Every month Uproxx Cultural Critic Steven Hyden compiles a playlist of his favorite songs from new albums. This playlist does not include songs from albums by Young Jesus and Turnstile, which Steve suggest you check out in their entirety.
U.S. Girls, “M.A.H.”
For the past decade, Meg Remy has been making off-kilter pop records in which avant-garde provocations collide with bubblegum hooks. Remy’s latest album, In A Poem Unlimited, has garnered the best reviews of her career, and it might even make her a mainstream-ish indie star, due to its wealth of irresistible bangers that inhibit their idiosyncrasies just enough to almost pass for straight-up party music. My favorite track, “M.A.H.,” sounds like a lost ABBA homage by Robyn, but dig deeper in the target of Remy’s ire is none other than Barack Obama, a symbol of failed male promises.
Parquet Courts, “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In and Out of Patience”
Wide Awake, the forthcoming album by New York post-punk wonder boys Parquet Courts (out 5/18), is produced by Danger Mouse, who has a spotty record with nudging scrappy rock bands in more commercially viable directions. But judging by the album’s lovably herky-jerky first single, Parquet Courts remain as cagey as ever. Starting off with Andrew Savage’s hectoring taunts before downshifting into a chunky floor-stomper, “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience” positively bursts with ideas, the opposite of a pared-down pop song.
Bat Fangs, “Turn It Up”
One of the truly perfect rock albums of recent years is Rips, the debut LP by power-pop queens Ex Hex. Fortunately, Ex Hex reportedly is finally at work on a follow-up, and in the meantime the band’s bassist Betsy Wright has started another band, Bat Fangs, whose self-titled album deals in a similar style of sugary swagger, typified by “Turn It Up.”
Brandi Carlile, “The Joke”
I heard a lot of songs I liked in February, but only “The Joke” made me say “wow” upon first listen. The first “wow” moment occurs at the 74-second point, when Carlile sings “scatter in the wind” for what feels like two minutes. I want this woman to sing the phonebook to me.
Field Report, “Never Look Back”
I have been following these Milwaukee heartland rockers for years, and I don’t know that they’ve made a record as fully realized as the forthcoming Summertime Songs (out 3/23). The gently melancholic “Never Look Back” represents the record’s defiant “synth-y ’80s singer-songwriter” sound perfectly. If The War On Drugs tried to sound like Jackson Browne, they would be Field Report.
S. Carey, “Rose Petals”
Let’s stay in Wisconsin for a bit, shall we? This long-time member of Bon Iver has carried on a decade-long solo career making music that re-imagines Justin Vernon’s career if he had chosen to stay in the winsome nature-boy mode of For Emma, Forever Ago. The atmospheric folk of “Rose Petals” evokes the beauty of the northwoods country at dusk, warming the beatific chill of Carey’s lonely vocal.
Wooden Shjips, “Staring At The Sun”
A lot of bands have attempted the “spacey droned-out psych-rock” thing, but few do it with the style or barely contained menace of Wooden Shjips. This long-tenured San Francisco band has always seemed like it’s actually from the ’60s — not the hippie-dippie ’60s, but rather the scary-as-sh*t Altamont ’60s. Those dark vibes are back in “Staring at the Sun” from the forthcoming V (out 5/26), which evokes visions of bad acid and worse beatdowns at the hands of the Hells Angels.
Haley Heynderickx, “Worth It”
The only reason I haven’t written more about Haley Heynderickx’s lovely debut I Need To Start A Garden is that it takes me two weeks to spell her last name properly. I kid — Heynderickx’s twisty-turny songs never quite turn out how you expect, which makes them hard to pin down. Look no further than “Worth It,” which starts out in singer-songwriter mode and then winds through a series of jazzy psych-rock tangents.
Jonathan Wilson, “Over The Midnight”
Best known as Father John Misty’s producer and the guitarist in Roger Waters’ band — he does a pretty incredible David Gilmour — Jonathan Wilson is an accomplished recording artist in his right, specializing in eccentric maximalism that displays his mastery of record-collector rock to the fullest. The forthcoming Rare Birds (out Friday) is his weirdest album yet, and possibly his best.
This Chicago band’s 2017 album GN made my top 10 list, so naturally I also love the new EP GL, which collects four outtakes from the GN sessions. The EP’s title track derives from Ratboys’ feisty, hooky, Superchunk-y side, as opposed to its sad, pretty, countryish side.