Welcome to the May edition of Beats Per Minute’s monthly playlist BPM Curates.

It’s spring time! Well, that’s more or less true depending on where you are in the world. But one thing is for sure: great new music is springing up everywhere. We’ve got an absolutely packed edition of BPM Curates for May so let’s just get on with it!

Listen to our playlist of picks below.

Below is the track list and some notes from our team about why they’ve selected them for this month’s playlist.

Beak> – “Hungry Are We”

It’s fun to see Beak> this playful. Not that Geoff Barrow and co. have ever taken themselves too seriously together, but as their fourth album’s gloriously absurd cover art instantly enforces, they’re on gleeful romp in whichever directions they please. They continue to perfect their Krautrock ambitions with the likes of “Bloody Miles”. Then there’s the Radiohead circa King of Limbs jam that is “The Seal”. Lately, though, I’ve been drawn to the dusty, windswept psychedelia of “Hungry Are We”. Somewhere betwixt Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” and Midlake’s The Trials of Van Occupanther, filtered through Beak>’s own special lens, the dazed flourish is one of many self-contained adventures on what may well be the band’s best collection to date. – Chase McMullen

Billie Eilish – “CHIHIRO”

Billie Eilish returned this month with a new album, and while it split some critics down the middle, it definite highlights are glimmering stars that will shine for the rest of the year and no doubt end up in many year-end lists. “CHIHIRO” is perhaps the best of the album’s 10 tracks. Rippling synths, elastic bass, and deadpan melodies from Eilish that stick in your head for days, it’s her and her brother Finneas executing what they do best. Adorned in a  dusky hue, the song is tangled up in soft heartbreak that cracks open that bit more with each crescendo of white light. Each play of the track teases you closer to the source of the illumination, but it always leaves you wanting that bit more. – Ray Finlayson

Camila Cabello – “HE KNOWS” (feat. Lil Nas X)

Amid all the ridiculous “What will the Song of the Summer be?” forecasting, the Song of the Summer arrived. While the video depicts Camila Cabello and Lil Nas X fighting over the same man, the lyrics are reputedly an extension of the sexual-empowerment themes surging through Cabello’s forthcoming C,XOXO (out June 28). Set to clacking percussion and simple, repeated bass courtesy El Guincho (Rosalia, Bad Gyal), the now 27-year-old Cabello takes out the frustrations that brewed during a shitty week on some hapless, dancefloor extra. Lil Nas X is in a pornographic mood, but is in his own way taking a load off. – Steve Forstneger

Cate Selna – “melt”

This LA artist has the talent to be this generation’s Joni Mitchell. While most bedroom pop is fluffy and forgettable, “melt” has enduring beauty. – Larry McClain

Charly Bliss – “Nineteen”

As they’ve shifted from alt-rock to sugar-coated art pop in their agonisingly drip-fed discography, Charly Bliss have also honed their storytelling. For “Nineteen”, the lead single from highly anticipated new album FOREVER, singer Eva Hendricks gives us an all-too-real glimpse into the kind of overwhelming attraction and puppy love that can only exist during summers in your late teens. The band brings the scorching summer pavements, the furtive glances, the heart-pumping closeness – and the inevitable heartbreak that comes after – to life in bold and booming pop that swings for the fences and clears them by a mile. – Rob Hakimian

Clairo – “Sexy To Someone”

On her masterpiece Sling (which with the benefit of hindsight, I gave far too low of a score), Claire Cottrill sought a soothing retreat. Her latest single “Sexy to Someone” is a logical progression, a virgin yearning for connection no matter how fleeting said connection is. We all want to seen, and we all want to feel pretty inside our own skin, feel wholeness within the minute, and absorb the humming electricity of simply showing up for the outside world.

