Songs You Need In Your Life: May 2024
Our rolling list of this month’s essential new tracks.
Songs You Need In Your Life: May 2024

The FADER's Songs You Need In Your Life are our picks for the most exciting and essential new music releases out there. Every day, we update this page with new selections. Listen on our Spotify and Apple Music playlists or hear them all below.

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Mach-Hommy feat. Sam Gendel: “SUR LE PONT d’AVIGNON (Reparation #1)”

Of all the tracks on #RICHAXXHATIAN — including songs featuring Roc Marciano, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Tha God Fahim, Quelle Chris, KAYTRANADA, and 03 Greedo — “SUR LE PONT d’AVIGNON” is perhaps the most quintessentially Mach: Subtly brilliant English-language verses with a little Arabic sprinkled in, followed by a hook in which he tunefully recites the 15th-century French nursery rhyme from whence the track gets its title, sprawl comfortably alongside textural, unobtrusive e-sax from the virtuosic Sam Gendel across a consummately smooth Conductor Williams beat. Here and elsewhere on the 17-track album, the Haitian-American Jersey native doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. But even when he’s cruising in his own lane, he’s still making slicker moves than 99 percent of the rapping public. — Raphael Helfand

Youth Lagoon: "Lucy Takes A Picture"

Trevor Powers has described his latest single as a song he has been trying to write for his whole life. Lyrically, "Lucy Takes A Picture" is certainly an epic. Powers finds beauty in decay as he compares discarded cigarette butts to "a smoker’s river Nile," while elsewhere the abyss can be viewed in the back of a spoon filled with morphine. For a song filled with the recognition that good and evil is a symbiotic pairing, "Lucy Takes A Picture" takes its musical cues from the brighter side of life. Powers, alongside co-producer Rodaidh McDonald, carefully weaves synths and strings together to create something to delicately soothe the rawness found at the center. If last year's Youth Lagoon album (Heaven Is A Junkyard) was a return to form, " Lucy Takes A Picture" suggests the hot streak is continuing. — David Renshaw

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astrel k: “Darkness at Noon”

“Darkness at Noon” references a French idiom about needlessly overcomplicating a situation, something astrel k seems far too familiar with on his exquisitely existential track. A seventies twist on chamber pop drenched in cynical self-contempt, the track is painfully aware of its artifice from the beginning, with a blasé psychedelic riff that transitions into a languorous medley of melancholic lyrics and yearning horns. The centerpiece of “Darkness at Noon,” however, is astrel k’s twinkling piano, which churns out hazy melodies that feel like they were written by a forgotten member of the Beach Boys, left standing on an abandoned boardwalk in the pouring rain. — Sandra Song

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wokeups: "fragged aht"

A typically histrionic debate has swept rap TikTok in recent weeks surrounding “fragged aht,” a song from wokeups’s April EP day gotta end. Does the song’s introduction, where the rapper’s voice is stretched beyond AutoTune’s limits, represent the death of underground hip-hop or tap into some previously untouchable well of emotion? “fragged aht” is a fun song first and foremost, a Lil Yachty demo if he fucked with Porter Robinson-type digicore beats, but there’s something still undeniably resonant in how wokeups’s voice frequently pulls away from the vocal processing, like it’s full of an emotion that concepts like key and pitch cannot contain. — Jordan Darville

Billie Eilish: "The Diner"

Billie Eilish's new album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, features a strikingly brittle moment detailing her body image ("Skinny") and a song offering insight into what it's like to have a stalker ("The Diner"). In both songs, Eilish deals with outsiders' damaging projections and the darker side of a life in the spotlight. "The Diner" has maybe burrowed deepest under my skin. In it, Eilish sings about obsession from the perspective of a fan ("I saw you on the screens, I know we're meant to be") whose focus grows more troubling with time. What begins as an internet fixation moves into real life as she imagines the fan being arrested after climbing into her property and leaving a telltale calling card. How much of it is true is unclear but the unsettling nature of the narrative is underscored by the haunted circus vibe her brother Finneas brings to the production. — David Renshaw

McVertt feat. 41: “Hate The Real”

