The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring Courtney Barnett, Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine, Deafheaven and more

Music Lists Best New Songs
The 10 Best New Songs

Before you scroll down to see if we added it, we did not add “Vax That Thang Up.” Trust me, I advocated for it. Nonetheless, the Paste staff hopes to take you away from listening to it for the umpteenth time for some other weekend song obsessions to tide you over until the next pro-vaccine anthem (might I suggest “Wipe Me Down (Clorox Edition)” to Boosie?). Courtney Barnett’s newest single “Rae Street” is a perfect song to curl up to while the weekend storms pass, and Laura Stevenson’s latest is the perfect song for Sad Girl Summer in general. Sink deep into the atmospheric black hole of Deafheaven’s “The Gnashing,” unless you’re in more of a Park Hye Jin mood. There’s something for everyone, so find a new favorite below, stay safe and vax that thang up.

Amen Dunes feat. Sleaford Mods: “Feel Nothing”

Amen Dunes (aka rock songwriter Damon McMahon) is back with new music for the first time in three years, making his Sub Pop debut with “Feel Nothing.” The song reckons with suffering and futility in candid, deeply considered fashion, as McMahon pulls his heart out over the Mods’ lush trip-hop rhythm and synths from returning Amen Dunes collaborator Panoram. “Every time I hear a story / Got no good from it,” McMahon laments, plumbing the emptiness of expression and evoking the myth of Sisyphus: “There is no way to stop our big stone love / Keep going up the mountain, yeah,” he sings. As the track sprawls toward its conclusion, the beat shifts and the Mods’ Jason Williamson joins McMahon on vocals, making for a swirling, communal crescendo. —Scott Russell

Amyl and The Sniffers: “Guided by Angels”

Melbourne, Australia, rockers Amyl and The Sniffers shared “Guided by Angels” Wednesday to herald their sophomore effort Comfort to Me, coming Sept. 10 on ATO Records. Vocalist Amy Taylor, guitarist Dec Martens, bassist Gus Romer and drummer Bryce Wilson crafted their new lockdown album while quarantining together, maintaining their livewire punk energy while spending the long hours on “less spontaneous and more darkly considered” songs, Taylor says. That rings true on “Guided by Angels,” in which the singer explores the very fabric of the universe—the energy that connects the worldly with whatever lies beyond, and compels us to come together with our fellow human beings. She accomplishes all that over a galloping punk-rock track, with Romer’s thrumming bass, Wilson’s caveman-clubbed drums and Martens’ red-hot power chords bolstering Taylor’s ferocious, yet emotive vocal performance. You can throw this track on and either headbang, get lost in thought, or do both at once—however you want to “spend, protect [your] energy.” —Scott Russell

Courtney Barnett: “Rae Street”

Everyone’s favorite Australian guitar-wielding queen of dry wit, Courtney Barnett, has announced her forthcoming third album Things Take Time, Take Time, out Nov. 12 via Mom + Pop Music / Marathon Artists. Alongside the announcement comes the album’s first single “Rae Street.” Barnett’s warm guitar envelopes her narrative of a cozy, tight-knit community that she observes alongside the fast-paced world of money, greed and selfishness. The song’s visual features several Barnetts filling in every role in the titular street, playing mother, delivery person and sidewalk paver. It’s a fun look inside Barnett’s quirky little world that captures the mundane, yet precious moments of daily life. —Jade Gomez

Deafheaven: “The Gnashing”

Continuing their reinvention from some of the heaviest post-metal of the 2010s to still-gnarly, moody rock music, Deafheaven don’t lose an ounce of what made them so initially mighty and often controversial on new single “The Gnashing.” Uniquely catchy for Deafheaven, George Clarke’s melodic vocals, though sung rather than screamed, lose none of their effect, sounding massive alongside the roaring guitars and pounding drums. “The Gnashing” certainly resembles the band’s typically aggressive style more so than previous single “Great Mass of Color,” but through its emotionally urgent and reflective atmosphere, Deafheaven continue to amaze. —Jason Friedman

Ducks Ltd.: “18 Cigarettes”

