CIRCA 1972: Singer/songwriter Bill Withers at the controls of a soundboard in the recording studio in circa 1972.(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Now more than ever, music has become a tool for not only easing anxiety in these uncertain times, but providing a sense of escapism from the facts and figures of the growing pandemic. Supporting all musicians whether large or small is particularly important as creative industries struggle in lieu of cancelled tours, gigs and rescheduled releases but nevertheless, creative spurs and moments of genius production has continued to shine through.

April 2020 marks ICON’s very first ‘Off Air’ playlist where we round up our favourite albums, singles and musicians to discover and tune in. Kicking off the monthly series, we spotlight the likes of Childish Gambino who surprised fans at the end of last month with an unexpected album, we share new tunes from TOKiMONSTA who we spoke to recently, as well as a monster collaborative mixtape from Headie One and Fred Again. And following the passing of Bill Withers, we also throw it back to some of his most iconic soul tunes.

Listen below.

GANG BY HEADIE ONE X FRED AGAIN..

Released on April 3, the newly-released mixtape is a collaborative masterpiece between Headie One and Fred Again.. and are joined by some of UK’s most celebrated local artists including FKA Twigs and Jaimie XX.

Our favourite track: ‘Told’

3.15.20 BY cHILDISH gaMBINO

For two years, Childish Gambino has teased the departure from his alter-ego stage name to real name, Donald Glover, and following the surprise release and curation of absolute bangers in 3.15.20, that doesn’t appear to be happening. Instead, we have received 12 tracks, all unique, yet harbouring the soul-cross-hip hop-cross-electronics sensibilities he has become known for.

Our favourite track: ‘35.31’

Oasis Nocturno by TOKIMONSTA

It would be hard to believe that LA-based producer TOKiMONSTA faced a series of brain surgeries following a tumour during the height of her career. Now, the Grammy-nominated artist has returned with a sixth studio album. It is the perfect ‘vibe maker’, for music to dance or cook to.

Our favourite track: ‘Fried for the Night’

Everything is a-ok by Violent Soho

The fifth studio album from Australian rock band Violent Soho is strangely apt. It’s possible you’ve indeed told yourself, “Everything is A-ok”, but when you’re listening to the newly-released album it does truly feel like it will be. And when you really need a head-banging session to dance out anxiety, we suggest tuning in here.

Our favourite track: ‘Easy’

Just AS I AM BY bILL WITHERS

It is not possible to speak of music without mentioning Bill Withers following his death over the weekend. The artist’s first album Just As I Am was released in 1971 and still to this day is teeming with timeless tracks. For a mood-lifter, visit his top five hits including ‘Lean On Me’.

Our favourite track: ‘Grandma’s Hands’

thoughts?