Few genres fuse as naturally as Jersey club and New York (metro) drill. Mastermind club producer McVertt christened the Jersey drill sound in tandem with Bandmanrill on their 2021 single “HeartBroken” and crystalized his dominance of the style on Jiggy In Jersey, a 27-track collab mixtape with Bandman and Sha EK. Reuniting with 41 — the rightfully hyped Brooklyn trio of Kyle Richh, TaTa, and Jenn Carter, who worked with McVertt last summer on “Bent” — he crafts a woozily ominous beat that centers a mournful sax melody, over which the three MCs trade sharp-edged flexes. Like most McVertt tracks, “Hate The Real” drops you on a crowded dance floor, with no windows to inform you if it’s late night or early morning, and no indication of whether or not you’re dreaming. — Raphael Helfand

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Cartier God: "#VaporWorld"

An endlessly curious artist still finding ways to innovate within the BasedWorld universe, Cartier God’s discography is a hydra, each head more zooted than the last. A prolific 2024 has seen two full-length tapes: the dance-oriented In My Trance and a historical and contemporary cross-section of the Atlanta rap underground called All You Do Is Trap, plus an EP nestled between them. The four-track Pink Moon (no relation to Nick Drake, at least as far as I can tell) captures a handful of Cartier God’s styles and musical quirks — on “#VaporWorld,” he’s a lo-fi pop producer in the vein of early Ariel Pink and Outer Limits Recordings, crooning velvet-lined entreaties like “Come over girl, I’ll give you the world” until they become mantras stuck in your brain. — Jordan Darville

Shootergang Kony: “Stargaze”

Shootergang Kony’s new album OPPS CAN’T HAVE FUN, is a reflective and heartwrenching project even by the Sacramento rapper’s considerable standards, and it reaches an emotive peak on the project’s second half with “Stargaze.” Kony takes a view of life on the street that’s empathetic, detailed, and full of all-too-human contradictions. Over a similarly wearied, achingly beautiful soul sample, he raps, “The streets eat me up, it’s got my pain runnin’ deeper / If pain ain’t enough, you lose your soul to the reaper.” Not too long later, he’s ready to push the button: “I ain’t never turned it down, I’m taking all fades / Finna light this bitch up and let the car blaze.” At its heart, the song is a rumination on the kind of personal changes we need the most that we keep the furthest out of reach with our actions. Sometimes all we can do is wish they were closer. — Jordan Darville

Fire-Toolz: “The Envy of the Heavenly Powers”

Angel Marcloid has returned to Earth (from the rainbow-colored, hellacious heaven where she seems to reside) in characteristically chaotic fashion. “The Envy of Heavenly Powers,” one of two lead offerings from her forthcoming Fire-Toolz album Breeze, is two minutes of disorienting chiptune bleeps, furious metalcore, and tasty bass licks, never allowing the listener to get their bearings for even a moment. It’s a great way to kickstart your day if you're feeling lugubrious, or to terrify your roommate if you’re already up and in a cheeky mood. — Raphael Helfand

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Suzy Clue: "Holy Touch"

One key facet of the early 200s nu-metal scene that hasn't quite been brought up to date by various revivalists is the histrionic emotional side. It's all well and good donning JNCOs and tuning the guitars to Drop D but if you're not putting yourself through the wringer, you're not going all the way. Suzy Clue seems to get it, though. "Holy Touch" is gauzy and confessional, equal parts Deftones and LiveJournal. Written like a conversation between her past and present self ("I know your thoughts, you feel like dying"), she wrestles with the true costs of moving on. By the time she whispers "even if I haunt you day and night, you’re on your own" the gothic melodrama becomes all-encompassing. — David Renshaw

b4u: "Reps"

b4u's SoundCloud is like leaving a great party, celebratory yet a little melancholy that the good times are over. The London-based artist is pretty prolific, having dropped three full projects in the last year and with another on the way. "Reps" is his latest release and like the best of his music so far, it's a little bit hyper and tender at the same time. The warped groove from the guitars are reminiscent of Mk.gee's latest work while the pitch-shifted vocals call to mind Bladee's digital anguish, or maybe Jim Legxacy at his most emo-sounding. A kick drum threatens a good time but melts into the ether, leaving the track to move into more ambient territory. It's early days right now (b4u hasn't even revealed his face, never mind his name) but right now he has the feeling of a cult star in the making. — David Renshaw

Milton Nascimento and esperanza spalding: “Outubro”