Back when they were making music as Ducks Unlimited, multi-instrumentalists Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis made one of 2019’s best EPs, Get Bleak, earning a spot on Paste’s list of the year’s best new artists and a deal with Carpark Records. The Toronto, Ontario, duo now known as Ducks Ltd. will release their full-length debut Modern Fiction via Carpark on Oct. 1, and have shared the Oasis-inspired lead single/video “18 Cigarettes” to celebrate.The single is squarely in the duo’s jangle-pop sweet spot, with hot-knife guitars and thrumming bass acting as its revving engine, and Eliza Neimi playing cello over its soaring choruses. Meanwhile, McGreevy’s narrator is “contemplating messes made,” and rationalizing his problems down to a manageable size however he can: “Smoking 18 cigarettes / Giving two away / Thinking smugly ‘how does anyone / smoke a pack a day?’” —Scott Russell

Laura Stevenson: “Don’t Think About Me”

With only a month until the release of her highly anticipated self-titled album, Laura Stevenson offers her second single “Don’t Think About Me.” The track follows her first single “State,” a raucous expression of rage on behalf of a loved one nearly dying. Laura Stevenson, which is out Aug. 6 via Don Giovanni Records, is produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr.), and will feature her longtime collaborator and friend Jeff Rosenstock on guitar. “Don’t Think About Me” is a return to Stevenson’s roots in folky indie rock, with a hook that begs to be screamed. The song tells of unrequited love that is destined to grow stale, as she realizes “your face is blank but familiar.” Stevenson’s subtle layered harmonies collide with the lush guitars and drums for a long-winding descent into heartbreak. —Jade Gomez

Nation of Language: “Wounds of Love”

Brooklyn-based trio Nation of Language have shared another preview of their forthcoming sophomore effort A Way Forward (Nov. 5), “Wounds of Love.” Though not as anthemic as lead single “Across That Fine Line,” “Wounds of Love” is an atmospheric, mid-tempo synth-pop strut that couches its pain and confusion in a fine mist of squelching keys and vocal layering. It’s further proof of Nation of Language’s knack for bringing compelling depth and texture to their new wave throwback sound, even on an off-speed pitch. —Scott Russell

Onyx Collective: “Hummingbird”

Nebulous New York City jazz ensemble Onyx Collective teamed with electro-funk duo Chromeo on “Hummingbird,” their first new release of 2021, but the second single (after last summer’s “Baby”) from a forthcoming collaborative project between the two acts. The track has been floating around, hummingbird-like, for years: Onyx saxophonist, occasional vocalist and De facto leader Isaiah Barr notes that the song was written in 2015, performed live for years in various iterations, and recorded in 2019 as an Onyx/Chromeo co-production. Chromeo’s Dave 1 likens the track to “Sly and early Funkadelic deep cuts,” and rightfully so: Organ rasp and bass stagger back up Julian Soto as he beckons an elusive lover: “You flutter like no other / Come complicate my mind / Sweet hummingbird, I want you / so come and spend some time with me,” he croons, with backers multiplying his entreaties. A funk groove brings it all to life, with electricity crackling on the bridge, in particular, as Soto’s soulful vocals kick into a higher gear. Onyx Collective march to their own rhythm, and every now and then, we’re lucky enough to fall in step beside them. —Scott Russell

Park Hye Jin: “Let’s Sing Let’s Dance”

South Korea-born, L.A.-based musical multi-hyphenate Park Hye Jin has announced that she’ll follow one of 2020’s best EPs with her full-length debut Before I Die, out Sept. 10 on Ninja Tune. The producer, rapper, singer and DJ wrote, produced and performed the entire album, and offered a first preview Tuesday in the form of album opener “Let’s Sing Let’s Dance.” Unlike the electro-trap banger of a Clams Casino/Take A Daytrip collab (“Y DON’T U”) she released in May, “Let’s Sing Let’s Dance” is downtempo and melodic first and foremost, with a pumping 4/4 dance beat under soft piano and Hye Jin’s wistful vocals. The song is soaked with gratitude and reverence for music’s power to create community—what better way to celebrate that? —Scott Russell

Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine: “Olympus”

Songwriters and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine have announced a new collaborative album A Beginner’s Mind, due out Sept. 24. Beginning when the artists embarked on a songwriting retreat at a friend’s cabin in upstate New York, the project developed after the pair noticed their music reflecting the movies they’d watch daily to unwind. The result is an album inspired by classic films, leading to “less a “cinematic exegesis,” per a press release, and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will.” Name-dropping Harry Hausen amongst imagery of the divine, the duo sounds completely in their element on new single “Olympus.” Sparse and intimate with moments of grandeur, Stevens’ perennially charming and evocative voice combs through the plucked acoustic guitar strings, carrying with it a sense of longing—for home, love and the past. —Jason Friedman

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