What to listen to now: D.R.A.M., Colbie Caillat, NxWorries and Weyes Blood
A weekly roundup of required listening from the Times music team.
D.R.A.M. “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” (Atlantic / Empire)
As if those two big smiling faces on the cover of “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” — one human, one floppy golden poodle mix — weren’t enough to draw you in. D.R.A.M. — first known for “Cha Cha,” which Drake lifted for “Hotline Bling” — has become a favorite collaborator of young acts such as Lil Yachty (their single “Broccoli” hit No. 5 on the Hot 100) and Chance the Rapper and seasoned vets including Erykah Badu. With “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” he comes into his own, rapping with verve and sensitivity while fully capturing 2016’s loopy, soulful moment in hip-hop. No wonder he’s smiling. — August Brown
Colbie Caillat, “The Malibu Sessions” (PlummyLou)
This local singer-songwriter has never quite matched the commercial success of her debut single, 2007’s aptly titled “Bubbly,” even though she’s worked with an impressive number of pop rainmakers, including Babyface and Max Martin. (Given that her father is Ken Caillat, who co-produced Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” her refined taste in collaborators may be genetic.) Yet middling sales haven’t kept Colbie Caillat from deepening her craft: On “The Malibu Sessions,” released this month through her own label, she adorns dreamy words about love in Southern California with sturdy melodies and strummy arrangements that carry more than a hint of fresh sea air. — Mikael Wood
NxWorries, “Yes Lawd!” (Stones Throw)
This collaboration between the rising singer-rapper Anderson .Paak and the producer Knxwledge should perk the ears of anyone interested in West Coast beat music. Featuring the raspy-voiced .Paak, who made a dent last year as one of the stars of Dr. Dre’s “Compton,” and Knxwledge, whose credits on Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” raised his stature, “Yes Lawd!” maneuvers through its 18 tracks with a gleeful sense of abandon. Like the work of the late producer J Dilla, Knxwledge’s rhythms take a few measures to lock into place, but when they do, weird patterns emerge. Ditto .Paak’s way with words. “All my chicks cook grits and roll spliffs at the same time,” brags .Paak on “Suede” as a wobbly beat moves drunkenly. Such versatility extends not only to his choice of his lovers, but their approach to musical creativity, as well. — Randall Roberts
Weyes Blood, “Front Row Seat to Earth” (Mexican Summer)
Love songs, who needs more of ’em? But Weyes Blood — the musical project of Natalie Mering — captures a particular sort of generational anxiety and mystery on her fourth album, a softly orchestrated work of pensive, symphonic folk. Though she may be driven mad by being tethered to a phone in one tune, it’s mostly idealism that gets the narrators in her songs down. Tracks such as “Generation Why” and “Away Above” grapple with the need for a connection amid the desire for independence, and they do so with bright, patient guitars. Breezy and sunset-hued, the tone of the album is calm — a reassuring piano buoys the melody one moment, and, later, delicate woodwinds fade a song to black. There’s heartbreak here, but also an earthy quality, as if modern romance can be solved just by disconnecting from the fray. — Todd Martens
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