Milton + esperanza, a collaborative album from Milton Nascimento and esperanza spalding due in August, is the culmination of 15 years of friendship between the legendary Brazilian singer and the multiple-Grammy-winning bassist-singer-composer. Its lead single, “Outubro” (Portuguese for “October”), is a rework of a cut from Nascimento’s 1969 album Courage, trading in the original track’s lush, languid strings for a lively, bass-forward arrangement. At the heart of the new rendition is the interplay of Milton’s unforgettable voice — now 55 years richer with age, if not quite as angelic as it once was — and spalding’s own divine vocal stylings. Her nimble precision is the perfect companion to his majestic calm, like a dolphin darting above and below the surface of a gentle sea. — Raphael Helfand

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Belong: "Souvenir"

After a 13-year hiatus, the kranky-signed ambient shoegazers Belong have announced a new album, Realistic IX. "Souvenir" picks off where their 2011 project Common Era, weaving a hyper-compressed, Jazzmaster-flavored dreamscape pulled straight from Kevin Shields' dreams circa Isn't Anything. — Jordan Darville

Semma: “Salty”

The first thing that comes to mind when listening to “Salty” is a Sandals commercial. Produced by longtime Fade to Mind member Girl Unit, it starts off as a low-lit, R&B-style “adult contemporary” track before blooming into a bonafide late ‘90s chart-topper that sounds as if Janet Jackson had her own Bratz doll. It’s a timelessly fun “feeling yourself” song that, obviously, needs to be accompanied by a round of “sexy girl” choreography. — Sandra Song

Nap Eyes: “Ice Grass Underpass”

Released as the B-side to “Feline Wave Race” — an epic, six-minute single that finds Nap Eyes’ Nigel Chapman breaking new structural ground and moving in a million different narrative directions to mixed success — “Ice Grass Underpass” finds the Nova Scotian four-piece back in their sweet spot: clean, tightly wound power pop that places Chapman’s remarkable talent for lyric writing front and center. The song is built harmonically around Brad Loughead’s crunchy guitar playing, and thematically around a late-winter walk through a frosty field. In this solitary state of mind, our narrator muses on a life wasted in procrastination and emotional repression, but not without a glimmer of guarded hope for seasonal rebirth. “I’ve been hoarding my coal so long / The winter turned to spring,” Chapman sings, channeling Jeff Tweedy’s crystalline delivery. “Brother says now my life has ended / That I might just spend it looking out for things.” — Raphael Helfand

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EBK Jaaybo: “Boogieman”

Stockton rapper EBK Jaaybo raps with an unflinching quality, like someone who’s been tested consistently throughout his life and knows he can stay resolved no matter what. It gives an almost foreboding level of confidence and quiet aggression to songs like “Boogieman,” his latest single. Yvnng Echo’s beat provides most of the superficial menace, led by doom-saying choir vocals and distorted drums that are pulled back at the perfect moments for maximum effect. For his part, Jaaybo isn’t some snarling monster but rather a sedate mafioso, leaning back in his chair and studying the enemy seated across from him. My only criticism of the song is at the end, where Jaaybo repeats “Turn this beat off if I ain’t trippin’ on it” just before the song ends. He’s been tripping on it for over two minutes straight; why make it sound like he’s stumbled for even a second? — Jordan Darville

Shygirl feat. Danny L Harle: "encore"

Shygirl's excellent new single is a gritty club track to ruin your shoes and lose your friends to. A throbbing bassline and call to "fuck me up" give the song a grimy warehouse edge, something previously missing from an artist whose undeniably thrilling music has tended to sound like it was delivered from the rarefied air of the DJ booth or guest area. Expect to hear "Encore'' mid-perspiration when she joins Charli XCX and Troye Sivan on tour later this year. — David Renshaw

Ouri: “Baby Has A Frown”

Montreal cellist and producer Ouri’s rare skill with loops is the foundation of her new single “Baby Has A Frown,” a sparse and hypnotically sexy track with nods to R&B, club music, and ambient. She says in a press release that she aimed to create “an infinite dance of polarities,” and there’s certainly no shortage of beguiling, ambiguous appeal to the new song. — Jordan Darville

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Nsasi feat. pq: “Endoongo”

Despite international condemnations, travel restrictions, and sanctions, Uganda has continued to enforce one of the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the world, which penalizes same-sex relations with potential life imprisonment or death. According to activists, the law has also sparked a surge in hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community, an ever-present danger reflected within Nsasi’s “Endoongo.” The soundtrack to a brutal dystopian nightmare, “Endoongo” is pitch-black industrial techno where the defining feature is an aggressive barrage of militant kick drums. It’s visceral and overwhelming, bordering on physically frightening when combined with the warped glitch of a vogue-tinged rhythm that’s the exact opposite of freeing and celebratory. Rather, it sounds like the critical failure of a spacecraft, with an assemblage of screeching alarms warning of an army of enemy starships. – Sandra Song

