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


Lexa Gates feat. Alé Araya: "Lately, Nothing"

"There’s a sense of classy elegance to the sultry production, the kind of lightly jazzy beat built to be performed by a live ensemble at a Tiny Desk Concert, as well as the effortlessly confident way Gates carries herself." — Nadine Smith, from the March 29 edition of Rap Blog

Fuubutsushi: “Tenel Ka (First Crush)”

The first single from Fuubutsushi’s newly announced album meridians vibrates with the hope of early spring and fresh love. After roughly two-and-a-half minutes of gentle vamping, the quartet of violinist Chris Jussell, multi-guitarist Chaz Prymek, roving percussionist Matthew Sage, and woodwind extraordinaire Patrick Shiroishi spring into action, locking into a groove that feels like a brisk walk through a very lush field on the way to the woods. A jaunty bassline and shaken percussion buoy the track for another two-and-a-half-minute stretch, laying the groundwork for sweetly rendered flights of saxophone, fiddle, and electric guitar before the harmonies dissolve back into their murky origins. Excited but unhurried, “Tenel Ka” captures a pre-infatuation stage of romantic interest, where everything is lovely and nothing hurts. — Raphael Helfand

15 15: "Baon"

Tahitian dance collective 15 15's new song is a tribute to car bass nights and DIY raves that take place on the main island in French Polynesia where partiers open their trunks and let the subwoofers guide the night. The music played at these events, often labeled ori deck, is bold, brash, and energetic. "Baon" mixes dembow beats with synths that lurk and pounce in equal measure. It's enough to test the suspension on any vehicle. — David Renshaw

S. Raekwon: “If There’s No God…”

S. Raekwon’s “If There’s No God…” is a Sufjan Stevens-esque track with the soul of a Sartre essay. It starts off deceptively simple, with not much more than a simple guitar lick and a half-hearted promise to try again. But you can tell from his warble that he already knows that he can’t — or won’t — ever change. Or at least that’s the case until the alcohol outweighs any performative apathy, suddenly giving way to a full backing band that’s able to express the true depths of his regret and frustration through the rising feedback and his pointed delivery, finally acknowledging that there’s no one to blame but himself. — Sandra Song

more eaze, Pardo, and Glass: “le grand souffle céleste”

The final single from paris paris, texas texas — a towering collaborative effort from more eaze, pardo, and glass due out this Friday — is a scrum of lush pedal steel washes (more eaze) and plumes of electric guitar (Glass’s Hugo Lamy) processed (by Pardo along with Glass’s Etienne Reimund) into spectral slivers at first and then an oppressive, crackling drone. It’s ambient in the environmental sense: To step inside “le grand souffle céleste” (“the great celestial breath”) is to enter an atmosphere where air is replaced by sound, like the climax of a gong bath or the center of a Sunn O))) concert. Somehow, more eaze’s preternaturally soothing Auto-Tuned croon still finds space to seep through the cracks in the instrumental, smoothing the track’s edges and giving the whole affair a sense of cosmic calm. — Raphael Helfand

John Cale: "How We See The Light"

John Cale has been many different artists in his 82 years on Earth: a rebel of the avant-garde, an anesthesiologist injecting analgesic doses of drone into rock ‘n’ roll, a crafter of some of the 20th century’s most poignant ballads and anthemic jams, an elder statesman in collaboration with new generations of artists, et al. Through it all, though, he’s maintained a keen pop sensibility, albeit quite an unconventional one — hence the campy title of his newly announced album, POPtical Illusions. The project’s lead single harkens back to Cale’s early solo work, trading in the symphonic instrumentation of tracks like “Paris 1919” for a smaller orchestra of synths, thus achieving the same sort of baroque-pop alchemy with more modern tools. Above the maximalist mix — which also includes keys, guitar, a drum machine, copious record scratches, and other curiosities — Cale spins a tragicomic tale of love and loss. “It’s a lot like magic / It’s a lot like friendship / It’s the best of everything / Everything I’ve found,” he sings at the start, glowing with fresh romance. By the chorus, though, the relationship has spun out of control: “In between the way we see the light / Then we lose our minds and jump a fence.” The lyrics aren’t revelatory at face value, but Cale’s odd diction and magisterial delivery make them feel instantly classic nonetheless, his words floating in a strange space that’s at once universal and outside of time. — Raphael Helfand