Sometimes your day simply gets brightened by getting that look from a complete stranger (we all know that look), replenishing some of that elusive self-worth. Producer Leon Michels brings a similarly weightless warmth that Jack Antonoff infused on Sling, which lends itself really well to Clairo’s diaphanous vocals. However, the song’s funky rhythms, starry keyboard flourishes and wonky bass acutely evoke those invasive jitters of getting back out into the world again after a lengthy solitary phase. – Jasper Willems

Daoko – “ONNA”

Ever the J-pop trickster goddess, Daoko began to – excuse me while I feel old for a moment – embrace elder statesperson status with 2020’s superb Anima. As integral as any Japanese hip hop artist – and quite arguably the figure – of her generation, she’s remained delightfully bizarre, unruly, and spontaneous with everything she deigns to touch for 12 years now. You never quite know what you’re going to get. Well, while Anima offered a relatively mature hip hop statement, her latest is a wide-eyed, hyperactive mad dash through electropop, house, her own inscrutable, singular brand of hip hop, and more.

“ONNA” is framed around a gentle guitar loop, brazenly offset by skittering, frantic electronic elements and some bluntly applied bass. As ever, she’s refusing to sit still and has teleported the rest of us along for the delirious ride. Condolences if you can’t hang. – Chase McMullen

Gabbarein – “Kyss Meg”

Credit where is is absolutely due: Nordic folks just know how to create that tranquil, peaceful, otherworldly kind of music. “Kyss Meg” – an offering from Norwegian/American folk artist Gabbarein’s recent self-titled album – is another slice of this music to sink into. Were it not for vocalist Cecilie Hafstad’s ethereal voice (bringing to mind the soft, aching coos of Jónsi and the inflections of Björk simultaneously), this would be soft, wispy ambience, but mixed together, it’s a both comforting and slightly haunting. A forest spirit singing a song of warning gently into the trees; a siren lamenting of love lost to the sea; your dearly departed loved one calling to you in a dream. It’s melancholic, but for a moment, it’s bliss. – Ray Finlayson

Hagop Tchaparian – “Treacle”

On the self-mockingly titled “Treacle”, Hagop Tchaparian returns to the 90s British electronica that he enjoyed in his youth–all of it. In three-and-a-half minutes, the track combines dub, a sample that recalls Massive Attack’s “Inertia Creeps” and tribal/acid-house syncopation while keeping an impatient, techno crescendo from building. It’s all in vain: the track explodes with a raw, pounding bass beat drawn directly from the blast in Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. – Steve Forstneger

Hakushi Hasegawa – “Departed”

Hakushi Hasegawa’s Mahōgakkō will be released by Brainfeeder on July 24. For now, listeners can indulge in “Departed”, which builds on Hasegawa’s affinity for videogame sonics, experimental jazz, breakcore, and whimsical pop. The track opens with a cartoonish blare/drone that segues into an equally cartoonish palimpsest of vocals and a fusillade of beats. As with earlier EPs, Hasegawa embraces cacophonies yet practices an intriguing macro-cohesion, tilting toward sonic anarchy while never fully abandoning an expansive and multi-inclusive sense of composition. – John Amen

journal – “Coming To Blows”

The latest EP from Phoenix, Arizona violent skramz group journal (formerly known as Cenöbite) has a bit of a pugilistic theme going on. The cover features a couple of boxers going at it whilst the song in the centre of the EP’s five-round bout, “Coming to Blows” opens with a classic bit of fighting talk lifted from The Blues Brothers. As for the song itself, it’s about as grin-inducingly fun as screamo gets: big riffs, squalling guitar tones, powerful drumming and nerve fraying vocals, all whipped together in a frenetic blur of unbridled energy. In under two minutes, journal thoroughly knock your teeth out, which is going to make trying to eat corn on the cob look pretty darn funny. – Andy Johnston

Kendrick Lamar – “Not Like Us”

Drake stans and anyone unfamiliar with the nature of rap beef disparaged Kendrick’s barrage of disses preceding “Not Like Us” for “not being catchy enough” and lacking replay value. K.Dot heard this and said “Hold my beer”. He dialled up Mustard, and cooked up a West Coast banger that bumps harder than anything Drake has ever made or could dream of making.

It’s the go-to walk-up song for professional athletes, the climax moment for any bar or bat mitzvah; meanwhile, people are blowing the roofs off clubs and house parties everywhere — from Compton to Drake’s stomping grounds in “The 6” — to the sound of chants that serve as a twisted rallying cry against Drake’s long-rumored, pedophilic behavior. Call it the song of the summer, or the viral sensation in an era where going ‘viral’ seems like an archaic impossibility. But if nothing else, call it the dagger that brought down Drizzy. – Kyle Kohner

Kenny Baron – “Scratch”

On his latest album, Beyond This Place, the prolific jazz pianist and band leader Kenny Barron is joined by Immanuel Wilkins on alto sax, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on double bass, Jonathan Blake on drums, and Steve Nelson on vibraphone.