Speed Dealer Moms: “Benakis”

Upon leaving Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009, John Frusciante did everything he could to erase his reputation as a funk-rock guitar god. He made a hard pivot to boundary-breaking, experimental electronic music, most of it poorly received by his former fandom. He rejoined the band in 2019, but he’s remained committed to the weird stuff in his solo work. Speed Dealer Moms, his glitch-obsessed duo with Aaron Funk (Venetian Snares), released their self-titled, two-track debut EP in 2010 and followed it with an enigmatically titled three-song pack in 2021. This month saw their next release, “Birth Control Pill,” an A/B single backed with “Benakis.” Both tracks are frantic affairs that clock in around nine minutes, but where side A is a pedal-to-the-floor freak fest, “Benakis” moves at an uneven pace, offsetting its intense breakcore bits with surrealist slow passages and allowing its idiosyncrasies to echo out into a modicum of negative space. — Raphael Helfand

Armlock: "Ice Cold"

On July 12, Armlock will release their debut album Seashell Angel Lucky Charm. The Australian duo of Simon Lam and Hamish Mitchell make contemplative indie rock perfect for wistfully staring into the middle distance. "Ice Cold" places spiky words detailing a relationship break down over reflective guitars and digitally deteriorated melodies. Together they fit perfectly, pulling the pair in line with the similarly unassuming and sentimental peers such as Hovvdy and Turnover. — David Renshaw

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Bugzy Malone: “Beauty & the Beast II”

“Authenticity” is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, but it’s always been Bugzy Malone’s greatest strength, particularly when it comes to his confessional lyricism. On his 2016 track “Beauty & the Beast,” the rapper got brutally real about his relationship insecurities and the underlying shame surrounding his inability to provide for his girlfriend. Eight years on, a single Bugzy’s living the dream on “Beauty & the Beast II,” but his poignant tongue-twisters have now turned into rueful admissions of loneliness. Perhaps, it’s for the better though, he raps. They’ve both grown, and, for him, this evolution is reflected within his stylistic expansion into other strains of rap since his weed-selling, gun-running days. But throughout the song, Bugzy also makes it clear that he’ll never abandon his grime roots or forget how a beautiful princess still loved him at his lowest, even if his interpolation of “Beauty & the Beast”'s original chorus has taken on a different meaning in part two. — Sandra Song

Chief Keef: "Treat Myself"

The second track from Chief Keef’s long-delayed Almighty Sosa 2 shows a softer side of the Chicago drill veteran. The song, produced by Keef, opens up with sunrise Daft Punk synths underneath the kind of pitched-down vocals you’d expect from a Mike WiLL Made-It era Miley Cyrus song. That’s a clear indicator of the mood of the song, a passionate and sincere paean of self-love. He raps with total contentment: “Bitch I wake up in the morning, spark a blunt and be myself / Take a look up in the mirror, I just wanna squeeze myself.” His infectiously warm vigor is enough to give a transcendent sheen to the more blustery moments when sex, violence, and conspicuous consumption are treated as Balms of Gilead. — Jordan Darville

Thou: “Unbidden Guest”

Thou come from the heart of sludge metal country, but their core ethos has always been punk. On “Unbidden Guest,” the second single from the New Orleans-via-Baton Rouge scene-leading six-piece’s forthcoming album Umbilical, is a blistering four-minute cut, though not quite as pummeling as the project’s lead offering, “I Feel Nothing When You Cry.” With that track’s sixteen-on-the-floor violence slowed to an almost funky groove on the new song, frontman Bryan Funck’s wounded screams sound even more sinister, until the instrumental drowns them out around the halfway mark. Funck returns for the final minute, forcing his death rattles through the nearly solid wall of sound. “Physical deterioration by way of psychological disarray,” he writes in a press release, describing the track. “Retreading a well-worn path of self-grievance. Othering mental illness and learned behavior in order to crush them under the dominance of epistemic willpower. ‘The last time you cried, who’d you think was inside?’” — Raphael Helfand

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Les Savy Fav: “Guzzle Blood”

