If you like Florence + The Machine, you’ll Love Kat Cunning
Singer-songwriter-dancer-actor Kat Cunning has performed with Cirque du Soleil, starred on Broadway, played James Franco’s love interest on HBO’s The Deuce, and is now starring in Trinkets on Netflix. Her music also shows a flair for the dramatic: Hummable three-minute songs seem epic, bolting from quiet acoustic guitar to romantic soundscapes. Cunning’s husky vibrato holds center stage, however, imbuing everything she sings with passion.
If you like Dua Lipa, you’ll love Julia Stone
The muslin-voiced Australian first made a splash with the indie pop group she formed with her brother, Angus & Julia Stone. Her new solo album, Sixty Summers, is a world away from that folky sound, brimming with pop confections to fill dance floors. Her voice’s frayed edge infuses even bops like “Break” with vulnerability and makes “All We Have,” a quiet duet with The National’s Matt Berninger, simply heartrending.
If you like the Black Keys, you’ll love Songhoy Blues
Songhoy Blues is a band from Mali whose new record, Optimisme, combines foot-stomping American blues-rock with West African cross-rhythms, and it’s amazing. The fiery “Badala” (“I don’t give a ----” in their native Songhai), a head-banger about a woman freed from oppression, absolutely rips. Songs like “Fey Fey” pair twisty guitar genius with danceable Afrobeat. The sound may be unfamiliar, but your body will know what to do.
If you like Fiona Apple, you’ll love Charlotte Day Wilson
Smearing the lines between R&B, pop, and jazz, Charlotte Day Wilson makes music as thinky as it is slinky—as if Joni Mitchell got into hip-hop. Her alto lingers on unexpected notes, but it’s the way the Canadian singer-songwriter’s toe-tappers can make hooks from parts any other artist would discard that really makes you prick up your ears.
If you like Ray LaMontagne, you’ll love the Heavy Hours
Four friends from Ohio wanted to jam but didn’t know any music, so they started writing their own. More than 100 songs later, the Heavy Hours have some gems that, fittingly, sound both true to their folky indie-rock roots and fresh and new. Sweetly swoony songs like “Don’t Walk Away” (written with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach) and “Say My Name” pair strummy guitars with singer Michael Marcagi’s honeyed rasp to capture the frisson of new love.
Rock ’n’ Roll Romance
Show some love to one of Rach and John’s favorite playlists, a compilation of sweet rocker tunes that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.
1. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” Queen
2. “You Shook Me All Night Long” AC/DC
3. “Sirens” Pearl Jam
4. “Whole Wide World” Wreckless Eric
5. “Flower” Amos Lee
6. “Got to Get You Into My Life” Earth, Wind & Fire
7. “Happy” The Rolling Stones
8. “Crazy Love” Van Morrison
9. “Two Hearts Beat as One” U2
10. “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Talking Heads
This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.