LustSickPuppy: "Blisster"

LustSickPuppy’s full-tilt approach to creation is at the core of what makes their white-knuckled, abrasive music so engaging. LSP’s hardcore bona fides are on full display in “BLISSTER,” the lead single from their forthcoming debut album Carousel From Hell; the hook, first screamed in the song’s opening seconds, culminates in the line “Feel my fucking rage.” But the demonic chorus mutates into a much more elastic entity as the track continues, with uncharacteristically consonant vocal harmonies added to the mix. This and other shifts in tone and pace make the evil bits of “BLISSTER” hit even harder than they would uninterrupted. — Raphael Helfand

Marina Allen: "Red Cloud"

The first single in a year and a half from the baroque pop songwriter is a fluffy meringue of language, full of fluffy fantastical peaks and sweetened with alliterative flair. The titular sky houses a world as vivid as it is ambiguous and altogether irresistible. — Jordan Darville

1010Benja: "Voudoun"

In press materials for his debut album Ten Total, R&B singer 1010Benja described the music as "unhinged," stating that it comes "right out of the belly of the beast." There's a certain amount of artistic license in that description but Ten Total certainly sounds like an artist who is unashamed to really go for it. The song I keep coming back to right now is the closing track, "Voudoun." It starts with Benja conjuring evil spirits as he repeatedly declares "I need voodoo in my life." His plea for something dark and magical is cut with a sample of En Vogue's "Don't Let Go," conjuring up ghosts of '90s R&B, and a flurry of crashing drums. At its core, this is a song about seeking out goodness in the world as a means to self-improvement. "I release myself to you," Benja sings, sounding utterly spent. — David Renshaw

Lucki: "All Love"

Despite his reputation for depressed raps soaked in prescription substances, Lucki hasn’t ever eschewed bright-sounding beats. Still, “All Love” is something of an anomaly. Built around a glossy mall-pop sample by BrentRambo and KLOUDBWWOY, “All Love” has a central irony that Lucki announces from the jump, rapping “I don't even like you n*****” as some of his first lines. There’s little subsequent joy to be found in his lyrics, just paranoia and lost love. Same old Lucki, but not. — Jordan Darville


Here, Hook's verses have a jazzy form that takes a cue from the frenetic beat: she scats, unleashes volley after volley of memorable lines, screams "EASY A" with an unhinged bellow, and coos softly on the outro. It's tough to keep up, but it's fun as hell to try. — Jordan Darville, from the March 22 edition of Rap Blog

Annie-Dog, "The Pressures of the Heart"

Dublin-based Annie-Dog is faced with a dilemma on "The Pressures Of The Heart" as she weighs up whether the timing is right to start a new relationship. The self-produced song zooms by at a dizzying pace with rapid breakbeats making space for guitars that rub like wire wool and Annie's fatalistic worldview ("I don’t even see the glass," she sings at one point. "Let alone the half that’s missing.") That cynicism sits atop a squishy heart, though, and the song ends as she waits by the phone knowing there is no time like the present. — David Renshaw

Michael Vincent Waller: “Love Valentine (Lex Luger Remix)”

