Songs You Need In Your Life: June 2024
Our rolling list of this month’s essential new tracks.
Songs You Need In Your Life: June 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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Being Dead: “Firefighters”

The playfulness that Austin band Being Dead brought to their 2023 album When Horses Would Run returns on “Firefighters,” their first single from the upcoming LP, Eels. Part scuzz-rock haymaker, part paisley-colored psychedelic singalong, “Firefighters” could function equally well as a theme song for the titular emergency service members or a more universal anthem for the ever-encroaching calamity. In perfect, soothing harmony, Falcon Bitch and Shmoofy sing: “If I could turn back time / I'd live by the oceanside / And die by pacific waves / But I'm melting anyway.” — Jordan Darville

Bright Eyes: “Bells and Whistles”

It’s unclear whether the opening verse of Bright Eyes’ “Bells and Whistles” is a reference to 2005’s “When the President Talks to God,” Conor Oberst’s scathing critique of the Bush administration’s self-serving detachment. That said, it’s worth noting that the protest song was written at the cusp of Bright Eyes’ mainstream success and, perhaps, some of Oberst's own bad decision-making. But after two decades of examining his own existence and the butterfly effect of seemingly easy choices, the singer-songwriter has significantly matured, both on a sonic and spiritual level. Cue “Bell and Whistles,” a song where he’s comfortable enough to finally revisit the ugly moments and raw emotions of his 25-year-old self, judging by how he now lets his voice run ragged and pen turn acrid, not afraid of confronting those humbling questions about bad bets, iron-clad contracts, and money poorly spent. Far from a rehash of the inner turmoil that made him famous, it’s a brave song that shows he’s healed enough to come full circle, able to make peace with himself against a vibrant backdrop of carefree whistling and catchy piano melodies. — Sandra Song

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Avalon Emerson: “Sandrail Silhouette” (Minor Science remix)

Avalon Emerson’s 2023 album & The Charm stood out that year for its meticulous and gossamer take on electro-pop, its songs composed for a rave in the sky. Minor Science takes that vibe as a challenge on their remix of “Sandrail Silhouette,” bringing the song crashing back to earth with the velocity of a cruise missile. Distorted 808s barrel roll and chatter as Emerson’s original vocals take on the texture of toxic smoke, weaving and swirling around synths that threaten to tear themselves apart. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde-style transformation, where a monster hiding just beneath the surface is revealed. — Jordan Darville

ilykimchi: “lol”

It’s officially “brat szn,” and ilykimchi embodies this very Gen Z form of cyberpop apathy on her new song “lol.” Playful and impish in a way that screams terminally online, the sped-up production and ilykimchi’s cheeky taunts are unabashedly cocky, containing sarcastic gender stereotyping enhanced by her exaggerated, pitched-up whine and deceptively soft and sweet delivery. Upon first listen, you may not catch the self-awareness of “lol’s” off-putting lolcow energy and “ur so jealous” lyricism, however, beneath the braggadocio of its bass-heavy beat and shamelessly sassy hooks lurks an oddly dark and dystopian nihilism. It’s like a parody of a passive-aggressive Tumblr blog written in all-lowercase letters, except “lol” actually has the potential of going viral as the biggest TikTok “baddie” banger of the summer. — Sandra Song

Allegra Krieger: "Never Arriving"

Allegra Krieger's new single imagines a softer world in which life isn't an endless hustle but an "unraveling... a slow, wandering death." That might initially sound a little bleak but Krieger's words, backed by a tougher, plugged-in sound than her folkier material on previous records, come from a place of philosophical optimism. The songs on her new album Art Of The Unseen Infinity Machine, due this September, were written after a fire in her New York building that killed four people. Krieger narrowly escaped the blaze and her perception of what is important in life understandably shifted. "Never Arriving" isn't morbid, rather a song by someone acknowledging death as an inevitability and asking why the preamble has to be so grueling. — David Renshaw

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AKRILLA ft. TAICHU: “POPPER!” (pero sin akri y tai)

If you couldn’t tell from the song title, AKRILLA’s latest release with Argentinian musician TAICHU comes straight from South America’s underground queer party scene. Muffled in a way that’s reminiscent of what you’d hear while smoking outside the afters, “POPPER!” adds plenty of glitch and glam to transform a classic dembow beat into an infectiously bouncy club track. Boisterous and outlandish while retaining those reggaeton roots, “POPPER!” is an undeniable ass-shaker with the power to liven up the club much better than its dizzying namesake. — Sandra Song

