Montréal-based artist Salimo is a rising Francophone emcee. In a relatively short period of time, he has captured the attention of media outlets across both his hometown and Québec, and he has already amassed an impressive array of live dates under his belt: The Montréal-based artist has opened for Niska, Youssoupha, MAES, Gims, Sofiane, Soolking and a list of others. He has also played Francofoiles de Montréal — including a headlining set at the festival, making him the youngest artist to date to ever headlining in the festival’s history. He has also played Festival Marocain de Laval, Fête Nationale du Maroc au Parc Jarry and M for Montréal.
Salimo has amassed over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms and millions of views on YouTube, adding his name to a growing list of Quebecois rappers, who have received attention across the Francophone world.
The Montréal-based rapper’s sophomore album is slated for a November 4, 2023 through Kartel Music Group/Sony Music Canada. The album’s latest single “Jelly” is a breezy, hook-driven, club and lounge friendly bop featuring an ethereal, reggaeton-inspired production featuring skittering and shuffling beats, a looped, strummed Flamenco-like acoustic guitar sample serving as a lush bed for Salimo’s effortless, subtly Autotuned delivery. May this one be a reminder of summer warmth — and flirting with pretty young things at the club.
Directed by Disjoncté Productions, the slick and stylishly shot accompanying video for “Jelly” follows the rising Montréal-based rapper through some gorgeous locales in one of my favorite cities, including a stunning view of Montréal’s skyline and Vieux Port from the other side of the St. Lawrence River.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d probably recall that I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering Senegalese-born and-based singer/songwriter, musician and JOVM mainstay Mariaa Siga.
So far, Siga has released three singles, which I’ve written about on this site:
“Le murmure des anges,” a track that saw her collaborating with Artikal Band, who contribute a shuffling and buoyant reggae riddim paired with a slow-burning and soulful guitar solo and the Senegalese-born and-based artist’s expressive delivery. “Le murmure des angels” is a song that does two things — give thanks to the enteral while reminding listeners that they should listen to the little voice inside of us, which arms us with much-needed confidence; that voice that frequently says “You know, you got this. You know you’re dope.”
“Ni Mama,” which in her native Diola means “I’m Leaving” sees the JOVM mainstay continuing her ongoing collaboration with Artikal Band, who contribute a shuffling and breezily upbeat reggae riddim paired with wah wah pedalled guitar, shimmering keys serving as a supple bed for the Senegalese artist’s effortlessly soulful and earnest vocal. “Ni Mama” features lyrics in both her native Diola and in French that discuss a familiar sensation for many of us — the need to escape things when daily pressure and stress becomes overwhelming.
The FissBassBeats-produced “Daaray Dunya,” a track that saw the Senegalese artist alternating between singing and spitting bars about the difficulties young people face in a mad, mad, mad, mad world while still continuing to hold on to the belief that they have bright future ahead of them. FissBassBeats contributes a tweeter and woofer rattling drill production featuring looped guitar, skittering beats and deep low end. While “Daaray Dunya” is a bit of a sonic departure from her previously released singles, it continues the Senegalese artist’s unique meshing of the ancient and the modern.
Siga’s fourth single, “Mame Bamba” was recorded in Montpelier, France and continues her ongoing collaboration with Artikal Band. Built around a lush and soulful reggae-influenced riddim featuring a supple bass line, shuffling rhythm and twinkling keys paired with the Senegalese JOVM mainstay’s gorgeous vocal, “Mame Bamba” much like the previously released material pairs social messages with breezy and uplifting arrangements.
The Senegalese JOVM mainstay explains that the song pays tribute to Cheikh Amadou Bamba, a Senegalese poet and the founder of the Mouride Brotherhood, a Sufi Islamic sect best known for its focus on work and non-violent resistance to the French.
Directed by Mao Sidbé, the accompanying video reverentially honors Senegalese women, showcasing their industriousness, their beauty and kindness.
Young Parisian indie electro pop artist Epal started her mononymic solo project back in 2021. And with her solo recording project, the young Parisian artist attempts to mesh French chanson with contemporary pop sounds through her own production.
Released earlier this year, “Couer noir,” the first single off her EP released earlier this year, is built around glistening synths, skittering beats and atmospheric electronics serving as a lush bed for the young, French artist’s ethereal vocal, which is run through a gentle amount of autotune and other effects. The song thematically sees Epal detailing her romantic disappointments with a lived-in specificity of embittering heartbreak.
Ali Sethi is a Pakistani-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and author, who is best known globally for his attempts to revive ghazal, an ancient poetic form that was taken by Sufi mystics from the Arab world to Persia and throughout the Indian subcontinent, where it captivated the royal court. Over the last few decades, ghazal has been unfashionable and viewed as a heavily mannered style associated with decadence and misfits and madman who speak in puns about the charms of forbidden love.
