Whittling down seven days’ worth of new singles into just 10 tracks is a tall task, and this particularly packed release week made it even taller. Our pain is your gain: Statement-making tracks from Pom Pom Squad, illuminati hotties and Little Simz lead the pack, but there’s a little something for everyone here, from the go-for-broke rock of cleopatrick’s “FAMILY VAN” to the woozy hip-hop of Markis Precise & Mick Jenkins’ “Sleep.” Make time for this week’s best new tracks below.
It’s refreshing to hear that blown-out, angry rock that broke into a small part of the mainstream in the early ‘00s, popularized by the likes of The Hives, Jet and countless others in the garage-rock revival. cleopatrick is taking the genre for another joyride (no pun intended) with “FAMILY VAN,” a rowdy open letter to an unnamed band that ripped off one of their songs. It’s reminiscent of blissful teenage turbulence in their unique blend of punk with not-so-subtle hip-hop influences that will take a beloved genre into the hands of another generation of listeners. —Jade Gomez
Hiss Golden Messenger, the project of M.C. Taylor, has released the third single ahead of Quietly Blowing It, out June 25 via Merge Records. The album follows 2019’s Terms of Surrender, which earned Taylor a Grammy nomination for best Americana Album. “Hardlytown” is a soulful, harmonica-infused exploration of what we owe to each other. The folk rock of Bob Dylan is felt as an influence throughout the song, but especially in the KidEthnic-directed music video. In the video, Taylor stands with cue cards depicting the song’s lyrics, just as Dylan does in the video for one of Paste’s favorite songs in his discography, “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Taylor discussed “Hardlytown” in a statement, saying, “Maybe the conversation that the mother and son have throughout “Hardlytown” was my attempt to reckon with the tension that exists between selflessness and selfishness.” —Carli Scolforo
Sarah Tudzin’s tenderpunk project illuminati hotties is back with their first new music since their acclaimed 2020 release FREE I.H.: This Is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For, and the music-industry rigmarole that has dogged the band in the past is now behind them. In addition to sharing the video for their first single of 2021, “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” (pronounced “Moo!,” they say), Tudzin announced her own new label, Snack Shack Tracks, in partnership with L.A.-based indie label Hopeless Records, so when the one you have been waiting for comes out (a release window has yet to be revealed), you’ll have her to thank for it. “Somebody told me my music is too ‘CUTE’ to take seriously” Tudzin says of the band’s new single. “So I wrote them a love letter. I hope they’re laughing their patoots off.” “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA” kicks “cute” to the curb with queasy guitars and synth stutters, with Tudzin contorting her voice as she sneers at pushes to make her art more “palatable” (read: profitable): “You think I wanna be a part of / Every self-appointed startup? / Every brand-approval markup? / Place that precious pretty product,” she mocks, having a blast as she colors outside the lines. —Scott Russell
British rapper Little Simz has announced a follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2019 album GREY Area with Sometimes I Might Be an Introvert, due Sept. 3 via Age 101. The rapper also shared a new visual for the opening track “Introvert,” a glorious essay on witnessing suffering and demanding accountability. The track’s rising marching band drums and horns mark a triumphant return from Simz’s two-year absence. Kicked off with her softly echoing “There’s a war,” her sharp-tongued bars float over the jazzy production that soundtracks the breathtaking visual directed by Salomon Lightelm. Lightelm captures the juxtaposition of streets and fields with cathedrals and Renaissance paintings, making for a stark, captivating experience that sets the tone for what’s to come. “Introvert” is a poignant thesis statement in a new era of revolutionary music that Little Simz has never shied away from. The track’s beauty lies in its duality, blending together unlikely elements into electric rap harmony. —Jade Gomez
As the anticipation builds for Little Snake’s debut album A Fragmented Love Story, Written By The Infinite Helix Architect, out May 7 on Brainfeeder, “Raining Teeth” is more than enough to tide over fans of the Canadian electronic mastermind. There’s a reason why Flying Lotus co-signs him, with Little Snake taking listeners deep inside his expansive glitchy world. Little Snake’s atmospheric industrial production, steered into a more accessible, melodic lane provided by Tutara Peak, is still hardly definitive. Snake’s maximalist tendencies tread the line between grotesque and captivating, which makes for a head-spinning banger that can fit in a multitude of timelines. —Jade Gomez
This video contains flashing lights that may trigger photosensitive conditions.
