As you may have already realized, your Paste Music pals are trying something a bit different this week, narrowing our best new song picks down to only five, instead of the usual 10. But while the quantity has changed, the quality remains the same. U.K. buzz band Black Country, New Road led the way this week with “Chaos Space Marine,” the aptly titled lead track from their forthcoming sophomore album, while new Mick Jenkins and Snail Mail singles also jumped right out of our speakers. We give you all five below.
Black Country, New Road rung in 2021 with the release of their debut album For the first time, becoming critical darlings all over the world. Tuesday (Oct. 12), they went two for two with the announcement of their forthcoming album Ants From Up There, set for release on Feb. 4, 2022, via Ninja Tune. Alongside the announcement came the aptly titled single “Chaos Space Marine,” which is, well, chaotic. Guitars and strings clash and rise together in beautiful, dissonant bliss, proving Black Country, New Road are at the forefront of ushering in a new era of experimental music. Speaking of the recording of the album over the summer, bassist Tyler Hyde said, “We were just so hyped the whole time. It was such a pleasure to make. I’ve kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I’m ever part of for the rest of my life. And that’s fine.” —Jade Gomez
“Always You” is the third single from J’Kerian Morgan’s forthcoming second album as Lotic, Water (Oct. 29, Houndstooth), following “Emergency” and “Come Unto Me.” The Houston-born, Berlin-based and Björk-approved experimental club artist juxtaposes the meditative and the anxiety-inducing to positively hypnotic effect on their latest track, stretching out their wavering, lovesick vocals (“I know I’ve tried / to move on, to be strong / but it’s always you / always you”) over pulse-accelerating double-time bass and a looped whoop that unnerves as much as it energizes. Ethereally industrial electronics and sprinkled-in harp plucks evoke the haunting and heavenly alike throughout “Always You,” with Morgan, the object of their obsession, and a rapt audience at the center of it all. —Scott Russell
After spending much of 2021 scattering solo and collaborative singles alike, Mick Jenkins has announced a bigger body of work, and it’s coming this month. Ahead of his fourth studio album Elephant in the Room (Oct. 29, Cinematic Music Group), the Chicago-based rapper shared the video (dir. Ren) for “Contacts,” our second preview of the LP after “Truffles.” Jenkins explains in a statement that Elephant in the Room is all about telling hard truths, “from my estranged relationship with my father to friendships that don’t feel the same anymore to the even more basic idea of acknowledging that I need help.” Of course, the act of telling hard truths is hard, too, as Jenkins is quick to point out on “Contacts,” rapping in its opening lines, “Tell you how I feel inside / They say it ain’t trill enough, they say it ain’t drill enough.” But the track is more focused on the rapper’s desire for clarity (“Real eyes realize real lies, help me see the truth”), as well as his confidence in going his own way, despite the trends and treachery around him (“Went against the wave but I’m no Hasselhoff / Ain’t no more low-key, I took the silence off”). Over icy production by Rascal, Tae Beast & Eli Brown, Jenkins asserts his truth and rejects the rest, centering the authenticity that’s made him a standout emcee. —Scott Russell
Real Lies, the London electronic duo, make synth-pop that you can sink yourself into. Their newest single “Since I” is a journey in itself, bursting into blissful trip-hop drums and techno blips. It’s euphoric, yet somber, capturing the essence of locking eyes in clubs and stoplights that fade into the rearview. It’s as nostalgic as it is futuristic, with a sophisticated U.K. club edge that sets them apart from their contemporaries. —Jade Gomez
Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan) is back with another preview of her much-anticipated second effort Valentine (Nov. 5, Matador), “Ben Franklin.” The new single/video follows Valentine’s lead single, opener and title track, which was released alongside the album’s announcement in September. We highlighted “Valentine” among the month’s best tracks, and have been looking forward to Jordan’s Lush follow-up all year. Where “Valentine” was an (emotionally) explosive rocker, “Ben Franklin” is more slinky and subdued, with bouncy low end and lurking synths setting a compellingly conflicted tone. A rueful Jordan cuts to the core of her intertwined struggles with addiction and heartbreak, singing over pearly keys, “Moved on, but nothing feels true / Sometimes I hate her just for not being you / Post rehab I’ve been feeling so small / I miss your attention / I wish I could call.” Jordan’s vocal performance peaks in the track’s bridge, where her wounded falsetto most vividly conveys her hurt and rejection. “Don’t act like you’ve never met me,” she demands, only for her guilt and shame to return: “I never should’ve hurt you, I’ve got the devil in me.” —Scott Russell