Before he began operating as a prolific hip-hop producer under the name MVW, Michael Vincent Waller composed minimalist contemporary classical music, mostly for solo piano. This month saw the release of a remix album based on 2019’s Moments, the last studio LP he recorded under his given name. The project sees the likes of Jlin, Moor Mother, Xiu Xiu, and Lorraine James rebuilding his quiet constructions in their own images, often to extraordinary effect. But a mid-album take on “Love I: Valentine,” performed on vibraphone by William Winant on the original record, is Moments Remixes’ most audacious effort. Rather than choose another acclaimed experimental artist to rework Winant’s eerie dissonances, Waller tapped Lex Luger, an elder statesman of blockbuster trap music who helped oversee Atlanta’s rise as rap’s epicenter in the late aughts and early ‘10s. Unlike the maximalist excesses of iconic productions like “Hard in da Paint” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast),” however, the “Love Valentine” remix finds Luger in a relatively restrained mode, alternating a slick, booming beat with quiet passages from the original track to bridge the gap (as MVW continues to do) between the trap and the conservatory. — Raphael Helfand

Marie Davidson: "Y.A.A.M"

French-Canadian producer Marie Davidson's heavy-hitting new track is written about frustrations with the business side of music but could just as easily apply to anyone fed up with algorithmic music designed to capture or soothe frazzled attention spans. "Give me passion, give me more," she intones with a severity that belies the purgative rallying cry of the lyrics. Davidson is banishing the fakers and paving a way for something undiluted and real. — David Renshaw

Porter Robinson: "Cheerleader"

Porter Robinson’s sophomore project Nurture, released seven years after his debut album Worlds, sought escape from creative doldrums through an experimental use of pop music. His new single “Cheerleader” makes that embrace look relatively tentative: it’s bloggy electro-pop a la Bloc Party and Phoenix, written for the end credits of a new F-Zero game. Beneath the hugely addictive surface, though, “Cheerleader” is a biting examination of parasocial relationships and the temptation artists can feel to keep them going. — Jordan Darville

Sam Akpro: "Disposition"

Sam Akpro's grungy songs capture the frantic energy of being young and broke in London but could just as easily apply to any heavily populated and built-up area where every day is a grind just to survive. "Disposition," a nimble, synth-driven song studded with a grinding bassline, captures a moment of clarity when even escapism begins to feel like a trap. "Habits I despise," Akpro sings as he casts his eye across an army of rave casualties in front of him. "They eat the streets alive." It's the sound of reality setting in as Akpro makes his way home to get away from the cyclical conversations and to start plotting more worthwhile scenarios. — David Renshaw

Tei Shi: "No Falta"

The second single from Tei Shi’s forthcoming album Valerie is a delicately crafted cross-section of neo-soul, turn-of-the-millennium electro-pop, and MPB, the latter provided largely by Rodrigo Amarante’s guitar, bass, and hand percussion. Co-produced by Tei Shi and Knox Fortune, the song’s catchy groove and outwardly starry-eyed theme (“No Falta” translates to English as “nothing is missing”) belie the creeping doubt at the song’s core: the fear that a relationship has gone catastrophically off the rails, as much as both parties try to convince themselves and each other that everything’s fine. — Raphael Helfand

Madi Diaz: "Girlfriend"

Playing with the conceit of love songs, Madi Diaz offers a unique and raw perspective that isn’t often explored in her song “Girlfriend.” Addressing her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, Diaz straddles the two sides of her feelings by having empathy for another woman and trying to create that solidarity amidst the discomfort of the situation, while also letting the girl know that the man is taken. — Lana Fleischli

many tiny boxes: “object”

An anxious and, at times, overwhelming club track with deep noise roots, many tiny boxes’ “object” is riddled with foreboding, as if the rug is about to be pulled out from right underneath you. It’s a string of frenzied nightmares, filled with punishing onslaughts of perverse squelches, hydraulic machinery, and distorted feedback loops, with sudden hairpin turns that transform into anything from pitch-black minimalism to an acidic frenzy of squeaks, squawks, and pinpoint lasers. So even if there are brief moments of calm punctuating each section, “object” contains so much lingering tension that it almost feels like you’re at the very top of the biggest roller coaster in the park, holding your breath in anticipation of the inevitable fall. But with such clean transitions and intentional arrangements, “object” also projects a sharp sense of control over the unsettling chaos, to the point where you’re confident enough to board the ride and won’t go completely off the rails. — Sandra Song

claire rousay: “it could be anything”

