Best New Songs (Feb. 23, 2022)

Music Lists Best Songs
Best New Songs (Feb. 23, 2022)

At Paste Music, we’re listening to so many new tunes on any given day, we barely have any time to listen to each other. Nevertheless, every week we can swing it, we take stock of the previous seven days’ best tracks, delivering a weekly playlist of our favorites. Check out this week’s 10 best new songs, in alphabetical order. (You can check out last week’s songs here.

Angel Bat Dawid: “RECORDARE – Recall The Joy”
Multidisciplinary artist Angel Bat Dawid may be merely one of the incredible artists signed to the Chicago-based label International Anthem, but she continues to find ways to rise above her cohorts through the spiritual yearning and conceptual daring of her work. Her new album is no exception. Requiem For Jazz is, as she says, a continuation of a conversation about Black music started by Ed Bland in his 1959 film The Cry of Jazz. Originally performed as part of the 2019 Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Requiem is an extended sermon on the history and current state of Black art in America using singers from the Black Monument Ensemble, dancers and a small group of jazz players. As this first single reveals, it’s a work that will shift the ground under your feet and may have you crying to the heavens with joy and pain. —Robert Ham


Black Country, New Road: “Turbines/Pigs – Live at Bush Hall”
Cambridgeshire sextet Black Country, New Road put out one of the best records of 2022, Ants from Up There. But, just days before the album’s release date, vocalist Isaac Wood left the band to focus on his mental health. In the wake of Wood’s departure, many fans were left wondering how the band would continue. BCNR trudged on, touring across the world and playing new songs for adoring crowds. Since Wood left the group, the remaining six players elected to not perform any of his songs live. This week, the band released Live at Bush Hall, an artsy, nine-song live record of the material they’ve been playing since Ants from Up There. Every song in the set is a triumph, but the treasure is “Turbines/Pigs,” a massive, near-10-minute cut that showcases pianist May Kershaw’s vocal chops. It’s a beautiful chronicling of heartbreak, as Kershaw unspools a story of loss, uncertainty and doubt. “The bubble that you left then / I think it’s safer than the cold / Not too late to go home now / I’ll chew the pill for you,” she sings. After delivering an angelic five verses, the entire band crescendos into an explosive instrumental driven by Georgia Ellery’s violin. —Matt Mitchell


Gal Pal: “Mirror”
LA indie outfit Gal Pal have returned with their first new song in four years. Following the 2019 EP Unrest/Unfeeling, “Mirror” is a dreamy fit of gothic West Coast shoegaze. The lyrics are sparse yet repetitive, and vocalist Emelia Austin’s vocals soar across octaves and echo like a chamber choir. “He sees you as his mirror / He sees you as his mirror / I am your mirror / I am your mirror,” Austin sings. The track was produced by Sami Perez, who’s done past work with Cherry Glazer and Jerry Paper, and her vision lets Gal Pal’s ornate, mystifying sonic palette shine. The highlight is the sputtering, cyclical percussion provided by drummer Nico Romero. “It helped me form the theme of being stuck in a pattern. For me, ‘Mirror’ is about the ways we allow our identities to be misshaped by people in our lives, how we are used as reflections for others, and the anxiety over being able to control it or not,” Austin said in a statement. It’s been six years since Gal Pal’s first record, but “Mirror” suggests what’s forthcoming will be burgeoning with kaleidoscopic adventure. —Matt Mitchell


Jason Isbell: “Death Wish”
Jason Isbell is back with a new album, Weathervanes, his sixth with his Muscle Shoals band the 400 Unit—Sadler Vaden, Jimbo Hart, Derry deBorja and Chad Gamble—and his ninth overall since leaving the Drive-By Truckers. “Did you ever love a woman with a death wish / Something in her eyes like switching off a light switch,” he sings to open the first single, “Death Wish,” a driving Southern rock song with beautiful strings by Morgan O’Shaughnessey. “Everybody dies but you gotta find a reason to carry on.” The song flips the script on Isbell’s own experience reaching rock bottom with alcohol and drugs in 2012 and finding support and intervention from those who loved him. It addresses depression from the standpoint of a person who loves someone that’s struggling. “I don’t want to fight with you baby,” he sings, “but I won’t leave you alone.”


