Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for July 12, 2022: Zoon, Yaya Bey, Saya Gray

Photos (clockwise from top left): Zoon by Stephen McGill, Braxe + Falcon by Stéphane Quême, Yaya Bey by Lawrence Agyei, Momma by Sophie Hur

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Jul 12, 2022

If you've ever frequented Indigo, Canada's biggest bookstore chain, then you probably know of "Heather's Picks," new arrivals allegedly hand-selected by the company's CEO. None of us on the Exclaim! team are quite at Heather's level, but we are all pretty well-versed in our own corners of music, which is why we're introducing Exclaim!'s Staff Picks, weekly roundups of our favourite new releases we think everybody should hear. Take a look at our first batch of picks below, and when you're done, check out our latest album reviews for more recommendations.

Yaya Bey
Remember Your North Star
(Big Dada)

On her new album, Yaya Bey charts a constellation through hurt and healing, strength and weakness, against a backdrop of jazz, soul, R&B and reggae. Whether in interlude or longer forms of observation, there is wisdom in her words, with engaging delivery inviting a more attentive level of listening. Remember Your North Star ultimately reminds how, through highs and lows, one should not be afraid to shine.
Calum Slingerland

Braxe + Falcon
Step by Step
(Smugglers Way)

French house music vets (and cousins) Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon team up with Panda Bear for the sighing chillwave of Step by Step's title track — easily Panda's best work in ages, and that's including this year's Animal Collective album. The four-song EP is fleshed out with three similarly blissful cuts that bridge sample-driven dance ("Love Me," "Creative Source") and hazy pop (the Sunni Colón-sung "Elevation").
Alex Hudson

​​Naima Bock
Giant Palm
(Sub Pop)

A world away from her former role as bass player for UK post-punks Goat Girl, Giant Palm sees songwriter Naima Bock tap into a magnetic stillness. A kaleidoscope of traditional UK folk, bossa nova, Eno-esque electronics and subtle percussive excursions, Bock's debut is a heady and transportive record, possessed of a ripened majesty uncommon for an artist's introductory statement.
Kaelen Bell

Saya Gray
(Dirty Hit)

Toronto's Saya Gray invites us into her flow state. A touring bassist for the likes of Daniel Caesar and WILLOW, she plays nearly every instrument in her debut collection, from kotos to singing bowls to drawn-out silence on "TOOO LOUD!" The post-genre chaos recreates swirling thought patterns; muzak themes continuously revealing new edges even when every emotion feels final, hanging in the air like the syncopated acoustic strums of penultimate track "IF THERE'S NO SEAT IN THE SKY (WILL YOU FORGIVE ME???)."
Megan LaPierre

Horse Jumper of Love
Natural Part 
(Run for Cover)

Introspective Boston slowcore three-piece Horse Jumper of Love imbue their third studio album with sugary vocals, vivid minutiae, and sleepy, profound ruminations on life's big and small moments. From growing up to breaking up, the band revel in the fleeting and infinite fragments of existence most succinctly on the album's title track: "Deciding that romance does not exist with you was so romantic to me / And this is the problem I decided to have," sings Dimitri Giannopoulos.
Allie Gregory

Household Name

Thirty years ago, the quickest way to sell out as an alt-rock band was making it big enough to become a household name, à la Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins. Fresh off of opening for Wet Leg, Brooklyn-based high school friends Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten aim for the limelight on their third studio album, documenting the trials and tribulations of would-be '90s stardom. Balancing heavy riffs, deep emotions and a wry sense of humour, Momma embody their rockstar forebears — even if the ceiling isn't quite so high anymore.
Kayla Higgins

Big Pharma
(Paper Bag)

Zoon's 2020 debut Bleached Wavves was single-minded in honouring My Bloody Valentine's shoegaze stylings, but this very different follow-up hints to a project guided not by sound but philosophy. A collection that pairs bandleader Daniel Monkman with different collaborators, each of Big Pharma's five tracks vary musically but all embody the community-oriented spirit that Zoon is growing to occupy, whether Monkman is gently duetting with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on folk-rocking "Astum" or crafting a chillwavy beat for Cadence Weapon's confident bars on "Oil Pastel / Dope Sick."
Matt Bobkin

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