What Our Staff Is Listening to This Week

Featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, War Strings, FACS and more

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What Our Staff Is Listening to This Week

More time on our hands means more time to dive deep into music, both old and new. In case you were wondering what the Paste staff has been listening to this week, we’ve got a few selections for you below. Scroll down to sample new albums from Carly Rae Jepsen and FACS, older works from The Walters and Splashh and more. Check out last week’s recommendations here.

Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated Side B

Huzzah, it’s here! The long-hinted-at twin to Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2019 album Dedicated arrived in a surprise cloud of glitter and joy last Thursday, and I’ve been gleefully playing it on repeat ever since. Dedicated Side B isn’t all that different from the OG Dedicated in any significant sonic ways, but, of course, it feels like a whole new chapter in the CRJ universe (as any release of hers does)—but with the added angle of receiving this record in quarantine (CRJ knows when she’s needed). Thankfully, it’s much better than her last official drop—the sweet but empty one-off Valentine’s Day single “Let’s Be Friends”—and, in my completely objective, not-biased-at-all opinion, rivals the best of her discography (This is the woman who landed on our best albums of the 2010s list and then promptly secured the number seven spot on our best albums of 2019 roundup with Dedicated). From the sugar-rush of “This Love Isn’t Crazy” to the Emotion-level “Stay Away” to the milkiness of her signature funky pop smoothie on “Summer Love,” Dedicated Side B is nothing but a pure, perfect gift to CRJ fans. Summer, you may commence now. —Ellen Johnson

The Walters: Songs for Dads

Last year, one of my close friends sent me the Walters’ debut EP Songs For Dads as I was riding the train home from work, and I burst out crying in front of an entire intramural soccer team. Although I was admittedly tired from a long day, I still feel that same overwhelming sense of fragility when I listen to this EP now, a hundred times later. It’s perfect for idle and active listening alike, and has proved good company over the past few months; while revisiting old pastimes, I have spent many an evening with this EP as I mumble the lyrics and draw oddly-proportioned noses. There is a special kind of tenderness that makes every one of these tracks feel like a letter from an old friend—the warbling vocals and stripped-down instrumentals foster intimacy between artist and audience. Listen to this EP for a sense of peace in whatever you’re doing, whether that’s dusting off an old hobby or simply being with your thoughts. —Lia Pikus

Splashh: Comfort

Splashh’s debut album sounds even more peculiar now than it did back in 2013. Its lo-fi production quirks that range from psych to slacker rock are everywhere now. Their trippy synths and washed out vocals would sound trendy in 2020 as well as their lyrics of longing, sunshine and self-destruction. The bedroom pop craze of the mid-2010s hadn’t fully arrived yet when this album was released, but Splashh’s Comfort out-writes and out-weirds most of those records. “You’re a danger to yourself / a danger to no one else,” Sasha Carlson sings over gurgled synths on “Feels Like You” for the perfect summation of young adult inner turmoil. Other highlights include “Need It,” one of the most exhilarating, escapist synth-driven tunes of the past decade and “All I Wanna Do,” the best Mac DeMarco song that was never written. —Lizzie Manno

FACS: Void Moments

The new FACS album sounds like it warped in the sun, which is ironic, because it’s impossible to imagine listening to it outdoors in the daytime. Void Moments is another entry in the recent wave of gothy post-punk exhumations, but one that doesn’t get tripped up on the past—perhaps because it’s made by seasoned vets with clear goals and ambitions. You can tell they’re familiar with PiL, Wire, Liars and all manner of other bands that take a dark, droning, dubby approach to rock-ishness, but don’t try to be anything other than FACS. This is plodding, sputtering, arrhythmic robot rock with both brains and a soul, and yes, that is all meant as a compliment. —Garrett Martin

War Strings: “My Alien Heart”

I’ve been listening to a single from Andrew Stogel, the L.A. musician who records as War Strings, pretty regularly since it came out a few months ago. It’s a scrappy, solid rock tune all around, but the chorus is what rips my heart out and crushes it into a million pieces. Lo-fi songs don’t usually sound this vast and feelings of isolation don’t usually have echoing accompaniments as grand as these, but when Stogel reaches for angsty glory and dials up the clamor on his vocals, I reach a new level of transcendence. —Lizzie Manno

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