The newest single from claire rousay’s self-termed “emo ambient” album sentiment is a despondent cuckold’s ballad, an Auto-Tuned revery delivered over a plodding drumline, painfully slow minor guitar arpeggios, and the low hiss of static. “Do you ever think about what I’m doin’ / When he's doing you?” rousay wonders at the start of the song, transmitting her tale from a dark room, half blacked out as she imagines her lover falling into the bed of a stranger. “This is not your problem, this is not your fault / This is just me trying to stay involved,” she finishes four minutes later, her desire for a morsel of acknowledgment making the whole affair all the more tragic. — Raphael Helfand

LA Timpa: “Ornary, Pt. 2”

The first release from the nomadic experimental songwriter’s upcoming album Time of Marcker, “Ornary, Pt. 2” has the shape of fog and the taste of tears. The brief elegy is composed of a translucent, detuned acoustic guitar and Timpa’s signature falsetto, an instrument that casts an otherworldly ache over everything it touches. Though Timpa is best known for their passionate and beguiling work with electronic instruments, “Ornary, Pt. 2” channels that same energy into the genesis of a formless folk. — Jordan Darville

ODUMODUBLVCK featuring Tiwa Savage: "100 Million"

Nigerian rapper ODUMODUBLVCK has slowly been building a global presence since last year's Eziokwu and "100 Million" is another of his songs that gracefully blends Afrobeats with heavy-hitting drill production. Switching between English and Igbo, ODUMODUBLVCK and Tiwa Savage sound imperious as they reveal in their role as kingmakers. Towering bass lines swoop and crash as he raps about working all day and paying for everyone's drinks at night. Savage's chorus, meanwhile, underscores the idea that "Hundred million is an insult." Nine figures is a lot but these two are aiming higher. — David Renshaw

Yung Lean: "Shadowboxing"

"When Lean begins to flow, his bars are at first a scattered stream of consciousness, embodying the anxious sweats and anguished night terrors he speaks of. But when the beat hits, he snaps to attention, waging war with himself: 'It’s me against me.'” — Nadine Smith, from the March 15 edition of Rap Blog

Debba: “Feeling Closer”

On the surface, Debba’s “Feeling Closer” plays like it was laced with ecstasy. Everything feels warm and euphoric, making it the perfect future garage track to float along to during a blissful out-of-body experience. However, once the serotonin begins to wear off, you’ll start to notice the spikes and sharp corners, the barbed synths and choppy samples. They’re sounds plucked straight out of a metallic scrapyard — abrasive scrapes, sharp clicks, and jagged edges — and kept together by an underlying feeling of symmetry that keeps everything steady and centered. So while “Feeling Closer” may seem all polished and pretty, it’s more like liquid mercury: deceptively dreamy with aggressive sneak attacks and the glitching vocals, desperately gasping for air right in front of you. — Sandra Song

Florence Rose: "In Your Room"

London-based Florence Rose delivers an eerie, aqueous ballad that speaks of abandonment and longing. Rose, working with little more than an acoustic guitar, can seemingly convey entire worlds with a sigh as she builds what is ostensibly a humble folk song into something befitting a vast expanse. There's a lush gothic melancholy to "In Your Room" that puts me in mind of Ethel Cain's starkest moments - wounded yet dreamlike. — David Renshaw

Violent Magic Orchestra feat. Infinity Division: “FYRE”

A four-piece from Tokyo, Violent Magic Orchestra are pushing extreme music towards the dancefloor with their pulverizing new album Death Rave. Each quartet member is named after a pioneering black metal group (Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor, and Xasthur), just one instance of how the genre’s music and aesthetic are foundational to Violent Magic Orchestra’s world. Across Death Rave, the guttural bellows and massive orchestral sweeps are joined by breakcore percussion and streaky trance synths, and on “FYRE,” it sounds fit to explode. Combining the album’s most wistful and bleakest moments into one song, “FYRE” enlists Canadian DJ and producer Infinity Division to explore keygen techno and industrial’s new wave in a beautiful and frantic fashion. — Jordan Darville