The second track, “Scratch”, opens with the quintet establishing a bop-inflected motif. Wilkins then offers a solo that leans toward a free-jazz aesthetic – fluid and lurching; expansive, then suddenly contractive; moments of restraint juxtaposed by explosive runs. If Wilkins’ MO and timbre touch on the agitative, Nelson’s solo is more equanimous, crystalline, conjuring balmy days and cool chance encounters. Barron’s solo starts off minimally, the 80-year-old practicing restraint while building in intensity, growing slowly busier. His fluid runs are punctuated by staccato chords, the veteran creating evocative contrasts between spaciousness and busyness, harmony and disharmony.

The track ends with an apt return to the melodic refrain that opened the piece. In this way, the quintet model the classic form of inventive solos bookended by an engaging and memorable anchor. – John Amen

Low Leaf – “How To Open A Portal”

Angelica-Marie interprets jazz as the language of dreams, or, more precisely, as one of many dialects of the subconscious. Through the mantle of Low Leaf, the Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist braids genres and personal beliefs into a cosmic lattice of labyrinthine experimentation. On her recent release – a three-track EP called Red Moon – she created a triptych of celestial movements that paid tribute to Alice Coltrane (her cover of “Blue Nile” is impressively arranged) and to the complex spirituality of jazz. But it’s the 10-minute closer “How to Open a Portal” that really cements her status as a relevant and reverent commentator of the genre’s exploration of shifting perspectives and self-awareness.

There is a delicate and suggestive proposal between the harp and flute here that implies a fathomless understanding of these sonic revelators. The percussion soon adds its own voice, a spry but peripheral figure that reinforces the resonance of the song’s timbral leads. It continues on, deftly balancing Guaraldi-esque melodies and avant-styled measures before leading us into a saxophone tailwind that employs electronic flourishes in a more chaotic environment. It’s a gorgeous and dizzying noise, one that forces us to reconsider how we approach these sounds as well as what her tactics reveal about her own adoration for the complexities of jazz. – Joshua Pickard

Mabe Fratti – “Enfrente”

The Guatemalan cellist and vocalist grows more confident and expansive with each new release – and considering she already started further ‘out there’ than most, that’s an exciting prospect. “Enfrente”, the latest from her forthcoming album Sentir que no sabes is a bold combination of metallic samples, space jazz inflections, political messaging and a killer breakbeat just for the hell of it to ride out the last minute. – Rob Hakimian

The Marías – “Sienna”

How is a band this perfect, for this long, without garnering a bit more attention? The Marías always make the Herculean task of crafting bedroom pop in this day and age without feeling ubiquitous. They’ve taken their time with their sophomore LP, and returned to the infinitely fertile grounds they so flawlessly explored on their Superclean EP series.

While the album has its fair share of irresistible pop perfection, it also shines in its slower ballads. The simplicity of the beautiful closing track “Sienna” displays once again just how much they can do with oh so little. This song needs little more than throbbing drums and Maria Zardoya’s serene voice. It’s an aching, addicting tune sure to stay with you in your quietest private moments. – Chase McMullen

Minke – “Happier Than Me”

Minke went through some tough times in the early 2020s, but now she’s back and ready to conquer the pop world. “Happier Than Me” is a stellar single from a singer who’s on my short list of the world’s best. – Larry McClain

Okay Kaya – “The Groke”

Prowling with mystery, the first new song in two years from beguiling art-pop star Okay Kaya entices with an understated groove that grows increasingly irresistible the further it pulls you in and the more times you replay it. With her trademark plainspoken delivery newly tinged with an air of determination and playfulness, Okay Kaya is clouded by isolation and ecological disaster, yet maintains a whimsical touch inspired by the children’s cartoon character, the Groke. With skittering woodwinds and fiendish baseline driving home the track’s weirdness, “The Groke” casts a funky spell that refuses to be shaken. – Kyle Kohner

Pinkpantheress – “Turn it up”

