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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.

Another very solid week for album releases. Aldous Harding came up big with the expansive and wonderfully charming Warm Chris, which made just the right impression to land as our Album of the Week.

But there were two other worthy contenders that were just as worthy. On one side was the returning British indie stars Placebo, who crafted an infectiously catchy return with the captivating Never Let Me Go. On the other, Dan Bejar was doing Dan Bejar things, namely releasing another engrossing Destroyer album with Labyrinthitis. It’s the band’s 13th record, and it remains criminally underappreciated that Bejar just casually releases a great new record every two years or so.

Over on the singles side, weirdly enough, there have been some major stinkers this week. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ snoozy ‘Not the One’, Tom Morello’s mindless Tom Waits cover, the abomination of a collaboration between Machine Gun Kelly and Bring Me the Horizon.

Luckily, we’ve also had some awesome new music as well, but 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 19th – March 25th:

Fontaines D.C. – ‘Skinty Fia’

When we recently caught up with Fontaines D.C. ahead of the release of their forthcoming album Skinty Fia, Conor Curley promised that his guitar work would be different from anything we had heard from him before. “It’ll be a little more shoegaze-y and a little bit more banger-y.” As it turns out, that near mystic middle-ground where shoegaze drifts into banger territory sounds almost like Trip-Hop.

The title track, ‘Skinty Fia’, is both boldly thunderous and oddly ethereal, capturing a sound that is reminiscent of some post-punk reimagining of bands like the Lo Fidelity Allstars and Massive Attack. Ultimately, the anthem is too hook-laden and unmistakably alluring to prove polarising, but like a lot of the best tracks that come with the tagline of ‘moody’ there is plenty of time to still sink into the plashy mire of the piece in the years of listening to come. 

LT Wade – ‘Unfortunately’

British indie rock lifer LT Wade has dropped his latest single, the woozy and slinky ‘Unfortunately’. We’ve all been there: go to a show, see someone cute on the other side of the room, and start to make a move. In ‘Unfortunately’, that person has their sights on someone else, a bitter pill for any potential lothario to swallow.

Although ‘Unfortunately’ doesn’t exactly break any new ground in the lovesick indie-rock realm, the song rides high on its easy charms and catchy looseness. Any song that brings in claves as part of its arrangement is A-OK in my book.  Take note, DIY rockers: tambourines and cowbells are old hat. It’s time to expand your scope when fumbling through the random percussion at the local music shop by embracing the claves as the clickety-clackety instrument of the future.

Beabadoobee – ‘Talk’

British singer-songwriter Beabadoobee has returned with the first preview of her upcoming second studio album Beatopia with the new single ‘Talk’.

If you were a fan of the throwback guitar rock sounds that made up Beabadoobee’s previous LP, Fake It Flowers, then you’ll definitely be on board with ‘Talk’. Featuring the perfect mix of early 2000s Moog-like synths and bass tones straight out of the alt-rock boom of the 1990s, ‘Talk’ is a modern re-interpretation of a classic sonic signature.

Soccer Mommy – ‘Shotgun’

American indie rock singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy has returned to announce a brand new album, Sometimes, Forever and has also dropped the first preview of the new LP with the new single ‘Shotgun’. Grungier and more bass-heavy than some of her previous work, ‘Shotgun’ finds Allison leaning harder into the pure rock music side of her music than ever before.

That being said, there are still plenty of electronic buzzes to be found, including a wild bloopy synthesizer line that bubbles up throughout the track. Strangely enough, considering how rock-centred ‘Shotgun’ is, the track features production from modern-day electronica king Daniel Lopatin, who releases his music under the alias Oneohtrix Point Never. Lopatin is an expert at making even the most organic noises sound synthetic and psychedelic, but he shows off his versatility here by rooting ‘Shotgun’ firmly in the world of guitar rock.

Bauhaus – ‘Drink The New Wine’

Goth masters, Bauhaus, have shared their new song in almost 15 years, ‘Drink The New Wine’. A heady, almost psychedelic piece, there’s a lot going on, but one thing’s clear, it is brilliant. Listening to bassist David J’s dub inspired bassline in the break, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is actually 1982, and the new track is actually a cut from The Sky’s Gone Out

All of the band shine, and it is one of the most dynamic pieces they’ve ever released. Guitarist Daniel Ash delivers some emotive licks, including the portion of the acoustic guitar, drummer Kevin Haskins drives it along with his varied rhythms and frontman Peter Murphy sounds as powerful as ever.

Let’s Eat Grandma – ‘Levitation’

British electronic pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma have returned with the most recent preview of their upcoming LP Two Ribbons: a brand new single in the form of the dancefloor-ready ‘Levitation’.

Featuring bloopy synths, tumbling beats, and a monster chorus hook, ‘Levitation’ is a pure state of elation, reflecting everything from old-school disco to modern hyper-pop. The ending keyboard solo is just the icing on top of the synth-pop cake, wrapping the entire song in a wonderfully warm synthetic cacoon.

Kurt Vile – ‘Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)’

Kurt Vile is ramping up for the release of (Watch My Moves) next month, and now we’ve got our third preview of the new LP thanks to the single ‘Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)’. Featuring a potent mix of electronic buzz, electric fuzz, and wide-open country-tinged folk, ‘Mount Airy Hill’ unfurls similarly to his previous singles, ‘Like Exploding Stones’ and ‘Hey Like a Child’.

It’s unhurried, breezy, and just sharp enough to stick with you, thanks to the sharp crack of the drums and the whispy slide guitar. Vile goes for a high note that I’ve never heard him reach for during the verses and choruses. He’s the kind of figure who seems like he might be the platonic ideal of laid back: possibly stoned, always relaxed, and usually looking like he’s not trying very hard. But it’s nice to know that he’s still stretching out to try new things in his music, even though he’s got the essentials down pat.

Blossoms – ‘The Sulking Poet’

While the first few bars of Blossom’s new single might sound like the jingle for a probiotic yoghurt advert, the jangly overture quickly gains a bit of muscle and ventures into the upbeat hook-driven world where earworms like Rusted Roots’ ‘Send Me on My Way’ reside. It is a world that is pretty hard to hate unless cynical biases enter into it. 

Blossoms by name and nature, the song will no doubt be endlessly overplayed as we head towards summer causing a sort of sonic hayfever, but that’s no fault of the band. The radio-friendly record, Ribbon Around the Bomb, set for release on April 29th will most likely follow suit.