Dutch Interior: "Ecig"

"Ecig" represents a major step up in terms of production and atmosphere for Dutch Interior, an LA County band whose 2023 album Blinded By Fame was a pleasing, if slight, collection of homespun acoustic songs. The near-six minute-long song is muscular and capacious with vocalist Conner Reeves stretching out as he ruminates on bad memories and the kind of dirt it's hard to shift — the man is spitting rust and blood as he attempts to shake the past, one vape drag at a time. Around him, his band builds slowly until a lurching drone that feels like the tides are shifting brings things to a hissing close. — David Renshaw

Polo Perks, AyooLii, and FearDorian: “RAINBOW”

Only the combined energies of Polo Perks, AyooLii, and FearDorian could execute an idea as silly as flipping the late Hawaiian singer/ukulelist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” into a drill sample. On the opening cut from A Dog’s Chance, their debut album as a trio, FearDorian’s crazed beat lights a fire under his two collaborators: Perks — who rose to fame rapping over reimaginings of pop earworms like The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” and Flight Facilities’ “Crave You” (feat. Giselle) — rhymes “Nia Long” with “Cheech & Chong” in his deep Brooklyn drawl on the hook, while AyooLii — who’s also had experience putting his stamp on well-trodden source material (see 2023’s “Shmackin Town”) — delivers barely hinged bars in his madcap Milwaukee flow, at one point referring to himself as Susan B. Anthony. It’s a joyful introduction to a gleeful sprint of a record whose 16 tracks are over in 27 minutes that feel like five. — Raphael Helfand

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MJ Lenderman: "She's Leaving You"

MJ Lenderman hive, rise up. The Wednesday lead guitarist slash solo musician slash indie rock extraordinaire, fresh from working with Waxahatchee on her excellent recent album Tigers Blood, is back with a new song that just continues to see him go strength to strength. “She’s Leaving You” –– the latest cut from his forthcoming record, Manning Fireworks, due in September –– is classic Jake Lenderman, infusing the alt-country Americana of Wednesday with the twangy, classic indie rock favored by Hovvdy and Alex G, along with guest vocals by bandmate and partner Karly Hartzman. He throws some cheeky pop-culture references thrown in there, as he tends to do: “Go rent a Ferrari and sing the blues/ Believe that Clapton was the second coming.” We named “Rudolph” as one of our favorite songs from 2023, which also includes a reference to cars and racing with his nod to Lightning McQueen –– and remember that great lyric from Wednesday’s “Formula One”?: “I like sleepin' with the lights on / You next to me watching Formula One.” Here’s to more MJ Lenderman, and singing about automobiles. — Cady Siregar

Lutalo: "Ocean Swallows Him Whole"

Lutalo first emerged making delicately sparse folk music perfect for crunchy walks on fresh early mornings. "Ocean Swallows Him Whole," however, represents a pleasing turn into a surly form of post-punk complete with chugging basslines and a striking synth rattle. "Tell me what's wrong, Tell me what's true" they sing as they explore ideas of fakery and assimilation in society. The song will appear on Lutalo's new album, The Academy, due out on September 20. — David Renshaw

LUCY & evilgiane: "Same Thing"

The first single from pop misfit Cooper B Handy (LUCY) and Surf Gang leader evilgiane’s forthcoming short-notice collab album — Jack & The Beanstalk, due out at the end of this month — follows in the footsteps of their last joint track. “SAME THING” tones down the goofiness of “WHAT SHE’S HAVING,” the takeout-counter-themed LUCY feature on giane’s posse tape #HEAVENSGATE Vol. 1, but the bones of their creative partnership remain intact: minimalist lyrical repetition from LUCY, clipping 808s and ethereal synths from giane — this time with a production assist from ccured, a member of the ascendant Dutch collective GOONTEX. Their pairing may not add up on paper, but listening to LUCY sing about profits and losses over giane’s speaker-knocking bass and squishy hi-hats, it makes perfect sense. — Raphael Helfand

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Cold Gawd: "All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned For A Thing I Cannot Name"

Californian shoegaze band Cold Gawd have a real knack for naming their work. Their 2022 debut was called God Get Me The Fuck Out Of Here while the follow-up, due August 30, is I'll Drown On This Earth. The bleak outlook suggested by these titles doesn't overpower the music, though. "All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned For A Thing I Cannot Name" is widescreen and romantic from a band that understands shoegaze is a route to something bigger than all of us, not merely a setting on an effects pedal. "I hope you know, I am yours forever," Matthew Wainwright sighs as the song comes to a delicate landing. Cold Gawd is a band that demands that kind of commitment. — David Renshaw