Cola: "Bitter Melon"

There is a loose, sprawling quality to Tim Darcy's ambling delivery that stands in contrast to his Cola bandmates work on the band's new song "Bitter Melon." Where the motorik drums and striking guitar work create a taught, almost tense atmosphere, Darcy is preoccupied with "the gloss," handwritten notes left in the margins of an old book. He finds himself up late into the nighttime, "turning pages, searching for the rind." What at first feels studious slowly reveals itself to be a little damaging, as the hours tick by and the tart feeling in his mouth gets sharper and sharper. — David Renshaw

groundsound: "Tricky"

The sound of “Tricky” isn’t representative of groundsound’s debut album Working Progress. The debut project from Gavsborg (a member of the experimental dancehall collective Equiknoxx) and the poet and cultural critic Riddim Writer makes a new sonic gumbo with the music of the Caribbean serving as the roux. It’s a rare thing, a concept album you can easily dance to. That comes clearest in “Tricky,” a house song festooned with dubby electronic sweeps. It’s one of Riddim Writer’s best vocal performances on the album, and one for her simplest: she spins pure joy out of simple rhymes, seeming to relish a joy in mere articulation: “The clique is very clique-y / The clip is very clippy / The pick is very picky / The trick is very tricky.” Her tone is something like a ballroom judge, full of cutting style and unimpeachable flair. — Jordan Darville

quinn: "it's nothing"

quinn spent 2024 doubling down on the rawness of her sound, sharing three solo projects (I used to just cry about it, interstate185, and sf44) and, a collaboration with the experimental D&B producer Dazegxd. Her first song of the year, "its nothing," keeps her curious production and blistered vocals sounding as fresh as ever. A sample of the TikTok hit "Merrily We Fall Out Of Line," a 2009 song by He Is We, opens the song before a Halsey sample takes over; they combine to paint a picture of overwhelming melancholy, which quinn taps into for her verses as the booming drums kick in. — Jordan Darville

Peace Ritual: "Seconds"

"Seconds" is a blissed out pop song about loosening your grip on expectations as well as a suitably breezy nudge to take a step back and let things just happen. Produced by James Goodson, whose own band Dazy makes similarly tight and big-hearted jangle-pop, "Seconds" is filled with prompts to "hold your breath now" and how "time slows" if you let it. Frontman Joel Martorana only just stops short of handing over a paper bag and counting to five for you. This calming message is married to a melodic style and wholehearted earnestness reminiscent of The 1975's dreamier moments. — David Renshaw

Physical Therapy & Nick León: “Genesis”

The new collaboration from the producer/DJ duo sounds like the first peek of summer 2024 from behind the cloudy gloom of spring. The song stars with a steely baile funk rhythm, our first signal that “Genesis” is not all beaches and raves. The empty space between these drums and the other elements — the reverbed vocal babbling and Art of Noise-y synths — helps give the song an invitational element rather than an overtly commanding one. Whatever groove your vibe calls for, “Genesis” has it covered. — Jordan Darville

Blue Bendy: "The Day I Said You’d Died (He Lives)"

On "The Day I Said You’d Died (He Lives)," Arthur Nolan of U.K. band Blue Bendy reels off an anecdote about lying to scam a free flight to Spain for a music festival, wrapping his feelings of sin around a dreamy and gently rippling indie rock backdrop. It's another taste of So Medieval, the debut album from the esoteric and erudite group, due on April 12. Nolan sounds equal parts angst-ridden (" The cities burning down and I can’t make it end") and pedantic Yelp reviewer ("Four star halloumi, you’re serving it raw") as he finds little comfort in the local tapas menus. Synth player Olivia Morgan and drummer Oscar Tebbutt keep things tight behind him, building and collapsing small pools of melody as this guilt-ridden crisis plays out in the Mediterranean sun. — David Renshaw

Snõõper: “On Line”

With “On Line,” Snõõper contribute to the canon of short, nervy punk songs about neurosis.”I stay inside my own space / And I lock the door in haste,” Blair Tramel sings, her voice ringing out with an almost vaudevillian clarity over thrashing drums and guitar. Like early Guerilla Toss but much more concise, Snõõper move like a skronky windup toy, pulling the listener along on a thrill ride full of breakneck stops and starts. — Raphael Helfand

DaeMoney feat. Babyface Ray: "Earned It"

"Collaborations between DaeMoney and Babyface Ray have the kind of consistent excellence you could set your watch to — as long as it's a Rolex, or better." — Jordan Darville, from the March 8 edition of Rap Blog.

