The Best New Songs: CARRTOONS, Jordana, Oliver Sim and More

Get the context behind On Rotation, our curated weekly playlist of new releases

On March 15, 2022

Our Best New Songs series is here to give you context on what we’re spinning each week in VMP’s On Rotation playlist — curated by VMP staff, no algorithm needed. Listen and read along below to find out why these artists should be on your radar. 

CARRTOONS & Rae Khalil: “Lighta”

New York-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Carr, better known as CARRTOONS, has announced his upcoming LP Homegrown, his first release with Wichita Recordings and the follow-up to his self-produced and independent full-length from 2020, Saturday Morning. The success of that critically acclaimed record led to a performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk and recent collaborations with Robert Glasper, Alex Isley, Kiefer and Butcher Brown, among others.

“Lighta,” the first single from Homegrown, is a collaboration with Rae Khalil (who featured on Saturday Morning’s “Father”). The lyrics, written by the featured singer and rapper, muse on the song’s title: “I feel a lil lighta where is my lighta … You probably got my BIC / My flow will light the shit / I’m heating up around the world, I’m more established.”

The music video for the single, directed by Luke Carr, similarly puts the focus on Khalil, rapping from a rooftop, overlaying CARRTOONS’ trademark “Modern Motown” sound with a prominent bass line — CARRTOONS’ primary instrument is electric bass.

CARRTOONS draws from a diverse musical repertoire; Carr, the youngest son of jazz violinist Richard Carr (Bill Laswell, Bootsy Collins), received his college degree in jazz performance and made his debut with Mad Satta. Homegrown — which includes Carr’s father as a feature on “Cadillac” with Pierce Allen — is due out April 20.

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Homegrown’ here.

 

Jordana: “Pressure Point”

The second single from Jordana’s upcoming record, Face the Wall, “Pressure Point” — following lead single “Catch My Drift” —  leans in a hyper-pop and electronic direction. The indie-pop artist co-wrote the track with Face the Wall’s co-producer Cameron Hale and MICHELLE’s Charlie Kilgore. Face the Wall, out May 20, is her first studio album.

In the music video for “Pressure Point,” directed by Luke Orlando, Jordana spends most of the song wrapped in a quilt. It’s a simple and insular video that speaks to the heart of the song: the isolating experience of working through a panic attack: “Try not to let the panic stick and breathe in, breathe back out,” she sings.

In a press release about the single, Jordana said, “‘Pressure Point’ is about acknowledging limits and knowing when it’s time to stop. The entirety of ‘Pressure Point’ is talking yourself out of an anxiety attack. It’s a personal song about smoking weed and becoming too anxious to function normally — overthinking every inch of your surroundings and everything going on in your head all at once.”

About the album as a whole, Jordana said, “The album title has a few meanings to me. Mostly, it’s about not giving up. The wall can be anything in your way. The album is a sort of reminder to myself that I have to face those things, and I can’t take the easy route and turn around.” The obstacle in “Pressure Point” (an anxiety attack) is a more literal and physical manifestation of the walls Jordana faces on the new record, unlike the barrier of the first single (misunderstanding).

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Face the Wall’ here.

Oliver Sim: “Romance With a Memory”

Oliver Sim has launched his solo career with the release of “Romance With a Memory,” along with a lyric video starring Charity Kase, HoSo Terra Toma and Gena Marvin. Sim is best known as the bassist and vocalist of the xx — the indie pop group with Sim, Romy Madley Croft, Baria Qureshi and Jamie Smith, formed in London when the bandmates were still in high school, who haven’t released a record since 2017’s I See You. Sim isn’t the first member of the band to strike out on his own; Croft made her solo debut last year.

About his own solo release, Sim said in a statement: “I’m thrilled, excited, ecstatic, overcaffeinated and overjoyed to be sharing ‘Romance with a Memory’ with you all. Terrifyingly, this is the first song I’ve ever released under my own name, I really hope you all enjoy it. Produced by my dear older brother Jamie xx. I’ve also made a compilation of some of my favourite monsters, killers and queers getting down.” 

Sim added, “I hope both the music and monsters make you feel as happy as they make me — I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to watch a ghoul having a good time,” referencing the costumes in the visuals. 

He also clarified that the xx haven’t broken up, and don’t have any animosity toward each other, with a pointed postscript: “P.S. still very much in a loving and happy relationship/band with Romy and Jamie,” Sim said.

