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Music you should know: 50 songs to discover

The Current: Music You Should Know
The Current: Music You Should KnowMPR graphic

February 22, 2021

During our February member drive, we're introducing you to 50 new songs by emerging and established artists. Each day during the week of February 22, we'll roll out 10 new tracks for you to check out, adding up to 50 songs by week's end.

1. Claud, "Soft Spot"

Hailing from Chicago's north suburbs, Claud is the first artist signed to Phoebe Bridgers' label, Saddest Factory Records. Listen to "Soft Spot," from Claud's album, Super Monster.

2. Bicep, "Atlas"

Bicep are the London-based duo of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson, two childhood friends who grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where they bonded over a shared love of dance music. This track "Altas," is from the album Isles.

3. Mustafa, "Stay Alive"

The 23-year-old Toronto poet, singer and songwriter released this debut song and video "Stay Alive," dedicated to those he's lost to gun violence.

4. Miss Grit, "Impostor"

Miss Grit is the artist name of Korean-American musician Margaret Sohn. Born and raised in Michigan and now based in New York, Miss Grit makes relatable songs that masterfully dissect the feeling of self-doubt with scalpel-like precision. Listen to the title track from Miss Grit's Impostor EP.

5. Manchester Orchestra, "Bed Head"

The Atlanta-based indie-rock band, who made a splash with their 2017 hit, "The Gold," are back with a new album, The Million Masks of God, set to release on April 30. Here's "Bed Head," a lead track from the forthcoming album.

6. Under Violet, "Daisy"

Led by Sara Bischoff, Minnesota band Under Violet are inspired by a mix of Mazzy Star and vintage country. The resulting music is dreamy and spacious, creating a folk-rock glow for projecting minimal and dark portraits.

7. Flock of Dimes, "Two"

Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner has announced her second Flock of Dimes full-length: Head of Roses is the follow-up to 2016's If You See Me, Say Yes and it comes out on April 2 on Sub Pop. Here's "Two," an early track from the upcoming album.

8. Middle Kids, "Questions"

A three-piece alternative-rock band from Sydney, Australia, Middle Kids will release the album, Today We're the Greatest, on March 19. "Questions" is the new single from the forthcoming album.

9. Hiss Golden Messenger, "Sanctuary"

Hiss Golden Messenger is an American folk-music band, originating from Durham, N.C., led by MC Taylor. The release of the new single, "Sanctuary," was accompanied by a video directed by Saleem Reshamwala and filmed on location at Eno River State Park, located northwest of Durham.

10. L.A. Buckner, "Déjà Vu"

Don't let the "L.A." mislead you — the Twin Cities music scene has a new chart-topper in its ranks. The interdisciplinary jazz drummer and producer L.A. Buckner scored a number-one record on the iTunes jazz chart at the start of August 2020. Here's his arrangement of Beyoncé's "Déjà Vu."

11. Priya Ragu, "Chicken Lemon Rice"

Born and raised in Switzerland by her Sri Lankan parents, Priya Ragu's artistry is a result of a rich blend of cultures. Her music is a mix of contemporary R&B, hip hop, Sri Lankan beats and Tamil chants. Ragu's new single, "Chicken Lemon Rice," is as delicious as it sounds.

12. Keep For Cheap, "Melancholy"

Tracing their origins to student choirs at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., Keep For Cheap describe themselves as a folk-indie prairie-rock band. The song "Melancholy" features lilting vocals and jangly guitar anchored by a head-bobbing backbeat.

13. serpentwithfeet, "Same Size Shoe"

Originally from Baltimore but now based in Los Angeles, Josiah Wise — known professionally as serpentwithfeet — creates music that explores a world where Black love is paramount. In "Same Size Shoe," an early track from his forthcoming album Deacon, serpentwithfeet celebrates gay love and the tenderness present in the best companionships, romantic or otherwise.