Mary Ocher: “Sympathize”

On “Sympathize,” Mary Ocher somehow turns the cynicism of sociopolitical unrest into catchy experimental punk tunes with a distinctly disco flair. Alongside an upbeat synth-punk melody containing a touch of hypnotic krautrock swirl, it can be a shock to learn that Ocher’s operatic vocalizations and lively-sounding German lyrics are actually a fierce, anti-capitalist critique of the West’s indifference towards human suffering. A cheery challenge to our governments’ inability to demonstrate basic humanity towards others, “Sympathize” is a fascinatingly meta-punk take on a serious protest song, which proves that aggression isn’t always the answer. — Sandra Song

Alva Noto: “HYbr:ID Sync Dark”

German sound artist Alva Noto has been releasing grim electronic music on his own label, NOTON, for three decades now. “Sync Dark,” second single from the third album in his HYbr:ID series, is a menacing study in menacing ambient drone that slowly develops a mesmeric darkwave pulse. Harmonic static punctuates the drum-bass-synth minimalism, and toneless washes whip across the track’s slippery, jagged surface like concentrated gusts of wind, contributing to an overwhelming sense of creeping doom. — Raphael Helfand

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Molina: "Scorpio"

Copenhagen-based Molina plays in ML Buch's live band and shares the same inventive approach to songwriting. "Scorpio" takes Molina's cut-glass expressions of malaise ("choose your sigh, take your time") and splices them liberally, looping and pasting them in a multitude of ways to create an uncanny sensation. Clattering behind the vocals is a ramshackle array of guitar and drums, with the two combining to create something akin to Nico as produced by Mica Levi. — David Renshaw

RP Boo & Armand Hammer: “Blood Running High”

As curators of Red Hot’s fourth Sun Ra tribute release, Outer Spaceways Incorporated, Kronos Quartet recruited RP Boo and Armand Hammer for the “Blood Running High.” Anchored by a rhythm resembling a lub-dub heartbeat, the Chicago footwork legend combines rattly micro-syncopation with samples taken from Steven Bernstein’s “Images Suite” and the saxophone from Sun Ra & His Arkestra’s “Meteor Shower.” However, the most poignant thing about “Blood Running High” is Elucid’s reverb-heavy criticism of both NIMBY racists and the carceral system, a clever dual criticism that packs an even heavier punch next to a snippet from Sun Ra’s 1979 “The Possibility of Altered Destiny” lecture, where the astral experimentalist gently states, “the universe is very delicate, and everything we do here affects other beings.” — Sandra Song

Doubt: "The Hard Way"

Baltimore hardcore punk and John Kramer from Saw crash head-on in Doubt’s new single “The Hard Way.” Chanting “Play the game / Roll the dice / I won’t be objectified,” the band intimates that the hard way is retribution. It’s a spitting, sensory experience for all 1:34 minutes, saturated with the biting riffs and aggro drumming well-known by loyal East Coast house showgoers. “The Hard Way” shows what’s to come from their debut EP Held In Contempt out on July 12: screamo vocalizing subversive lyrics that you’d expect from a band hailing from the DIY MD scene but with surprising authority and bravado for a debut. — Hannah Sung

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Tinashe: “Nasty” (Jane Remover remix)

Around the same time that I first started listening to Jane Remover, I discovered that she was behind leroy, a project that specialized in a frenetic mash-up remix genre dubbed “dariacore.” It’s a nonsense name for a nonsense style fuelled by a self-perpetuating grammar that never stays still, and there are traces of this energy in Jane Remover’s remix of Tinashe’s hit “Nasty.” Pingponging between electroclash, late-stage trap, and eurodance, Jane Remover’s remix is the best kind of danceable gibberish. — Jordan Darville

JPEGMAFIA feat. Freaky: "don’t rely on other men”

Nothing makes me happier than believing JPEGMAFIA is also obsessed with Succession and Swedish doom metal, which seems pretty evident on his new track, “don’t rely on other men.” A dark, crunchy headbanger of a track that kicks off with a distorted sample of Logan Roy saying, “I hear you went down,” Peggy combines gritty bass and hardcore drumming to create an overwhelmingly aggressive atmosphere. From there, the energy only grows more ominous and threatening, with a brief Freaky feature, ringing church bells, and an overt nod to epic doom legends Candlemass before Roman Roy acts as the clincher with a squeaky, “Oh yeah, I did.” — Sandra Song

