SELF-CARE: THE 10 BEST CHILL SONGS OF THE WEEK
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde. It's been another intense seven days of action. If we're to continue to dismantle the racist and oppressive systems and institutions that have come to define the country and world we live in, however, we must learn to do so in a sustainable manner. That means stopping to replenish and renourish ourselves – physically and mentally – as and when needed. Without further ado, then, feel free to carve out some time and space out for yourself this weekend with help from the latest edition of We Are: The Guard's Best Chill Songs, featuring Kygo & Kim Petras, Leon Bridges, Gracie Abrams, and others.
KYGO & KIM PETRAS – BROKEN GLASS
Every time I listen to Kygo, it's like undergoing a healing experience. “Broken Glass” makes for no exception. Featured on the Norwegian vibesman's recent album Golden Hour, the Kim Petras collaboration is a sky-soaring slice of tropical-house that'll leave you feeling thoroughly cleansed, with Kim delivering a real belter of a vocal performance over Kygo's crisp, cathartic production.
LEON BRIDGES (FEAT. TERRACE MARTIN) – SWEETER
Leon Bridges sings from the perspective of a black man and a victim of police brutality taking his final breath on “Sweeter.” Coming in the wake of George Floyd's death, “Sweeter” hits a particularly tender note as Leon's vocals soar high above the gentle wisps of saxophone, with the Atlanta native bringing tears to my eyes as he describes the family gathering around the victim's body: “The tears of my mother rain rain over me/My sisters and my brothers sing sing over me/And I wish I had another day, but it's just another day.”
GRACIE ABRAMS – 21
Gracie Abrams continues to put her crushingly universal songwriting on full display on “21.” Despite her Hollywood upbringing, the daughter of J. J. Abrams proves her feet are firmly planted on the ground on this relatable ode to moving on, with Gracie detailing the collapse of her relationship in devastating detail over a string of Christmas-light synthesizers: “If it doesn't go away by the time I turn 30/I made a mistake and I'll tell you I'm sorry.”
THE NICHOLAS (FEAT. ODESSA) – ROCKSHOW
It's no secret we're fans of pretty much everything San Holo's record label bitbird puts out here at We Are: The Guard, and that includes “Rockshow.” A collaboration between The Nicholas and Odessa, it's a somber, melancholy lullaby that could quite easily rock you to the land of Nod, with Odessa's pure voice lending a kind of lost innocence to the song's crystalline blend of guitars and drums.
FLETCHER (FEAT. KITO) – BITTER
FLETCHER is leaving a bitter taste in our mouths with her seductive latest single. Produced over FaceTime with help from Australia's Kito, “Bitter” is a late-night piece of trap-pop that oozes with sex appeal from the very first note, with skittering hi-hats nipping at the ankles of FLETCHER as she sings to an ex trying and failing to move on from the Asbury Park native: “I left a taste in your mouth, can she taste me now? I'm bitter.”
SÉBASTIEN TELLIER – STUCK IN A SUMMER LOVE
Just in time for the arrival of June, Sébastien Tellier returns with “Stuck in a Summer Love.” “It's about being caught in the past, the old teenager I was,” writes the French auteur of the song – a deep, heady dive into dopamine rush of summer romance that manages to feel nostalgic and reflective, despite coming channeled through the forward-thinking lens of Sébastien's futuristic dream-pop.
EMIKA – INTUITION 016
As much as I appreciate we don't all have eight minutes to spare, I highly recommend you put any plans aside to listen to “Intuition 016” by Emika in full. Featured on the British producer's recent album Chaos Star, it's a transportive piano composition generated entirely from programmed algorithms, with the random collision of notes making for an explorative journey through the electronic-synthetic dimension.
ZOE WEES – CONTROL
TikTok sensation Zoe Wees makes her gut-wrenchingly beautiful debut on the blogosphere with “Control.” The emotive piano ballad is about the German singer-songwriter's childhood battle with Rolandic epilepsy, with Zoe's powerhouse vocals exhibiting equal parts strength and vulnerability as she reflects on her difficult past and the impact it has on her present: “Even when I know it's been forever I can still feel the spin/Hurts when I remember and I never wanna feel it again.”
TA-KU – GLITTER (BENEE COVER)
Ta-ku longs for connection on this unrecognizable cover of BENEE's “Glitter.” “The thought of sticking together became more than just an incredibly catchy hook. It became something that I felt we needed,” writes the Australian of his decision to cover the cut in these post-pandemic times, with lush, evocative strings enveloping Ta-ku as he breathily sings of his desire for human touch. Irresistible.
COLETON RUBIN – HAIRCUT
Introducing COLETON RUBIN, the Los Angeles singer-songwriter who's charming Spotify tastemakers and music bloggers alike with his debut single “haircuT.” Over homespun acoustic guitars and very little else, listen as COLETON gives off an almost Mac Miller-esque vibe with his irreverent vocals and lyrics on “haircuT” – a whimsical indie ode to bad haircuts and growing up that quite frankly bops.
Photo by Donovan Valdivia on UnsplashJess Grant is a frustrated writer hailing from London, England. When she isn't tasked with disentangling her thoughts from her brain and putting them on paper, Jess can generally be found listening to The Beatles, or cooking vegetarian food.