14. Miloe, "Everything (That Should Go)"

Miloe is the artistic name of Minneapolis musician Bobby Kabeya, who has built a loyal, local fanbase with high-energy music that blends indie pop and rumba beats. Miloe made the most of 2020, writing and recording songs — including "Everything (That Should Go)" — that became his Greenhouse EP.

15. Fickle Friends, "Finish Line"

Fickle Friends are a four-piece indie-pop band from the English seaside town of Brighton. Their new EP, Weird Years (Season 1) was inspired by the past three years of the band members' lives, but feels particularly on point this year. "There's a lot in there that I think people will relate to," says frontwoman Natti Shiner.


Four best friends from Nagoya, Japan — twin sisters Mana and Kana and their pals Yuuki and Yuna — comprise the rock band CHAI. Now based in Tokyo, CHAI signed with Sub Pop Records in October 2020. And yes — they do take their band name from the tea, which Kana enjoyed with her Russian literature class while at college.

17. Benny Sings, "Nobody's Fault" feat. Tom Misch

Benny Sings is a Dutch artist (aka Tim van Berkestijn) who is known for his ability to layer R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop foundations. Beyond his solo work, Benny Sings has collaborated with such artists as Mayer Hawthorne, Rex Orange County and Mac DeMarco. "Nobody's Fault" is a solo effort from Benny Sings, and features English singer-songwriter Tom Misch.

18. Tamar Aphek, "Crossbow"

Tamar Aphek is one of the prominent faces of contemporary rock in the Israeli rock scene, known not only for her awesome guitar-playing abilities but also for her talent as a songwriter. "Crossbow" comes from Aphek's new album, All Bets Are Off, which she produced and recorded at Daptone Records Studio in New York.

19. Yuna, "Dance Like Nobody's Watching"

Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna first gained attention back in 2006 when songs she uploaded to MySpace garnered more than a million listens — and the notice of Pharrell Williams, who became a mentor and producer, and helped launch Yuna's career worldwide. "Dance Like Nobody's Watching" is Yuna's new single.

20. Lord Huron, "Not Dead Yet"

Los Angeles indie rockers Lord Huron have visited The Current studios twice, in 2015 and in 2018, while touring in support of their previous albums Strange Trails and Vide Noir, respectively. While no new album has yet been announced, Lord Huron are back with the new single, "Not Dead Yet."

21. Chet Faker, "Low"

More than six months after the release of his second album under his birth name, Melbourne's Nick Murphy is set to once again return to his Chet Faker moniker. "Low" is the first release to come out under the resurfaced artistic name.

22. Ohtis, "Schatze" feat. Stef Chura

High school friends from Normal, Illinois, now based in Los Angeles, Ohtis have released two singles as a follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2019 debut album Curve of Earth. One of those singles, "Shatze," features Saddle Creek's Stef Chura.

23. Hot Chip, "Candy Says" (Velvet Underground cover)

This song is part of a compilation series that previously has been previously curated by artists like Nils Frahm and the Flaming Lips. London synthpop giants Hot Chip will have three new songs on the compilation as well as this Velvet Underground cover.

24. Billie Eilish and Rosalía, "Lo Vas a Olvidar"

Billie Eilish and Barcelona-based singer-songwriter Rosalía have teamed up to write and record this song, the English translation of which is "Are You Going To Forget It." The track, produced by Finneas, appeared in an episode of HBO's Euphoria.

25. Black Country, New Road, "Track X"

The debut album from the British band came out February 5, and this song is one they've been playing live since 2018. The band's name is derived from a major road that goes through the West Midlands of England, an area known as the Black Country given its history as a coal-mining and industrial area.

26. Dry Cleaning, "Scratchcard Lanyard"

This London-based four-piece post-punk band are known for their spoken-word delivery in place of sung lyrics. "Scratchcard Lanyard" is a lead single from their forthcoming album, New Long Leg, releasing April 2 on 4AD.