Why Bonnie: "Fake Out"

On her country-adjacent debut 90 in November, Blair Howerton was struggling with grief while also adjusting to life in New York City. Her new song "Fake Out" suggests that she's still having a hard time of it, but is at least trying to make her way forward. "It’s not my face / I imitate" she sings as she rallies against fakery while acknowledging that raw honesty isn't palatable to everyone. Woozy keys and guitars that recall the 2000s indie rock bands of her adopted city surround her, hinting that the new Why Bonnie album Wish On The Bone, due on August 30, will showcase an evolution in more ways than one. — David Renshaw

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Burial: "Phoneglow"

A Burial song titled after a smartphone’s luminescence feels almost apostatic, to say nothing of the song’s TikTok-riffing cover art. One throughline of Burial’s entire catalogue has been how it encourages to look up at our surroundings rather than get lost in the doomscroll, and to pull threads from the past rather than surrender to it to build the future we deserve. “Phoneglow” doesn’t deviate from this tradition, ditching the pirate radio-centered sound of this year’s songs “Dreamfear” and “Boy Sent From Above” in favor of a glossier (and still utterly inventive) take on UK garage. — Jordan Darville

ANOHNI: "Breaking"

Pulled from the sessions that created My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross, one of last year’s best albums, “Breaking” is an outtake that may not have fit on that record but stands alone as a gorgeous piece of subdued, jazz-infused soul. Accompanied by understated guitar chords and clarinet melodies that complement her sonorous contralto voice, ANOHNI sings poetically about watching the world — flora, fauna, love and all — be swept away. “It’s really something to be breaking,” she sings in the hook, a line that encapsulates the deep sadness, but also the sublime spectacle, of disintegration. The apocalypse rarely sounds so beautiful. — Raphael Helfand

es.cher: "Pinwheel"

es.cher is a London-based musician who played on Skepta's 48 Hours EP and last year dropped the quietly affecting mixtape let go/what breaks-1. "Pinwheel," released earlier this month, is his latest earworm loop. Part midwest emo porch melancholy, part zoomer drum n' bass workout, it has a ghostly air that burrows its way into your synapse and lifts things skywards. — David Renshaw

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Heith: “<>*e”

Heith’s haunting “<>*e” is something you’d expect to hear from a lonely medieval bard, playing a vaguely threatening folk tune beneath the cloak of darkness. It’s an esoteric track with echoes of mourning, where solemn pacing, disquieting tritones, and squeaky strings become chilling companions to his drafty, drawn-out vocals. And while Heith’s able to stretch out the most basic of words into some cryptic script, “<>*e” eventually reveals itself to be the sonic key to another dimension, with an explosive plunge down a steep slope of arpeggiation, harsh noise, and ritualistic chanting, at once spellbinding and unsettling. — Sandra Song

Wishy: ”Triple Seven”

Indianapolis rockers (and former Gen F stars) Wishy hit that perfect sweet spot of dreamy power-pop and noisy indie rock. Their latest track “Triple Seven,” the titular song from their forthcoming album, emulates the romantic jangle-pop of their heroes The Sundays, with Nina Pitchkites taking lead vocal duty. An allusion to angel numbers, “Triple Seven” explores that initial feeling of uneasiness, and even fear, that comes with meeting a potential new love and how, with time, that all dissolves entirely as we succumb to our own vulnerabilities and desires. “Let go of my hand,” Pitchkites sings early in the song, before admitting defeat to simply being human: “Can you feel my heart pound? Does it matter / I know I want you around.” — Cady Siregar

Enumclaw: "Change"

Tacoma band Enumclaw are back with more chest-pumping grunge anthems in the shape of the new album Home In Another Life, due August 30. "Change" is the first taste of the record and frontman Aramis Johnson is in a reflective, post-break-up mood. "Well it feels good being back on my own," he sings, making it clear that is anything but the case. The introspection becomes fuel for something more expansive as the song progresses, with drummer LaDaniel Gipson driving his bandmate towards a brighter outlook through sheer force and guitarist Nathan Cornell lighting up the sky with a rip-roaring solo. — David Renshaw

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Chelsea Wolfe: “House of Self-Undoing” (Boy Harsher Remix)