Ben Frost: "Tritium Bath"

Ben Frost’s new album is a punishingly thorough sonic treatise on the electromagnetic spectrum, and nowhere are its rays more focused than on “Tritium Bath.” Named for a rare hydrogen isotope found present in nuclear reactions, the track is seven-plus minutes of cascading controlled demolitions, explosions of ear-melting power chords growling against plucked strings that echo into infinity. — Raphael Helfand

King Hannah feat. Sharon Van Etten: "Big Swimmer"

King Hannah recruit Sharon Van Etten to ask a fundamental question on "Big Swimmer." When life gets tough do you "carry on swimming" or "jump out and grab your towel?" There's no right answer but Hannah Merrick of the Liverpool band chooses perseverance every time. There's a quizzical tone to her delivery as the song opens in stripped-back fashion, just Merrick and a quietly strummed guitar. "Big Swimmer" slowly builds into something gently epic, though, with her bandmate Craig Whittle sending it in an Americana direction with a gauzy heartland solo. Van Etten joins in last, making a lowkey contribution that still underscores the message to never stop pushing forwards. — David Renshaw

Mustafa: "Imaan"

One of my most anticipated debut albums of the year comes from Mustafa, the Toronto-born artist who made the leap from poetry to songwriting in spectacular fashion with his 2021 EP When Smoke Rises. That music was shadowy and infused with electronic textures of all kinds; “Imaan” (like the 2023 song “Name of God,” one of our favorites from that year) embraces Mustafa’s love of folk even tighter as he navigates the ever-present struggles of a cold and confusing world. — Jordan Darville

Amen Dunes: “Boys”

Freedom, Damon McMahon’s 2018 LP as Amen Dunes, was a concept album that veered between truth and fiction but never overextended its grasp. Underneath McMahon’s mournful vocals and his shimmering indie-folk compositions lay a meticulousness that planted a subconscious seed, urging repeat listens. “Boys” sounds quite different at first — things take a turn from the usual windswept AD sound when we hear the repetition of a fat bass guitar note worthy of Les Claypool at his most slap-happy. From there it’s elements on top of elements, like a squawking alien voice and a distant police siren. How about a rush of electronic hi-hats? Why not? Even before the song decays into a collage of pirate radio techno and drone-backed musique concrete, there’s a sense that no idea was left on the drawing board. But that’s the genius of “Boys,” and why it represents such an exciting step forward for Amen Dunes: the seams in McMahon’s work are more visible, but he’s still an expert at tailoring everything to fit. — Jordan Darville

Yaya Bey: “sir princess bad bitch”

Yaya Bey radiates unhurried confidence on “sir princess bad bitch,” the latest single from forthcoming album Ten Fold. “If I never do another fuckin’ thing from today / Well I’m still a fuckin’ winner ‘cause I did it my way,” she begins, establishing the song’s attitude from bar one over a smooth house instrumental. Her smoky alto sits comfortably in a pocket of percolating 808s and sultry synths as she gets to the crux of the track: “I wouldn’t never rather be / No other thing but the thing I am.” — Raphael Helfand

They Are Gutting A Body Of Water, Greg Mendez, and Sun Organ: "Krillin"

Three heads of the Philadelphia underground come together on "Krillin," a song submerged in distortion and rich in violence and humiliation. TAGABOW's Douglas Dulgarian opens with blood dripping down his face and an unwanted chat with his dad on the horizon. His voice is barely audible above the murk, like he's muttering a shameful excuse not even he believes. Things aren't much better for Mendez, though his easy melodicism sees the clouds part just a little. "I’m in heaven, angels laughing at me," he sings from above, indignity following him from one life to another. — David Renshaw