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Les Savy Fav, but their new single "Guzzle Blood" makes it feel like they never left. Circling right back to their art punk take on post-hardcore, the track is a time warp back to the early-aughts with its brash hardcore guitar paired with devil-may-care dance punk synths and warring horns. But while it initially comes off as intense and intimidating, beneath the fire and fury, “Guzzle Blood” also contains a smirky sarcasm, with vocalist Tim Harrington’s playful exaggerated, half-rapped lyrics about “guzzling the blood of Jesus.” — Sandra Song

Koreless: "Seven"

Welsh producer Koreless returns after two years away with a moment of restless and dynamic techno . Building on the heavily crafted propulsion of his last album (2021's Agor), "Seven" flirts with the idea of the dancefloor but doesn't quite commit, instead remaining comfortable circling the fringes. A buzzing synth teases wild abandon while a pensive-sounding xylophone effect chimes between the static, creating a looser vibe than on his previous work. It feels less like driving forwards than it does weightlessly floating in mid-air. — David Renshaw

CMAT: "Aw, Shoot!"

CMAT's country-adjacent songs offer perfectly observed character portraits that feel both timeless and like they were tapped out in the Notes app of a cracked-screen iPhone. "Aw, Shoot!" was written after a chance encounter with a stranger in Paris and a whole world is spun out of the momentary meeting. Comparing herself to this other person leads to FOMO and the finite nature of life: she boils the feeling of not making the most of her time on Earth succinctly, crooning "They dance among the paintings, and I drink researching tombs." Three bottles deep she cracks wise to mask the ache in the pit of her stomach, all while falling deeper down another Wikipedia rabbit hole. — David Renshaw

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Avalanche Kaito: “Tanvusse”

Avalanche Kaito effortlessly finds the overlap between noise punk and griot storytelling. One is glitchy and chaotic, heavy on distortion with a distinct electronic edge, while the other comes from a long-standing oral tradition with deep roots in West African culture. However, tracks like “Tanvusse” prove that Kaito Winse’s ecstatic spiritual recitations are an essential counterweight to Le Jour du Seigneur’s undulating polyrhythms and distorted guitars. While “Tanvusse” is packed with razor-sharp riffs and abrasive metallic screeching, its explosive blast beats are no competition for Winse’s free jazz flute solos and stream-of-consciousness exaltations, which are a testament of his ability to transcend even the harshest of noise. — Sandra Song

Hakushi Hasegawa: “Boy's Texture”

On July 24, Hakushi Hasegawa will bring their rapturous, cacophonous cavalcade to Brainfeeder for Mahōgakkō their first album for the American label. Their newest single “Boy’s Texture” brings the Japanese electronic artist’s sound into a glitchy folktronic landscape dotted with frantic scatting and gorgeous vocal melodies. — Jordan Darville

Sango feat. Dave B: "Meanwhile"

The new single from Sango's upcoming project North Vol. 2, out on May 24, is a double-sided smash featuring Washington rapper Dave B. Its first third flips a gospel sample into a pentecostal-level celebration of balling out; the comedown on the second portion, where the beat flips into slurried vocals and softer bass hits, is a tough one. "I feel nothing today," Dave B sings, "I'm gon' ball anyway / It's in my veins." — Jordan Darville

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Hinds feat. Beck: "Boom Boom Back"

Hinds’ “Coffee” was an effervescent, bright garage pop number that celebrated life’s guilty pleasures: receiving flowers from people you aren’t dating, black coffee, and cigarettes. Their new single “Boom Boom Back (feat. Beck”), the latest cut from their upcoming album Viva Hinds, due in September, follows in a similar playful, cheeky manner, another garage cut that infuses psych-rock and art pop. The Madrid-based band ponder the tantalizing, seductive nature of a good night out while in the middle of a lonely and depressive episode: “Do you wanna fall in love with a broken heart?” Beck joins on the second verse with his lighthearted hedonism, another lonely heart partaking in frisky solidarity. — Cady Siregar

Hus Kingpin: “TICAL (Prod. OWLTREE)”

Hus Kingpin seems most comfortable existing on the outskirts of hip-hop, where he’s free to ruffle some feathers with his pointed critiques of late-stage capitalism on tracks like “TICAL.” Taken from his new Nirvana-inspired album, “TICAL” sees Hus reveling in the devilish spiral of an ominous OWLTREE beat. A gravely, disheveled loop that appears to be built upon a roughed-up sample of “Endless, Nameless,” it’s a track that already contains an unshakable sense of paranoia, amplified by an unsettling disconnect between Hus’s spiky questioning of what Method Man puts in his weed, and how casually and confidently he disseminates these conspiratorial ideas. — Sandra Song

