In Recommended today: Amber Mark takes us to a new dimension with her debut album, New York rapper Damon Xavier tackles more complex issues, Kabba intends to put a R&B spell on you, indie-pop agitator Zuzu’s continues to do things her way, and Swindle’s latest album is a celebration of black excellence.
Three Dimensions Deep by Amber Mark
There’s been a mysterious cool about Amber Mark (pictured) and her music, ever since she arrived with her debut EP, 3:33am. Since then, the New York-based singer, songwriter and producer has put out R&B adorned with jet-setting swagger (‘Put You On’, ‘Mixer’), released cover versions of songs by Nirvana and Sisqó, and shared some of her beat-making processes with her fans online.
And yet none of this prepares you for the scope of her debut album, Three Dimensions Deep. This is a journey through self-doubt to self-belief (‘FOMO’, ‘On & On’). The resilience and sass that Mark has show time and again shines through in songs like ‘Worth It’, ‘Competition’, and the victorious ‘Bliss’. But easily the most impressive part is the glorious collision of R&B, funk and electronica that blend and flex together to take you on a truly cosmic journey.
Amber Mark is on tour in Europe this March. See tickets here.
‘In the Wind (…from doubt)’ by Damon Xavier
New York rapper Damon Xavier released one of the most impressive projects we heard last year with his EP, With(out). In January, he returned with his latest EP, With(draw), which he describes as “more personal” than his previous EP, going so far as to address racism within his own family (‘Why I Don’t Call’). ‘In the Wind’ sees him fresh out of the blocks and ready to manifest changes with his music.
‘Mood’ by Kabba
Poised to stir up your I’m‑so-over-dating playlist is Kabba. This British singer (formerly known as A*M*E) released her EP, Note to Self, late last year. With producer MNEK on beat duties, ‘Mood’ is unapologetic pop and a toast to the carefree evenings that lockdown tore away from us.
The New World by Swindle
Swindle’s The New World was a phenomenal project that was released at the end of 2021. Featuring a who’s who of rising British talent, including Kojey Radical, Maverick Sabre, Joel Culpepper, Greentea Peng, Ghetts, and Akala, to name but a few, Swindle and company tackle love, grief, fatherhood, racism, and life in Britain. A glorious celebration of blackness in the 21st century.
Queensway Tunnel by Zuzu
We fell in love with Zuzu’s grungry, Imma-do-what-I-want attitude and zingy indie pop early on. Confident and in control, that’s the impression you get of her when you listen to songs like ‘How It Feels’ and ‘Get Off’. There’s a bit of Mark E Smith (of The Fall) and Katie White (of The Tings Tings) to this Liverpool singer-songwriter, who also illustrates her own art and weaves her love of sci-fi into her work. Her debut album, Queensway Tunnel, was released late last year, and it’s well worth a listen.
Image: Nelson Huang