Yet another month has passed us by without much fuss. There’s nothing I can say about our current situation in this arbitrary introductory paragraph that you don’t already know, so I’ll spare you the summary. But I won’t spare you the many wonderful songs that arrived in the last 30 days—those are all waiting for you below, and in a Spotify playlist we put together just for you. April brought new songs from old friends like The Beths, Faye Webster and Ohmme, as well as stand-out tracks from stalwarts like Fiona Apple and the 1975. Enjoy!
Listen to our Best Songs of April 2020 playlist on Spotify.
Angelo De Augustine has always been Sufjan Stevens’ successor in a way, so to hear their voices raised up together in this song is heavenly. “Santa Barbara” is a gently strummed tune, featuring the same pointy acoustics Stevens so frequently puts into play, and it’s quietly beautiful in a way we haven’t heard elsewhere this year. —Ellen Johnson
“Dying to Believe” is a welcome return from The Beths, featuring frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes’ signature songwriting that is both introspective and clever. The music video for the song, directed by Callum Devlin, is a mock “How to be The Beths” instructional video, featuring clunky instructional text and a fuzzy picture quality reminiscent of VHS tapes that one might watch via a TV on wheels back in an early-2000s high school health class. —Natalia Keogan
London-based band caroline, who Paste recently highlighted as a British band to know in 2020, released two new tracks, which coincidentally are perfect for easy listening while working from home. New from Rough Trade Records, caroline’s two singles, “Dark blue” and “BRJ,” are available across DSPs now and were also released as a 12” single on April 24. The new songs are musically beautiful as the members of caroline play everything from cello, violin, electric guitar and even the trumpet. —Daniella Boik
“Burlap String” is in no hurry whatsoever. As Americana/folk singer Courtney Marie Andrews paints this heartbreaking picture in soothing pastels, she sounds full of regret, singing, “If I could go back now / I’d pick you wildflowers / Tie ‘em in burlap string / Tell you what you mean to me.” But it’s ultimately a restorative song, as Andrews describes her newfound maturity, even if that means some added cynicism: “I’ve grown cautious, I’ve grown up / I’m a skeptic of love.” —Ellen Johnson
Kevin Patrick Sullivan’s fingerpicking handiwork continues to impress on this new single, which is part of the loosely-organized Floral Prince project, an intended collection of one song released during each month of 2020. ”-h-o-u-s-e-k-e-y-z-” is the April jam, and, like Field Medic has continually made in the past, it’s part warm-folk-bath and part chaotic emo rant. Either way, it’s beautiful. —Ellen Johnson
Atlanta-based folk/R&B artist Faye Webster this month released a video for a new one-off track, “In a Good Way.” In the video, Webster dances on a stage, singing “I didn’t know that I was capable of being happy right now / But you showed me how / I didn’t know that you were right in front of me / Until I looked out.” Shortly, a bundle of yellow smiley face balloons descend on Webster, lighting up the stage. —Isabella DeLeo
“Heavy Balloon” is one of the best songs on an album (Fetch the Bolt Cutters) full of them, but there’s something especially urgent in Apple’s delivery here. “I spread like strawberries / I climb like peas and beans,” she shouts frantically. She is fed up, and you can tell. But this song goes beyond personal frustrations or entrapments: When Apple sings, “You get dragged down, down to the same spot enough times in a row / The bottom begins to feel like the only safe place that you know,” she’s offering a striking metaphor for the dangers of our class structure. —Ellen Johnson
On “Lucky,” Ganser merge pummeling noise-punk with droll, shared post-punk vocals from Alicia Gaines and Nadia Garofalo. It’s a raucous song about self-sabotage, and when shards of glass start to fly after their ripping guitar solo, it’s best to either hurl yourself into the wreckage or duck and cover. When they spout the album title with an almost maniacal, slow-building tension over combusting guitars, there’s no chance of freeing yourself from their magnetic grip. —Lizzie Manno
“Somewhere” merges ’90s noise rock and twee pop, and it will give you that same euphoric tingle you felt after falling in love with your first underground jangle pop band. Nimble guitar riffs swarm around Garvin’s subtle, sweet vocals, and it captures everything great about fuzzy rock and good-natured, classic indie-pop. The scratchy footage of the band in a warehouse only further emphasizes their grunge-y, throwback glory as it looks like a Breeders or Sonic Youth video you would’ve seen endlessly on MTV back in the day. —Lizzie Manno
Each song on Kali Uchis’ TO FEEL ALIVE EP clocks in around two-minutes-long, but the standout is undoubtedly the title track, in which Uchis chants, “I just want to feel something,” perhaps nodding at the quarantine social media trend of doing something “just to feel something.” “How can I give a damn / If I don’t give a fuck?” she asks, getting a head-start in the race for the best lyrics of 2020 so far. —Ellen Johnson
While Laura Marling has been a fixture in the folk and folk-adjacent worlds for nearly a decade now, she has never sounded perhaps more like the forefathers and -mothers of folk than on her new album, Song For Our Daughter. She recalls a host of Jonis and Joans as she meanders through a forest of melancholy folk music. The standout tune is “Alexandra,” a sweeping Laurel Canyon-esque folk-pop song that would’ve fit right in on a Newport setlist from the 1960s. It’s that good. —Ellen Johnson
Chicago rock duo Ohmme this month shared the second single from their forthcoming album Fantasize Your Ghost (June 5, Joyful Noise Records), “Ghost,” which arrived with a subdued yet shimmering music video directed by Augstin Vesely. The music video for “Ghost” shows the duo of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart clad in stylish white ensembles while avant-garde ghosts parade around them, donning iridescent gold and blue silk bed sheets. “We’d been kicking around the idea of doing something like the Pop Musik video by M but darker,” the band says. “There’s a lot of darkness these days but it’s important to keep dancing.” —Natalia Keogan
“Kyoto” follows the previous single released from Phoebe Bridgers’ forthcoming album Punisher, the somber “Garden Song.” Originally set to be filmed in Japan last month, the global pandemic halted those production plans. But Bridgers opted to cheekily use a green screen in order to create a magical video, donning a skeleton-print onesie, gliding on electric train tracks and flying over the ocean. “This song is about impostor syndrome,” Bridgers says. “About being in Japan for the first time, somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and playing my music to people who want to hear it, feeling like I’m living someone else’s life. —Natalia Keogan
Chicago pop-punk trio Retirement Party have announced the details of their new album, Runaway Dog, out on May 15 via Counter Intuitive Records. Title track and lead single “Runaway Dog” grapples with the temporary loss of inspiration and motivation, but singer and guitarist Avery Springer sounds as formidable and catchy as she ever has. “I won’t, but I think they told me so / I will never pave the road that I want to,” Springer sings over perky, zippy guitars. —Lizzie Manno
The 1975’s fourth studio album, Notes on a Conditional Form, is set for release on May 22. They teased “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” with some aesthetically pleasing Twitter posts before releasing the video to YouTube and the track to major streaming platforms. “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” displays the band’s usually conflicted musings of sex and romance, and boasts melancholy infatuation via Matty Healy’s voice. This single is one of seven tracks available from the album so far.—Jarrod Johnson II
Listen to our Best Songs of April 2020 playlist on Spotify.