her own words, this track focuses on her “sad excuse” for a love life. She has described how she was obsessed with seeking validation from the guys that she dated but has come to terms with being on her own for a while and learning to love her own company.
Burman’s singing is effortlessly melodic, her songwriting is deeply honest and gutsy but it also has a wry humour to it. This track is overflowing with masterful rhythm and glorious harmonies as she runs through some of her dating woes. Her lyrical style is reminiscent of early Lily Allen tracks and her voice is just as interesting. Her debut EP, Fool Me With Flattery, is coming out August 20 and should include plenty of this witty lyricism and sharp production.
CHAMELEON & Lucy McWilliams | ‘YOU KNOW’
Irish artist Matthew Harris returns under the name CHAMELEON, representing his varied styles of music with this R&B influenced track. Harris is known for his previous work with Malaki and Nealo, but this is the self-taught producer’s first track as CHAMELEON.
The production here is based on immersive soundscapes which are made up of what Harris describes as dirtier or dustier textures. It’s a hypnotic, airy track that gives the vocalists space to express themselves. Berlin-based Irish singer Lucy McWilliams joins Harris on this track, following her success last year with ‘Fair Play’. Her deep and soulful voice, similar to UK singers like Celeste or Jorja Smith, fits the track perfectly. Both artists combine to provide luscious harmonies and captivating melodies.
Information is limited regarding what is to come from both artists but hopefully we hear more from this talented Irish pair in the near future. For now, this record is made to soundtrack your summer evenings as the sun goes down.