Need New Music? Here are 9 Artists for your Listening Pleasure

Music is an essential part of my life — so essential that it is the second most important thing to my survival next to water (this is an exaggeration...I think).  I’m always looking for my next favorite artists. With options like Spotify and Apple Music always at my disposal, it is easy for me to find my next obsessions and lucky for you, I am not stingy and am more than happy to share my newfound treasures with you. Get ready because here are 10 artists who are sure to become your next obsession. 

Cleo Sol

Have you ever had a warm hug? One long, enveloping embrace that, if just for a moment, numbs all the bad and emanates nothing but warmth and safety? If you haven’t, listening to Cleo Sol is sure to give you that effect. After stumbling on her music in late 2018, I found myself unable to escape the comforting essence of Cleo’s music. With a voice like soft silk and lyrics like the softest of assurances, Cleo Sol has become one of my absolute favorite artists. Think Erykah Badu and Jill Scott — Cleo Sol feels like the beautifully conceived love child of the sun. There is not a song in Sol’s catalog that is even remotely bad. Every song, while achieving the same feeling, is a different trip to serenity. Every song is a trip to an open field of daisies with the sun warming your skin and the breeze cooling your body. Grab your headphones and get ready to relax because Cleo Sol is the fastest way to reach nirvana.

Charlotte Day Wilson

Where do I begin with Charlotte Day Wilson? She disrupted my airwaves without warning in early 2019, claiming my ears with the beautifully vulnerable “Doubt.” The lyrics and musicianship were enough to demand my attention, but Charlotte’s voice was what demanded me to stay and listen. After hearing “Doubt,”I needed more of the powerhouse that was Charlotte’s voice and to my great pleasure I stumbled across her collaboration with another favorite group of mine, BADBADNOTGOOD. The song titled, “In Your Eyes” takes you on a trip back to the 70’s with Wilson as your guide, her incredible vocals driving an already phenomenal track. I was elated to find more from her and as time continued, I continued to find more and more music for my greedy consumption. Wilson has some of the most vulnerable music I have ever heard, her soul bearing always delivered on the mustang engine that is her voice. Her honesty mixed with her incredible vocals and R&B driven beats always paint the most incredible and beautifully painful trips through even some of our most frightening truths. Wilson is an incredible artist with incredible music under her belt, but pace yourself with her music as all of it is filled with emotion.

Hiatus Kaiyote/Nai Palm

Upon first listening to this amazing group, Hiatus Kaiyote, I had never heard any music like theirs before. Immediately upon my first introduction to these amazing people with “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” I knew that I had stumbled across a rare, extraterrestrial, spiritually cleansing gem. Like Cleo Sol, it’s almost impossible for me to even attempt to find a bad song within the amazing treasure that is Hiatus Kaiyote’s catalogue. From songs like “Borderline With My Atoms” to “Breathing Underwater” all the way to their new release “Get Sun” with Arthur Verocai, there is never a miss. It’s hard to put this group in any one genre as, like other people explored in past articles, their music seems to transcend any one genre and sits itself nicely between several different genres giving it it’s own unique, seemingly impossible-to-imitate sound. Imagine walking through a beautifully full rainforest with beautiful flowers and shrubbery. Imagine the beautiful animals and imagine what it feels like to be kissed by the sun, just so much that it’s warmth brings you comfort. That is what Hiatus Kaiyote feels like. Front-woman Nai Palm pulls together every beautifully crafted soundscape Hiatus Kaiyote conceives, her vocals the driving force and guide through every new world they feel you should be transported to for that song. I can’t say enough good things about this group, and if I had to sum up their music in one word it would simply be: Immaculate. Nai Palm makes music independent of Hiatus Kaiyote, and this same story remains true to her music as well. Often creating new renditions of Hiatus Kaiyote music, her music just like Hiatus Kaiyote, is always a trip out of this world and into theirs

Jordan Rakei

Spotify is a wonderland for music lovers such as me and you. It has an amazing way of crafting and shaping playlists that are beyond optimal for discovering your next favorite musician. It takes time to learn every genre you love to listen to and manages to find just the perfect match for your listening pleasure. So it should come as no surprise that while listening to one of these meticulously crafted playlists, I would come across perhaps one of my most favorite artists on this list, Jordan Rakei. I can’t recall the exact time I stumbled across this man’s music, or even what song I was listening to because whatever it was led me down a rabbit hole that I couldn’t escape from. I found myself listening to countless songs and adding each and every one of them to my playlist. Like Hiatus Kaiyote before him, Rakei feels almost impossible to put into any one genre of music. He plays a lot with breakbeat jazz fusions bringing together things like R&B and jazz together in the most mind bending of ways and if his fusions weren’t amazing enough, his voice is like lying in a hammock on a nice spring day while a cool breath soothes your mind. As much as I wish I could provide an accurate depiction of what it feels like to listen to a Jordan Rakei project, I wouldn’t be doing him much justice as he holds the vulnerability of Charlotte Day Wilson, the creativity and fusion concoctions of Hiatus Kaiyote, and the comfort of Cleo Sol all in one. Think Tom Misch but with more experimentation and you’ll find the realm for which Jordan Rakei dwells.

