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.
Over on the album front, Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney ran away with our Album of the Week with the blissful Magic Sign. We also got a solid new guitar-focused LP from Soccer Mommy, who released the headbanging and occasionally wistful Sometimes, Forever this week as well.
We had some solid new singles this week as well, including a brand new Taylor Swift song, which I promise I really tried to care about. We also got new tracks from Christine and the Queens, Sylvan Esso, Alex G, and even a Kasey Musgraves Elvis cover.
Still, 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
This week’s best new music: June 19th – June 25th:
Sports Team – ‘Cool It Kid’
Sports Team have popped their punky ways on Ritalin with the woozy new single calling for calm. The track, ‘Cool It Kid’ follows the riotous summery maelstrom ‘The Game’ as the second single from their forthcoming album Gulp!.
The song doesn’t escape a rather manic middle eight where Henry Young brilliantly gets to display his angular stylings, but for the most part, the song is similar to a British take on Parquet Courts as a chanted incantation for some peace rattles the rafters.
Razorlight – ‘Call Me Junior’
London indie group Razorlight have returned after a long hiatus with an energetic new single, ‘Call Me Junior’. The new single, released on Atlantic Culture Records/Absolute, sees the return of the band’s full original lineup of Johnny Borrell, Andy Burrows, Björn Ågren, and Carl Dalemo after ten years of silence.
The new track comes will a little more of a punk element than most of the band’s previous material as a chugging guitar rhythm joins a pacey beat. When Borrell’s unique vocals and the lead sections bloom into the song, memories of the Razorlight we know and love come flooding back but with a new twist.
The Mars Volta – ‘Blacklight Shine’
The Mars Volta have officially returned after a decade-long hiatus with ‘Blacklight Shine’. Far more funky and straightforward than much of the band’s experimental back catalogue, the track is heavy on the Latin influence, including hand percussion, samba rhythms, and Spanish lyrics. These are all signatures of the band’s sound, but it’s usually paired with heavy effects, angular guitar rhythms, and pulverising changes. ‘Blacklight Shine’ has exactly zero of those elements.
That could come off as either strange or refreshing or disappointing, depending on your level of fandom and what you might usually come to The Mars Volta to hear. It’s a pleasant surprise to hear the band return with something that sounds, for lack of a better phrase, a lot more easily digestible than the dense workouts and spidery clashes that typically make up their songs. That’s perfectly fine, because ‘Blacklight Shine’ is a groovy, intoxicating, and remarkably fun return to the trippy world of The Mars Volta.
Stella Donnelly – ‘Flood’
With an aura of hushed reflection and brimming nostalgia, Stella Donnelly has returned with the second single from her forthcoming second album, both of which are called ‘Flood’. With even more lived-in reminiscence than her first single ‘Lungs’, the Beware of the Dog singer-songwriter is in brooding form as she moves into her new record.
Perfectly capturing the precipice that travel presents, the beauteous new song seems to be trapped in that liminal space of looking forward and looking back that life on the road offers up with greater presentiment than hangovers and road signs. With simple swelling instrumentation and resolute musicology, the song isn’t one that looks to dazzle—it simply aims to offer up a realist rendition of a meander trapped in amber.
First-Aid Kit – ‘Angel’
Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit have returned with their new single, ‘Angel’, their first new music in three years. The brand new song, which showcases the Söderberg sisters’ trademark harmonies, was written in the wake of major global events over the past few years.
While some new music reflective of the recent Covid-19 pressures comes with a sense of dread and isolation, the Söderberg sisters sing with their usual candour and strength that brings feelings of hope and ecstasy.
Gorillaz ft. Thundercat – ‘Cracker Island’
Britain’s favourite animated genre-blenders Gorillaz have returned with their first new music of 2022, teaming up with American bass playing extraordinaire Thundercat with the highly danceable new single ‘Cracker Island’.
Thundercat provides the soulful backing vocals that float over the top of the arrangement, and there are definitely some funky bass parts that could also be his. Over the end of the track, it is possible to hear some quick bass runs that sound very much in Thundercat’s wheelhouse. If nothing else, Thundercat’s presence adds a new dimension to the now-highly diverse back catalogue of Gorillaz.
Djo – ‘Change’
Stranger Things actor Joe Keery has announced his upcoming second solo album under his stage name Djo. While 1980s icon Kate Bush is storming up the charts thanks to her soundtrack addition to Stranger Things, Joe Keery, the 30-year-old actor who plays the part of the Netflix drama’s monster hunter Steve Harrington, has been making his own moves in music.
The funky, punchy indie hit comes as a synth-heavy reminder of later Tame Impala or Parcels material. While it’s a far cry from Kate Bush’s recent addition to the Stranger Things soundtrack, one could certainly imagine the stomping electro rhythm soundtracking a sci-fi blockbuster.
Lil Nas X ft. NBA YoungBoy – ‘Late To Da Party’
A new song from Lil Nas X? One that doubles as quite-obviously petty kick against the BET Awards that snubbed him? Yes, please! Drama singles rarely work in the long run, but Lil Nas X knows his way around hooks, so ‘Late To Da Party’ can be today’s exception.
Lil Nas X has been teasing his BET diss track for a couple of weeks now, and the results are deliciously silly in the most aggrieved ways possible. Whatever side you might fall on for the X v. BET debate, there’s no reason that a minor diss track should be this catchy. But it is.