Bliss Fields: "Strange Ways"

Toronto-based Bliss Fields look for some kind of unity on their grunge-y behemoth of a song, "Strange Ways." The heaviness of the tidal wave-sized riff at the center is matched by Scott Downes lyrics, which touch on feelings of claustrophobia, sickness, intoxication, rage, and degradation. It's a song that lurches and looms, taking the sensation of being trapped and breaking out of the shackles by recognizing the travails of others. "We all are the same," Downes sings with a lilt that pushes the band toward the Midwest emo end of the alt-rock spectrum. "We all live in strange ways." — David Renshaw

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nabeel (نبيل): “wela wahed - و​ل​ا و​ا​ح​د”

An Iraqi-American musician based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, nabeel has been sporadically releasing catchy, grunge-flavored pop songs for just over two years. His latest and the first of 2024 is “wela wahed - و​ل​ا و​ا​ح​د,” is a warm and bittersweet warning against complacency, gentle and urgent at the same time. “He who stays doesn’t yearn,” nabeel sings in Arabic, “And of course he won’t find a thing / Not one, not even one.” — Jordan Darville

Isabella Lovestory: "Botox"

Upon first listen, Isabella Lovestory’s “Botoxxx” sounds like another glittery brat-pop bop. It’s that special brand of campy, hot-pink melodrama, with an edgy name and the plastic wrapping still intact. Once you open up Google Translate though, it’s clear that the Honduran musician isn’t trying to be a “Bravo TV reality star,” but the personification of the warped beauty standards that prey on femme insecurity. She talks about the cosmetic paralytic making her beautiful by hiding her imperfect sadness, about tricking her brain with booze and Botox to swallow that hurt, and her willingness to procure an expensive procedure that will literally freeze your face into a smile. It’s just packaged in the form of some bitchy braggadocio and Splenda-sweetened reggaeton riddims. — Sandra Song

RX Papi and 1600J: “All Day Long”

On the opening track of their new collab tape, Rochester’s RX Papi and The Bronx’s 1600J enlist Surf Gang producer Harrison for a bubblegum beat with a thumping low end. Against this setting, each MC adopts an identical, repetitive, Auto-Tuned delivery, flowing just ahead of the beat like a lightly toasted Sicko Mobb. The 2:22 track sets the stage for a series of similarly stoned short-form joints, lending the project a delirious, cloudy vibe that never lifts. — Raphael Helfand

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HTRK: "Dream Symbol" (Loraine James remix)

The perenially shape-shifting Australian duo HTRK are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year with a collection of performances, installations, and remixes. "Dream Symbol," a song from their 2019 album Venus In Leo gets a remix courtesy of Loraine James, who stretches the chilled-out electronic excursion of the original into a glitchy new landscape worth of Homogenic-era Björk. — Jordan Darville

Speed: "Real Life Love"

Australian hardcore band Speed pay homage to their truest friends on "Real Life Love," a ferocious ode to brotherly love. Bobbing and weaving between the hefty power of Josh Clayton and Dennis Vichidvongsa's pacy guitars, vocalist Jem Siow makes virtue of his loyalty and honesty while seeking the same in others. His disgust at the fakers who try to infiltrate the scene is apparent as he demands to know, "How'd you get so cold?" The whole thing is like a beating heart wrapped in barbed-wire, pumping with life but spiky to those with questionable intentions. — David Renshaw

Sevdaliza ft. Tokischa & Villano Antillano: “Ride or Die Part II”

For her new single “Ride or Die II,” Sevdaliza brings her experimental pop production to a dark, dembow-indebted track featuring rising Dominican rapper Tokischa and Puerto Rican MC Villano Antillano. Billed as a “down-tempo bi-lingual empowerment anthem for women,” the production is languid and unhurried, providing ample space for all three artists’ voices to shine, whether it’s Sevdaliza’s whispery hook, Tokischa’s hypnotic flow, or Villano Antillano’s tongue-twister delivery. Steamy and seductive, “Ride or Die II” maintains the same pulsing sensuality you’d expect from a classic dembow production, even if it feels slightly detached and out of reach, with its distant horns and the constant chug of its mechanized riddim. — Sandra Song

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Christopher David Booth: “Ulterior Motives” a.k.a. “Everyone Knows That”

