Now Hear This! This week’s selections include percolating synth-pop from Course, the beguiling voice of Roslyn Witter, the atmospheric post-doom of Dead Cosmonauts, and the lush jazz of Astrid Engberg. These four tracks represent music you need to check out if you haven’t already.
We’ll bring you a new post each week, songs from which will regularly be added to our accompanying “Now Hear This” Spotify playlist.
Course – “Too Busy for Feelings”
In today’s world, successful people are often portrayed as “busy, busy, busy.” In that scenario, the good life is defined as quantity of life, not quality of life. Chicago’s synth-pop outfit Course delves into the numbing outcome of emotional separation.
“Disassociate from my emotions / I like to keep myself busy / Taking it all on, always going / No time to reflect.”
“Too Busy for Feelings” is the first single from Course’s upcoming sophomore album, Tight Feathers, set for release on October 20. Formed in 2019, Course utilizes a troupe of musicians to back up singer-songwriter Jess Robbins.
Pulsating with retro-flavored harmonic textures, “Too Busy for Feelings” rides a driving rhythm as Robbins’ burnished-to-a-high-gloss vocals imbue the lyrics with a dream-like severance from affecting sensations.
Roslyn Witter – “Heartbreak Lane”
Talking about her affinity for country music, singer-songwriter Roslyn Witter says:
“Country has always spoken to me because it’s about storytelling. The culture is warm and inviting and welcoming. I have a country twang to my voice that’s evolved naturally over the years. My voice is suited to it.”
Witter’s latest single, “Heartbreak Lane,” reveals the accuracy of her words. Her nuanced, drawling vocals give the lyrics delicious authenticity as shimmering guitars provide sumptuous layers of sound. Witter’s vocal trills distinguish her from the usual Nashville bravado.
“I love writing lyrics,” Roslyn declares. “I find it very therapeutic and they’re the most fun. My favourite thing is to sit in my bedroom uninterrupted and just try to focus on coming up with good lyrics.”
Dead Cosmonauts – “Kenopsia”
Hailing from Sheffield, UK, Dead Cosmonauts is made up of Alexei, Krist, Neil, Nick and Phil. The title of their single, “Kenopsia,” lifted from their forthcoming album, Parasomnia, refers to the association or atmosphere clinging to a place: the unseen ghosts, the dissipated sounds, the suffused glory that never evaporates.
Moody with dove gray atmospheres, “Kenopsia” features a ringing intro, followed by strident colors, and finessed percussion. When the harmonics ramp up, the eerie nostalgia of the tune becomes more evocative, bringing with it faint organic wafts of haunting specters.
Parasomnia drops on November 3 and may be pre-ordered here.
Astrid Engberg – “Loving Contemplation”
Danish singer, producer, composer, and DJ Astrid Engberg releases “Loving Contemplation,” featuring Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a track from her upcoming album, Trust, slated to drop on September 22. Pre-order your own copy here.
“‘Trust’ is for the love of my intuition. It’s for new motherhood and a reminder to myself and everybody that you’re allowed to be in the world in a different way to what society dictates.”
She goes on, “You need to have space in you to hear what’s happening. In the past when I’ve composed, I’d hear a melody and try to follow it by hearing what falls around it. I feel with this album it was unfolding to me, naturally arising from within. You need to trust that what you hear is the way you need to go. Trust the process. Trust that it’s ok to play around with music, to take it down in your form. I want to encourage others to trust themselves through me learning to trust myself. My hope is that those who need it can feel understood in my music, that they can lean back in the sound, the words, and the circles of melodies intertwining with each other and think, ‘ah, she understands me.’”
Elements of soul, nu jazz, and electronic music infuse Engberg’s compositions with elegant sensuality, at once creamy and dripping with infusions of classical tones.