Sethi has given the ancient poetic form a new lease of life through playfully revisionist covers and renditions, which draw from his years of training in raga music, and his own journey as an out-of-place queer kid back in Pakistan, who relocated to New York. His most popular single “Passori,” was one of the most Googled songs of last year, with hundreds of millions globally tuning into its timeless message of forbidden love.
Nicolás Jaar is a Chliean-born, New York-based musician, electronic music artist and producer. Throughout his career, improvisation has been the core of his work. Before he started writing and recording electronic music, Jaar jammed on accordion with friends on the streets here in NYC.
Sethi has long been a fan of Jaar’s music, long before they began collaborating together. He’d absorbed the sounds over a number of years, listening casually and taking in their subtleties in bars and rooftop parties across Lahore and London. “It felt familiar to me, that sense of adventure you have when you hear his music, like a tale that teases you and plays with your expectations as it unfolds,” says Sethi. “In that sense it resembled the leisurely improvised ghazals and qawwalis I grew up hearing in Pakistan.”
When the pair were introduced by Indian visual artists and frequent Jaar collaborator Somnath Bhatt, Sethi was prepared. He had began to sketch out voice notes using loops snipped from Jar’s acclaimed 2020 album Telas, improvising vocalizations and seductive Urdu poems of the Chilean’s ethereal, time-bending productions. Jaar was amazed by the result. “It was what ‘Telas’ had been missing,” he explains.
The result of the vocal sketches is the acclaimed duo’s collaborative album together Intiha, a Ghazal-driven re-working of Jaar’s 2020 album, Telas. Slated for a November 17, 2023 release through Other People, Initha draws from Sethi’s life — and it gives the album’s material a gently subversive edge paired with the addition of new, improvised elements, prompting a playful back-and-forth echoed throughout the record.
Genre is constantly evoked but in gesture. But overall, the music transcends formula, using cultural reverberations and distinct repetitions that lull listeners into a placeless trance. It’s “a sound that I hope can operate on multiple levels,” says Jaar, a borderless, playfully ambiguous set of improvisations that sing confidently of love, loss and belonging.”
The album’s first single “Muddat” is built around a soulful and mischievously anachronistic production featuring skittering castanet-like percussion, glistening organ arpeggios that veers briefly into club rocking techno. The production serves as lush, silky bed for Sethi’s plaintive and yearning delivery, crying for out desperately for union with his beloved.
The song takes the opening lines of a canonical ghazal written as the British were decimating India’s precolonial traditions and the elaborate rituals and ettiequte of its courtesans and noblemen. But at its core, the pair evoke the loss of a cherished — and mythical — milieu, that as a native New Yorker feels deeply familiar. Ultimately, the result is a song that’s simultaneously ancient and modern, while evoking an old and very human longing.
Following a North American tour that included sold-out shows in NYC, Los Angeles and Toronto, Sethi will be embarking on a run of world-wide dates to close out the year and start 2024. You can check out those dates below. More dates will be announced in the upcoming weeks. But you can grab tickets here.
Ali Sethi on tour
10/8 – Austin City Limits – Austin, TX
10/9 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX
1010 – House of Blues – Houston, TX
10/12 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
11/11 – Dubai Opera House – Dubai, UAE
11/14 – Saint Luke’s – Glasgow, UK
11/17 – Gorilla – Manchester, UK
11/18 – O2 Institute – Birmingham, UK
11/19 – 02 Shepherds Bush Empire – London, UK
2/24 – District of Raga Washington, DC – Vienna, VA
Back in 2014, the Andover-based musician and composer released The Green Flash, a four song EP of four original compositions of Brazilian jazz. All four songs received nominations for the 2015 American Songwriting Awards with “SambaDan” winning for Best Instrumental. Finbury followed The Green Flash EP with 2015’s 11-song Brazilian jazz effort Imaginário featuring vocalist Marcella Camargo and some of Boston’s best players, including Fernando Huergo, Mark Walker, Tim Ray, Claudio Ragazzi, Roberto Cassan and Ricardo Monzon. Finbury surprised the Latin music world when Imaginário track “A Chama Verde” received a Latin Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
2017’s Pitanga was released to critical acclaim. Adding to a rapidly growing profile in the Latin music scene, Finbury’s third album, the Emilio D. Miler-produced Sorte!, which saw him collaborating with vocalist Thalma de Freitas and an All-Star band featuring Vitor Gonçalves, Chico Pinheiro, Duduka de Fonseca, John Patitucci, Rogerio Boccato and Airto Moreira received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Jazz album.