On their remix of Chelsea Wolfe’s “House of Self-Undoing,” Boy Harsher put a darkwave spin on the atmospheric song with the help of gothy synth-pop sounds and a relentlessly bouncy drum machine. Taking cues from the shrouded mysticism of the original song, the electronic duo amps up the ephemeral melancholy for a dimly lit dance floor, using compressed chimes, time-warp synths, and a propulsive ‘80s-inspired percussion throughout the track. However, the most impressive part of Boy Harsher’s “House of Self-Undoing” remix is their preservation of the subtle sorrow contained within Wolfe’s voice, giving everything a sense of moody languor and mistiness. — Sandra Song

Hinds: "En Forma"

Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote’s first-ever Spanish-language song is easily the best single so far from their forthcoming album, Beck feature be damned (actually, though). The track takes us back to Hinds’ halcyon days, stripped down to a marching drumline, jangly power chords, and shouty, crescendoing vocal harmonies, albeit with some light keyboard seasoning for taste. “Tengo que ponerme en forma, tengo que barrer y ya después / Fregar el suelo, platos, y quitar el polvo de una vez” (I have to get in shape, I have to sweep, and then / Scrub the floor [and] dishes, and get the dust out once and for all”), Cosials sings, summing up the track’s tongue-in-cheek message: “get ripped and clean your room.” Luckily, this advice sounds much better in her edgily sing-song Castellano than it does in Canadian pseudopsychobabble. — Raphael Helfand

BossMan Dlow: “SportsCenter”

Over a grimy beat that’s as Florida as an alligator with wicks, BossMan Dlow offers a glimpse into his newly lavish lifestyle. And the king is a generous one: “Take off all that Nike, girl / Come get some Givenchy, baby,” he says, rapping like this kind of luxury is just one step in an old routine. But the energy is anything but rote and continues for two crackling minutes full of dazzling flash and good humor. — Jordan Darville

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Orion Sun: “Already Gone”

After a two-year break from releasing new solo music, Orion Sun returns with a lovely track that reinforces the singer-songwriter’s status as a gently kinetic force in modern R&B. She sings of a storm in Brooklyn at the song’s opening, and the gentle strings that form the foundation of the lightly psychedelic track cascade around her like drops of rain on a window pane. A romantic partner has left a vacuum the size of the world, and Orion Sun dutifully fills it with the sound of life: aching, messy, pure. — Jordan Darville

Spirit of the Beehive: "Let The Virgin Drive"

Spirit of the Beehive's new album You'll Have To Lose Something takes the band's chopped-and-screwed dreampop sound and pushes it to exciting new limits. "Let The Virgin Drive" is the first taste of the album and features wild changes in tone alongside ruminations on death and the idea that happiness is one chance encounter away. "Heaven is a lie cause you are earthly and you’re alive," Zack Schwartz sings like an atheistic motivational speaker. Mid-way through, the jangly guitars begin to deteriorate and a foreboding sense of horror sets in. This is underlined by the sampling of a blood-curdling scream. Later, when he sings about flying, Schwartz's voice is distorted with Auto-Tune, briefly making him sound like a Vegas-style crooner. These brief glimpses at alternate worlds is what makes Spirit of the Beehive's non-linear music so unpredictable, each song a scrambled report from the outer edges just waiting to be deciphered. — David Renshaw

STÜM: “Essence of Time”

STÜM’s “Essence of Time” is the definition of “bliss,” with its sun-drenched symphony of airy trills above sonorous chord progressions. Adventurous and euphoric, STÜM starts by building upon layers of silvery keys, playful and twinkly, before the song suddenly blooming into a heady and hypnotic four-on-the-floor thumper. A classic acid backbeat with some subtle dub influence, “Essence of Time” ends up being a whirlwind medley of opposing sounds, where jangly percussives and attention-grabbing pipe flute samples come together to create an uplifting and radiant techno track. But there’s no question that the real centerpiece of "Essence of Time” is its dulcet piano melody, a fluttery and fantastical wave of the unfettered exuberance you associate with summertime. — Sandra Song

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Molchat Doma: "Son"

