Music News: New music from J.S. Ondara, Ladytron, Chaka Khan, Tourist, and Lizzo

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J.S. Ondara Current 14 Nate Ryan
J.S. Ondara performs at First Avenue in Minneapolis for The Current's 14th Birthday Party, January 2019. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
New music from J.S. Ondara, Ladytron, Chaka Khan, Tourist, and Lizzo
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Ladytron: Ladytron

The 20-year-old British band Ladytron took their name from a Roxy Music song, and that band's Brian Eno has said he appreciates Ladytron's "full awareness of what's happening everywhere musically." On their sixth studio album, a self-titled release, they seem to be aware of not just the musical landscape but the political and environmental landscape circa 2019. The album cover is a photo of a forest fire, and the music is...let's just say, not too chipper. The band still have the synthpop sheen that's influenced artists like CHVRCHES and Sylvan Esso, but on their new album the synths sound like a million tiny little screams and even the catchiest hooks sound kind of like fire alarms. Call it global goth. Here's an example: "The Animals." (Jay)

J.S. Ondara: Tales of America

J.S. Ondara grew up in Nairobi, Kenya feeding his growing love of music a steady diet of American alt-rock. After falling in love with Bob Dylan's music he decided to move to Dylan's home state of Minnesota to start his music career. His dedication to his craft, firm vocal performance, and entrancing stage performance quickly garnered him attention near and far. He spent last year on tour opening for Lindsey Buckingham (yes, of Fleetwood Mac fame) and putting together his debut album, Tales of America — bringing in Andrew Bird for some gorgeous strings. Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes and Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids round out the band, and the whole thing is produced by Grammy-nominated Mike Viola (who's worked with Jenny Lewis and wrote music for That Thing You Do!). Take a listen to "Saying Goodbye." (Jade)

Chaka Khan: Hello Happiness

Chaka Khan has just dropped her 13th studio album, her first in a dozen years. Although her music has filled innumerable dance floors over her long career, the 65-year-old R&B legend says this was the first time she went into the studio specifically to make a dance album. Her collaborator on the album, Hello Happiness is Switch, a co-founder of Major Lazer, and while you wouldn't exactly call the 27-minute, seven-song album a coherent statement, on at least a few tracks the two strike sparks that evoke Khan's classics while forging new ground. One example is the buoyant lead single "Like Sugar," and another is the title track. "Hello Happiness," indeed! (Jay)

Tourist: Everyday

In 2015, William Phillips stepped on the stage to pick up his Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The British electronic musician and songwriter had co-written "Stay With Me" and was joined on the stage by the song's performer Sam Smith. Today he's released his second album, Everyday, under his performance moniker Tourist. Phillips has a delicate hand with beats; his album sounds like gentle waves caressing you to move. Like the album title suggests, these aren't dance jams for midnight at the clubs. This is music to make your body move throughout the day. Songs like "Emily" help push the morning along. (Jade)

Lizzo: "Cuz I Love You"

Lizzo just dropped a new single from her upcoming album, which is shaping up to be one of the year's most-anticipated releases. The album Cuz I Love You comes out on April 19, and the title track sees her leaving the "Juice" behind for some Jackie Wilson flavor on a huge ballad that alternates renditions of a whomping chorus with tinkling-piano verses and plenty of Lizzo attitude. Mr. Excitement himself would be proud. (Jay)

Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
Ladytron: "The Animals"
J.S. Ondara: "Saying Goodbye"
Chaka Khan: "Hello Happiness"
Tourist: "Emily"
Lizzo: "Cuz I Love You"

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