There is something to be said about the magnetic, lazy haze that Mick Jenkins exudes. It’s a style many have tried and few can master. In his newest collaboration with Fresno-based producer Markis Precise, Jenkins’ Chicago roots shine through. “Sleep” is an apt title, with Jenkins’ languid flow rambling through his slow awakening into political awareness. “I played the fool / Removed the wool / over my eyes, remove the drool” is a hook that simmers with each listen as the minimalism of Precise’s production slowly begins to make sense. Precise’s keyboards and subtle synthesizer pings allow Jenkins to slip in and out of consciousness without ever losing the beat. This is a track that shows its soul more with each listen, and its energy lingers for far longer. —Jade Gomez
You may remember Mini Trees, the solo project of Los Angeles-based songwriter Lexi Vega, as the opening act from Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions release livestream, but you’re about to remember Mini Trees from “Spring,” our first preview of her not-yet-announced debut album, coming this fall on Run for Cover Records. A sweetly understated emotional rollercoaster, “Spring” nestles Vega’s delicate, fluttering vocals among gauzy acoustic guitar chords and an ethereal synth accents, its soft sounds coming in staggered waves, like a wind chime in the summer (or spring, rather) breeze. “So tell me, when you fall asleep, are you still next to me?” she wonders, allowing herself to feel all of her infatuation, its insecurity and intimacy alike. “The underlying message is one of hopefulness though,” says Vega, “resolving with the choice to believe this person will remain a constant in my life despite the changing nature of everything else.” That belief and “Spring” share a similarly rosy beauty. —Scott Russell
Mia Berrin-led, Brooklyn-based indie-rock outfit Pom Pom Squad announced their debut album Death of a Cheerleader, coming June 25 on City Slang Records, and shared its latest single, “Head Cheerleader,” along with a self-co-directed video. The record is produced by Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties and co-produced by Berrin, while Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara contributes vocals to “Head Cheerleader.” In a statement, Berrin describes “Head Cheerleader” as “a celebration of the discomfort that comes with stepping into your new skin—your own power”—on the song itself, she lays claim to that power over cascading power chords and nimble low end, declaring, “I’m learning how to be someone I could put my faith in,” and tossing off clever, self-deprecating one-liners like, “My worst decisions are the ones I like the best” and “My feelings always make a fucking fool of me.” It’s only fitting that a song about Berrin coming into her own also finds her doing exactly that as a songwriter, rising to the occasion of Pom Pom Squad’s much-anticipated first full-length statement as a band. —Scott Russell
Los Angeles-based rock singer/songwriter Rosie Tucker’s knack for witty, yet bruising lyrics and impeccable melodies is back in a big way on “Barbara Ann,” the opening track and second single (after March’s “Habanero”) from their third album Sucker Supreme, out April 30 on Epitaph Records. Tucker drew inspiration for the single from roaming their grandparents’ Illinois farm as a kid, where they “laid an open palm on the electric wire that ran around the property even though I’d been told a million times not to. I desired the knowledge more than I feared my parents.” “Barbara Ann” has much more on its mind than Tucker’s coming-of-age trial by lightning, including their family and the agricultural industry they built their lives on, but the song is shockingly (no pun intended) light on its feet nonetheless, particularly in its hyper-catchy choruses, where Tucker promises its namesake, “No one’s gonna hurt you now.” It’s a tough-love song, a chuck under the chin that charms and comforts without coddling. —Scott Russell
It’s Always Something with New York City-via-Gainesville trio UV-TV, who are gearing up to release their third album—their first entirely written and recorded since their NYC exodus—on May 28 via PaperCup Music. Written and recorded under lockdown in early 2020, the follow-up to their 2017 debut Glass and 2019 second effort Happy promises post-punk angularity, new-wave sheen and jangle-pop hooks, if singles “Distant Lullaby” and this week’s “Back to Nowhere” are any indication. You’d expect “Back to Nowhere” to find the band overwhelmed and on edge, but instead, they sound more clear-eyed than ever, with songwriters Ian Bernacett and Rose Vastola (now joined by drummer Ian Rose as a full-time member) intertwining their vocals and guitars with slick precision; meanwhile, Rose’s drums and tambourine keep the energy high. The track feels like a modern-day take on The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary,” a fitting kinship, given UV-TV’s drive to find peace in a chaotic world on Always Something. —Scott Russell