Molchat Doma, the doomer rock band from Belarus, return with something resembling hope on their new song "Son." The band has relocated from Minsk to the U.S. since the release of 2020's Monument, with the forthcoming Belaya Polosa (due September 6 via Scared Bones) representing their first release as L.A. residents. This radical change in setting is reflected in the lyrics on "Son," with frontman Egor Shkutko singing about "leaving home, the unknown." Anxieties and fears, however, are brushed aside with Molchat Doma's motorik synth punk sound now featuring an undeniable sense of upward momentum. The country twang running tandem to the coldwave sonics is a welcome addition, while lyrics about the wind blowing away any trace of the past are capped with a simple "Carry on!" In Molchat Doma's brutalist world, that's practically a sign to live, laugh, love. — David Renshaw

Silvurdrongur: “Apudrongur”

Hearing hip-hop in an unfamiliar tongue can be revelatory. Inability to understand punchlines and clever wordplay can liberate the listener, allowing them to focus on pure mechanics. Silvurdrongur delivers dextrous bars in his native Faroese, a North Germanic language spoken by roughly 69,000 Faroe Islanders, rapping over a crackling beat by Ayfin — who produced the his entire forthcoming album, nú æt eg eftir ánni, as well as contributing a verse to this song — that features field samples of gorilla field recordings and cleverly sourced speech snippets. Following the tectonic shifts in Ayfin’s instrumental, he flips fluidly between flows, from aggressive to nonchalant to sing-song, his unevenly double-tracked vocals add to the rhythmic mayhem. “My verse references Nostradamus' end-of-world prophecies, and speculates about Western vs. Eastern perceptions of time, i.e. linear vs. circular,” Silvurdrongur writes in a press release. For now, we’ll have to take his word for it. — Raphael Helfand

Sideshow: “F.U.N.”

The emotional centerpiece of Sideshow’s new album F.U.N.T.O.Y. begins with an audio recording of someone dismissing the idea of being scared — the tone of his voice suggests the very question is preposterous, but for a moment, you can glimpse a vulnerability. Sideshow channels this softness hidden at the center on “F.U.N.” Over a swooning plugnnb beat from Atlanta producer Popstar Benny, Sideshow bares all: “I’m a real Fucked Up N****, walk around town with some fucked up feelings.” The prospect of violence, betrayal, or some unholy combination looms over Sideshow in the song, though he keeps the faith that through his own sweat and tears, he’ll find his way to break away from his circumstances and towards the home that’s on the horizon: “I’m tryna do shit different.” — Jordan Darville

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Nilüfer Yanya: "Method Actor"

It may still draw plaudits but deep down, method acting is a unique form of bullshit. As Robert Pattinson once said, "you only ever see people doing [it] when they’re playing an asshole." Using the exercise as a prompt, however, works for Nilüfer Yanya on her excellent new single. Yanya doesn't hide away from how exhausting it can be to put everything into a creative endeavor, throwing out vivid images of high kicks and bloody mouths as she reckons with what it takes to write a song and then perform it night after night on tour. Her reliably stellar guitar work stands out, jazzy chords make way for a chorus delivered with a real crunch. The switch seemingly underlines the idea that behind all great entertainment lies a degree of immersion it can be hard to come back from. — David Renshaw

Tems: "Unfortunate"

Since 2022, Tems has been one of the faces of Nigeria’s increasing presence in the stateside charts, racking up hits with Drake and Future (“Wait For U”), Wizkid (“Essence”) and her own solo work (“Me & U”). On her debut album Born In The Wild, Tems aims far beyond the narrow scope of trends and seeks to build what could be the foundation of a lasting and prodigious career with an album that creates a vision of pop from R&B, Afrobeats, amapiano, and soul. “Unfortunate” is a lowkey standout from the project, thanks to an impossibly silky lead electric guitar line (the kind of classic R&B melodies that Mk.gee and ML Buch have been retooling for their own respective sounds) and a vocal performance full of quiet, humbled resolve. — Jordan Darville

Slic: “WEEEEU”

“WEEEEU” checks all the boxes of an ideal Slic track. The third single from their forthcoming debut album Unbearable Heat is built on a hard-hitting, shapeshifting, intricate yet unadorned techno beat and features broadly flirtatious lyrics — “We could make each other feel so good” could be about anyone, really — delivered in a neutral tone but accentuated by an unruly Auto-Tune filter that bends Slic’s simple, sing-song melodies into odd shapes, creating microtonal dissonances that give the track a vaguely haunted aura. — Raphael Helfand

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Smino: "Polynesian"

