Essential Tracks This Week: Shabaka, Two Shell & FKA Twigs, and more

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It’s a great week for new music in every possible sense, what with a dozen must-hear albums hitting shelves today, heavy on indie folk, alt-country, electronic and art pop. But there’s also five new Essential Tracks to add to the queue as well, from a contemporary jazz heavyweight entering a dazzling new era, a newly released archival demo from one of our all-time favorite bands, a genre-crashing collaboration and more. Turn up this week’s Essential Tracks.

Blurbs by Jeff Terich (JT) and Mia Euceda (ME).

Shabaka – “I’ll Do Whatever You Want” (feat. Andre 3000, Esperanza Spalding, Laraaji, Floating Points)

Shabaka Hutchings has retired from saxophone, an instrument through which he made some thrilling and fiery music with bands like Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors. As he’s transitioned into flutes, his music has taken on a more atmospheric and meditative tone—so who best to collaborate with on such a musical journey than new age legend Laraaji, who guests on new song “I’ll Do Whatever You Want.” He’s not the only notable name here; André 3000, who is currently on a flute journey of his own, also appears, along with jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding and progressive electronic shape-shifter Floating Points. As such this is more of a collective piece than a solo one, a convergence of sounds and approaches, ideas and aesthetics, but it all leads to a stunning, slow-moving climax of breathtaking sound. – JT

From Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace, out April 12 via Impulse!

Two Shell & FKA Twigs – “Talk to Me”

Three weeks ago, the mischievous London electronic duo Two Shell released “Talk to Me,” an eerie piano ballad made with a mish-mash of isolated, fragmented vocals from other pop stars and a karaoke version to boot. They continued teasing the song via Bandcamp, dropping (likely AI-generated) versions with PinkPantheress, Frank Ocean and… Chris Martin of Coldplay? This (presumably less) synthesized version with FKA Twigs metamorphoses the vacant gloom of previous incarnations to turn it into a bubbly hyperpop meets Y2K trance track pulsating with both peppiness and desperation. The thumping bass drum kicks with fervor as Twigs’ sugared vocals plead for a call back. With its high-adrenaline beats, bright euphoric synths, and addictive vocals, this iteration feels the most fleshed out and nuanced. – ME

Out now via Young

Broadcast – “Follow the Light”

In May, the final recordings from Broadcast finally see the light of day in the form of Spell Blanket, demos of songs that formed what might have been the follow-up to their 2005 album Tender Buttons (and Focus Group collab Witch Cults of the Radio Age). It’s a sparse lullaby of a song, just Trish Keenan’s sweetly distant vocals juxtaposed against billowing arpeggios of synth, like a folk song fed by Boards of Canada’s uncanny synth filters. It’s hypnotic and beautiful, sparse and otherworldly, the simplest of a suggestion of what Broadcast were fully capable of, yet even for a stark demo, it feels perfect—it feels complete. – JT

From Spell Blanket: Collected Demos 2006-2009, out May 3 via Warp

Cloud Nothings – “I’d Get Along”

Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi said that an obsession with doom metal groups like Earth was part of the inspiration behind new single “I’d Get Along,” which you can hear easily in its opening low-end rumble. For a moment, it might seem like Cloud Nothings were, in fact, going doom, but the end result is a taut, concise rock anthem the likes of which have made the group one of the most consistently great bands in rock over the past-decade plus. It’s a little more like Pavement’s “Kennel District” through a Relapse alum’s pedalboard, and there’s nothing about that I don’t love. – JT

From Final Summer, out April 19 via Pure Noise

Take Offense – “Assassination”

Wrap up your week with an absolute ripper of a thrash song from Chula Vista hardcore/thrash metal group Take Offense. The band have been at it for nearly two decades, but have hit a new peak in potency and creativity with their latest batch of songs, of which “Assassination” is an immediate standout. It’s razor-sharp and mosh-pit ready, with a lyric embodying the band’s mission to persevere against the odds. I certainly know that when I’m listening to it, I feel like I could run straight through brick walls. – JT

From T.O.tality, out May 10 via MNRK Heavy

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