Words by Brian James
Every month Off Shelf contributor Brian James brings you the best singles of the month and puts together a playlist for your enjoyment. Below you’ll find six highlighted songs that stood above the rest, which is followed by the entire playlist.
Amber Mark has been releasing amazing, stand out R&B/Pop singles for the past several years and Foreign Things, her most recent addition to this collection, may just be her best yet. From the opening piano/hand claps to the sick bass line in the verses to the ethereal bridge, there are so many different textures and things to enjoy about Foreign Things. It’s also a great vehicle to showcase her vocal range and melodies. Unfortunately the summer is over, as this would be a great “Song of the Summer” candidate, but whatever, make it the official “Song of Fall” this year!
Helado Negro is prepping his next album and first for 4AD and has been releasing some really show stopping singles, including Outside the Outside. It’s hushed, catchy, funky and great for doing a little dreamy dance. Hearing the meaning behind the song makes the head bobbing and dancing even more enjoyable as Roberto Carlos Lange says of the song: ““My family came to this country as outsiders looking for and finding community. People would come to our house and bond through music, food and dancing. They usually began at 8 PM and lasted until 5 AM. I found space through music and outsiders finding each other. This is a song about intimate partnerships and long-loving friendships. To be loyal freaks and an outsider amongst outsiders.”
No one makes rap music like JPEGMAFIA and TRUST! showcases a lot of the most interesting weapons in Peggy’s arsenal. There are great twinkling electronics, strange and fun lyricism, really catchy and absorbing melodies and then it’s gone in an instant and you feel the absence it’s left in an instant, making you need to hit repeat. TRUST! finds Peggy in a super positive mindset and feels really good about how he looks today, which is a really fun topic for a song. Let this song make you feel nice today and trust that Peggy will get you there.
Low have been releasing music for the past three decades and have been synonymous with the Slowcore genre pretty much since it’s inception. Over the past few years they’ve been reinventing themselves with more fractured and distorted music alongside their hymn-like melodies. No song better illustrates the power of this combination of disparate elements than More.
Miloe (featuring Jamila Woods and Vagabon) – Winona (things we like)
Miloe is the indie-pop project of Minneapolis based musician Bob Kabeya. Last year Kabeya released an EP called Greenhouse, which had the stand out song Winona on it. Apparently Kabeya thought the already awesome song wasn’t good enough and decided to make it even more awesome by enlisting two very exciting musicians to enhance it. This new version of Winona is immediately enjoyable and catchy and only branches out into more interesting territory as it goes.
Haley Fohr creates complex worlds of varying moods and sounds under the name of Circuit des Yeux. -io is the upcoming from Circuit des Yeux and it is diving into some deep territory. Fohr creating these songs during lockdown last year after undergoing great loss and dealing with immense grief. Fohr states “I became obsessed with black holes, which is the ultimate gravitational pull. It also makes such a synonymous metaphor to death. Things go in, they can only go one way. They go in and they never come out.” Dogma is definitely a heavy song but not to the degree that it becomes weighed down too much. It’s also a beautiful exploration of emancipation from centuries old beliefs and structures.
If you don’t have time for the whole playlist but want a handful more awesome songs, check these out!
But, really, just listen to the whole playlist here: