This Week’s Essential Tracks: Big Thief, Kadhja Bonet and more

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Big Thief essential tracks

Our latest batch of Essential Tracks includes some indie heavyweights, politically charged post-punk from Poland, an eclectic supergroup of Congolese musicians with global collaborators and more.

Listen to our ongoing playlist of 2022 Essential Tracks.

Big Thief – “Red Moon”

Today Big Thief release their highly anticipated double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, which arrives after a long string of singles that still didn’t come close to spoiling the embarrassment of riches therein. “Red Moon” is the latest single they’ve offered up in conjunction with the album’s release (complete with a live video), and it’s a reminder of just how much fun this band can be at their strongest. Where they veered toward Radiohead-like atmosphere on U.F.O.F. and a more earthy rock sound on that same year’s Two Hands, “Red Moon” is both relaxed and rowdy, a country rock standout reminiscent of The Band, The Grateful Dead and Creedence (even a little Stones gone country) that carries a warmth that can’t be fabricated. Big Thief have become one of the most celebrated indie bands in recent memory, primarily on the strength of their songwriting, but “Red Moon” also emphasizes the versatility of it. What other band in recent memory can write a both a song about alien visitors and a rootsy hoedown that finds Adrianne Lenker yelping “That’s my grandma!” and somehow make them both feel like essential parts of the same body of work.

From Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, out now via 4AD

Kadhja Bonet – “For You (Many Selves Version)”

Back in September, psychedelic soul artist Kadhja Bonet released the synth-heavy “For You,” her first new single in three years. This week, however, she followed it up with an entirely different version, a more spacious and organic take that emphasizes the warmth and depth that her music can offer at its best. What the two share in common, however, is a truly hypnotic layering of voices, breathtaking in execution and rich in their hall-of-mirrors harmony. It’s a great song made even better through subtle touches, like its shimmer of ’80s chorus guitar and soaring saxophone solo.

Out now via Ninja Tune

Congotronics International – “Beyond the 7th Bend”

Congotronics International is a supergroup comprising Congolese groups Kasai Allstars and Konono No.1 along with members of Deerhoof and Skeletons and Argentinian artist Juana Molina. This week they debuted two new singles, one more frantic and dense, and the other meditative and beautiful. “Beyond the 7th Bend” is the latter, a gorgeously fluid balance of mbira plucks and hypnotic guitar licks, showcasing the beauty that can come from a group of musicians with diverse backgrounds but a similar sensibility for finding something magical in a melody.

From Where’s the One?, out April 29 via Crammed Discs

Ben Marc – “Sometimes Slow”

London’s been a focal point for contemporary jazz for more than a half decade now, and somehow only continues to be a prolific outlet for new talent. Ben Marc is one such artist, having played in Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke’s band and collaborated with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. But the multi-instrumentalist’s new single from his upcoming solo debut reveals his own uniquely intricate style. “Sometimes Slow” is less traditional jazz than a kind of gorgeously composed and executed intersection of electronic, jazz and post-rock sounds, at times like a full-band take on the kind of dreamy, twinkling IDM that Four Tet crafted on his first few albums. As the fourth single he’s shared from Glass Effect, it’s just one of four entirely different approaches he’s showcased so far, but easily the most delicately beautiful yet.

From Glass Effect, out April 22 via Innovative Leisure

Trupa Trupa – “Moving (B FLAT)”

Polish group Trupa Trupa don’t make music that’s easily digestible on just one listen. It’s tense, heady, dark stuff, existing between the taut rhythms of post-punk and out-of-body weirdness of psychedelia at its wildest. But that’s not the only reason; the band draw from European history to draw parallels between the present and the rise of fascism in the past, which makes them likewise a thematically dense listen. They’ve just released their new album B FLAT A, coinciding with the release of this new single, a song built on the kind of tension that’s always just a degree or two from boiling over but rather thrives in the discomfort. It brings to mind This Heat at their most unsettling, but with a rhythmic sensibility that’s undeniable.

From B FLAT A, out now via Glitterbeat

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