27. FPA, "Untitled"

Minneapolis artist FPA describes their music as influenced by classical music, jazz music, electronic music and hip-hop. FPA spent six years in Paris, where she studied music at a conservatory while simultaneously being inspired by the city's huge electronic-music scene. An album is anticipated for spring release.

28. Puma Blue, "Opiate"

Puma Blue is the alias of singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Allen, who splits time between the home bases of London and Atlanta. "Opiate" is from Puma Blue's albm, In Praise of Shadows, which Allen decribes as being "about finding light in the dark."

29. I Self Devine, "The Disruptor Suite"

Chaka Mkali — known artistically as I Self Devine — is a musician, MC, community organizer, racial-justice trainer, graffiti artist, muralist, program coordinator, and the director of organizing and community building at Hope Community Center in Minneapolis. I Self Devine's new single, "The Disruptor Suite," was produced by Medium Zach.

30. Dinosaur Jr., "I Ran Away"

Alternative-rockers Dinosaur Jr. are back with the lead single from their forthcoming album, Sweep It Into Space, releasing April 23 on Jagjaguwar Records. The lineup of Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Murph is augmented by one other musician: Kurt Vile, who co-produced the new album and plays 12-string guitar on "I Ran Away."

31. Javier Santiago, "Dream" feat. Taylor Johnson

With musician parents, it's no surprise Javier Santiago began playing piano at age five. Growing up in Minneapolis, Santiago was immersed in the Minnesota jazz scene, and even though he has moved to California, he continues to work with artists he developed relationships with here. This song features the Minnesota artist Taylor Johnson, formerly of astralblak.

32. Ya Tseen, "Close the Distance"

Alaskan project Ya Tseen will release a new album, Indian Yard on April 30. Loosely founded by Nicholas Galanin — renowned for his work as a contemporary visual artist — Ya Tseen have now signed to Sub Pop.

33. Jordan Adetunji, "WOKEUP!"

Rising Belfast alternative hip-hop artist and songwriter Jordan Adetunji has been hailed as an artist to watch by Urban Music Awards and the BBC. He was recently named Northern Ireland ambassador for Independent Venue Week 2021.

34. Squid, "Narrator" feat. Martha Skye Murphy

The British band's debut album is out May 7. The record was written in drummer/vocalist Oliver Judge's local pub and recorded in producer Dan Carey's London basement studio. "Previous releases were playful and concerned with characters," Judge explains, "whereas this album is darker and more concerned with place — the emotional depth of the music has deepened."

35. Hennessey, "8 Men"

New York duo Hennessey is the creation of singer-songwriter Leah Hennessey and multidisciplinary electronic artist E.J. O'Hara. The song "8 Men" is brash and honest, with Leah Hennessey delivering the lyrics with an honest and irreverent tone.

36. Wolf Alice, "The Last Man on Earth"

London alternative rockers Wolf Alice have visited The Current studio on a couple occasions, their last studio performance being in 2018. Their previous album was 2017's Visions of a Life. They're now back with the lead single to their forthcoming album, Blue Weekend, coming June 11.

37. Lost Horizons, "One For Regret" feat. Porridge Radio

Lost Horizons — the band featuring Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde and former Dif Juz drummer Richie Thomas — are back with the follow up to 2017's Ojalá. "One For Regret" features musicians from Brighton band Porridge Radio, who were set to play The Current's Day Party during SXSW 2020 … before the entire festival was called off due to the pandemic.

38. Annie Humphrey, "Eat What You Kill"

As she told The Current, "My name is Annie Humphrey and I am from up north in Minnesota. I started out as a folk singer, but I guess I don't know what category I fall into right now, so take a listen and you can decide."

39. Noga Erez, "YOU SO DONE"

Tel Aviv-based musician Noga Erez says songs are her way to "process the issues that bother me about the world." In 2017, she released her critically acclaimed debut record, Off The Radar. Although this new song is about death, Erez says "[It's about] being very grateful for having the life that we have, and also letting go of control and letting go into the unknown."

