Although everywhere, the natural world might be displaying that scarcity that we are forced to reckon with in the winter, thank goodness musicians have held strong in this month of transition. And in this music, they leave us space to find our strength, too. From a haunting, holy Weyes Blood anthem, to the invigorating innovation of Fievel Is Glauque, to the first release of Andy Shauf’s next album, it’s been a month with a lot of creativity with which to feed our souls. Stick with Paste to sort through it all, and find our top recommendations.
Listen to our Best Songs of November 2022 playlist on Spotify.
Andy Shauf: ”Wasted on You”
With a flutter of gentle piano notes and strings, Andy Shauf has released “Wasted on You,” the first single off his newly announced album Norm. Out Feb. 10, 2023, on ANTI-, this LP seems to bring a slight change in style for the musician, as he reworks the gentle folk and pop harmonies he is known for, bringing hints of jazz into the mix. Hearing the singer’s familiar subdued timbre on this latest track instantly infuses you with the comfort and warmth of familiarity, while the musical arrangements push his boundaries with a dancing lightness. But in typical Shauf style, not everything is quite as it appears, as the repeating lyrics hold a heavier side to them. “Was all my love wasted on you?” he asks himself over and over again, trying to get to the root of an issue he can’t quite understand. The piano tinkles pleasantly over the track, but begins to take on the feeling of falling, rather than a pleasant melodic anchor. He starts the song by asking, “What happens when they die?,” a query that at first sounds lightly curious, but increasingly takes on the hard metal edge of anxiety—after all, this is Shauf we’re talking about. It opens up the mystery of the album, one that we’ll have to wait until February to fully begin dissecting. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Pearla (aka Nicole Rodriguez) returns to our “Best New Songs” list, singing a melancholic yet loving waltz to sadness and loneliness. It’s easy to picture her at a bandstand as her ghosts all dance alone. This track, the fifth of a string of excellent singles, leading up to her album Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming’s release on Feb. 10, once again holds a gentle, glowing promise. “All the lights are left on and I’m trying to receive you but / I’m only beautiful when I’m alone,” she sings. This intense honesty seems to be the kind that you can only afford when you think yourself to be alone, writing a love letter in your room to someone who will never read it. The sweet timbre of her voice doesn’t lose its slight notes of hope, and the swaying of the bass and guitar make you believe this could be a band that comes together only when Rodriguez dreams. But in fact, someone has captured this intimate moment, and done listeners a huge favor. Throughout the course of the song, she sings of beginning to believe in her own endless love for the world, but it’s hard to tell whether she quite believes herself. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Tennis: “One Night with the Valet”
Husband-wife indie-pop duo Tennis have announced their sixth album, Pollen, coming Feb. 10, 2023, via the band’s own Mutually Detrimental label. “One Night with the Valet,” produced and recorded by Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore in their home studio in Denver, Colorado, is our first preview of their follow-up to 2020’s Swimmer. “One Night with the Valet” is as fleeting as its title suggests, flashing past in under two minutes. Over mid-tempo percussion, throbbing bass and interconnected keys, Moore sings about staring down a desire far bigger than herself: “Finding myself tempted by the face of love / Really fear that I could never get enough.” Her voice is as ethereal as the images she conjures (“We’re riding high up watching over silent things / Like pearls scattered at our feet”), and before you know it, both have disappeared. —Scott Russell
Weyes Blood: “God Turn Me Into a Flower”
Just a couple days before the much-anticipated release of Weyes Blood’s (aka Natalie Mering) forthcoming album, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, Mering released yet another song that somehow immediately finds its seat in the center of your heart. On “God Turn Me Into A Flower,” her third single from this album, Mering emerges from a synth-laden darkness, with gentle, drawn-out tones that trail off into the sky. It feels like you’re stepping into a world of her design, with all different bird calls emerging at the end of the track, immersing you in an imaginary, breathless universe. The artist truly steps up to the daunting task of having her voice be the main attraction of the track. Some synth and strings join her, but for the most part, it is her singing twisting throughout the open space created, at some times deeply sorrowful, at others at peace with it all. The way the birds chime in at the end leaves the track feeling like a call to freedom, full of hope even as Mering repeats, “Oh God, turn me into a flower.” Coming from the cathedral-esque quiet of the beginning, it truly does feel like a prayer. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Badge Epoque Ensemble & Lammping feat. O.C. & THE03: “Each Ain’t 2 Same”
