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The Abbreviator (Vol. 3): Your guide to the artists who matter right now

Featuring Jain, Bas and Big Red Machine

Welcome back to The Abbreviator, a short, monthly breakdown of the musicians who are demanding our attention

In the wilderness, speed means survival. For example, how do you think a Thompson’s gazelle feels about being able to gallop at speeds of more than 50 mph? They probably don’t think they much about it actually, other than: “Wow, I still haven’t been eaten by a lion. That’s pretty neat.”

Being fast isn’t a convenience when there’s a salivating, carnivorous cat chasing you—it’s just a necessity. Conversely, how do you think a cheetah feels about the fact that they can run as fast as 61 mph? Again, all they’re probably thinking is: “Wow, I’ pretty sure I can run faster than that antelope. I’m gonna eat one of those today.”

The point is, there are a lot of fast animals out there, and most of them likely don’t spend much time considering their fastness. To them, that’s just nature. Nature is fast, and if you’re not fast, you’re probably getting eaten (that being said, shout out to to the Ocean Quahog, a literally stationary oyster-like animal who can live for up to 507 years).

That’s the sense of urgency we want with this column. Speed is key. Speed is necessary. Speed is survival. The purpose of this column is to highlight the artists you need to know, and to not waste any time in the process. Remember: short, sweet and to the point—that’s the motto. Let’s get into it:

Jain

Description: African dance singalongs by a French pop savant.

Latest Material: Her second studio record, Souldier, came out August 24.

Why She Matters: Jeanne Galice has been everywhere. That’s barely an exaggeration: jumping from Dubai to the Congo to Paris during her formative years, the French singer probably has a Nicolas Flamel-level (excuse the Harry Potter deep cut) of aged experience inside her 26-year-old brain. Performing as Jain, she dips generously and stylishly into each of her past lives, stretching the definition of “pop” to its furthest limits.

Must-Listen Track: “Alright”

The Blaze

Description: Electro-dance builds that are almost guaranteed to make you cry—and not in the “I took MDMA at Coachella and ran into my childhood best friend” type of way.

Latest Material: The duo released their first full-length, Dancehall, on September 7.

Why They Matter: There’s a reason Moonlight director Barry Jenkins loves The Blaze. The French duo, comprised of cousins Jonathan and Guillaume Alric, create music videos on a Palme d’Or level of achievement. Their visuals are powerful and enthralling, and, at their best, so are their tear-jerking rhythms.

Must-Listen Track: “Queens”

Big Red Machine

Description: Wild and beautiful test-tube-mixing from two of indie rock’s most seasoned veterans.

Latest Material: Big Red Machine dropped their self-titled debut on August 31.

Why They Matter: The most satisfying thing about Bon Iver’s 2016 masterpiece, 22 A Million, was its unashamed weirdness. Big Red Machine, the long-awaited collaboration between Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner, shows Vernon is willing to twist his falsetto-folk leanings into any surreal form his collaborators will allow. With Dessner, that form becomes a gorgeous blend of industrial drum loops and uplifting, guitar-driven melodies.

Must-Listen Track: “Lyla”

Swamp Dogg

Description: An elderly soul veteran discovering auto-tune for the first time, and using it to fulfill his most passionate—and freakiest—inclinations.

Latest Material: Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune was released September 7.

Why He Matters: There’s auto-tune old (sorry, Kanye) and then there’s real world old. Jerry Williams Jr., who was born in the ’40s and has been recording as Swamp Dogg since the early ’70s, is real world old. The seasoned crooner is hard from a classicist though, and on his latest album he shows a newfound, innocent love for one of the 21st century’s most distinct vocal innovations.

Must-Listen Track: “Lonely”

Bas

Description: A rap multitasker with the power to turn any track into a literal ray of sunshine.

Latest Material: His latest record, Milky Way, came out August 24.

Why He Matters: The most summer album of the summer may have come a few months too late. Even in the starting-to-chill weather, Bas’ bouncy, R&B-infused brand of rap feels like a scorching day at the beach: his latest album is a Yeti cooler jam-packed with liberating break-up songs, tropical melodies and songs about Florida.

Must-Listen Track: “Boca Raton (with A$AP Ferg)”

 

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