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

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

Amen Dunes, “Believe”

I’ve already written at length about why Freedom is one of my favorite albums of 2018. But “Believe” deserves a special mention for being the record’s most overpowering track. Writing songs about death and depression has become a cottage industry in indie rock, but few tunes in the sad-bastard subgenre manage to transcend the daily grind of loss and anxiety quite like this hypnotic beauty. Sometimes, all you need are some guitar arpeggios from Delicate Steve to lift you out of the muck.

Snail Mail, “Pristine”

Lindsey Jordan is set up to be a breakout star this year — not just because she’s barely out of high school, but rather because she’s barely out of high school and she’s already writing knockout rock songs that sound like wised-up meditations from someone twice her age. The excitement of “Pristine” — the first single from her debut LP Lush, due June 8 — lies in both Jordan’s assertive delivery and way with big guitar hooks, and what it portends for what she might possibly do next.

Goat Girl, “Throw Me A Bone”

This South London quartet glowers with deliciously gritty malevolence on its forthcoming self-titled debut, due April 6. Fans of PJ Harvey’s goth-blues To Bring You My Love period will find plenty of captivating murk to revel in here.

Spielbergs, “We Are All Going To Die”

Given that Steven Spielberg recently took a stand against Carl’s Jr. for appropriating his name, this Oslo trio might not want to get too attached to its moniker. But Japandroids might have even stronger case in court — “We Are All Going To Die” basically sounds like Celebration Rock plus a bass player. This is not a complaint; it is in fact a ringing endorsement.

Paddy Hanna, “Bad Boys”

Irish singer-songwriter Paddy Hanna works the “prince of darkness” vibe that derives from shadowy crooners like Scott Walker and Nick Cave on his strong sophomore release Frankly, I Mutate. But he also has the songs to support the atmosphere, as well as playful quality that comes across in the poppy delight “Bad Boys.”

Bombino, “Tehigren”

For fans of guitar players, Bombino has been a superstar for many years now. Combining the force of the blues with the gracefulness of western players like Mark Knopfler and Jerry Garcia, Bombino’s music evokes the expanse of the Sahara Desert. On his forthcoming LP, Deran, Bombino leavens his hard-charging fretwork with folk, rock, and reggae accents, which you can detect on the irrepressible “Tehigren.”

Sam Evian, “Health Machine”

On the forthcoming You, Forever, due June 1, singer-songwriter Sam Owens (who records as Sam Evian) sounds like an early-’70s soft-rocker whose records would’ve slotted a few letters up from America and Bread. But unlike those bands, Owens also has a touch of T. Rex in his DNA, which comes out in the rampaging “Health Machine.”

The Wonder Years, “Pyramids Of Salt”

These pop-punk veterans have been reliably setting literate story-songs to screamingly anthemic rock music to years. On the upcoming Sister Cities, due April 6, The Wonder Years move in a more “mature” direction, which can be a death knell for a punk band. But adding a little National-style moodiness to the verses just makes those choruses explode even louder.

Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Mr No One”

This long-running Pittsburgh electronic outfit specializes in sinister bubblegum-pop, the kind of music you’d hear in your head if someone spiked your soda at the roller rink in middle school. BMSR’s latest LP Panic Blooms, due May 4, is the band’s first full-length in six years, and shows that it hasn’t lost a spooky step.

Yo La Tengo, “For You Too”

For all of the beautiful and intense soundscapes weaving through the brilliant There’s A Riot Going On, my favorite track remains the album’s most straightforward love song. I wasn’t sure it was possible to hear another sweetly murmuring Yo La Tengo song and be so moved. But Yo La Tengo is still extremely good at writing Yo La Tengo songs in 2018.