If July felt long to anyone else, it might be because of all the amazing tunes that came out! With an endless stream of jams to choose from, Paste took great pleasure in sharing some of them with you, including Alvvays’ hypnotic dream-pop, The 1975’s uncomfortable confessional and Young Fathers’ show-stopping return to music. Before you get too ahead of yourself with a new month of music, take some time to revisit July’s best tracks below.
Listen to our Best Songs of July 2022 playlist on Spotify here.
Self-reflection and accountability is one of the hardest, most admirable things to do. For The 1975’s Matty Healy, he attempts to wipe the slate clean on their newest single “Part of the Band,” their first official material since 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Form. The peculiar track deviates from the band’s standard pop and indie repertoire, instead leaning on creaky violins and folksy guitars as Healy bares it all on the song. He reflects on his “best life … way before the paying penance and verbal propellants” prior to being “cancelled” on social media after he was accused of using George Floyd’s murder to promote his song in 2020. Much like the musical version of a YouTube apology, The 1975 strip back on the glitz and glam, the makeup and the stage lights for an uncomfortable and honest clean slate. —Jade Gomez
Alien Boy tap into the false clarity you find after a few beers on their latest single, “Wondering Still.” A song that “only exists after 2 a.m.,” according to the band, it’s an epiphany you’ll probably second-guess the next morning. The fuzzy riffs give way to a breakthrough of a chorus, like the sudden rush of realization that songwriter Sonia Weber experiences about the “love delusions” and the “steady hands that hold me down.” Achieving an alcohol-induced form of enlightenment, Alien Boy might have to revise some of the conclusions they come to after last call, but that doesn’t make them all wrong. —Samantha Sullivan
After a five-year wait that felt at least twice that long, beloved dream-pop quintet Alvvays have finally announced their third album, out Oct. 7 on Polyvinyl. First single and album opener “Pharmacist” might as well be the Big Bang, exploding outward to form the beginnings of a new era of Alvvays. Molly Rankin’s porcelain vocal melodies cut through avalanches of whammied guitar distortion, recounting a run-in at a pharmacy over Sheridan Riley’s insistent jangle-pop percussion. Radiant synths give way to a quicksilver guitar solo, like a comet slicing across a sky full of stars. At just over two minutes long, the dynamic and detailed track doesn’t just beg repeat listens—it demands them. —Scott Russell
“Summer Dream” is the second single from Rolling Golden Holy (Oct. 7, 37d03d Records), folk-pop supergroup Bonny Light Horseman’s follow-up to their acclaimed 2020 debut album. The trio of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman draw inspiration from what Mitchell calls the “ghost of a summer’s past,” resulting in the audio equivalent of a lonely golden hour just before sunset. Shuffling drums lend a supremely sway-worthy groove to the acoustic guitar-driven tune, which wields not only a wistful, warm-toned nostalgia, but also an immersive degree of sensory detail—“Smell of rolled cigarette / And your hair when it was wet,” Mitchell sings over harmonica wheeze—that gives its bittersweetness gravity. “Tupelo honey sweet,” Mitchell and Johnson (of Fruit Bats fame) call and respond as the song gently crescendos, describing their music even as they enact it. —Scott Russell
Chat Pile’s debut LP ends with a nine-minute narrative that sounds outlandish on paper: A man is tormented by a nightmare figure resembling McDonald’s mascot Grimace, to the point of suicide. The surreally macabre premise is heightened all the more by the track’s name: “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg,” a title calling to mind a tossed-off joke file name or online message to a friend in lieu of an actual image. But the song itself is arguably the most chilling selection on an already-bleak record, in no small part due to vocalist Raygun Busch’s tortured contributions that sound an inch from self-destructive action at a moment’s notice—even before erupting into agonized shrieks in protest of the “purple man” who haunts him. When the track’s back half stretches into a sludgy death march, his lyrics become all the more direct, culminating in Busch crying out, “I don’t wanna be alive anymore / Do you?” The pressure of the track