Every month Uproxx Cultural Critic Steven Hyden compiles a playlist of his favorite songs from new albums.
Middle Kids, “Mistake”
Lately, the Australian rockers that have made impressions on US audiences — Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey — have specialized in a kind of anthemic slackerdom, delivering big hooks with squinty eyes and cock-eyed smiles. But Middle Kids is more in the mode of fellow Aussies Gang Of Youths, positively bursting forth with an infectious energy that makes songs like the ineffable “Mistake,” a highlight of the forthcoming Lost Kids (out May 4), feel like an adrenaline shot to the heart.
Father John Misty, “Dumb Enough To Try”
Josh Tillman apparently is going radio-silent in the lead up to God’s Favorite Customer (out June 1), which is surely a reaction to the carnivalesque media sideshow that eventually overtook 2017’s Pure Comedy. “Dumb Enough To Try” suggests another retrenchment, this time back to the heartfelt relationship songs of I Love You Honeybear. Is this maturation or a retreat? For now, the gutting “Dumb Enough To Try” makes a strong case for the former.
Wye Oak, “It Was Not Natural”
This canny duo’s move from sharp indie-rock to ethereal electro-pop on its past few albums hasn’t always seemed like an improvement. Jenn Wasner’s songs are as cutting as ever, but holding back her potent guitar-playing felt like a fatal omission. However, the band’s very good 2018 release The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs thankfully sounds like the best parts of Wye Oak’s “old” and “new” sounds, pushing the band into new sonic terrain without sacrificing primal power.
Janelle Monaé, “Pynk”
The single most hilarious music-related moment for me this month was realizing that the familiar melody of this gurgling funk-rock single from Monaé’s latest opus Dirty Computer is lifted from a late-’90s Aerosmith jam. Monaé is daring in so many aspects of her music, but digging into Nine Lives is her boldest move yet.
Jim James, “Just A Fool”
When I interviewed Jim James in 2015, he hinted that My Morning Jacket would quickly follow-up The Waterfall with another new MMJ record. Since then, he’s made three solo albums, including the forthcoming Uniform Distortion (out June 29), in lieu of any new MMJ music. What gives? After the gleeful cowbell-rockin’ ripper “Just A Fool,” perhaps it’s more like, who cares? This is the loosest James has sounded since Z.