For the last three years, the actual name of “Everyone Knows That” has been the subject of a much internet debate. An ‘80s New Wave tune that took “lo-fi” to a whole new level, the viral, 17-second recording posted to WatZatSong in 2021 was so heavily distorted, its origins completely eluded the lostwave community, hundreds of YouTube sleuths, and a 49K member-strong subreddit. Now, the mystery has finally been solved by two dedicated Redditors, who figured out the song is called “Ulterior Motives” by Christopher Saint Booth and Philip Adrian Booth. And its source? A sex scene from a 1986 porno called Angels of Passion, where two angels are “sent back to Earth to provide some sexual satisfaction to the mortal humans,” obviously. — Sandra Song

Adult Jazz: "Earth of Worms"

A track from their new album So Sorry So Slow, "Earth of Worms" by Adult Jazz is a standout example of how the U.K. group makes elusiveness the very foundation of their sound. The time signature of the drums is an ancient steam engine, alternating between breaking down and staying perfectly in pocket, fuelling its angular post-R&B guitar work and lyrics that turn the mundane spiritual: "Your love once so ordinary / Is it a dewclaw or a luxury? / The ring light blown / The narration gone from me." — Jordan Darville

Harmony: "Thot Daughter"

"Thot Daughter" is for anyone who has ever felt like an outcast only to realize they actually don't want to fit in. Over a sleazy electroclash beat, Harmony makes fun of conservatives, the badly dressed, and weird guys on the internet while referencing her own brain rot and sarcastically declaring herself the "people's princess of the housing crisis." It's a club banger for the terminally online, destined to soundtrack the infinite scroll. — David Renshaw

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Charly Bliss: "Nineteen"

Anyone growing tired of Taylor Swift's increasingly listless songwriting would be wise to switch to Charly Bliss. "Nineteen" is the first single from the band's upcoming album FOREVER and is written from the perspective of vocalist Eva Hendricks looking back at her first true love. It's a heartwarming song written with the perspective of age yet tightly bound to the broken fire hydrant of emotions from her teenage years. Saxophone licks decorate memories of diner dates, late nights, and acts of cruelty as the NYC band asks, "How are you still in my head after all these years?" — David Renshaw

Sam Gendel & Sam Wilkes: “Milton Suite”

The Doober, the third joint album from Sam Gendel and Sam Wilkes, is an understated collection of covers and originals. Across the 11-track project, Gendel croons generally straight-ahead melodies on his C-melody saxophone while Wilkes comps tastefully on his Fender P-bass. The format reaches its peak on the record’s closer, “Milton Suite,” a three-song medley honoring octogenarian MPB icon Milton Nascimento. The suite begins with an expedited cover of “Ponta de Areia” (the gorgeous opener to late legend Wayne Shorter’s Native Dancer, essentially a joint album with Nascimento), in which Gendel follows Nascimento’s vocal line rather than attempting to recreate Shorter’s incomparable soprano sax parts. Gendel and Wilkes then move on to a slowed rendition of “O Trem Azul,” a highlight from Nascimento and Lo Borges’s Club da Esquina. If we’re getting technical, “O Trem Azul” is basically a solo Borges track; but Gendel's sax recreates Nasciemento’s voice with such uncanny accuracy that it gives us a taste of what the song might have sounded like if it had been a Milton track. “Milton Suite” finishes with Gendel and Wilkes’s take on “Club da Esquina nº 2,” the transcendent, lyricless centerpiece of Club da Esquina. It’s only here that Gendel takes a brief flight from the source material, allowing himself to gently flex a bit of subtle extended technique. It’s a short passage within the eight-minute piece, relatively speaking, but it’s all the more impactful for its brevity. — Raphael Helfand

THICK: “Mother”

Behind every petulant manchild is a parent-ified partner, typically a woman forced into becoming their emotional caretaker. So this Mother’s Day, THICK is paying homage to the partners who’ve, inadvertently, been forced into playing mommy therapist. On “Mother,” the Brooklyn pop-punk duo assert they aren’t “your fucking mother” or the father “who lied and caused you all of your pain” over some catchy hooks and classic power chords. But “Mother” isn’t about reinventing the wheel from a production standpoint. Rather, it’s a loud rejection of undue emotional labor, sexist gender roles, and the Freudian psychology represented by their twisted version of the “Hush Little Baby” lullaby — an ending that’s more creepy than it is caring. — Sandra Song

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Songs You Need In Your Life: May 2024