The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring Durand Jones & The Indications, TORRES, Okkervil River and more

Music Lists Best New Songs
The 10 Best New Songs

We usually aim to round up each week’s best new songs on Thursdays, before the New Music Friday festivities ensue, but this week, that proved impossible: The sheer amount of songs to sort through was about double that of the average week, thrusting us into tons of difficult decisions. These are the 10 tracks that made that tough final cut, from Durand Jones & The Indications’ silky-smooth invitation back onto dance floors, “Witchoo,” to the return of TORRES with the explosively emotive “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head.” Feast your ears on Paste’s favorite releases of the previous seven days below.

Babehoven: “Bad Week”

Babehoven toils with grief on “Bad Week,” the duo’s first single ahead of their forthcoming EP Nastavi, Calliope. Frontwoman Maya Bon’s guitar and vocals are at front and center, with drums and a needling, fuzzy synth adding depth and texture to the emotionally raw song. Lyrically, Bon ruminates over the long haul of coping with loss as “bad weeks” keep on piling up. “Though this realization can feel staggering, it can also feel like an honest admission to self: these times are very hard and yet I want to move forward,” said Bon in a statement, “I want to feel, I want to grow. ‘Bad Week’ is my attempt to commit to myself in these feelings.” Loss and family are set to be prevalent themes on Nastavi, Calliope; the title comes from both Bon’s Croatian roots and the name of her beloved childhood dog. —Carli Scolforo

Claire George: “Northern Lights”

Claire George, a master of melancholic electro-pop, released a new single, “Northern Lights,” on Wednesday. The song is the final single ahead of her debut album The Land Beyond The Light, one of Paste’s most-anticipated releases of the month, coming May 21 via Cascine. On an album inspired by the loss of an ex-boyfriend to substance abuse, George has been no stranger to putting some poignant lyrics behind her danceable electronic beats. But “Northern Lights” rips the heart out to an extent not seen from the artist before, with deeply personal and intimate words about the end of her loved one’s life. “Northern Lights” begins like a yearning love song as she reminisces, “We had the same dream at the same damn time, you loved that song, listened every night / I miss your oval azure eyes, and how they calmed me down when I’d start to cry.” As the song progresses, the monster of addiction creeps out while George recounts witnessing him become “so far gone, hardly recognized you,” and the aching sense of loss permeates the artist’s breathy vocals and gloomy synths. —Carli Scolforo

Cowboy Boy: “Inconvenient”

How do you cope when someone loves an idea of you more than the real thing? For Cowboy Boy, the solution is to write a kickass pop-punk song coping with the harsh realities of not being accepted as a three-dimensional person. “Inconvenient” shreds with powerful guitars and thrashing drums while vocalist Olivia Maria delivers punching lyrics like, “I should’ve realized you can’t romanticize me / While I nurse my broken heart in the room next to you.” The song’s poignant lyrics are front and center in its official video against some bright, beachy video clips.—Carli Scolforo

Durand Jones & The Indications: “Witchoo”

Throwback soul outfit Durand Jones & The Indications have a new album on the way: Private Space goes public July 30 via Dead Oceans and Colemine Records, but the video for lead single “Witchoo” is out now. “Witchoo” is a light-as-a-feather funk number powered by Mike Montgomery’s wiggly bassline, and Aaron Frazer and Durand Jones’ engaging high/low vocal harmonies, all imbued with a quiet, but unmistakable confidence. Jazzy keys and ambient conversation lend the song a smoothly celebratory vibe, as do its group-chant choruses: “Come through, bring the crew / I just wanna be witchoo!” Driven by effortlessly tight musicianship, “Witchoo” is an irresistible ode to getting together and having a good time—with a cathartic summer right around the corner in the States, the band’s timing couldn’t be better. Seeing Frazer, Jones and The Indications moving from isolation to joyous togetherness in the accompanying visual (dir. Weird Life) just hammers the excitement home. —Scott Russell

Fana Hues: “Lay Up”

I have said it countless times in previous blurbs, but if it was a hot girl summer in 2019, 2021 is going to be a cool girl summer, and it’s not temperature-wise. Fana Hues’ “Lay Up” is bound to be taken apart into countless Instagram captions as it tells of messing around with rebounds to get out of toxic relationships. Hues croons, “As I’ll rest on his face, right in the mirror / Make sure you hear us / Then come and kiss ya” in a grand display of savagery that’s sure to raise some eyebrows, but it’s also irresistible. —Jade Gomez

