Birmingham-based singer-songwriter and Atlantic Records signee Mahalia is taking the world by storm with her silky smooth vocals. A 2017 video of her debut single, “Sober” now boasts 25 million views on YouTube, and she already supported the likes of Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé and Jorja Smith, all without releasing a full-length album. Her self-described “psycho-acoustic soul” features squeaky clean production and hinges on her Erykah Badu-esque, mystical vocal superpower. After releasing her 2018 EP, Seasons, she released a new single this year (“Do Not Disturb”) and is currently working on her debut album.
If you think about four girls from Nagoya dressed in loud colours and playing jaggedy, raucous pop-rock, you will probably come up with the adjective “kawaii”, which is really useful to describe the most coloristic Japanese cultural manifestations. But in the case of CHAI, it may be a better idea to put your cute faces and huge eyes to one side: Mana, Kana and Yuna’s charisma lies in the energetic optimism with which they flaunt their condition of weirdos, blasting out songs like small bullets of noise for the glory of body hair, human imperfections and gyozas (their avowed only true love).
Sneaks — aka 23-year-old D.C. musician Eva Moolchan — thinks her third, forthcoming album will help listeners understand her better, her sense of humor included. Highway Hypnosis, on Merge Records, clues us in to her thinking even with its neon pink and green color scheme. Preferring to leave songs up for interpretation rather than explain them, Moolchan’s minimalist electronic post-punk and hip-hop is somewhat enigmatic: Her rhythmic lyrics are like a mosaic of symbolism that takes some work to figure out, and she doesn’t seem keen on qualifying anyone’s findings as wrong or right.
Mavica is composer and guitarist, Marta Casanova, originally from Cartagena and resident in London, where she is currently preparing her debut EP ‘Gone’, a collection of songs that has already taken her to perform in Barcelona, Madrid, Murcia and even Berlin. But it is in the British capital, where Mavica studies music and production and where the young artist has found the place to finally materialize her debut. Folk pop songs with influences that go from Bon Iver to Sufjan Stevens or Amy Winehouse to Ben Howard. On October 29 Mavica debuted in Barcelona, opening for Roo Panes (UK) at the Moritz Factory, the artist dazzled the audience with her unmistakable voice and catchy melodies. Tonight she presents her present her first-ever EP, ‘Gone’ at L’Auditori.
The tectonic plates move every time Erykah Badu wants them to. The first and strongest earth tremor was her debut in 1997, Baduizm. All those nostalgic for soul classics agreed about the excellence of that game-changing album (Erykah was the last link in the Diana Ross-Ann Peebles-Chaka Khan chain), as did the gourmets of black pop who came from the school of Janet Jackson and TLC and even the hip hop generation understood that that R&B was another dialect of the same language. But the earthquakes didn’t start and end then: with Mama’s Gun and Worldwide Underground Ms Badu even took on black rock (a terrain usually reserved for imitators of Hendrix) and with the incredible diptych New Amerykah, she took on the world of p-funk. Now after years of studio silence, only interrupted by a few mixtapes, the queen of afro has come back to the studio and stages to remind us that her elegant live performances are like a reverse striptease: every note, every word and every collaborator that dresses her show, make her more sensual, more exposed and more… Erykah.
Kathy Yaeji Lees’ ever more crowded live appearances have become famous, among other things, for the way in which the artist picks up the mic and sings over the tracks she is playing. It isn’t a session, nor a pop concert, but a hybrid format that, against all odds, works. The method is also applied to her recordings, in which the non-singers English and Korean whispers, rhythmic and on the edge of rap, fly over the club sounds, without ever being completely integrated into the mix. In some ways, Yaeji has tumbled upon the musical translation of a childhood that took her from the United States to South Korea, before being able to grow roots in either of the cultures. She has turned this fascinating lack of belonging into an infinite source of fascination.
Maybe things have changed so much that subversion lies in sweetness. In these times of trap, explicit lyrics and other evidence, where does silly pop stand? Well, it stands exactly where Cariño, the trio from Madrid, has left it: the right dose of naivety, lightness and optimism with a wide awake consciousness, sharpened claws and genius moments like when they bring to their own terrain the urban music new anthem Llorando en la limo by C. Tangana. “God bless silly pop, God bless Family (the Spanish band)”, they sing in this viral version that has put Cariño in the limelight with their album Movidas: a debut compilation of freshest, sweet and poisoned songs that bring back hope to the nonbelievers.