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Music

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.

We’re gaining steam through 2022 as the new music starts to fly in fast and furiously. Pillow Queens have taken home Album of the Week thanks to their indelible new LP Leave the Light On, but solid releases from Crows and PUP made it a solid week for albums. Even the Red Hot Chili Peppers didn’t completely fall flat with Unlimited Love, despite it being a clear step down from the top-shelf Frusciante years.

Singles have been doing their part to carry the weight as well. Over in the rock world, Liam Gallagher and Mick Jagger are having a fight to see who can be the oldest old-man rocker. Nobody’s going to beat Jagger in that realm, but two solid singles in the form of Jagger’s ‘Strange Game’ and Gallagher’s ‘C’mon You Know’ keep the rock world turning.

Solid new songs from the likes of Kae Tempest, Alex Edkins, Sports Team, and King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard also round out the singles week, with special shout outs to The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Wax Works for their new tunes.

However, only eight songs can crack this list. Here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.

The best new songs of the week, March 26th – April 1st:

Beach Bunny – ‘Fire Escape’

Bringing in the best elements of the band’s guitar rock ethos with anthemic pop melodies, Beach Bunny’s first preview of their upcoming LP Emotional Creatures, ‘Fire Escape’, is a summer banger just waiting for the warm weather to pick up.

The more cynical among us will find issues with Beach Bunny and their judicious plundering of the late 1990s/early 2000s-era pop-rock. To those people, I say this: lighten up. Artists like Beabadoobee get pegged with the same criticism, but just because their influences come from that era doesn’t mean that they’re simply copy-and-pasting those sounds and calling it a day. Beach Bunny are creating some of the most joyous and straight-up fun songs in modern rock, with ‘Fire Escape’ being no exception.

Angel Olsen – ‘All the Good Times’

Calling Olsen “indie rock” just seems like a pitifully inadequate genre tag to pin her with. There have been shades of old school country, like on 2012’s Half Way Home, straight-forward rock and roll, like on 2016’s My Woman, sweeping orchestral pop, like on 2019’s All Mirrors, and stripped-back folk, like on 2020’s Whole New Mess. Even saying Olsen is “versatile” is selling her short.

‘All the Good Times’, the first preview of her upcoming LP Big Time, seems to bring it all together in a succinct four-minute package. Airy organ lines, jubilant horn blasts, and twangy pedal steel guitar all add distinct colours to the song’s arrangement. But it’s the Angel Olsen show all the way, with her instantly-identifiable voice belting out the pitfalls and virtues of love and loss as they tend to come in equal measure.

Lauran Hibberd – ‘Still Running (5K) ft. DJ Lethal

As a part of announcing her debut album Garageband Superstar, Lauran Hibberd continues her upstart hot streak by cranking out great guitar-heavy tracks like ‘Still Running (5K)’. Centred around that feeling you get when it seems like everyone else is passing you by when you’re still in the same place you were six months, one year, or even ten years ago, ‘Still Running’ is a cheeky and twisted takedown of self-image, self-esteem, and self-importance, crafted with just the right amount of snark and sincerity to balance out the track in a way that Hibberd is quickly becoming an expert at.

Situated somewhere between the sardonic bemusement of her fellow Isle of Wight upstarts Wet Leg and the more aggressive in-your-face attitude of Australia’s Amyl and the Sniffers, Hibberd is also bringing in the winking nostalgia of Beabadoobee and the righteous pop-punk of Beach Bunny. But ultimately, Hibberd is her own artist with her own sound – an infectious blend of indie rock, pop punk, and whatever else she might be feeling at the moment. It’s hard to tell exactly what Garageband Superstar is going to sound like, but it’s definitely going to be loud, witty, and fascinating to listen to.

Warpaint – ‘Stevie’

Warpaint are making their triumphant return this spring with their first new album in six years. The Los Angeles-based quartet will drop Radiate Like This on May 6th. Ahead of the release, we’ve been offered a sneak peek into the kind of slow-slung groovecraft we can expect with the new single ‘Stevie’, which arrives alongside a trippy, 360 degree visual. 

Blending classic soul progressions, velvet-lined basslines and uncustomarily tight-knit harmonies, ‘Stevie’ is the kind of downbeat jam that would send the Isley Brothers into a frenzy. Sensual to the bone, the title of this mellow new offering could be a reference to Stevie Nicks or Stevie Wonder. Either way, the influence of both is plain to see.

Kevin Morby – ‘Rock Bottom’

American indie rocker Kevin Morby has shared the second single from his upcoming album This Is a Photograph, the lo-fi and groovy ‘Rock Bottom’. Taking equal amounts of inspiration from the late Jay Reatard and the original film version of Carrie, Morby lets out a demented squeal on the catchy new track.

With waves of wonky sound effects and enough cowbell to make Will Ferrell blush, ‘Rock Bottom’ is about as straightforward and funky as Morby has ever gotten on record. While he can easily swing from introspective folk to alternative rock, Morby is as loose and freewheeling as he’s ever been here. Complete with catchy hooks and fuzzy guitar lines, ‘Rock Bottom’ is an intoxicating track that pulls Morby back into the centre of the indie rock world.

Superorganism – ‘It’s Raining’ ft. Stephen Malkmus and Dylan Cartlidge

London electropop icons Superorganism are back with another cut from their upcoming album World Wide Pop. Entitled ‘It’s Raining’, the new single is an off-kilter masterpiece, featuring their best chorus yet, as well as incredible verses from UK rapper Dylan Cartlidge and Pavement frontman, Stephen Malkmus. 

‘It’s Raining’ is simply brilliant. It’s a hip-hop track as much as it is a pop number, taking many cues from the classic days when G-funk was in the supremacy. As well as this, you can clearly hear the influence of the OutKast as well as producers such as SOPHIE, imbuing the track with defiant energy. A colourful piece, although the song is about rain, it has you excited for summer, as it is sure to be a staple of parties and dancefloors worldwide.

Katy J Pearson – ‘Talk Over Town’

Every now and again an artist will arrive like spring and the breath of fresh air that comes with it. Katy J Pearson has breezed in with the gentle blast of a glug of cold water after an Extra Strong mint, grabbed the lapels of the industry and violently shaken off anything stilted like a Skoda going over a cattle grid. She has done all this without breaking a sweat and a skip in her carefree stride in the new single ‘Talk Over Town’.

Along the way, she has reaffirmed musical truths that are often forgotten before a fresh wind blows them back into focus. Her act is as refreshingly original as it gets, and the central tenet of that is that her music shows the true worth of ‘originality’ as an adjective. It should be a token used to describe your work as opposed to something to aim for while making it. Katy J Pearson’s lilting gems seem to gun for nothing other than a sun-trap patch of ethereal exultation. 

Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’

Slipping in just under the wire for this week’s releases is pop superstar Harry Styles, who has dropped the first preview of his upcoming third studio album Harry’s House with the new single ‘As It Was’. Sprightly and energetic, the track sparkles with just the right amount of indie-pop shine to disguise some heavy anxiety-filled lyrics that cover growing up and getting lost in yourself.

Styles has the power to work with just about anyone he wants these days, so it’s telling that the singer is re-teaming with Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon, the producers and songwriters who have helped Styles bring his first two albums to life. Based on ‘As It Was’, Harry’s House almost inevitably seems like another home run for Styles.