Stream this week's must-listen releases, hand-picked by our editors.
UMI's Talking to the Wind EP
Releasing her first project since the artist's 2022 debut album, Umi’s third EP, “Talking to the Wind,” is a concise but emotionally expansive project, a laidback collection of four songs in which the more complex dynamics of love and relationships are mellowed by her intimately laid vocals and neo-soul musings. Taming the conflicting eroticism of temptation and emotional honesty, she melts into her more vulnerable projections on “not necessarily”, wistful about giving up the touch of someone whose infatuation outweighs their emotional commitment. On its heels, the track is a closing of the confounding seduction that she looks at like a lesson, ultimately leading into a breach of clarity on “Show Me Out”. Floating on fluttering vocals and an upbeat traditional R&B melody, the track finds the artist at a carefree crossroads, swayed by a honeyed romance whose reckless head becomes consuming if only briefly lasting. Poised by its short running time, the project feels like a tease of all the emotions she’d rather view from afar than confront head-on, floating above heavy relationship dynamics Umi ushers in a moment of reflection, dreamy yet grounded.
Ice Spice's Think U the Sh*t (Fart)
Ice Spice is kicking off the year strong with her first single of 2024, “Think U the Sh*t (Fart),”
giving her fans yet another viral antic to dominate the internet. The track was teased earlier this month in a 33-second teaser video that she posted online, and much to the delight of her fans was released just weeks later. In it, she raps, “Think you the shit, bitch? You not even the fart,” she raps. “I be going hard. I’m breaking they hearts, like. Bitches be quick, but I’m quicker. Bitches be thick, but I’m thicker. She could be rich, but I’m richer.” In her trademark nonchalant delivery and amusing disdain for competition, the track is a silly jab at anyone who thinks they could surpass her. Spoiler alert: you can’t.
Nia Archives' Crowded Roomz
The UK producer's latest single, “Crowded Roomz,” is an angsty window into the paradox of fame and isolation, or rather, Nia Archives behind the facade, the wallflower that stands alone at parties, misunderstood and quietly lonely. Scattered between lighting jungle beats and flurried breaks, the artist dissociates within her verses, singing “The party girl who's all alone / In crowded rooms, and I keep lookin' for closeness” and “I feel so lonely in crowded rooms I feel so lonely, they never know.” Overwhelmed by looping drums and guitar licks, her soft-spoken vocals darken the contrast between the background noise you just can’t quell and the social pressure to be seen. Her first release in 2024, “Crowded Roomz,” feels like going to a rave that you can’t escape.
Asha Imuno's "Phonics"
On the heels of his debut album, Pins and Needles (out March 1st), Asha Imuno’s most recent single, “Phonics,” expands on the California natives' experimental reputation for weaving, bending, and blurring genres. Featuring Westside Boogie and Tempest, “Phonics” plays like a conceptual visual of a relationship yet to get to get on the same page. Each artist takes turns venting through a verse like a circle of friends who can’t catch a break, as Temptest sings, “Hate a n* that’s not about his word / Ain’t no going back and forth with that, no sir” Westside Boogie follows right behind her rapping “Let you in, I swear this process don’t never end”. Their individual riffs on toxic players and mixed signals are relatable and catchy, a contrast settled by a nostalgic blend of harp cords and punchy 808s.
Jade Bird's "Burn The Hard Drive"
Jade Birds’ discography plays like a looming spectacle of the American countryside, a cinematic setting in which her songwriting follows a compelling, fragile search for identity. Stringing together hints of country-based folk music and soft shades of American pop rock, the English singer's newest release, “Burn The Hard Drive,” is an attempt to erase all remanents of a previous relationship, except instead of vengeance and resentment, the artist is moving forward with poise, healed and over it. Unlike most breakup songs, Bird approaches this one with a grace heard in her brushstroke soprano vocals and a subtle narrative intimacy, lightheaded textures that divulge into a passionate declaration of self. No longer reconciling the past, “Burn The Hard Drive” assuredly sheds any previous memories shared, a sentimental take on moving on and letting go.
Check back next week for more must-listens.