40. Julia Stone, "We All Have" feat. Matt Berninger

Australian singer/songwriter Julia Stone will release her first solo album in eight years, Sixty Summers, this April 30. The record, was done in part with St. Vincent, and this track features The National's frontman Matt Berninger.

41. Lael Neale, "Blue Vein"

Lael Neale grew up on a Virginia farm, but spent 10 years in Los Angeles honing her craft. She went back to the family farm in April of 2020 and recorded her new album, Acquainted with the Night. About this song, Neale says, "It is the only recording I play guitar on. I wrote it around New Year's Eve and it felt like a resolution."

42. Bomba Estéreo, "Agua"

A Colombian band founded in Bogotá in 2005 by Simón Mejía, Bomba Estéreo's music has been described as "electro tropical" or "psychedelic cumbia." Lido Pimienta's striking vocals are featured in the song "Agua" from the band's new album Deja, marking the first new music from the band in four years.

43. Junior Mesa, "Losing My Grip"

Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist Junior Mesa taught himself how to play guitar, drums, piano and bass. "I'm trying to bring together '70s, alternative, funk, soul, indie, rock and old-school jazz," he says. "I aim to build a world. It's why I'm personally playing everything and writing all of the lyrics. I create it all piece by piece."

44. Kid Dakota, "Homesick"

The musical moniker of Minneapolis artist Darren Jackson, he started performing as "Kid Dakota and the Tumbleweeds" in 1998 while living in Providence, Rhode Island. Jackson moved to Minneapolis that winter and self-released the So Pretty EP in the spring of 2000. His new album, Age of Roaches, has been in the making for years. "Finishing this record has been sort of a herculean kind of task," Jackson says. "Parts of the songs go back to the mid '90s. I started working on the album in earnest around 2005."

45. Curtiss A, "Lonely Cult of Myself"

"I didn't get any money," Curtiss A says about his anti-stardom, "but I get to be a legend." The Minneapolis musician emerged in bands like Wire and the Spooks; he opened for Prince and was taught guitar by Bobby Vee's brother. This song is track one from Curtiss A's Jerks of Fate album, released in December 2020.

46. Goat Girl, "Sad Cowboy"

Four friends from South London who bonded over their favorite music, Goat Girl create space for their maturing perspectives in discussing the world's injustices and social prejudices on their second album, titled On All Fours. It is the first album they have written collaboratively, and they have added more electronic elements to their sound.

47. Andra Day, "Tigress and Tweed"

The singer from California got her big break when Stevie Wonder noticed her performance at a shopping mall and would introduce her to a producer. Andra Day released her Grammy-nominated debut in 2015. Now, she is gaining much-deserved attention for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the biopic The United States vs. Billie Holiday, for which Day has received two nominations at the Golden Globe Awards: Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, and Best Original Song for "Tigress and Tweed," which appears on the soundtrack.

48. Julien Baker, "Favor"

Nashville-based Julien Baker has released two solo albums as well as an EP with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus as boygenius. Now, Baker is back with a new album, Little Oblivions, that revisits themes of faith, addiction and sobriety, sexuality, and mental health.

49. Celeste, "Hear My Voice"

Following the January release of her debut album Not Your Muse, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. Albums Chart, British singer-songwriter Celeste is unveiling the new song, "Hear My Voice," which features in the soundtrack of the Netflix Original Film The Trial of the Chicago 7. Celeste's highly anticipated debut album follows her wins of the BBC's annual Sound of... poll and of the Rising Star Award at the Brit Awards in 2019.

50. Lake Street Dive, "Hypotheticals"

Founded as a four-piece in Boston in 2004, Lake Street Dive officially expanded to a quintet in 2017 with the permanent addition of touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss. Lake Street Dive — whose song, "Good Kisser," landed at No. 7 in The Current's Top 89 of 2018 — are back with a new album, Obviously, releasing March 12. "Hypotheticals" is the first track on the forthcoming album.

50 Songs to Discover playlist