2020 saw the release of two albums of originals: American Nocturnes: Final Days of July featured intimate chamber jazz compositions featuring arrangements for piano, cello, guitar, accordion and harmonica — and Quatro, a Latin jazz album featuring Lagos Herrera, Chano Domínguez, John Pattiucci and Antonio Sánchez.
During the pandemic, the Andover-based musician and composer collaborated with French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault. They recorded and released “Look at What a Mess You Made of Me,” which featured Christian McBride (bass) and “Boulevard,” which featured Larry Gouldings (organ) and Billy Martin (drums).
In 2021, following the death of the legendary Chick Correa, Finbury and de Freitas wrote and recorded “Ring The Bells” as a tribute to the man and his heavily influential work.
Las year, Finbury wrote and released three original Brazilian jazz compositions recorded in São Paulo by Mestrinho (accordion), Michael Pipoquinho (bass), Cainã Cavalcante (guitar), Celso de Almeida (drums) and Leo Rodrigues (percussion).
This year looks to be very busy year for Finbury: He continued an ongoing collaboration with Magos Herrera and recorded and released three original compositions of Chamber Jazz. The Andover-based musician and composer also continued his successful collaboration with Miler, who introduced him to rising São Paulo-based singer/songwriter Bruna Black.
Black wound up contributing vocals to Finbury’s forthcoming album — and wrote the lyrics to two of them, including the album’s latest single “Chão De Nuvem.” Featuring a soulful yet breezy arrangement of fluttering accordion, a supple bass line, shuffling percussion to create a song that effortlessly and gorgeously meshes elements of samba, jazz fusion and pop that serves as a perfect vehicle for Black’s languorous and soulful delivery.
The song describes the São Paulo-based artist describing her journey in music starting with her breakthrough appearance on Brazil’s The Voice, and her rapid rise to fame with AVUA — and her collaboration with Finbury and his All-Star cast of musicians that brought her to New York.
Founded in the early 2000s, Aswefall is a collaboration between two grizzled and accomplished music industry vets:
Clement Vaché, a DJ and electronic music producer, known for being a pioneer of the French Rave scene, an organizer of the Borealis Montpellier Festival back in the 90s, and for being the resident DJ of the Kill the DJ parties at renowned Parisian club Le Pulp back in the 2000s. However, over the past few years, Vaché has become one of the most sought-after musical directors in luxury and fashion.
The duo’s full-length debut, 2005’s Bleed was released through Kill the DJ Records and features “Between Us,” a track used in ad campaigns for Air France. Since then, “Between Us” has amassed close to five million streams on Spotify.
The duo’s latest single “La nuit s’évapore” is a brooding track that sees the pair meshing elements of coldwave, goth and electro pop into a danceable, club friendly banger built around glistening synth arpeggios, icy and seemingly detached vocals and skittering boom bap with some incredibly catchy hooks.
French indie artist Romy Valalik is a self-taught singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, who started her career as a bassist. She quickly turned to electronic instruments, so that she could fully express her musical ideas — and have a symphony orchestra at her fingertips.
The French artist quickly established an attention grabbing sound that featured gorgeous symphonic-inspired arrangements paired with a Björk-like vocal. After singing to Universal Music France, Valalik released her debut EP, 2021’s 1 and last year’s “I Am Your Treasure,” she chose to follow her own path and become an independent artist with complete artistic freedom.
Her latest single “Comme un reve” is built around an eerie arrangement of twinkling keys, bursts of soaring strings and trumpet serving as an atmospheric bed for the French artist’s hauntingly expressive vocal. It’s a remarkably cinematic song that while somewhat indebted to Björk sounds as though it should be part of the soundtrack of a bildungsroman featuring a character discovering herself.
The accompanying video, which was directed by the French artist, features the artist in tight closeups, appearing like a siren in the deep. Behind her tendrils of light move with her. It’s a fittingly eerie and dreamy visual.
Mexican outfit CÓDICE — Carlos Torres (bajo quinto, backing vocals), Javier Cuen (vocals), Odandy Cuen (electric bass), Arturo García (accordion), Cristian Gutiérrez (drums) and Diego Gonzales (tuba) — features members, who have been performing and playing music at private events since they were all young boys. Since the band’s formation over a decade ago, they have recorded and released two live albums, a live album with a backing band, a studio album and two chirrin-style albums that have seen them establish their own take in Norteńo, a regional Mexican genre, most popular in Northern Mexico, that meshes local Mexican folk music with Austrian-Czech folk music that traces it origins back to the days of brief reign of Emperor Maximillian I and the Second Mexican Empire.
