The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring Andrew Bird & Phoebe Bridgers, The Go! Team, White Reaper and more

Music Lists Best New Songs

At Paste Music, we’re listening to so many new tunes on any given day, we barely have any time to listen to each other. Nevertheless, every week we can swing it, we take stock of the previous seven days’ best tracks, delivering a weekly playlist of our favorites. Check out this week’s best new songs below.

Andrew Bird feat. Phoebe Bridgers: ”I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”

Andrew Bird returns with a shivering interpretation of Emily Dickinson’s poem “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” sung in somber and lovely harmony with none other than Phoebe Bridgers. The string arrangements Bird has built his nest on emphasize the gravity of the poem, with Bridgers’ husky voice seeming almost to admit the words. The changing between bows drawn grandiosely across strings and pizzicato moments contrasts the lushness of the funeral with the starkness of what it commemorates. The difficulty of turning poem to song is that so often the meanings are pulled apart by changes of rhythm. Here, however, the artists provide an incredibly natural-feeling extension of the poem, emphasizing the feel and relentless beat of the melancholy behind the words. With words like this, not written by either musical artist, they make their feelings known all the more through highly intentional musical choices. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

Badge Époque Ensemble & Lammping feat. Boldy James and Roshin: “Naturally Conspiring”

What’s still pretty new is made newer still on “Naturally Conspiring,” the first single from Badge Époque Ensemble’s forthcoming remix project Clouds of Joy: Chance of Reign. The nine-track collaboration with their fellow Toronto act Lammping sends the Ensemble’s acclaimed September release in a more hip-hop-centric direction: “Naturally Conspiring” flips a dreamy sample of Clouds of Joy opener “Conspiring With Nature,” recruiting Boldy James and Roshin to rap over it. Their cool, collected deliveries are the ideal complement to a jazzy, ambling instrumental, which Lammping continuously tinkers with, as if in conversation with the guest emcees. If Boldy James and Roshin move slowly on this song, it’s only because they don’t have to move for anybody, and Badge Époque Ensemble and Lammping give them the hazy fanfare to match. —Scott Russell

Crooks & Nannies: “Sorry”

There are times in life—only once in a while, if you’re lucky—when we each realize we’re not okay, and don’t know what to do about it. For Sam Huntington of Crooks & Nannies, such a time came in 2018, when she “had recently made the decision to stop ignoring the fact that I was transgender but was struggling to grapple with what that meant for me personally, and was feeling a lot of frustration toward myself for not having figured it out.” She wrote “Sorry” in one sitting, the first (and only) time she’s done so, then demoed it right away—the vocal take from that demo appears on the finished track, released ahead of the band’s No Fun EP (Jan. 13, 2023, Grand Jury Music). Huntington and Madel Rafter sing in unison about being an exposed nerve in human form, ashamed of even existing (“I’m sorry for all that I am / And everything I’ve ever done”) and unable to stop “letting feeling spill.” Meanwhile, a lone acoustic guitar explodes into a full band in the chorus, then reverts in each verse, as if the instrumental, too, is being contorted by raw emotion. But it’s in the chorus that “Sorry” shines brightest: “And fuck that’s a hard one / I don’t have an answer / I’m just glad you’re here / Hold me close larger dancer,” Crooks & Nannies sing, finding a spark of hope in each other. —Scott Russell

Feeble Little Horse: “Dog Song 2”

A previously unreleased track from Pittsburgh four-piece Feeble Little Horse, “Dog Song 2” appears on the band’s new reissue of their debut album Hayday, released on Saddle Creek and the band’s own Unstable this week to mark their signing to the former. Known for a blend of noise-pop and psych-rock not unlike Spirit of the Beehive’s, Feeble Little Horse—Lydia Slocum, Sebastian Kinsler, Jake Kelley and Ryan Walchonski—excel at quiet-loud dynamics, and this song is the latest example. Slocum’s hushed vocals occasionally quiet to a whisper as she examines a flawed relationship through a metaphorical lens, rendering conflicted, submissive feelings in a visceral way. Kinsler’s production diffuses his and Walchonski’s fuzzed-out guitars, while Kelley’s drums pop in and out—Feeble Little Horse pick their spots to hammer your ears with precision, and Slocum punctuates each chorus with a smirk, musing of an imagined future, “Wouldn’t it be so funny / To be dinner company?” —Scott Russell

Fran: “Limousine”

Chicago-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maria Jacobson returns in early 2023 with her second album as Fran, the follow-up to her 2019 full-length debut A Private Picture. Our second preview of Leaving (Jan. 20, 2023, Fire Talk Records) is opener “Limousine,” which the artist describes as “a call to be together in the face of collective anxiety and doom.” Jacobson delivers that clarion call through artfully slow-moving and spare folk-rock much like that of previous single “So Long,” with strings from Macie Stewart and Whitney Johnson enhancing the stately track’s sense of scope. Jacobson’s vocals are as delicately pretty as her lyrics are economical: Despite the size of the ideas she’s working with, she measures her words with great care, offering only glimpses of what’s going on in her imagination. “In the sky / So contagious / Grace is angry / Everyone dies / As I sit on the grass near a limousine,” she croons over muted guitar and the occasional snare hit, utterly at peace even as she surveys a world on the brink. In a limousine, or on a planet, we’re all in it together. Perhaps if we can manage this kind of peace, we’ll get where we’re going. —Scott Russell