“Each Ain’t 2 Same” moves smokily, the sample assimilating you into its creators’ dream world while the lyrics hit a point of foreboding. The slow tempo does not come from laid-backness or patience—no, it is the swagger that comes with knowing you can take your time. The upward curves of the synths underneath feel like question marks underlining the track, an uneasiness that returns time and again. O.C. and THE03 flow self-assuredly over it all, pulling it together with rapping that emphasizes the beat. This is yet another standout single ahead of Badge Epoque Ensemble & Lammping’s forthcoming album Clouds of Joy: Chance of Reign, out Nov. 18 via Telephone Explosion Records. You can feel your own steps pulling you to the ground when you listen—while it is not heavy, the track carries a certain weight, and it’s not afraid to let you know. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Fever Ray: ”Carbon Dioxide”
Karin Dreijer reckons with the highs and lows of love on Radical Romantics, their first new album as Fever Ray since 2017’s Plunge. Ahead of the album’s March 10, 2023, release via Mute, the artist has shared a visualizer for “Carbon Dioxide,” the bold lead single co-produced by experimental artist and producer Vessel. On Radical Romantics as a whole, Fever Ray “presents their struggle with love, or to be precise, the myth of love,” per a press release. “Carbon Dioxide” foregrounds its allure: A bouncy, abundant electro-pop jam flecked with harpsichord, keys and strings, the track’s beat bumps and its synths dazzle, while Fever Ray and Vessel explicitly connect all that musical ebullience to the exhilaration of infatuation. “Can’t say it out loud, I’m afraid to lose it / The melody is pure music,” Dreijer’s layered voices croon over bass pulse, adding with both fear and joy in the choruses, “Holding my heart.” —Scott Russell
Fievel Is Glauque: “Clues Not to Read”
Fievel Is Glauque’s jazzy latest single feels like following an endless staircase just to see where it goes. The direction is certainly onwards, but other than that remains nebulous. The song feels open to the possibilities of the future—something apt for such a shifting band. Formed with bandleader and pianist Zach Phillips and singer Ma Clément at its core, the rest of the ensemble is a changing group from all over the world. Perhaps it is thanks to the global nature of the musicians and their rotation in and out that the collective feels like it won’t ever stand still. Philips comments, “Musically, Ma directed melodic impetus and I directed harmonic and rhythmic framing. Lyrically, we fought and embraced our initial impulses alternatingly; above all, we tried to trust and document the psychodynamics of the process itself rather than attempting to express concrete, prefab emotional or intellectual messaging. This approach to writing is intended to promote poetry while avoiding alibis and the hall-of-mirrors reproduction of excessive self-identification.” There is a lightness, like tiptoeing instead of finding a point to ground oneself. But this is what keeps their audience excited, guessing and listening. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski
Floating Points: “Someone Close”
Of the four songs Floating Points (Sam Shepherd) has released this year, “Someone Close” is the most akin to the transcendent Promises, his acclaimed collaboration with the late, great Pharoah Sanders. The over-eight-minute track is more somber and atmospheric than its predecessors (“Grammar,” “Vocoder” and “Problems”), orbiting around a flickering central synth figure that floats free of any percussion, self-regulating its rhythms. Meanwhile, Shepherd winds what sounds like a lone, mournful, electronically manipulated horn around that center, playing against his own electronic soundscape the way Sanders so indelibly did on Promises, as if in tribute to his fallen friend—to “Someone Close.” The song’s synths cut out unexpectedly at its end, leaving only a distant, resonant hum behind. —Scott Russell
Manchester Orchestra: “No Rule”
The first proper single from Andy Hull and company since their acclaimed 2021 album The Million Masks of God, “No Rule” first took shape during the Million Masks recording sessions. Produced by the band’s lead songwriting duo of Hull and Robert McDowell, in collaboration with Catherine Marks (PJ Harvey, The Killers) and Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers), “this brave soul took a little longer to cook than the rest,” as Hull puts it in a statement. Built on a foundation of gentle acoustic guitar and piano, “No Rule” soon gains a momentum it will seldom surrender, drums racing as Hull murmurs paradoxically, “There’s no rule, but you still break the rule,” and imagines Death “waiting in the limousine.” Guitars spike and arc as the track continues its metaphysical journey, encountering layered vocal hooks, a furious solo and spacy call-and-response riffs along the way. Manchester Orchestra were right to take their time with “No Rule,” an epic unto itself. —Scott Russell
Nadine Khouri: “Keep On Pushing These Walls”
This is the second single from Beirut-born, London-based singer/songwriter Nadine Khouri’s new album Another Life, coming Nov. 18 on Talitres. Khouri recorded the long-awaited follow-up to her acclaimed 2017 debut The Salted Air with longtime collaborator John Parish (PJ Harvey, Dry Cleaning), using confident minimalism as a means to do more with less. On “Keep On Pushing These Walls,” Khouri pays tribute to the late Canadian singer/songwriter Lhasa, who died at only 37 in 2010. She does so by uplifting the indelible connections art can forge between people, crooning softly over drum machine and Mellotron sax, “Keep on pushing these walls, keep on striving for something real / A moment in time, throw me a line I can’t help but feel.” Like a friendly ghost, the song is somehow both haunting and heartfelt, a reminder of the ways in which those we lose will always live on. —Scott Russell
Listen to our Best Songs of November 2022 playlist on Spotify.