James Massiah: “Soon Touch”

James Massiah understands that the best part of a big night out is the anticipation before the event itself. On “Soon Touch,” he envisions a night filled with socialites, illegal substances, after-hours activity, and good times in an expensive car. He’s dreaming big, wondering aloud if his picture will end up on Getty Images as he raps over a pulse-like beat. The London-based artist, who is a regular DJ on NTS and also writes poetry, allows his pen to wander as the night progresses, referencing Annie Lennox at one point, but the sweet dreams all lead back to the moment before he steps across his front door and takes in the possibilities of the exhilaration that awaits him. — David Renshaw

Jawnino: “Lost My Brain”

Jawnino’s latest 40 cut puts his agility on full display as he dances over explosive drum and bass breaks. “I’m with Jimi poppin’ pain / I can’t take any more of these pills or I might just find what I left in vain,” he raps early on, a forced callousness coating his delivery. With “Lost My Brain,” the London MC pays homage to vintage grime but keeps his eyes fully fixed on the future. — Raphael Helfand

Margaux: “DNA”

Margaux is known for her almost unsettling ability to dredge up those long-buried feelings that linger in the attic of your mind. On a song like “DNA,” they’ll resurface as a slumped shoulder or some dull ache in your chest, drawn out by the soft sadness in her voice and the raw simplicity of a thoughtful acoustic guitar. The sound is pure and uncomplicated, a focused indie ballad that doesn’t need to be complicated by any other noise, lest you miss the melancholic beauty of her earnest songwriting. Full of yearning and youthful naivëte, “DNA” is a song that’s been stitched together from memories of fading first love and the devastation that accompanies the death of some secret hidden hope. It’s the sound of a broken heart, out of sync with a head that knows it’s better off and will, eventually, be able to move on. — Sandra Song

Habibi: “On The Road”

Habibi first emerged in 2014 with a self-titled that dutifully followed the paths laid out by the pop charts of the ‘60s. Things got shinier and surfier on their 2020 project Anywhere But Here, and on their latest single (the first from Dreamachine, out May 31 via Kill Rock Stars) Habibi channels bent ‘80s post-punk a la ESG. The band’s endless journeying towards newer horizons is reflected in the lyrics of “On The Road,” which dip between the poetic (“On the road again / Driving north towards the great star of Bethlehem”) and plainly sung details that could be pulled from real life (“I come from a family of five / My daddy came here in 1979 / Mom had long hair and big pretty brown eyes.”) Ten years on, Habibi’s motion is still fun to behold. — Jordan Darville

Anysia Kym: "#71 (Again and again)"

Last year Anysia Kym dropped Pressure Sensitive, a collaborative project with London rapper Jadasea that landed on our Best Albums of 2023 list. "#71 (Again and again)" arrives ahead of Kym's new solo effort, Truest, due later this month. It's a smooth R&B song that defies such easy categorization through Kym's self-produced drums which snap and tear at their cushioned surroundings. Over in less than 90 seconds, Kym's voice washes in and out of the Tirzah-like song of devotion with occasional lines ("I'll be there for you until the end") coming through with striking clarity. — David Renshaw

h. pruz: "I Keep Changing"

At the heart of No Glory, the album NYC-based songwriter Hannah Pruzinsky will release as h. pruz on March 29, is "I Keep Changing." On first listen it is rustic and cradling, reminiscent of Adrienne Lenker's vivid songwriting. As Pruzinsky reflects on their life-altering circumstances, however, their growth is felt viscerally through bashed-up shins, aching joints, and teeth painted with blood. "It's so precious in the pain" they sing, bringing fleshy realism into the otherwise bucolic-sounding acoustic guitar and rousing percussion. Development and agony often run hand in hand. "I Keep Changing" acknowledges the physical aspect of a much-needed change, one bruise at a time. — David Renshaw