M. Sage: “Crick Dynamo”
According to the press notes for Paradise Crick, the forthcoming album from experimental artist Matthew Sage, the new record is “a soundtrack that charts the environmental mood shifts of a weekend trip in a conceptual campground” and the first single is an aural approximation of the collective mood of folks enjoying the glow of an evening campfire. But like all the best work of this electroacoustic ilk, the first single from the LP is very much open to interpretation. To these ears, it’s the sound of a gang of rainforest animals performing a Stereolab-like pop tune at dawn while the insects and other sundry creatures around them come to life and begin their day. —Robert Ham


Stolen Jars: “Somewhere Else”
Brooklyn band Stolen Jars have written a great song that is truly a great representation of social connection in a digital age. Catalyzed by lockdown, Cody Fitzgerald, Sarah Coffey and Elias Spector-Zabusky aimed to make an ode to finding love and warmth through a computer screen. “It isn’t safe in my head / I can’t figure out how to live in silence instead / When the world doesn’t make a sound,” Coffey sings on the track. The arrangements on “Somewhere Else” are addicting and danceable. While Stolen Jars tackle some dark, foreboding themes on the song, the sonic textures enveloping the story are both auspicious and drunk on joy. What the future holds for the band is not etched in stone quite yet, but “Somewhere Else” signals an immediacy and excitement that we should all, gladly and buoyantly, hitch a ride with. —Matt Mitchell


Tanlines: “Outer Banks”
Nearly eight years since their last record, Brooklyn electronic duo Tanlines are back with “Outer Banks,” a shimmering yet subtle dance track. Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen’s new album (and their Merge Records debut), The Big Mess, arrives on May 19, but “Outer Banks” is a perfect return after nearly a decade away. “Outer Banks” sparkles wholly, and Emm’s vocals are a slice of holistic gospel. “This song is about being a perfectionist. When I was younger, I thought that being called that was a compliment. But I’ve come to realize it’s actually a liability,” Emm said about the track in a statement. “This is especially true in any kind of partnership. Making concessions, adjustments and letting things go are all components of a successful endeavor.” In turn, “Outer Banks” is an emotional, synthy amalgamation of friendship and clarity. It’s good to have Tanlines back in our orbit. —Matt Mitchell


Tiny Ruins – “Dorothy Bay”
Since 2009, New Zealand band Tiny Ruins have been steadily making good, blissful indie rock. Led by vocalist and guitarist Hollie Fullbrook, the band’s first record since 2019’s Olympic Girls, Ceremony is catalyzed by brand new single “Dorothy Bay.” The track leans into water imagery that spawns atop a smooth, hypnotic arrangement. Fullbrook’s lyrics are evocative and wondrous, and her vocals are soulful and weightless. “By hook or by the book, I can’t explain / How I miss the flowers made from cellophane / Little hands and paws, they trial and train / Keep you sifting sand in the outer lane,” she sings. Capped off by a ripping, glittering solo by Fullbrook at the song’s end, “Dorothy Bay” is a great reintroduction to a beloved, steadfast indie band. —Matt Mitchell


The Van Pelt: “Image of Health”
While his brother Ted has been treading the boards in a brief reunion with his band Chisel, Chris Leo has fully revived his ’90s emo-adjacent project The Van Pelt with a new album arriving on March 17 and tour dates booked. The latest single from this LP finds the band picking up right where they left off in 1997 with Leo speak-singing his fractured poetics a la UK bard John Cooper Clarke while the rest of the band locks into a circuitous groove that somehow increases in tension and wiry intensity but never manages to explode. —Robert Ham


Wednesday: “Bath County”
After “Bull Believer” and “Chosen to Deserve,” North Carolina rockers Wednesday are back with another heatseeking missile of a song before the release of their fourth album in as many calendar years, Rat Saw God. “Bath County” claws tooth and nail at your ears, as the track swells like a nasalled indie folk arrangement before crescendoing into a blistering breakdown of grunge and shoegaze. Karly Hartzman’s vocals strain and crackle power, while Jake Lenderman’s guitar work is sludgy and unforgettable. Like most of Wednesday’s songs, this one contains vivid, evocative imagery, like “piss-colored bright yellow Fanta,” courtesy of Hartzman’s sharp eye for the sublime details and poetic grit. Inspired by a true story, “Bath County” ditches Hartzman’s normal M.O. of writing about the past. “This is a song I wrote on a porch in Bath County, Virginia, when me and Jake were visiting Jake’s mom’s hometown. It includes some imagery I saw on that trip as well as a description of a guy we saw overdosed in a parking lot early one morning on our way to Dollywood,” she explained in a statement. With Rat Saw God on the near horizon, few acts are as captivating as Wednesday at this very moment. —Matt Mitchell


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