What’s old is new again. As Gen Z becomes the  new club-hoppers and those of us who bought CDs are content to stay at home, the drums of Outkast’s colossal hit “The Way You Move” are repurposed (with the help of Mura Masa) into a one-off banger by Britain’s great young hope in the pop arena. The results are unsurprisingly brilliant, as Pinkpantheress effortlessly slides another earworm through the airwaves. “I love this beat,” she sings. We loved it then, love it now, and will love it tomorrow. – Ethan Reis

Ravyn Lenae – “Love Me Not”

Ravyn Lenae’s debut album HYPNOS introduced us to an artist that seemed to be able to do quite a lot, and the lead singles for her forthcoming second album make it clear that she can do even more than we thought. “Love Me Not” is her take on winsome indie pop, her ice-coolness brings a joyousness to this song of pining for someone despite the tumutuous times you’ve been through. The classic guitars and drums make it sound like a lost pop gem that was stuck in a vault since the 70s that Lenae has dusted off, updated and made her own – while retaining a classic style. – Rob Hakimian

Rich Ruth – “Crying In The Trees”

Nashville musician Rich Ruth constructs experimental soundscapes as transcripts of experience and time and geography. Utilizing longform musical expressions in service to internal emotional realignment, he creates a kaleidoscope of genre-mashing and clever deconstruction that speaks to his love of, and familiarity with, countless musical histories. His forthcoming album, Water Still Flows, finds him digging deeper into the aggregation of sound, with an emphasis on collaboration and communal gravity. “Crying in the Trees” is a primer of sorts for the album’s aesthetic, a colossal artifact of jazz atmospherics, post-rock theatricality, and metal eccentricities.

It really bucks any sort of conventional analysis – it’s just so damn weird and engaging, acting as sonic napalm, sticking to every surface it touches. There’s no escaping the sampled flute/gamelan ensemble or the harp that echoes and orbits around sax skronks and waves of sludgy percussion. It’s a travelogue, a remembrance of location seeped in the vagaries of memory – we’re flipping through a set of polaroids and getting the wider picture, even as the music invites us further in to fill out the intimacies found inside. It all coalesces into a cacophonous ending that bridges the gap between jazz fusion, noise, and prog rock, creating a unique musical language that speaks directly to the desires and anxieties of our subconscious. – Joshua Pickard

Shellac – “I Don’t Fear Hell”

The late Steve Albini would probably be the first person calling bullshit on what most people would consider a self-fulfilling prophecy. That being said, the final Shellac song recorded on tape couldn’t’ve been a more fitting – albeit eerie – way to bookend a legendary career.

“I Don’t Fear Hell” stands on principle, both in its brittle, minimalist noise rock leanings and Albini’s own scorning delivery: “Somethingsomethingsomething’ when this is over / Leap in my grave like the arms of a lover / If there’s a heaven / I hope they’re having fun / Cause if there’s a hell I’m gonna know everyone”. Truth is, Albini never wanted to claim any sort of redemption for some of his past mistakes. It feels apt that “I Don’t Fear Hell” leaves us without closure; the bass and drums end like a heartbeat slowly stopping, followed by Albini’s guitar caterwauling in primal anguish. Then, there’s silence. – Jasper Willems

Sophia James – “Heat Death (The End of Everything)”

This is the best song I’ve heard all year, from the hooky wah-wah to the overdubbed “choir” at the end. Sophia’s new album Clockwork feels like a springboard to stardom. –Larry McClain

Tha Dogg Pound – “Who Da Hardest?” (feat. RBX & The Lady of Rage)

This album closer is actually rather an outlier on Tha Dogg Pound’s surprisingly triumphant and locally-grounded return to a resurrected Death Row Records. Concluding an album crammed with Rick Rock and Mike & Keys soundscapes with a DJ Premier beat (even in spite of his considerable history with Snoop Dogg) is something of a bold left turn. It doesn’t hurt that Premo is fully in classic mode. Premier. Daz. Kurupt. Snoop. RBX on his long-deserved 2024 redemption arc (if you missed March’s Hibernation Shivers, it is more than worth your time). Even The Lady of Rage careens through to remind you she deserved a far more extensive career in the limelight than she received. What more do you need to know? – Chase McMullen

You can listen to BPM Curates: May 2024 here.