I remember first hearing about Jelani Aryeh on Pigeons and Planes. His African-American, Filipino and Chinese descent got me curious but his music made me instantly hooked.
There’s no booming bass or head-thumping drums here. Instead, Jelani provides us with gentle sing-raps that draw upon his insecurities and experiences growing up as a suburban kid. Think the sound of Drake’s Take Care but less toxic masculinity and more introspective reflecting.
His most recent project – Helvetica, follows the same aesthetics set by his last independent release – Suburban Destinesia. Both projects drench themselves in a melancholic tone and runs with the aesthetic over the course of their run-time. There are sunny pop hooks and bouncy bangers here and there, but the quietness is where Jelani Aryeh is at his best.
Stream Helvetica below.
‘Do you actually like this artist’s music or is it only because they’re hot?’ is a question I constantly asked myself when I started getting into Caroline Polachek’s music. I mean look at her.
I guess it’s hilariously ironic that her breakout solo hit “So Hot You’re Hurting My feelings” has been in my constant rotation since its release. The song’s runaway star (and also the rest of her debut album PANG) is Caroline’s powerhouse of a voice.
Not as prominent during her Chairlift days (though to be fair I’m not very familiar with that era of hers), much of Caroline’s solo material sees the production often receding to make way for her singing that commands the attention of listeners. Crooning about the many instances of emotional vulnerabilities while in love, I couldn’t help but feel and identify with her intimate songwriting.
Genre: Rap, R&B
Lexie doesn’t revolutionize the ever-growing hip-hop sound in China. Her music has many similarities to other Chinese artists such as Vava and Jackson Wang. Yet what separates her from the rest is her strong individuality that bursts through the occasional genericness of her music.
There’s a powerful, underlying strength in her voice that makes her songs assertive, regardless of whether she’s rapping or singing. Her versatility also adds to the uniqueness of her artistry. Like a Jack of all trades, Lexie’s appeal to me lies in her ability to make established sounds her own. It makes her an artist that I’m rooting for to succeed with every subsequent release.
You can also catch her on the latest season of China’s hit singing competition ‘I Am A Singer‘.
Stream Meta Ego below.
Thanks to the Music Writer Exercises (#MWE) on Twitter that I’ve been doing everyday, I became exposed to the gorgeous art that is TĀL’s music.
Born in Auckland, this twin sister duo of Malaysian-Indian and Pākehān origin expertly fuse lo-fi indie-folk with traditional Indian instruments – the tabla and sitar, for a delightful combination that knows how to toy with my heartstrings.
Their debut EP is brief at only 15 minutes, but the bite-sized offerings complement the duo’s very understated vocals well. Working in harmony with the luscious production, TĀL might occasionally sound drowned out but their lyrics are heartfelt and deserve your attention.
Stream TĀL below.
Genre: Indie Rock
Another act that I found through #MWE, lost spaces is a band that hails from my home country of Malaysia. Their debut album no-vacancy is arguably one of the biggest musical releases the country has seen in recent years.
The band’s infectiously fun brand of indie rock hits all the right notes for me to enjoy a record in this genre. Their gleeful sound perfectly encapsulates how a fine day in Malaysia feels; hot, breezy and laid back.
Of course there are also slower cuts on their debut, which to be honest, loses some of my attention. But the sincerity and catchiness of lead singer Sam Lopez’s lyricism and songwriting always wins me back right after.
Stream no-vacancy below.