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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.

Perhaps due to the fact that it’s Easter Sunday this weekend, relatively few new releases have popped up on the radar. Kurt Vile’s major-label debut (watch my moves) coasted on the easy charm to land as our album of the week, with the only other major notable release going to the surprise debut from grunge supergroup 3rd Secret featuring members of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam.

We got some solid singles from the likes of Jack Johnson, Gwenno, Tim Heidecker, Built to Spill, and Interpol, but only eight tracks 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, April 9th – April 15th:

Alex G – ‘Main Theme’

American singer-songwriter and producer Alex G has released a brand new song entitled ‘Main Theme’. The song features as the intro for his upcoming soundtrack for We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. The atmospheric track begins with an intense, stripped back acoustic guitar strum reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s 1988 classic, ‘Lose My Breath’. The song then builds texture with drum beats and orchestral string sections.

The haunting track enters its closing minutes with distant vocals that seem to call out in subdued desperation from the ether. The siren-like synth builds up towards the end of the track adding to the mounting intensity and fearful anticipation. The music is unmistakably suited for the soundtrack to a horror production and is a perfect sonic preview for what promises to be a first-rate horror film.

Pet Deaths – ‘Swingtime’

London based duo Pet Deaths are set to release their second album, Unhappy Ending. Seemingly they will do so in style as they launch the record with another dose of bliss brimming celestial folk with their new single ‘Swingtime’. And as that track’s title suggests they’ve taken things in a jazzy direction this time out. 

Amorphous and textured, the track sports the same unfurling production flourishes that made their previous single ‘All The Things You Said You Were’ soar. Fleeting flashes of flickering instrumentation and subtle changes do nothing to detract from the coherence of the song’s swirling atmosphere, but they do give it the musical contour shifts to take the listener into a whirling journey both sonically and spiritually.

Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Cardboard Pile’

Kikagaku Moyo have never been anything less than cooler than a polar bear’s toenail and it would seem that they are set to go out in their usual swaggering style as they call it a day with their forthcoming record Kumoyo Island. They have announced this album with a brand-new single, ‘Cardboard Pile’.

The adrenalised frenzy that the song rockets through is nothing new from the premier Japanese psychedelic outfit. However, the return to their roots at Tsubame Studios in Asakusabashi, Tokyo has seen them rally in blistering style from a comfort zone that is all their own. 

Wunderhorse – ‘Butterflies’

Former Dead Pretties frontman Jacob Slater has released his new single, entitled ‘Butterflies’, under the solo alias Wunderhorse. After the successful release of ‘17’ earlier this year, ‘Butterflies’ shows Slater reaching a new level of sentimentality.

His unique brooding vocals are perfectly punctuated by the soaring and tumbling grunge and post-punk inspired guitar layers that build into an emotive intensity towards the middle of the song that demands full attention. The new single joins Slater’s already impressive collection of singles, and while it matches the energy of ‘Poppy’, it brings something new and intriguing to the table artistically.

Faye Webster – ‘Car Therapy’

A year after her phenomenal album I Know I’m Funny haha was released, Faye Webster is officially back to announce a new EP, Car Therapy Sessions. Along with the announcement, Webster has dropped the EP’s title track as its first single.

A major detour from Webster’s usual indie rock/R&B/soul/neo-country sound, ‘Car Therapy’ instead takes on a far more formal and old-school feel. Lush and orchestral, ‘Car Therapy’ kicks off like a classic Disney animated film from the 1940s, complete with bassoons, schmaltzy strings, and delicate piano lines. The only recognisable element is Webster’s voice, which hovers over the intricate arrangement like a ghost that haunts the corners of a classic recording studio.

Alfie Templeman – ‘Colour Me Blue’

English singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman is perhaps best known for his peppy, optimistic alt-pop jammers. The kind of songs perfectly made to make you roll the windows down and sing along at the top of your lungs, and his new single ‘Colour Me Blue’ is no different.

The title track from the new EP, ‘Colour Me Blue’ strikes the balance between chilled-out softness and indie-pop excitement. The twinkly guitar, light percussion, and ethereal sound processing combine to make exactly what could be expected out of Templeman’s next effort: a beachy, fun track in the vein of Gus Dapperton and Dayglow. Although this song doesn’t exactly rock the boat or reinvent the wheel, this is one of those rare cases where it doesn’t need to

Belle and Sebastian – ‘Young and Stupid’

Scottish indie rockers Belle and Sebastian have dropped the latest single from their upcoming eleventh studio album A Bit of Previous, the poppy and nostalgic ‘Young and Stupid’.

Featuring a light-as-air arrangement with plenty of strummy acoustic guitars and bright piano lines, ‘Young and Stupid’ chronicles the times when life favours the wild and crazy antics of youth. Lead singer Stuart Murdoch approaches the song from an older perspective, taking on the persona of an entire generation that is now “old with creaky bones / some with partners, some alone / some with kids and some with dogs / getting through the nightly slog.”

Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Sidelines’

Phoebe Bridgers has returned with her first new original music in two years. A slow-burning piano ballad featuring some Casio-like synth lines, ‘Sidelines’ is melancholy and weirdly empowering, with Bridgers expressing her lack of fear over natural disasters, fires, emotional turmoil, or potential tragedy. Instead, ‘Sidelines’ acts as a strange twist on the traditional love song, with Bridgers embracing the best and worst of life with her new love instead of staying on the titular sidelines.

‘Sidelines’ actually has more in common with a later-period Taylor Swift song than anything else. The song could easily have appeared on either Folklore or Evermore, with its warm piano chords and scattered electronic drum beats. But ‘Sidelines’ also feels like a continuation of Punisher, specifically the album’s title track that revolves around a similar arrangement.