Artwork by Ellis McKenzie.
Originally published by The 405.
I know that everyone has been waiting patiently for Frank Ocean’s new album to drop, supposedly at some point this month but also supposedly every other month for the last year, so here are some tracks to tide you over until that day finally comes.
This month we’ve got new releases from caps lock massive artists: anonymous New York trio JIL, Auckland boyband LEISURE, Brooklyn duo DMNEJU and alt-R&B queen BANKS; as well as those choosing to opt out of the name capitalisation, rising star Mabel and Chicago songstress Jamila Woods.
Mabel – ‘Thinking of You’
Anyone who has already heard of Mabel will know that she has the ultimate #parentgoals: she is the daughter of music legends Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack’s Cameron McVey. Naturally, this meant a lot of moving around when she was younger but this also meant that whilst living in Stockholm she was able to take a songwriting and production course at the renowned music school Rytmus, where Robyn and Tove Lo have also studied. You might expect Mabel to be a bit of a wildchild due to her rock’n’roll parentage but oh no, how wrong you are. In the video for ‘Thinking of You’, we see Mabel going about her very normal daily life: walking round an estate (which she definitely doesn’t live in, let’s be honest), hugging a faceless man, walking a dog, eating an apple and enjoying some houmous and flatbread with her pals. Attention all rap video directors: less champagne and strippers, more houmous and flatbread please.
BANKS – ‘Fuck with Myself’
BANKS seems to have developed some sort of licking fetish in her time away because she’s trying to lick everything in this video, even an open flame. Fetishes aside, ‘Fuck with Myself’ is a really strong comeback for BANKS, both visually and sonically. The video was directed by Philippa Price, who produced the futuristic visuals for Rihanna’s Brit Awards performance earlier this year and has also worked with Brooke Candy and Lion Babe. The track is the first to be taken from her upcoming album, the follow-up to 2014’s debut Goddess, and was apparently the last song she wrote for the album, born out of a rant to collaborator Tim Anderson, during which she said the line, “I fuck with myself more than anybody else,” and thus a hit song was made.
JIL – ‘All Your Words’
Everything you have read about JIL so far has probably all sounded very similar. This is because they are one of those anonymous groups, with very little accessible information about them, that journalists love so much. Since I don’t know any more than anyone else about them, I’m just going to give you the basic facts and hope you’ve not heard it all before. JIL are a New York-based trio, comprised of a vocalist and two producers, who are apparently heavily involved in the New York music scene, having performed with Dev Hynes and Rat King. ‘All Your Words’ is the trio’s fourth track to ever be released and is in the same ilk as their previous releases, sitting within that spacey R&B realm. Their debut album is said to be due for release at some point in September, with a music video/short film due in October so hopefully we’ll find out more about them as the months go on.
DMNEJU – Used to Her
DMNEJU (attempt to pronounce that as you wish) is a collaborative project between Brooklyn-based musicians Solo Woods and Jake Sherman. Jake Sherman recently released his new album and has previously collaborated with Chance the Rapper, playing organ on ‘No Problem’ on Chance’s latest mixtape Chance 3, and Solo Woods has released a string of successful tracks over the past year and recently supported Leon Bridges on tour. Although their solo music tends to sit in opposing genres, together they have found common ground in the sounds of neo-soul. ‘Used to Her’ is a soulful, jazz/funk-influenced, experimental, vocally stunning wonder of a debut track and sets the bar very high for what’s to come from the duo in future.
LEISURE – Control Myself
Unfortunately, this isn’t a cover of LL Cool J’s 2006 collab with J.Lo, and modern classic, ‘Control Myself‘, as much as I would like it to be; instead, it’s the new track from Auckland five-piece LEISURE. The bassline on ‘Control Myself’ is so seductive, there’s no wonder they’re struggling to control themselves, and those silky smooth harmonies aren’t helping matters either. The group recently collaborated with DMV – that’s an abbreviation for the DC, Maryland and Virginia area for those that aren’t down with the lingo – rapper GoldLink on previous release ‘Nobody’, after discovering a mutual admiration for one another through a Twitter exchange and luckily crossing paths at Laneway Festival in New Zealand shortly after. Ain’t social media grand?
Jamila Woods – HEAVN
The debut full-length release from Chicago-born singer/songwriter Jamila Woods, HEAVN is essentially a love letter to herself, her roots and to the city she grew up in, featuring appearances from fellow Chicagoans Chance the Rapper, Noname, Saba and Donnie Trumpet. Woods says: “HEAVN is about black girlhood, about Chicago, about the people we miss who have gone on to prepare a place for us somewhere else, about the city/world we aspire to live in.” With a lot of the same themes covered and with the exploration of numerous genres, it wouldn’t be too much of an overstatement to suggest that HEAVN is Jamila Woods’ The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album is a real statement of intent from Woods and it is definitely one of the strongest full-length releases from any solo female artist in many years.