Based on the use of double and triple meter, the genre’s lyrics generally deal with socially conscious and relevant topics — although there are many beloved norteño love songs. Typically, the genre has arrangements featuring accordion and bajo sexto or bajo quinto. (I had to look this up but a bajo sexto is an acoustic guitar with 12 strings in six double courses. A bajo quinto is an acoustic guitar with 10 strings in five double courses. They sound a little different and are tuned a bit differently, but they’re open played kind of like a bass guitar.)
During CÒDICE’s decade-long career, they’ve been busy: They’ve recorded and released two live albums, a live album with a band, a studio album and two chirrin-style albums, all of which feature some of their most popular songs including “Me Gustas Mucho,” “Te Amare Más” and “Humilde de Abolengo.”
The Mexican norteño outfit recently signed to Fonovisa Records, an imprint of Universal Music Latin Entertainment/Universal Music Latino, who will be releasing their forthcoming album, which will feature “Las hazañas del güerito,” and their latest single “Don Alfredo.” “Don Alfredo” is a corrido, a narrative ballad — in this case, telling the tale of Don Alfredo, a local criminal boss, who gets double-crossed and ends up in jail. (Yes, it does sound a bit like a hip-hop song doesn’t it?) The song is built around the genre’s easy-going Austrian-Czech/German oompah groove paired with gorgeous vocals.
The accompanying video follows the tale of Don Alfredo, with the band acting as the omnipotent narrator of the tale.
Acclaimed Montréal-based artist Laurence-Anne has developed a reputation for being an architect of the intangible. Her work is a blend of elements of dream pop, coldwave and synth pop built around soundscapes featuring haunting melodies, lush synths, hazy textures and synthetic rhythms paired with a voice that’s capable of evoking and instilling both comfort and anxiety. Thematically and lyrically, her work is informed and inspired by her imagination and her experiences while being deeply infused with her unique perspective.
The Montréal-based artist made a big splash with her critically applauded full-length debut, 2019’s Première apparition, which landed on the Polaris Music Prize long list. 2021’s Accident EP saw the Canadian artist expanding upon the sound that won her critical acclaim. Her Félix Petit-co-produced sophomore album Musivision saw Laurence-Anne crystallizing her creative identity and sound.
Slated for a Friday release through Bonsound, Laurence-Anne’s François Zaïdan co-produced third album Oniromancie sees the acclaimed Canadian artist diving deep into the nocturnal world — with the material moving seamlessly between sweet dreams and paralyzing nightmares. Sonically, the album sees her continuing to blend elements of dream pop, coldwave and synth pop, in addition to elements of art pop and experimental pop, which gives the album’s material a denser and darker feel.
Drawing from its creator’s subconscious, the album’s material manages to be dreamlike, intimate and seemingly spellbound while inviting listeners to a universe that exists only to those who are willing to lend an ear. And with that ear, the acclaimed Canadian artists opens up more than ever, while still depending the mysterious aura that surrounds her.
Oniromancie‘s latest single, the breakneck “Vitesse” features a relentless rapid-fire staccato rhythm, which helps to evoke the woozy anxiety of a vivid and unshakeable nightmare fueled by the creeping dread of its creator’s deepest, darkest fears. Laurence-Anne’s urgent and plaintive vocal seems desperate to burst out of the confines of eerie synth arpeggios and song’s relentless, breakneck rhythm — but can’t. “Vitesse” is inspired by a particularly vivid bad dream and the 80s European coldwave scene, particularly seminal French outfit Martin Dupont. In the dream, the Montréal-based artist rushes full-speed through chaotic, Dali-esque landscapes in search of the source of unrelenting havoc.
Laurence-Anne will be playing a handful of dates across Fall 2023 and Winter 2024. She will be playing two album launch shows: September 28, 2023 at Montréal’s La Sala Rossa, one of my favorite rooms in town to see live music. September 30, 2023 at Québec City‘s Le Pantoum. All tour dates are below.
Tour dates 15/09/2023 – Pont-Rouge, QC – Moulin Marcoux • 16/09/2023 – Sherbrooke, QC – Théâtre Granada • 28/09/2023 – Montréal, QC – Sala Rossa (Oniromancie Launch – POP Montréal) 30/09/2023 – Québec, QC – Le Pantoum (Oniromancie Launch) 03/12/2023 – Gatineau, QC – Minotaure ◦ 09/12/2023 – Mont-Tremblant, QC – L’Église du Village • 02/02/2024 – Terrebonne, QC – Le Moulinet • 03/02/2024 – Cowansville, QC – Espace Diffusion • 08/03/2024 – Lévis, QC – Vieux Bureau de Poste 15/03/2024 – St-Félicien, QC – Cégep St-Félicien – Salle Azimut 16/03/2024 – Alma, QC – Café du Clocher
• Supporting Milk & Bone ◦ Double bill with Bibi Club