_BY.ALEXANDER

Since I was a child, I always found jazz to fall into two main categories: The nice music you listen to on car rides home from school that made you tired or the confusing stuff that had no structure and only made sense to jazz musicians. But then, on a late and rainy Saturday evening my ears were filled by the sensuous and lulling musings of _BY. ALEXANDER’S “STALLING” featuring my absolute favorite musician as of late Tanerélle. It had all the components of the jazz music of my childhood, but it’s modern flare forced me to stay and even further, add it to my playlist. I was beyond intrigued after coming up on _BY.ALEXANDER’S (formerly known as Alex Da Kid) music and to my great delight, “STALLING” was just one of many songs on his new album. There are few albums that I give a 10/10, albums like “Choose Your Weapon” by Hiatus Kaiyote, “Anti” by Rihanna, and “Purple Rain” by Prince being among them, but _BY.ALEXANDER’S 000 CHANNEL BLACK is an absolute 10 and easily one of my new favorite albums of all time. Though we do not hear any vocals from the man himself, the musicianship of every song is pristine and the stories being told in each song are incredibly honest and relatable. If you are anything like me, Jazz is a genre of music that bears much mystery, but _BY.ALEXANDER'S work is an amazing starting place to unlock the truths of the often misunderstood genre. 

The Paul Institute

The concept of X-Men always fascinated me. They had a dedicated institution for those who were gifted and misunderstood by the world. The X-Men have always been my favorite gaggle of superhumans for several reasons, but the most important is their institution. Upon my discovery of Jai Paul and his brother AK Paul, I had viewed them as separate entities operating on their own terms of creation and musicianship. That is until I discovered the behemoth that is Paul Institute, the music equivalent to the X-Men. With artists like RUTHVEN, HIRA, and Fabiana Palladino under their belt, the Paul Institute is perhaps one of my favorite music concepts in modern times. The Paul Institute’s music style is distinctive and before even checking one of their artists’ affiliations it is always easy to know where they belong. Operating in a genre all of their own, Jai and AK Paul’s Paul Institute follows others in this list in being impossible to categorize as their music borrows from several genres to create their soundscapes. Every song experience is a one way trip to a world not of ours filled with clever lyrics and amazing stories. Get ready to enjoy some of the most amazing experimental music of the time and prepare to be cast into a new world.

NAO

What would this list be without the musings of the all-powerful songstress NAO. Pronounced Nay-O, the London born singer first burst into my airwaves during a routine Spotify listen with her song “It’s You”. The beautiful story driven by NAO’s unique vocals and even more unique soundscape was grounds for a deep dive into her discography. At that point, NAO didn’t have much music for me to listen to but that wasn’t an issue because every last song she had made sure to leave a lasting impression. NAO makes feverish upbeat music that mixes influences of house and edm with R&B flavors all the way to electronic fused ballads like the all enticing “In the Morning” and even some nice in-betweens like her collab with X-Men member AK Paul “So Good”. Nao always feels like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer morning just as the sun rises. If you read up on VanJess in my article about 10 Black artists to listen to, remember the rooftop sunset parties and that is exactly what a NAO project sounds and feels like.    

Tash Sultana

Have you ever sat down and watched a movie so good that it kept you on the edge of your seat the entire time that it was on? Every second felt like a fever dream and if you looked away for just one second you felt like you might miss out on the most important part? That’s what watching a Tash Sultana production feels like. Tash Sultana came to me as a YouTube recommendation. They were performing their song “Jungle” for a magazine and it piqued my interest because I’m always interested in seeing someone with a guitar play music, but to my surprise, Tash didn’t just play the guitar, they played at least five other instruments all using looping technology. After watching an approximately 8-minute performance of Tash jumping from pedal to pedal, to instrument 1 then instrument 5, I felt exhausted but in the most amazing way. Every performance and every production that Tash puts out is a high energy display of unimaginable talent. They jump from guitar to piano to saxophone to bass all seamlessly. It is incredible to watch them and even better to hear the energy and creativity that goes into each one of their tracks. Sultana falls into a pop-rock esque category, their music borrowing from genres all over the place like the reggae in “Jungle” or “Big Smoke”  to folk music in songs like “Can’t Buy Happiness”. It’s hard to choose a favorite song from Tash, but rest assured whichever song you stumble upon, it’s sure to be a ride from start to finish with beautifully crafted creativity behind every one.

The Internet

For some, this name may not be new, and if you don’t know The Internet as a whole, you have probably heard names like Steve Lacy or Syd somewhere in your life. With Syd making appearances on TV shows like Insecure and Lacy taking R&B scenes by storm, it’s almost impossible to miss either of these two, but The Internet as a collective manages to still fly under people’s radars. After hearing the oh so sweet and smooth R&B track, “Girl” from The Internet, I had to have more and I found it in The Internet’s 10/10 evocative album Ego Death. With Syd’s silvery smooth smooth voice and the incredible musicianship of Steve Lacy, Patrick Paige II, Matt Martians, and Christopher Smith, it’s impossible to immediately fall in love with the always smooth musings of The Internet. Imagine sitting in the V.I.P section of a smoke lounge with a nice glass of your favorite drink while the sweetest of voices caresses your temples. The Internet’s music is a great example of modern R&B using the issues of the day to fuel their music and do so perfectly. 

So there you have it. Nine new artists for your consumption. Be sure to grab some headphones, a good drink, and your favorite streaming service and get ready to take a moment to relax.