Welcome back to Essential Listening, a place where we compile all the best new music of the week into the definitive tome of modern music: The Far Out Playlist.
Let’s not kid ourselves: this was the week where we all entered Harry’s House, the third album from pop superstar Harry Styles. But it was Porridge Radio who nabbed our Album of the Week with the radiant Waterslide, Diving Board, Latter to the Sky. Flume also delivered the solid, if somewhat underwhelming, new LP Places, so the music world doesn’t fully revolve around Harry and his admittedly pretty catchy house.
There were plenty of solid singles floating around the world of music this week as well, but only eight songs can find their way onto this list.
Here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.
The best new songs of the week, May 14th – 20th:
Party Dozen – ‘Macca the Mutt’ (ft. Nick Cave)
A noise rock thunderstorm about a dog called Macca could only really come from one country at the moment. Thus, it seems fitting that the Aussie duo Party Dozen teamed up with the fellow who helped to inspire the next generation in pairing reverence with a sense of recklessness, Mr Nick Cave.
Consisting of Kirsty Tickle’s saxophone that’s wielded against the wall of sound like a Stihl Saw, and Jonathan Boulet’s drumming that comes in with the same Steven Ansell-esque style of hitting bass notes like you’re trying to punch through the kit but keeping the thrills floaty, the song is a wild ride akin to being inside of pinball.
Ty Segall – ‘Saturday Pt. 2’
Ty Segall has always been a difficult artist to place. His output is so variant that he seems to exist in some sort of multiverse. Naturally, this means that his back catalogue waxes and wanes. With his new single ‘Saturday Pt. 2’ he has hit upon another one of those moments where everything seems to align, and his singularity shines through with a gem where all the constituent parts are as perfectly considered for your eternal enjoyment as a fajita spice mix.
The song is reminiscent of the morning after the Friday of his masterpiece ‘My Lady’s On Fire’. The melody has odd marks of dissonance that make it alluring without ever pulling away from the pleasantry of its overall rhythm. This is something else that makes Segall so hard to place in another sense—he can somehow make a hodgepodge of musical contours into a lush lawn of sound.
Nova Twins – ‘Puzzles’
Can something be a throwback and a progressive nod all in one go? If you take Nova Twins’ new single ‘Puzzles’ into account, absolutely. With lyrics that tote a sex-positive attitude pumped over a punchy, sexy beat, this song sort of has it all.
Control is exactly what they’ve got going on in this one. The blend of hip hop inspiration and upbeat cool-girl rock is difficult to capture. Bands like Sleigh Bells, Cults, Best Coast, and Chairlift all do it right. They bring the perfect balance of edge and fun. This single definitely supports Nova Twins joining the ranks of the aforementioned bands. And why wouldn’t they? This song is catchy, fun, sexy, and simply well-written.
Angel Olsen – ‘Through the Fires’
Ameican singer-songwriter Angel Olsen has given us a brand new single from her upcoming sixth studio album Big Time, the slow-burning ‘Through the Fires’. There’s something remarkably bittersweet about ‘Through the Fires’, and even though Olsen says she’s letting go of the pain, it’s clear that this particular form of emotional release hasn’t come easily.
When put into context with the rest of Big Time, ‘Through the Fires’ will likely have a much stronger impact than it does as a standalone single. Still, as a one-off, it’s a beautifully stirring song that completes Olsen’s return to more pastoral and folky origins. Anyone who likes any of Olsen’s previous material should be excited for Big Time, but then again, anyone who likes good music should probably be excited for Big Time as well.
Interpol – ‘Fables’
New York indie-rock kings Interpol have returned with the third single from their upcoming seventh studio album, The Other Side of Make-Believe, the uplifting new track ‘Fables’. Unlike all of the other live songs played from The Other Side of Make-Believe, this is the one new song where guitarist Daniel Kessler doesn’t put down his instrument of choice and sits down at a keyboard.
That’s not a bad thing, as the slightly-eerie atmosphere of ‘Fables’ fits right into the darker tones of previous singles ‘Toni’ and ‘Something Changed’. Interpol has been integrating keyboards and synths since the very beginning. If you’ve been feeling like the band’s new songs have been missing some of Kessler’s signature riffage from one of the 2000s’ greatest guitar bands, then ‘Fables’ is the new track for you.
Sports Team – ‘The Game’
Punk sounds better in the summer, that’s a scientific fact—I mean there is no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact. Somehow Sports Team with their rather obviously titled ‘The Game’ (how has it taken a band called Sports Team this long to write that track) blast a sense of freewheeling sunshine revelry into your head with all the immediacy of a static shock.
The track has been rattling around in their setlist for a while now which is always a sign of a well-honed song, even by Sports Team’s unpolished standards, and it’s no surprise that the hook has been spawning moshpits like a chip chucked into a crowd of seagulls. Simply put, the song has that certain something that taps a toe in the same involuntary way as standing on a plug summons an expletive.
Sun’s Signature – ‘Underwater’
Former Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser has shared ‘Underwater’ the second single from her new project, Sun’s Signature. The brand new project was formed by Fraser and her partner, the former Spiritualized and Echo and the Bunnymen drummer, Damon Reece.
The new Sun’s Signature version of ‘Underwater’ is a much-welcomed return of Fraser’s unique vocals and vivid lyrical imagery. The instrumental accompaniment brings a gentle collision of synth sounds at the run in before the beat comes in, and the track soars into something classy and beautiful.
Paris Jackson – ‘Lighthouse’
Paris Jackson has returned with her latest single, ‘Lighthouse’. A grunge inflected piece that comes with a grainy video to boot, it’s surprisingly decent. Across the song, Jackson channels her inner Sheryl Crow while marrying it with the kind of catchy grunge of the likes of Hole and Veruca Salt.
The chorus is a real earworm, which dances around an overdriven hook, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Jackson is signed to Epitaph and not Universal, as this type of music is very en vogue at the minute, and the former house a smattering of acts who do it so well, including Teenage Wrist. For any eagle-eyed viewers, you’ll notice that Teenage Wrist drummer, Anthony Salazar is doing his thing behind Jackson, giving the track even more authenticity.