Free Range: “All My Thoughts”

So many things can come between two people—distance, time, bad blood, a brick wall. On Chicago-based singer/songwriter Sofia Jensen’s new song as Free Range, “All My Thoughts,” they examine the lonely divide separating them from someone they hold dear, navigating it as best they can over gentle indie folk. “I’m floating through the space / In between us / In between all the thoughts / That I’m scared of,” Jensen sings over their own acoustic and electric guitars and organ, with co-production and drums from their live bandmate Jack Henry, bass by Bailey Minzenberger, and pedal steel and keys by Nick Levine (Jodi, Pinegrove). Their light-touch instrumentation is lovely and understated, like the quiet friend who always has something insightful to say when you check in with them. And Jensen’s songwriting is clear-eyed and intimate—they recognize their pain also heralds growth (“I recognize / All the things that I’ve found while being lost”), finding the grace in the space between. —Scott Russell

The Go! Team feat. Star Feminine Band: “Look Away, Look Away”

Released in the truest days of autumn, this track seems to recall something playing out of your car on the way to the beach. Filled with the clamor that The Go! Team seem to know how to perfectly balance every time, there is pure fun in the release of this song. Made in collaboration with Benin-based Star Feminine Band, it feels like a song that has to be listened to as a group, dancing with friends or singing along together. Go! Team leader Ian Parton explains the collaboration: “They’re a group of girls between the ages of 12 and 19, and were formed by the father of two of the girls in the group who was hoping to inspire change in the way women and girls were treated in Benin. He founded a free music school for girls with the help of the local government, which is where the Star Feminine Band was born … A month later a team traveled from the capital of Benin to their hometown with a mobile sound recording setup to record their vocals, with the lyrics written by the band in French. They gave it a charging, all-out gang vocal that I wasn’t expecting but really love.” And there is this all-together frenzy found, a completely electric energy sparked by the two groups’ collaboration. Together with The Go! Team’s last single “Divebomb,” the band are building worthy excitement for their forthcoming album. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

King Tuff: “Smalltown Stardust”

Los Angeles-via-Brattleboro, Vermont singer/songwriter Kyle Thomas has announced Smalltown Stardust, his first new album as King Tuff in four years, after 2018’s The Other. The video for its lead single and title track is out now ahead of the LP’s Jan. 27, 2023, release on Sub Pop. “Smalltown Stardust” feels like it was left out in the L.A. sun too long, leaving its shape warped in unexpected ways. A twitchy backbeat propels its fried guitar-pop sound, with Sasami Ashworth’s vocals flickering in the background of verses, then fusing with Thomas’ in the chorus. Unsettling piano and synth tones and angular electric guitar appear, then disappear just as suddenly, keeping you chasing the song, much like Thomas himself: ”’Cause I’m holding onto wonder / Holding something I can’t touch / Holding onto Smalltown Stardust,” he and Ashworth croon, two seekers with wide eyes. —Scott Russell

Sour Widows: “I-90”

Bay Area rock trio Sour Widows are back with their second new single of the year, out now alongside an animated lyric video. Like this summer’s “Witness” before it, “I-90” was produced in collaboration with Oakland-based engineer Maryam Qudus (Toro y Moi, SASAMI, Spacemoth). Sour Widows’ Maia Sinaiko says of the song, written in 2017 after their partner’s tragic passing: “The endlessness of grief supersedes the normal passage of time and the people we lose remain in places we can never go back to. It’s magic and terrible all at once; that is what this song is about.” Sour Widows build a characteristically dynamic memorial to those lost moments on “I-90,” the instrumental marching forward unafraid, much like Sinaiko journeying back into their precious, painful memories. The band’s luminous slowcore expands and contracts like a lung, with steady bass from Will Bohrer and atmospheric synth from Qudus expanding its dimensions. Meanwhile, Sinaiko’s songwriting shines: They zero in on the kind of details that make it feel like you’re right there in the backseat, singing, “I wonder what it felt like asleep in that car / While I drove by all the cold cattle / Could you feel them breathing?” Crashing choruses let the track’s passion shine through, as do a hauntingly beautiful instrumental bridge and an explosive climax: “I’m all emptied out / Like the freeway / You keep driving down,” Sinaiko sings just before the track explodes into distorted electric strums and a vocal shout-along, one last gasp. —Scott Russell

White Reaper: “Pages”

Louisville, Kentucky, rockers White Reaper have announced their fourth album, Asking for a Ride (Jan. 27, 2023, Elektra Entertainment), and shared its closer and lead single “Pages.” Though their Elektra debut You Deserve Love brought the band out of the garage and into the mainstream, with added emphasis on synths and glossy production, our first preview of its follow-up harkens back to the more straightforward guitar rock of their The World’s Best American Band days, as vocalist and guitarist Tony Esposito notes in a statement: “It seems like ‘Pages’ could’ve easily existed on one of our earlier records, it’s just a few chords and a simple melody.” Shiny acoustic strums lead into giant, distorted power chords fit for an amp stack a mile high, and Esposito sings as if he’s getting out from under a heavy weight, his anthemic vocals putting a cathartic period at the end of a tough time. —Scott Russell

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