In this new weekly feature, a different LEO staff member will share 7-10 of the songs they’ve got on repeat right now with one caveat: about half of those songs have to be by local artists. (Songs by Louisville artists are marked with an asterisk.) Got a track that you think we’d like? Let us know at [email protected] or at the author’s email below.
Wesley — “Glows in the Dark” *
First, it is local, and to put it simply, it is an irresistible song. It reminds me of Roxy Music and Talking Heads, but with a yacht-rock, lo-fi twist. It’s mellow, which I love, and just feels good when I listen to it. Plus, the ‘80s video vibes couldn’t be any more perfect for this song.
Fujii Kaze — “Kirari”
Fujii Kaze, one of my favorite artists in the last six months, is a Japanese singer-songwriter whose mix of English and Japanese lyrics with ridiculously catchy songs and amazing musicianship is the perfect combination of fun with a message about being good humans. Why he hasn’t fully crossed over into the American market beats me. He’s definitely having a moment in the spotlight, and I hope that folks continue to catch on, because his music deserves it. UPDATE: Apparently Fujii Kaze will release a Netflix concert film this Friday, March 10, so maybe my wish will come true. For now, I’ll expand my wish and hope the film turns into a U.S. tour with a stop near me.
Scott T. Smith — “Peacemaker” *
As a child, the sounds of folk singers like Smith put light where a lot of things seemed dark. Even when they are singing about things in life that are not the happiest, the honesty in the voice puts hope and possibility in the bleakest of moments. This song…well, it is a bit dark, but the lilt of Smith’s voice is cosmic. And, he’s local.
Christian Kuria — “Remain”
So much of music for me is about the voice. I love a smooth, yet smoky tenor that can slide into a falsetto with ease. Christian Kuria is one of those voices. Whenever I share a new artist recently, it’s been Kuria. He’s in heavy rotation right now.
Zaniah — “Moon” *
Louisville’s talent is so deep, y’all. Zaniah’s voice on “Moon” has the clarity and quality of Minnie Ripperton’s on “Les Fleurs.” She keeps it cool and in check, but the ability to ring like a crystal bell is lurking just below each line. “Moon” is a cozy neo-soul jam, and Zaniah’s voice, a classic in the making. We’ll be looking at her vocal lines for years to come. Also, check out her performance from “The Tonight Show.”
Spellling — “The Turning Wheel”
The reach of Kate Bush’s music keeps popping up in the oddest of places, and as soon as I heard Spellling’s “The Turning Wheel,” I knew her musical influences immediately. Spellling is an interesting artist existing somewhere in the realm of artists like Bush, Minnie Ripperton, Tori Amos, Chaka Khan, and Donna Summer. It’s pretty amazing, and her work is transformative for Black artists in genres that sometimes don’t see many Black faces.
White Woolly – “Palomino”*
Louisville-centric, a bit MMJ, a little gothic country, and a lot of really damn good songs. White Woolly fits into a very current roots-esque vein right now with artists like MMJ and Lord Huron. “Palomino” has heart and grit… like adding spurs to cowboy boots trying to draw blood from the soil.
Baekhyun — “Cry for Love“
I like to claim that I don’t know shit about K-pop, but if this ranks as K-pop, I’m in. Apparently, he was in one of the boy bands. But, for me, it’s the voice when he hits the high falsetto and then the vocal run that follows soon after. It’s masterful. These kids are listening to the right Black artists and creating music that does their study justice. There is concern about cultural appropriation in the Korean music industry — it’s a conversation that needs to be had. At the same time, I ain’t mad at some of the music that this crossover creates.
Producing A Kind Generation – “Metchew” *
I can’t remember when I first heard this band, but I remember being immediately mesmerized. I’m impressed by their skilled musicianship and that Louisville continues to produce some of the absolutely finest music across genres. PAKG reminds me of why I fell in love with rock music.
Gemini (제미나이) – “UFO“ (Featuring Seori)
While listening to Fujii Kaze, I got hung up in a Spotify loop of Asian artists, and Gemini is another Korean artist working in the hip-hop/r&b thread, which allows me to deny that I listen to K-pop when clearly I do, but just not boy bands. Gemini will be playing a show in Chicago on Sunday, March 19, and I’m a little sad that I can’t make the trip. Seori’s Billie Eilish-like feature is well-placed in this song, providing a nice complement to Gemini’s singing.