A craving is something specific. Often it’s for something between the accessible and refinement: Accept no substitutions, we’re driving 20 minutes out of our way on a Saturday evening because the evangelical fried chicken chain we need right now is closed on Sundays. Smino has always occupied a similar plane, firing off impossibly cool bars with a hydraulic bounce and an endearing warmth. This sauce is the subject of “Polynesian,” a song so full of grin-inducing lines they pile up one on top of the other into a Super Sized meal of smooth rap braggadocio. — Jordan Darville

Verraco: “Climaxing | Breathe”

Verraco’s “Climaxing | Breathe” is a sensory contradiction where a distinctly human sensuality is brought to the hard, mechanical edges of a deconstructed club track. Both fleshy and alienesque, the Colombian producer buries a slow and steady dembow rhythm beneath buzzy drones and a jagged synth, keying into the overlapping hypnotism of both styles to create something that’s equal parts seductive and dissociative. Consider “Climaxing | Breathe” an example of how opposites really do attract. — Sandra Song

Goat Girl: "words fell out"

The final single from Goat Girl’s new album Below The Waste is a meticulous slow burn, led by a mirrored guitar, keyboard, and banjo lick that sneaks under your skin as the track unfurls. Over this simple, nine-note refrain, a sturdy rhythm section, and subtle backing harmonies from her bandmates, Lottie Pendlebury reflects on regret, channeling the helplessness she felt watching a friend (in this case, the group’s drummer, Rosy Jones) struggle with addiction. “I only want the best for you, like I always should / I was stuck in mud, only just got up,” she sings. “Let the phone ring on repeat, I was playing dead / Didn't wanna know all the stuff it said.” — Raphael Helfand

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KOKOKO!: “Bazo Banga”

“Bazo Banga” is Lingala for “they are scared,” a proletariat chant of frustration that is the main propellant of KOKOKO!’s electro-punk anthem. The sound of frenzied urban chaos is saturated with skittering polyrhythms and scrapyard sonics almost as rancorous as their justified anger. More than anything though, “Bazo Banga” feels like the true embodiment of anti-establishment punk in 2024, a defiant call-and-response track created from distorted snarls and roughed-up soukous sounds, all delivered with a Sid Vicious-like sneer. — Sandra Song

TYSON: "Jumpstart"

"Wish I could take my own advice," TYSON sings over a hazy and smoked out beat. "Cause when I hear it come out my mouth it sounds nice." The moody atmosphere and sultry R&B vocals employed by the U.K. artist disguise the fact that "Jumpstart" is a moment of light-hearted reflection. Written from the middle of an unrewarding cycle, it's a song that acknowledges how she ended up in her situation (indecision and a lack of patience) but accepting it for what it is. Sometimes all you can do is laugh and say, "it's happening again." TYSON makes going with the flow sound good. — David Renshaw

Dean Blunt and Joanne Robertson: “Sassy”

Hurricanes form when warm ocean air rises into clouds and colder air rushes in to fill the void. Joanne Robertson and Dean Blunt are like these two superficially opposing forces that are ultimately complementary and have come together periodically over the past decade to create their own special storm. Their latest is Backstage Rave, a new eight-track project released last week without warning. Opening track “Sassy” announces the album’s impressionistic smear with a lonely electric guitar wading through reverb and Robertson’s gauzy vocals. It’s no noisy cyclone, but a tempest of the heart captured in an unassuming vessel. — Jordan Darville

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Lauren Flax & DJ Slugo: “Ghetto Shh”

Lauren Flax and DJ Slugo’s styles are both direct descendants of classic Chicago house, except one is doing acid in a bouncy castle while the other is smoking a blunt mid-street race. It’s an unexpected combination, but one that makes complete sense on their collaboration “Ghetto Shh,” where Flax’s squelchy rave bass serves as the perfect platform for the ghetto house pioneer’s rhythmic arrangements and looped vocal samples. Simultaneously propulsive yet atmospheric, it’s trance-y body motion music with playful bars and wonky see-saw synths, and an interlude that pays homage to their roots with the sound of a familiar house-style piano. — Sandra Song

Moses Sumney: "Vintage"

Moses Sumney has always been that rare kind of artist who was needed far more by the music industry than he ever needed it. His hiatus, revealed two years ago following the release of his stunning sophomore album græ in 2020, felt like it always does when a creative person retires in their prime: a loss, but one that’s hard not to admire. “Vintage” is Sumney’s first new solo song since last year’s appearance on the soundtrack to HBO’s The Idol (a show he had a small role in), and he’s got returns on the brain. “I wanna walk it back like Michael,” he sings, his voice just above a lullaby’s as Dilla-ified soul melodies and dusty drums cast their spell. Sumney’s yearning has the kind of deep and varied hues that cannot be fuelled by mere nostalgia; he’s in classic form here, capturing the ineffable like no time passed. — Jordan Darville

meija feat. Hand Habits: “SEVEN”