D.silvestre feat. MC 4R, “Automotivo Joga Na Pik”

Nadine Smith put me on to the music of baile funk producer D.silvestre back in August. You don’t have to be as immersed in the baile funk underground as she is to immediately understand how special the Brazilian producer’s blown-out beats are, and how they feel designed to conjure demons you didn’t even know were residing in your own body. O inimigo agora é outro, Vol. 2, D.silvestre’s new album, has a lot of those overwhelming moments, and some where D.silvestre deconstructs his bruxaria sound. “Automotivo Joga Na Pik” takes the brutalist baile-gabber sound silvestre does so well and dampens it, replacing all-consuming kick drums with alarm siren sine waves, pulsing out over lonely synth notes that cast streaks like marble grain across the song. Even if you’ve heard of D.silvestre before, “Automotivo Joga Na Pik” is a reintroduction. — JD

Shawny Binladen and Jwles: "L'argent"

Over a woozy flip of Moby’s “Porcelain,” Shawny spits in his quietly husky voice, even dabbling in a little French. Jwles’ flow is slithery and nimble, but his most catchy bars are legible even to those who don’t know the language. — Nadine Smith, from the March 1 edition of Rap Blog

Amaro Freitas: “Y’Y”

Brazilian piano virtuoso Amaro Freitas has proven himself a revelatory soloist, showing the instrument’s versatility by pivoting on a dime from rich jazz voicings to percussive attacks (see his inspired live performance of “Dança dos Martelos” for a visceral demonstration). Side A of his new album Y’Y comprises five towering, solitary tracks, but the back half of the record finds him in a much more pliant mode. Kicking off a run of four excellent collaborative cuts, the project’s title track is a collaboration with London woodwind shapeshifter Shabaka, and Freitas lets his partner lead. The track opens with flute and sung vocals, and when Freitas’s piano finally does enter, it’s as a shadowy, atonal entity. Only in the song’s final two minutes do the instruments enter into a more traditional duet, punctuated by jarring slams of hammer-on-string. Inspired by the meeting of the Solimões and Negro rivers outside the northwestern Brazilian city of Manaus, “Y’Y” feels in some moments like a violent collision, in others like a tender embrace. — Raphael Helfand

Låpsley: "4AM Ascension Day"

Låpsley has the kind of pristine voice that means she sounds just as at home delivering hushed ballads as she does on club tracks produced by DJ Koze. That versatility comes into play on "4AM Ascension Day," a new song created alongside producer Jakwob that adds an element of abrasiveness to her usually immaculate sound. "A guilty mind never runs out of track," she sings with a whisper, recalling an infidelity that altered her ability to trust and left her with "alarm bells pumping in my chest." This sense of unease is matched in the music, with drums that steadily increase in pace, from a skippy beginning to a rib-rattling finale. Her voice, so often a pleasingly ASMR-adjacent coo, lets rip at the same time. The result is the sound of someone pushed to the limit by insecurity and coming out the other side unleashed. — David Renshaw

Two Shell: “✧ Ɉ​ᵾ​ng​Ҟ​ooҟ – Talk To Me”

Stan culture is an exhausting and toxic force within the music industry, eating away at its structure like a pernicious form of rust. I’m wary of engaging with any art that incorporates it, even ironically, thanks to a near-constant exposure to its effects daily. Two Shell, however, have found a way to break down my barrier. Named after one of the members of the K-pop supergroup BTS — you’ve probably seen “Jungkook” trending at No. 1 worldwide on Twitter at some point — the new single from the usually tricky duo (known for filling dancefloors with their wonky electro bangers, and occasionally sending imposters to perform at shows) isn’t made with a knowing wink. Instead, Two Shell opt for a stripped-down piano ballad where the lead vocals sound like a plea from behind a computer screen. The song succeeds because it sounds like standom no doubt feels like to so many: pure and passionate longing. — Jordan Darville

Songs You Need In Your Life: March 2024