proves to be so suffocating that even Busch’s final scream of Grimace’s name to close the album becomes bloodcurdling, where a more ironic approach would have rendered the whole thing high camp. “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg” is, in microcosm, emblematic of the tricky balance Chat Pile evokes with visceral ugliness throughout God’s Country. The absurdity and paradox of capitalist landscapes are laid bare, depicted with just as much horror as the band believes they ought to merit. Just as characters for fast-food marketing and toys become taunting reminders of the soul-crushing nature of post-industrialization, so, too, does the illogical nature of houselessness in a nation with buildings to spare, and the pursuit of wealth above personal fulfillment. —Natalie Marlin
Tacoma, Washington’s own rising rock stars Enumclaw are back with another single from their debut album Save the Baby, coming Oct. 14 on Luminelle Recordings. “Cowboy Bepop” follows June’s “Jimmy Neutron,” which Paste hailed as one of the year’s best songs (so far). Over his and Nathan Cornell’s warm guitars, Aramis Johnson’s narrator finds himself happy with his life, yet longing for more control as it flies by. ”’Cause if you had to choose, would you / Wanna be brand new? / Well, joke’s on you, nothing’s new / I’m just the same as you,” he sings, finding peace in helplessness—like throwing your arms in the air on a rollercoaster. When a volcanic guitar solo punctuates his contemplation (“If you had to choose / What would you do?”), it hits like all of life’s possibilities manifesting at once. —Scott Russell
British dance-pop star Jessie Ware is back with her first proper offering since 2020’s What’s Your Pleasure?, hedonistic dance anthem “Free Yourself,” out now via PMR / Interscope. Co-written and produced by Clarence Coffee Jr. and Grammy winner Stuart Price, the track is described as “a taster session to Jessie’s fifth studio album,” which she is “busy back in the studio to finish,” a press release reveals. A classic dance track in every sense of the word, “Free Yourself” is built around Price’s piano and percussion, which loop hypnotically as Ware urges, “Don’t stand there waiting all of your life / For the night to come and find you.” Guitar and bass bolster the track’s irresistible, disco-ish groove, making Ware’s lyrics land less like suggestions and more edicts from on high, compelling you to find your own dance-floor euphoria. “’Free Yourself’ is the beginning of a new era for me,” says Ware in a statement. “I’m so excited for people to have this song for the end of their summer; to dance, to feel no inhibitions & to feel joyful because that’s how I’ve been feeling recently being able to tour again and being able to sing again. Enjoy yourself, Free Yourself!” —Scott Russell
Julia Jacklin dropped a third stunning single, “Love, Try Not To Let Go,” ahead of her forthcoming album, Pre Pleasure out Aug. 26. The Australian singer-songwriter juxtaposes delicate keys with a breathless build-up as she urges “try not to let go.” Jacklin’s silky vocals retrace her steps through hazy parties and scattered memories of “the night I lost my voice” in a way that makes everything except the love she’s wishing for seem like a static buzz or distant background noise. A graceful rumination on endurance and what you’re willing to withstand for a shot at true love, the single pushes the anticipation for her third album to an all-time high. —Samantha Sullivan
The Chicago-based trio Lifeguard create something familiar, yet fresh on their new single, “I know I know.” The first release from their forthcoming EP Crowd Can Talk, out on Aug. 5, the song flexes their art-minded guitar-rock without being overshadowed by nostalgia. Sporting an obvious ‘90s influence, guitarist and singer Kai Slater swathes blistering riffs in fuzz-drenched bliss. A deluge of feedback and writhing percussion, it’s a torrent of sound that will leave you breathless in the best way. —Samantha Sullivan
In a long-awaited collab, two of the biggest freaks in the rap game have combined for one of the raunchiest songs of the summer. Southern rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion teamed up with the king of toxicity Future. What does “Pressurelicious” mean? Megan lays it out with a series of adjectives, noting that she’s “hot.” She lays out every way to pleasure her while Future’s deep voice locks into a fast flow as he lets everything take over. “I’ma put my demon in her veins,” Future croaks, much to the delight of Megan who matches his energy perfectly. It’s a horned-out, cocky sex anthem that can go from the club to the bedroom. Do you have what it takes to join Megan and Future? —Jade Gomez