The Goon Sax: “In the Stone”

The lead track from The Goon Sax’s third album (and first for Matador Records), Mirror II (July 9), “In the Stone” is a particularly deft display of the buzzy Brisbane, Australia trio’s seamlessly dynamic jangle-pop. Riley Jones, Louis Forster and James Harrison are known to trade off writing, singing and instrumental duties; Forster takes lead on this particular track, leaning into the modern pop influences that seeped in during the band’s time in “Ubers, supermarkets, outside parties etc.” while recording their sophomore album We’re Not Talking in Berlin in late 2017. Over blunt guitar/bass interplay and upbeat handclaps, Forster and Jones swap intimately intertwined vocals, playing the parts of a couple learning to treat each other—and themselves—better, but feeling so much that they both wonder, “Do you think it’s better not feeling any of this at all?” Distorted guitar riffage mimics the melodies of their bruised and moody ruminations, the work of a young band in preternatural lockstep. —Scott Russell

Laura Mvula: “Got Me”

Laura Mvula has spent the past five years doing some serious reinvention. Since 2016’s The Dreaming Room, Mvula swapped her elegant R&B for a brighter homage to ’80s funk and dance with her latest single “Got Me.” With her other singles “Church Girl” and “Safe Passage” channeling the likes of Diana Ross and Madonna, “Got Me” is an infectious throwback inspired by Michael Jackson, with hints of George Michael and ‘80s dance-pop queens. It’s a song that respects its lineage and channels it effortlessly as opposed to being lightly inspired, setting up one of the most anticipated records of the summer. —Jade Gomez

Okkervil River: “In a Light”

“In a Light” is Okkervil River’s first new music since 2018’s In the Rainbow Rain, and their return is full of quiet power. The Texas natives fuse macabre Southern Gothic with pleasantly hazy psychedelia on the new single as it slowly builds from a bleak ballad to a feel-good rocker by the end of its six-minute run. The lyrics “Loving is all around you, though / In the dark, within the outer light / Out of dark, inside the inner light” succinctly find optimism in the song’s fight against hopelessness and defeat. —Carli Scolforo

Provoker: “Spell Strike”

Los Angeles-based Provoker evoke early post-punk and dark wave on their newest single “Spell Strike,” which premiered alongside an unsettling, reality-bending music video. The single accompanied the band’s announcement that they’ve signed with YEAR0001, an independent record label based out of Sweden that is home to the likes of Viagra Boys, Bladee, Ecco2k and Yung Lean. The band is expected to release their debut LP via YEAR0001 sometime this year. “Spell Strike” recontextualizes atmospheric guitars evocative of The Cure and mixes them with modern R&B lyricism for an unnerving juxtaposition that defies time. It is written from the perspective of an RPG character encountering a fairy boss, with the title referring to the boss’ special move. Directed by Actual Objects (Yves Tumor, Young Thug), the accompanying visual is hypnotizing and menacing, with car chases in the forest and a faceless, jointless figure on the hunt. “It’s about falling in love with someone, and you’re not sure if those feelings are reciprocated,” said singer Christian Petty of the band’s new track. “It destroys you trying to figure that out.” —Jade Gomez

TORRES: “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head”

This summer, indie singer/songwriter TORRES (moniker of Mackenzie Scott) will be releasing Thirstier, a follow-up to 2019’s Silver Tongue. Out July 30, this will be Scott’s second album with Merge Records. In addition to the album announcement came its first single, “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head.” The track is a heartbreaking explosion of emotions as Scott reflects on a relationship built on empty promises, yearning for a sign she should keep going. Scott’s bright guitars and vocals that sneak into blissful high notes feel like being on the brink of tears. The accompanying visual is a candid look into domestic bliss with Scott and her partner, artist Jenna Gribbon. The two cook, kiss and brush their teeth in a simple, heartwarming video. The new single marks a stylistic change for Scott, who was inspired by the dynamic sounds of Butch Vig’s work with Nirvana and Garbage. Of this new direction, Scott said in a statement: “I wanted to channel my intensity into something that felt positive and constructive, as opposed to being intense in a destructive or eviscerating way. I love the idea that intensity can actually be something life-saving or something joyous.” —Jade Gomez

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