There’s a sunburnt spirituality to the twangy guitar and the loping wood block rhythms meija’s “SEVEN.” An indie rock interpretation of grizzled cowboy country, a lonely steel pedal aches alongside the emotive echo of a garage-inflected guitar, both delivered with an uneasy introspection amid a hallucinogenic haze. And combined with the ongoing duel between meija’s double-tracked warbles, “SEVEN” almost starts to feel like the beginning of some delirious desert vision quest, without any guarantee of making it back home. — Sandra Song

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Honeyglaze: "Don't"

"Don't" is the lead single from U.K. band Honeyglaze's Real Deal, due for release on September 20 via Fat Possum. Vocalist Anouska Sokolow says it is about "being done with waste men" and the sense of reaching breaking point is palpable in her delivery. Mathy guitars and agile drums create space in the verses as Sokolow takes a lifetime of being spoken down to and spits the condescension back at those who have wronged her. "I'm a person too, you know?" she says, staking her claims for the smallest amount of dignity. It's a jolting return from a band in urgent form. — David Renshaw

James Massiah: "Heartbreak Freestyle"

As one-third of Babyfather, James Massiah took on the DJ Escrow alias and helped Dean Blunt and Lord Tusk craft BBF, one of the defining albums of the 2010s (he’s also behind a very good FADER Mix). Massiah’s new EP True Romance isn’t a noisy interrogation of British rap tradition, but it doesn’t lack adventure, fusing abstract and glossy underground dancehall riddims with Massiah’s freestyle poetry. The project’s opening track, “Heartbreak Freestyle,” drops us into the deep end of Massiah’s luminescent pool, mixing lovelorn slam bars with a beat that’s perfect for catching a goth-flavored wine. — Jordan Darville

Clothing feat. L’Rain: “Still Point”

Aakash Israni and Ben Sterling’s new joint project Clothing continue their retrofuturist run on the latest single from their forthcoming debut LP, From Memory. A snappy guitar lick forms the track’s foundation, setting the stage for a regal entrance from guest vocalist Taja Cheek (L’Rain) before dipping in and out across gauzy synth chords. The candy-coated production exposes a softer, poppier side of Cheek’s voice, which traverses much rougher terrain in her own music. — Raphael Helfand

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urika's bedroom: "XTC"

The lyrics on "XTC," an indie-rock slacker jam about loyalty and despondency, are largely abstract. The LA-based musician throws out images of luminous eyes, severed bones, and fields bathed in blue as he comes to terms with an unwanted break-up. It's only as the song winds to a close and his delicate voice emerges through the fuzz that the unvarnished reality is delivered. "I can’t get over you, I don’t wanna fuck around," he sings with a crack in his voice, proving that sometimes the most direct route can also be the most effective. — David Renshaw

Otha: “I Hate You In The Morning”

The latest single from the Norwegian artist is a rage room of techno-pop that gradually builds in size and scope, from the size of a bedroom into her entire world. Otha’s problems are as straightforward as they are all-encompassing: “I hate you in the morning and I hate you in the day / I hate you in the evening when the sun fades away / I’m not okay, I wish we’d never met / Yeah, get the fuck out of my head.” Nothing screams secular exorcism quite like a tune built to be belted out on the dancefloor. — Jordan Darville

Cal Fish: “Big Bad Blanket of Protection”

Cal Fish’s new album Indecision Songs is full of hallucinatory tunes that slide into your subconscious like sand through an hourglass. Some materialize as songs via the Hudson Valley artist’s AnCo-adjacent vocals, while others, like “Big Bad Blanket of Protection,” maintain their ephemeral quality throughout. For the track’s first three-and-a-half minutes, staticky drums leak in through a wormhole, underscoring — and, at times, overwhelming — synth stabs, chiptune keys, found sounds, and a binaural recording of a conversation between Cal and a friend. Then, suddenly, the song swims into focus — a dubby bassline entering below the muffled speech, a muzak melody floating above. But this momentary state of stability disintegrates as quickly as it arrives, slipping through your fingers like the kernels of a dream. — Raphael Helfand

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Songs You Need In Your Life: June 2024