Alternative hip-hop duo Paris Texas have continued to blur the lines between punk, new wave, pop and rap after 2021’s Red Hand Akimbo and BOY ANONYMOUS with their first offering of 2022, “cyanide.” Scratchy guitars and punchy drums provided by Los Angeles shoegazers Cryogeyser color the single with a nostalgia for the early-‘00s post-punk wave. Paris Texas’ moody and expressive delivery pays homage to the duo’s wide range of influences, bringing a new meaning to rock-rap. —Jade Gomez
Sour Widows: “Witness“
Bay Area rock trio Sour Widows are back with their first new material of the year, “Witness.” Produced by Maryam Qudus (Toro y Moi, SASAMI), the song follows the band’s acclaimed Crossing Over, one of Paste’s favorite EPs of 2021. “Witness” is a patient, poignant slowcore track that explores the murky depths of loss and pain. Sour Widows—Maia Sinaiko, Susanna Thomson and Max Edelman—move through grief’s disparate emotional spaces, from steely resolve (“I’ve had practice / I can let things die”) to overwhelming heartache (“My heart beating / Like a fist against the veil”) and a sense of insignificance—as if dwarfed by the enormity of life and death, and the inexorability of time (“The moments repeat / and feedback into and endlessly”). All the while, their dynamic rock fortifies these feelings, peaking as Sinaiko and Thomson vocalize together, then finding a gentler form in its home stretch, like the clear skies after a storm has blown through. “This is the first song we finished since I lost my mom in June 2021,” Thomson says of the song in a statement. “Monumental loss creates a very clear divide between those in your life who can understand the depth of that kind of pain and those who can’t. ‘Witness’ speaks to that experience.” —Scott Russell
Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights is one of Paste’s most-anticipated albums of July, and here we have another gorgeous preview. “Sunshine” is another one of Lacy’s uncomfortably confessional slow jams, this time aided by soul singer Foushée. Her buttery-smooth vocals croon, “I’m always going to be where you are,” as she pines for Lacy’s love. The two play the roles of confused exes, entangled in the messiness of sex, sadness and toxicity. Lacy’s fuzzy guitar wobbles in the back as they repeat “I still love you” to each other, and the song dissolves into a jazzy jam with no end in sight as the lovers realize that old feelings don’t always die. —Jade Gomez
After releasing one of Paste’s favorite songs of April, Wunderhorse, led by former Dead Pretties frontman Jacob Slater, are back with another new track. The latest single from Wunderhorse’s forthcoming debut album Cub is another impressive display of their versatility—where lead track “Butterflies” was dripping with ‘90s alt-rock influence, “Leader of the Pack” is tinged with blues and Americana, its scuffed-up guitars practically crashing through your headphones. Meanwhile, a jaded Slater points out the other shoe: “Some people have a special kinda knack / Getting what they wanted just to stab you in the back / Nine times out of ten, it’s the leader of the pack.” His cynical wisdom meshes well with the rough-and-tumble track itself—both feel like they got knocked around and learned hard lessons in the process. “‘Leader of the Pack’ is a song about betrayal,” Slater explains in a statement. “About not being able to escape the thing that eats away at you, it’s a song written as a means of getting even.” —Scott Russell
If Young Fathers have released a forgettable record, we haven’t heard it. That includes this month’s “Geronimo,” the Scottish trio’s first new material in over four years, after 2018’s Cocoa Sugar and their subsequent hiatus. The atmospheric track finds Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and G. Hastings on a precipice—”I’m on the verge of something divine that’s gonna keep me in line / Most of my life I’ve been thinking, got the feeling that I’m caught in a bind,” they sing, weighing creative fulfillment against everyday life’s demands. Young Fathers take a leap of faith into a soulful free-fall and holler “Geronimo” all the way down, their reverent vocals eventually ceding the spotlight to ethereal keys and bass before the song fades into the ether from whence it came. —Scott Russell
Listen to our Best Songs of July 2022 playlist on Spotify here.