The Monthly Mixtape: Steven Hyden’s Favorite Songs From August 2018

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Every month Uproxx Cultural Critic Steven Hyden compiles a playlist of his favorite songs from new albums.

Boygenius, “Me And My Dog”
Not long after it was announced that indie-rock singer-songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus had formed a “supergroup” called Boygenius, a reader on Twitter pointed out that the group’s publicity photo appears to cheekily reference the cover of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash record. It’s unclear whether this was intentional, though it seems impossible that’s it’s not. Anyway, the parallels are striking — of the three strong very good that have already been released, each featuring a different member on lead vocals, “Me and My Dog” is the most Nash-like — and it’s sung by Bridgers, who happens to be sitting in the Nash position. Freaky! Just keep these prodigious talents away from cocaine, please.

Kurt Vile, “Loading Zones”
Just in time for the dog days of summer, indie’s reigning bard of meandering road-trip guitar jams returns with a new single. In the parlance of Vile-lese, “Loading Zones” has the economy of “Pretty Pimpin” with the hazy guitar solos of “Wakin On A Pretty Day.” Presuming that there’s a new KV album on the horizon, this song portends great things.

David Nance Group, “Poison”
Crazy Horse guitars plus Springsteen vocals at the height of his Born In the U.S.A. arena-rock period — I’m not sure it’s possible for a song to be more up my alley.

The Lemon Twigs, “Queen Of My School”
This brother duo from Long Island seemed a little too derivative of ’70s glitter rock and power pop on their 2016 debut Do Hollywood. But the new Go To School is the sort of excessive gesture of questionable taste that I have trouble resisting, an expansive rock opera that leans into the group’s musical theater influences and leavens it with infectious record-collector rock. This is one of my favorite songs on the album, and it sounds like a Big Star tune as written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Ruston Kelly, “Mockingbird”
The second album by this Nashville singer-songwriter (and husband to Kacey Musgraves), Dying Star (due out September 7), is perhaps a little too slavish in its homage to Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams. Loaded with references to heartbreak and substance abuse, Dying Star also boasts this amiable stunner, which emulates Adams’ weary early-’00s alt-country croon and even his infatuation with Parker Posey. But if Adams himself isn’t going to make records like Heartbreaker anymore, the task might as well fall to this willing newcomer.

Tomberlin, “Self-Help”
The sense of isolation that Sarah Beth Tomberlin felt as a Christian kid sheltered from pop culture resonates on her disquieting debut album, At Weddings, which feels simultaneously otherworldly and intimate. Songs like “Self-Help” are written like confessionals, but Tomberlin sings them as if they’re hymns.

Joyce Manor, “Think I’m Still In Love With You”
Considering these canny pop-punk miniaturists can dispense with an entire album of emotionally gutting anthems in the time it takes to watch one-third of a Better Call Saul episode, this single from the forthcoming Million Dollars To Kill Me (out September 21) seems positively epic at almost three minutes. Fortunately, it feels just as fleet as any Joyce Manor classic.

Adrianne Lenker, “Cradle”
News of an upcoming solo album by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker — it’s called abysskiss and it’s out October 5 — is somewhat bittersweet. While the album is a consistent stunner, Big Thief has also grown into one of the most exciting young live bands in indie rock. The hope is that the band is still trucking along, though “Cradle” shows that Lenker can be nearly as captivating on her own.

Cloud Nothings, “The Echo Of The World”
The key to determining the awesomeness of any Cloud Nothings track is studying the drums. Do the drums sound like someone trying to kick their way out of car trunk? If they do, the song is awesome. Therefore, this is an awesome Cloud Nothings song.

Phosphorescent, “New Birth In New England”
Summer is almost over, so let’s have another beer.