On The Up is Uproxx’s monthly column that brings you a round-up of the best new artists that you need to be listening to. Some of these musicians might be brand new, some might have been making music for a while and are starting to hit a major stride, but they’re all destined for bigger things in the very near future. Our July edition features a UK soul singer that crushed it at Glastonbury, an unreal vocalist, the second coming of The Roots, a singer-songwriter evoking shades of Elliott Smith, and Flying Lotus’ latest vocal muse. Check it out.
Neo-soul and R&B singer Greentea Peng has a style that harkens back to the ’90s British boombap R&B heyday. While the Londoner’s debut album Man Made dropped last year, she collaborated with UK garage innovator MJ Cole and Gorillaz/Jorja Smith/Ezra Collective drummer Femi Koleoso on the brand new “Stuck In The Middle.” Peng operates over psych-jazz and hip-hop instrumentation from her band, the Seng Seng Family, and drops metaphysical lyrics like, “I believe in magic because I’ve seen it,” (on “Nah It Ain’t The Same.”) She just left an indelible mark at Glastonbury and has appearances on deck at other UK summer festival staples like All Points East and End Of The Road.
There are gorgeous voices, and then there’s Laufey. The Icelandic-Chinese singer, violinist, and pianist now lives in Los Angeles and when you hear her sing, it feels like you cozied up to a fancy piano bar and stumbled into a jaw-dropping vocalist. Her music is cinematic, instantly elegant, and even a bit showy. “Fragile” hums with pronounced strings painting a canvas for Laufey’s delivery, which will legit send chills down your spine. Her debut album, Everything I Know About Love is due out on August 26th and Laufey’s U.S. headlining tour that begins in September is almost entirely sold out.
If you’re a fan of The Roots, then Butcher Brown is for you. You might’ve heard the Richmond, VA jazz and hip-hop five-piece led by MC/multi-instrumentalist Tennishu with their rendition of Little Richard’s “Rip It Up” as the theme music to Monday Night Football for the 2020 NFL season. They’ve established their prowess in a series of albums, but are now embarking on the more expansive big band jazz sound with the Triple Trey album due out on September 16th. Tennishu comes across like golden era rap legend J-Live, as drummer Corey Fonville lays groundwork for a horn section, synths and Andrew Randazzo’s sick sax solo on “Liquid Light.” Finger snaps, bells, and even tuba pop up everywhere, and it’s clear that these dudes are master jazz-hop instrumentalists. Butcher Brown is on the festival circuit this summer, including appearances at Afropunk, Pitchfork Fest, and the Blue Note Jazz Fest in Napa.
The solo project of indie singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum, we highlighted Blondshell’s debut single, “Olympus,” in June. Skillfully produced by indie superproducer Yves Rothman, the song has heavy, visceral lyricism, where Teitelbaum confesses her helplessness in a destructive relationship. “I wanna save myself, you’re part of my addiction. I just keep you in thе kitchen while I burn,” she sings. Moments like this seethe with shades of Elliott Smith’s dark honesty and you root for her to come out on the other side. More music is on the way soon and the LA-based, New York City-raised Blondshell is undoubtedly one to watch.
Probably the same spark that went off for Flying Lotus when he discovered LA future-soul vocalist Devin Tracy at a recent session, is what hearing Tracy for the first time will do to you. Tracy was FlyLo’s vocal muse of sorts on their mid-June collaborative double single release, “The Room” and “You Don’t Know.” Tracy floats in wavelengths over Lotus’ silos of strings on the former and rides a controlled wormhole of snare drums on the latter. He just appeared on Sango’s new Great Lakes Series mixtape, soaring on the dance floor batucada of “Winter All Year.” There’s a sensual androgyny to Tracy’s voice that’s just irresistible, and we want to hear more of it stat.