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Every month, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current and upcoming releases on independent labels. This sampler was curated by senior editor Keith Goetzman and editorial intern Will Wlizlo.
Rosy-cheeked in appearance but deep in character, Johnny Flynn is one of the tantalizing young musicians who are blowing fresh air into the sometimes musty British folk canon. His impressionistic lyrics and hearty voice are in fine form on Been Listening, which comes out November 2 on Thirty Tigers. —Keith Goetzman
Track: “Kentucky Pill” by Johnny Flynn
Swedish indie-folk purveyor José González pretty much epitomizes “enigmatic,” and his new group Junip finds him still at a remove: On Fields (Mute), the trio plays hypnotic, hazy music laden with bittersweetness and dressed up with subtle electronic flourishes. —K.G.
Track: “Always” by Junip
The Psychedelic Aliens
If you mix Hendrix-esque psychedelia with Ghanaian afro-beat and DIY garage rock, you end up with the Psychedelic Aliens. The Voodoo Funk Academy spent four years hunting down the Aliens’ three recordings from the late ’60s—all of which are available on Psycho African Beat, due out October 26. —Will WlizloTrack: “Gbe Keke Wo Taoo” by the Psychedelic Aliens
As the solo squeeze of multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce, Mice Parade swirled through variations of progressive post-rock. Now Pierce collaborates with a staggering array of musicians, and his eighth album, What it Means to Be Left-Handed (Fat Cat), is colored with flamenco and Brazilian jazz, minimal pop and West African percussion. —W.W.
Track: “Kupanda” by Mice Parade
King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Ade is a Nigerian legend for his impossibly happy juju music, in which “talking” drums burble beneath circular, ringing guitar lines. This is his first studio release in a decade, and he lets the songs stretch out into their naturally long forms—this nearly nine-minute track is the shortest one on his new Bábá mo Tundé (Mesa/Indigedisc). —K.G.
Track: “Emi Won N’lle yi O(Sa Jo Ma L’owo L’owo)”
The Octopus Project
The Octopus Project wants to bury you—in layer after layer after layer of melodic electronic rock. Hexadecagon, the group’s forthcoming album (October 26) on Peek-a-Boo, is the twisted child of hi-fi A/V equipment-wonkery. The Octopus Project performed in a circular arrangement with eight-channel sound and an eight-screen video display earlier this year, turning their show into a 16-sided musical extravaganza. —W.W.
Track: “Fuguefat” by The Octopus Project
A jazz quintet centered around two saxophones, Portland’s Blue Cranes have a sensibility that draws equally from old and new wells. You don’t have to count the tricky beats to enjoy their joyous interplay on this song from Observatories, their third album (Blue Crane Records). —K.G.
Track: “Ritchie Bros” by Blue Cranes
Dark-electro? Avant-pop? Throwback krautrock? Cramming Matthew Dear into a comfortable classification certainly isn’t easy. Instead, we suggest putting on your headphones and unconsciously bopping your head to Matthew Dear’s fuzzy beats and roguishly debonair vocals. Out on Ghostly. —W.W.
Track: “Soil to Seed” by Matthew Dear
From Zep-worthy jams to more downbeat, textural compositions, North Carolina’s Toubab Krewe combine rock chops with West African influences on their consistently arresting TK2 (Nat Geo). —K.G.
Track: “Holy Grail” by Toubab Krewe
Let this track mark the end of your summer. Crafted from vintage analog synthesizers, ARP’s blissful electronic drone is the captured sound of pale, golden sunshine. The Soft Wave is out on Smalltown Supersound. —W.W.
Track: “Summer Girl” by ARP