Whatever the Weather: “36°C”

“36°C” is the latest single from Loraine James’ upcoming self-titled debut under the moniker Whatever the Weather, via Ghostly International. Each song on the 10-track album is fittingly titled with a reference to weather; this new track ups the heat and energy with a spike in temperature from 17 to a sweltering 36. In an email interview, James told FADER: “36 degrees is an improv track that felt like it had to be a closer for the album. It really makes me feel warm and content and that everything is going to be ok.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Whatever the Weather’ here.

Orion Sun: “intro”

“intro” is the first track on the latest EP from Orion Sun, Getaway, the follow-up to her 2020 debut full-length, Hold Space For Me. With half of its six tracks released as singles — “dirty dancer,” “concrete” and “pressure” (the latter released the same day as Getaway) — the EP is brief but satisfying, full of earworms and soothing vocals. On “intro,” there’s a hypnotic refrain: “I’ll be on the way, only want the best for you / If you wanna stay, only give my best to you / If you wanna go / I wish the best for you.” About the EP as a whole, Orion Sun said it centers around “[a] yearning to get out and get away. The want to learn more, to grow more, to love more and to evolve.”

Tomberlin: “tap”

Sarah Beth Tomberlin, better known as simply Tomberlin, has released “tap,” the latest single from her upcoming sophomore album, i don’t know who needs to hear this. The single is accompanied by a music video of behind-the-scenes footage including sound mixing and performance, edited and directed by Tomberlin herself. In a statement about the song, she said: “It was January 2021, my first pandemic winter in New York, when I wrote [‘tap’] … This song shifts through scenes of what does connect and disconnect me from myself. It’s funny because I think releasing music to be consumed by the public does both very strongly for me.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘i don’t know who needs to hear this’ here.

Kate Bollinger: “Who Am I But Someone”

“Who Am I But Someone” is the second single from Kate Bollinger’s upcoming Look at it in the Light EP. In a statement about the track, Bollinger said, “There have been many times when I’ve been so afraid to uproot my life in some way but just as afraid of what will happen if I don’t. This song is a conversation with myself about avoidance, denial, being afraid of change, and being afraid of stagnating. I shot the video in Los Angeles with Allyson from Pear Juice and a cast and crew of all women (besides our amazing producer Al!). Shooting the video was like being at summer camp — it was one of the best experiences and I’m so proud of how it turned out.”

Orville Peck: “The Curse of the Blackened Eye”

Orville Peck’s upcoming album, Bronco, will be released in three installments, and its four-track second chapter, including “The Curse of the Blackened Eye,” is out now. In a statement about the new songs, Peck said, “The songs on Bronco’s second chapter explore some of the most vulnerable places I’ve ever gone to with my music. I sing about home, escape, longing, resentment… This chapter, lyrically, has some of my favorite songs on the album. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for a ballad.” The music video, directed by Austin Peters, sees the masked singer haunted by an ex, aka “The Curse” (played by Norman Reedus).

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Bronco’ here.

Destroyer: “June”

“Is it spring where you are?” asks director David Galloway — who directed the music video for “June” — in a statement about Destroyer’s latest single. Galloway continues: “I think June is technically summer, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The flowers are starting to come out now, and the birds sure as hell are. There it was; the future just flew by. What’s the quorum on something like that?” The single and its visuals don’t necessarily have an answer, but the over-seven-minute track muses on fortune, strikes and snow angels, among many unrelated things in the lengthy spoken outro. “June” is the third single from LABYRINTHITIS, the 13th release from Daniel Bejar under the Destroyer moniker.

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘LABRYRINTHITIS’ here.

Fly Anakin: “Love Song (Come Back)”

“Love Song (Come Back)” is the first track on Fly Anakin’s debut studio album, Frank. The solo full-length follows his 2021 EP Pixote, and recent projects with Pink Siifu — 2020’s FlySiifu’s and the duo’s follow-up EP, $mokebreak. Pink Siifu features on single “Black Be the Source,” and Frank also includes collaborations with Madlib, Evidence and Mutant Academy members Big Kahuna OG and Henny L.O., among others (Anakin is a co-founder of the Richmond, Virginia, rap collective). Anakin explained to Stereogum, “I called this one my debut because it cost the most money to make. It’s the first budget, the first time my shit was mastered. It’s the first one of that kind.”

Honorable Mentions


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