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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

@TylerGolsen

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, Spiritualized just barely eeked out in front of Fontaines D.C. for Album of the Week, flying high thanks to the mesmerising tones of Everything was Beautiful. Not that Skinty Fia should come off like a loser: by sanding off some of their rougher edges, Fontaines D.C. were able to make their most accessible album yet without sacrificing the sound that makes them so unique. Two great albums for whatever mood you might find yourself in.

The hype machine is firing up for some future releases as well. Kendrick Lamar leads the pack of newly-announced LPs this week as Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers officially received the green light. We’re also looking forward to what’s coming up from Bartees Strange on his sophomore effort Farm to Table and The Smile’s debut A Light For Attracting Attention.

We’ve had some top-notch singles drop this week as well, with everyone from Ana Silvera and Foals showing off some solid new songs, but only eight songs can make this lineup.

Here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.

The best new songs of the week, April 16th – April 22nd:

The Lathums – ‘Sad Face Baby’

The Lathums have shared their rapturous new single titled ‘Sad Face Baby’. The single comes as the first new material of the year and follows the emphatic release of their debut album, How Beautiful Life Can Be, in September last year.

The new single is an entrancing and moody stream of consciousness that comes as a self-deprecating anxiety-ridden stab at the unfair and doomed nature of the world. This gloomy theme is framed in juxtaposition with the jangly and upbeat music driven by Scott Concepcion’s guitar giving a similar effect to Johnny Marr’s work with The Smiths.

King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – ‘Kepler-22b’

Australian psychedelic gods King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard have dropped a brand new single, ‘Kepler-22b’. The new track indicates that the band’s upcoming 20th (!) studio album Omnium Gatherum will be another eclectic mix of song lengths and sonic styles. No one has ever accused King Gizz of being low on ideas, and ‘Kepler-22b’ is a jazzy trip of a song that unfurls in a remarkably relaxed fashion.

Because of their prolific output and their emphasis on psychedelic sound, King Gizz sometimes get accused of being purposefully “out there” and largely unfocused. ‘Kepler-22b’ proves that the group can reel in their more sprawling tendencies to deliver a tight and taught three-minute rocker. Contained and catchy as hell, ‘Kepler-22b’ has enough danceable energy and infectious rhythm to convert even the most cynical of naysayers.

Helado Negro – ‘Ya No Estoy Aqui’

On his newest single ‘Ya No Estoy Aqui’, Helado Nergo channels the swirling soundscape, withdrawn vocals and the meta of his melodic words as hey whisk up a communicative swarm of emotion. As a brooding, bittersweet feeling shines through like a beautiful day when your mood won’t shift to match it, Negro hits as almost no one else can.

As mellowed as Helado Negro is most of the time, the ambience might be amorphous but hidden in its shapeless form is a visceral cutting edge. It defies any studio-bound feel and taps into the realm of some sort of primordial hum tapping into an emotive state that we have all felt. This universality gives ‘Ya No Estoy Aqui’ a spiritual sense that soothes and stings like a balm to a wound you barely knew was open.

Zola Jesus – ‘Desire’

Zola Jesus has just released ‘Desire’, the haunting second single from her forthcoming album, Arkhon. It’s a gothic piece, and singer-songwriter Nika Roza Danilova’s vocals are incredible on the track. In terms of style, it’s strangely like a fusion of Chelsea Wolfe and Adele, and for those feeling a bit blue today, this is the track for you. It’s minimalist and beautiful, and we can’t wait to hear what else Zola Jesus has in store. 

One thing is mightily clear on ‘Desire’, Danilova is a classically trained vocalist. You don’t get this sort of delivery from standard artists, and this is how it manages to sucker punch you right in the feels. Heightening this sense of emotion in the new video, director A.F. Cortes added clips that represent the feelings of confinement and despair that you get at the end of a relationship.

Soccer Mommy – ‘Unholy Affliction’

Sophie Allison, the singer-songwriter behind Soccer Mommy, has done it again—if “it” usually means writing a catchy, layered, and captivating song that makes you want to close your eyes and sway along to the beat. Although Soccer Mommy has been a staple of bedroom pop indie-rock music for quite some time, the 22-year-old dips her toes into the darker side with ‘Shotgun’, but even more so with ‘Unholy Affliction’.

From the minor key to the melody, and of course, at those fateful moments where the instrumentals pause for a lift of vocal clarity, it’s easy to see comparisons to bands like Hole and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, maybe with some of the technical quality of Billie Eilish, sprinkled with the heavy optimism of Garbage. This song truly showcases Allison’s appreciation for textures that are at once pretty and unsettling. Her voice remains ethereal as it’s always wanted to do, but this time around, she stacks so much more beneath the surface.

BATTS and Sharon Van Etten – ‘Blue’

Melbourne artist BATTS, real name, Tanya Batt, has returned with the gorgeous new single ‘Blue’. Featuring American veteran, Sharon Van Etten, the track is simply a dream. There are flecks of early ’70s psychedelia, as well as of BATTS’ fellow Australian, Julia Jacklin. Her voice is as warming as a soft blanket on a cold winter’s day, and it has us excited for what else she has in store for us this year.

The new track is BATTS’s first official release since her critically acclaimed debut album, The Grand Tour, which dropped back in 2019. Notably, her debut record saw her collaborate with the US Space agency, NASA, using samples they’d collected from their monumental Voyager Mission so far. This kind of innovation originally endeared BATTS to fans, and now, her decision to bring in one of her idols, Sharon Van Etten for ‘Blue’, has also proven to be a genius one. Their voices dovetail perfectly. 

The Subways – ‘Oi You Boy Bands’

The Subways have shared a new B-side track called ‘Oi You Boy Bands’ alongside a video for their recent single ‘You Kill My Cool’. The Hertfordshire indie rock group announced their return earlier this month with ‘You Kill My Cool’ and the exciting news that their long-awaited fifth studio album would be coming out later this year.

The group also revealed that, following the departure of their founding member and drummer Josh Morgan, Camille Phillips of The Ramonas would be joining them on percussion as a permanent addition to the line-up. ‘Oi You Boy Bands’ comes as a welcomed addition to the band’s new material. The B-side brings a new vibrant edge to The Subways’ traditional garage/punk sound in a jab at brief and superficial obsessions surrounding boy bands. 

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – ‘Acid Dent’

Now onto their fifth record, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are remaining as refreshingly riotous as ever. Their latest ridiculously raucous volley of sound, ‘Acid Dent’, displays the musical virtue of sticking to your original tenets rather than wandering blindly towards some sort of engineered evolution. 

With the song, the Australian rockers rattle off a repetitive riff with enough zip and fizz to never lose its headbanging effervescence. Like a whisky drunk on a bank holiday, it’s fuzzed-out to oblivion but still remains chipper and punchy, as Jack McEwan rattles off his usual slack-jawed melee of words.