Essential Tracks This Week: Jessie Ware, Makaya McCraven and more

essential tracks jessie ware

Summer is typically a little slower for new music releases than spring or fall, but apparently nobody bothered to tell all of the artists who released great new singles this week. Our latest batch of Essential Tracks includes the disco-fied return of a UK diva, a perfect summertime soul-jazz jam, a one-chord indie rock wonder and more. Hear our latest Essential Tracks picks below.

Plus, listen to our ongoing 2022 Essential Tracks playlist.


Jessie Ware – “Free Yourself”

Jessie Ware’s wheelhouse is a particularly adult brand of electronic pop music—sexy and sophisticated in the same way an artist like Sade is. Real grown-folks music that’s both comfortable and luxurious, the audio equivalent of fine cashmere. “Free Yourself” is something a little more urgent and immediate, a bona fide banger that’s more in line with some of the brightest disco-pop moments of Roisin Murphy or even Chic. “Free Yourself” is the most immediately satisfying kind of dance single, big on funky basslines and mid-tempo pulse, with a soaring vocal from Ware that shows just how well she adapts from sophisti-pop or UK bass into a more classic disco. Somehow a throwback while feeling thoroughly modern, “Free Yourself” has song of the summer written all over it.

Out now via PMR/Interscope


Makaya McCraven – “Dream Another”

There’s not a unified sound that runs through Makaya McCraven’s music so much as an overall ambitious vision, whether it’s bringing together four different regional jazz scenes on the four sides of Universal Beings or reimagining Gil Scott-Heron’s music on We’re New Again. “Dream Another,” from his upcoming album of originals, In These Times, eases into a warm and laid-back soul-jazz groove, a richly arranged and intoxicating jam for humid summer nights. Its lead instrument is flute, but its hypnotic flourishes of harp tend to steal the show within this mesmerizing and bittersweet stunner.

From In These Times, out September 23 via XL


Oneida – “Rotten”

Oneida’s vast body of work is driven by driving krautrock pulses and vast psychedelic freakouts, whether locking into a weirdo groove on albums like 2006’s Happy New Year or going for the gusto on their massive triple-album Rated O. By contrast, “Rotten” is a lot more straightforward. How straightforward? Well, it’s a one-chord song, for starters. In the vein of early Stereolab, the band bangs away at that one chord while building harmonic flourishes and vocal melodies around it, turning the simplest idea into one that offers a number of incredible surprises and unexpectedly catchy moments. Oneida can and have gone big—very big—but it’s just as satisfying to hear them scale back to a simple idea and hear them absolutely nail it.

From Success, out August 19 via Joyful Noise


Sumerlands – “Dreamkiller”

Sumerlands delivered one of the strongest sets of classic heavy metal in recent memory with their 2016 self-titled debut, and it’s been six long years since that last dose of riffs and epic grandeur. They can be forgiven, of course, since guitarist Arthur Rizk has been producing records for the likes of Candy and Devil Master. But with their sophomore album finally arriving this fall, they’ve offered up a potent new burst of melody and mayhem with “Dreamkiller.” All harmonized guitar riffs, galloping rhythms and ’80s synth sounds, “Dreamkiller” puts a modern spin on a vintage sensibility, complete with a series of solos that sound like they could ignite trails of flame on the highway. The next time you encounter someone who’s discovered “Master of Puppets” for the first time (happening a lot lately!), tell them to check this out next.

From Dreamkiller, out September 16 via Relapse


Loraine James – “Maybe If I (Stay On It)”

Loraine James has kept pretty busy since releasing last year’s Reflection, one of 2021’s best electronic albums. Earlier this year she made her debut as Whatever the Weather, and now she’s prepping the release of another new album under her own name, Building Something Beautiful For Me. An album of reinterpretations of music by late composer Julius Eastman, its first single is “Maybe If I (Stay On It)”, a more subdued and atmospheric offering from the UK producer, warmly soulful even in its glitchy array of sounds and rhythms. It’s IDM with a more organic and rich feel, less hyperactive sputter and more gracefully architectural, yet another stunner from an artist whose sonic sphere only continues to expand.

From Building Something Beautiful For Me, out October 7 via Phantom Limb


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