Essential Tracks This Week: Wand, Rapsody feat. Erykah Badu, and more

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The best installments of Essential Tracks are always those that cover as much ground as possible. Friends, this is one of those weeks: psych-rock, singer/songwriters, electronic beats, sludge metal and sensual hip-hop. We’ve got it all. Queue them up and enjoy the soundtrack for the weekend.

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

Wand – “Smile”

Los Angeles psych-rock group Wand went for broke on their 2019 album Laughing Matter, which showcased a diverse spread of their capabilities as a band, from blazing rock to more intimate and intricate songwriting. So it doesn’t necessarily surprise me that its follow up is arriving five years later. But it’s already off to a good start with “Smile,” a hypnotic groover of a song that’s thick with fuzz, vocal harmonies and a vintage sensibility that feels warm and strangely comforting, despite the heavy squeal of guitars. – JT

From Vertigo, out July 26 via Drag City

Rapsody – “3:AM” (feat. Erykah Badu)

At her birthday party in Dallas, Erykah Badu was the one giving out presents, in particular this new collaboration with North Carolina rapper Rapsody. It’s one of the singles from Rapsody’s upcoming album Please Don’t Cry and it’s a sexy, romantic slow jam with a jazzy groove performed by Amber Navran, Marlon Williams, JeMarcus Bridges and Terrace Martin. She depicts a night of intimacy, “Netflix askin’ if we still watchin’ TV,” images of “staycations in St. Regis,” while Badu stirs up some soulful magic during the chorus. If your weekend plans might include some adult situations of their own, keep this one in the rotation. – JT

From Please Don’t Cry, out May 17 via Jamla

Isobel Campbell – “Dopamine”

The former Belle and Sebastian vocalist goes “real, real slow” on this somber single. Her breathy voice carries a tenderness that entrances the listener throughout. Supporting cellos and stripped down acoustics, along with a grounding bassline allow Campbell’s introspective and straightforward lyrics shine through, as she calls on her subject to stop the rushing and take a more drawn out approach. The feedback that creeps in towards the end makes for an echoey atmosphere, really creating a sense of blissful sedation. Everything about this song feels like a relaxed Sunday, it’s a sweet reminder to occasionally pause during rapid circumstances. – ME

From Bow to Love, out June 14 via Cooking Vinyl

Hagop Tchaparian – “Treacle

British-Armenian producer Hagop Tchaparian returns with a new banger two years after the release of his Text Records debut, Bolts. Inspired by watching label head and collaborator Four Tet performing in Brazil, “Treacle” is all about crowd-moving beat frenzies, intense percussive progressions and some brief melodic loops that always bring us back to that persistent, thumping beat. I’ve never been a DJ-set-in-a-vast-field kind of guy, but three minutes with this kind of compulsive, heavy pulse make me briefly reconsider that assumption. – JT

Out now via Text

Thou – “Unbidden Guest”

We’ll have a lot more to say about this and the nine other songs on Thou’s Umbilical in a couple weeks, but for now this is all you need to know: It’s a new Thou song, and it fucking rips. – JT

From Umbilical, out May 31 via Sacred Bones

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