The 15 Best Songs of March 2020

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The 15 Best Songs of March 2020

March 2020 is one month that will be remembered for generations to come. While it will undoubtedly be remembered for the coronavirus pandemic, I might add with the tiniest possible footnote that it was also the same month that saw the return of Bob Dylan, Bright Eyes and the Dixie Chicks. There’s obviously no equating the magnitude of these occurrences, but it feels significant that several of our favorite artists seemed to pop up when we needed them most. This has been a more chaotic time than usual, but Paste’s regular scheduled music content is still here for you when and if you need it. Here are 15 of our favorite songs from March 2020.

1. Bright Eyes: “Persona Non Grata”

Conor Oberst has a way of always sticking to his guns while simultaneously folding in interesting new sonic elements whenever he gets the chance. As for “Persona Non Grata,” a hearty indie-folk song that runs on keys and steady drums, the bagpipes are the most unexpected surprise—but a nice one nonetheless. The pipes give the song an anthemic feel as Oberst spits his familiarly sad and smart verses. It’s an expectedly wonderful return from a group who rarely trip. —Ellen Johnson

2. Bob Dylan: “Murder Most Foul”

Bob Dylan released his first new track in eight years this month, the 17-minute-long ballad “Murder Most Foul.” The song is about that “dark day in Dallas” when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. The song also makes various references to the ’60s and ’70s, which saw the emergence and height of Dylan’s folk career. Some of these references include Woodstock, Patsy Cline and The Beatles. —Natalia Keogan

3. Courtney Marie Andrews: “If I Told”

Big-hearted Americana singer/songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews has announced her next album. Old Flowers, a follow-up to 2018’s May Your Kindness Remain (one of our favorite releases from that year), is set to arrive June 5 on Mississippi indie powerhouse Fat Possum. “I learned to love the worst parts of you,” Andrews sings on “If I Told.” It’s a Dolly Parton-esque country song tinged with regret and curiosity in regards to the serendipity of relationships. —Ellen Johnson

4. Deerhoof: “Future Teenage Cave Artists”

The prolific indie-rock band Deerhoof announced their new album Future Teenage Cave Artists and shared the first two singles from the record. While the title track is somewhat somber, yet tinged with hope, the cave footage will certainly come off as spooky if you’ve seen The Descent recently (or ever, as images from that movie have no doubt been seared into the waking consciousness of all who have seen it). —Natalia Keogan

5. Dixie Chicks: “Gaslighter”

After teasing their imminent return earlier this year on Twitter, the Dixie Chicks are finally back. If they didn’t already have enough of these already, “Gaslighter,” the lead single and title track from their new album out May 1, is another anthem for women scorned. Seventeen years after they were shunned from the country music institution (and popular music at large, at least for a while), this single is almost too good to be true. It’s a revenge track, a breakup song and a souped-up, banjo-featuring country banger all in one. —Ellen Johnson

6. Fenne Lily: “Hypochondriac”

“Hypochondriac” is a buoyant and at times ambient indie-rock ballad, full of loping guitars and criss-crossing drum beats. With a little of TORRES-style slanted vocal delivery and a jammy rock flair, “Hypochondriac” is far more upbeat than the song’s subject matter may suggest. In the bridge, Fenne Lily continually tells herself, “Look alive,” before a chorus and a startlingly pretty key change take center stage. She ends the song with the relatable (especially during potentially overwhelming times such as these) line, “I’m waiting for a moment to stop and not feel so much.” —Ellen Johnson

7. Honey Lung: “Juggle”

“Juggle” is Honey Lung’s most lo-fi cut to date and perhaps their most lyrically pensive. Though it still has Jamie Batten’s distinct vocal tone and melodic intuition, it’s marked by various charming keyboards, pitch-shifted vocals and background whooshes—possibly a door to a more off-center direction. The song tracks how boredom and weariness are often indicative of something darker. It ultimately comes down to two choices, and it’s sometimes tempting to take the easier road: keeping feelings front and center, or letting them fester in the shadows. —Lizzie Manno

8. Margo Price: “Twinkle Twinkle”

Margo Price’s new single is “a stinging indictment of nostalgia and the illusory nature of success,” while ”the video, in all its kaleidoscopic glory, was inspired by a four-hour-long free-associative text thread between Price and [director Matthew Siskin],” according to press materials. And the video feels that way: Images of Mona Lisa’s smile and newsreel slide on and off the screen in slipstream to lyrics like “If it don’t break you, it might just make you rich,” and a wry, “Sweet Sixteen, that kiss of death.” —Isabella DeLeo

9. Nation of Language: “September Again”

“September Again” is another selection of new wave-indebted melancholia that soars above the rest. Ian Devaney’s existential crises meet the heady grooves of the dance floor as he feels trapped by the ceaseless wheel of time and its ever-building expectations. Rather than drawing on the atmospheric darkwave of many of today’s modern synth-pop outfits, Devaney channels the soaring hi-fi pop of the ’80s, and the electro-pop and dance-punk revival of the 2000s. —Lizzie Manno

10. Nicolas Jaar: “Sunder”

Nicolas Jaar just keeps getting busier and busier. After a stellar EP under his “Against All Logic” moniker (followed shortly by a full LP) and producing much of FKA twigs’ MAGDALENE last year, Jaar announced via Instagram that he would be releasing an album under his “birth name.” Cenizas will be Jaar’s first album under his name since 2016’s Sirens. Jaar shared the album’s first song, “Sunder,” a twitchy electronic track featuring Jaar’s own vocals whispering in and out of focus. —Austin Jones

11. Perfume Genius: “On the Floor”

Last month, Perfume Genius released “Describe,” the first single from Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, which alluded to a pop-forward sound on the new album. “On The Floor” also heavily leans into a full-blown pop sound—a jubilant exploration of love, sex and physicality. —Natalia Keogan

12. Run The Jewels: “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4)”

Powerhouse Atlanta hip-hop duo Run The Jewels have shared a taste of their forthcoming album RTJ4, the follow-up to 2016’s RTJ3. “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4),” which was closely followed by another new single “Ooh LA LA,” features the pair’s uplifting bravado and invigorating boom-bap beats—it’s everything great about RTJ in a little over two minutes. It finds Killer Mike and El-P not just cruising in style, but making ripples in the concrete. —Lizzie Manno

13. Squid: “Sludge”

“Sludge” arose from a soundcheck while Squid were supporting post-punk legends Wire, and it’s an ever-morphing track with various colorful art-rock sideshows. Its perplexing keyboards mesh with drummer Ollie Judge’s trademark vocal squawks as the band enters spellbinding new territory. “I’m lying on my bed with celebrity chefs / But what do they know,” sings Judge with surreal humor over whirring guitars. It’s quite a paranoid track that bridges the gap between experimental post-punk and electro-shoegaze. —Lizzie Manno

14. Thundercat: “Fair Chance”

Thundercat’s forthcoming album It Is What It Is is just around the corner, set for release on April 3 via Brainfeeder. On the heels of second single “Dragonball Durag,” the “king of bass” himself has shared “Fair Chance,” the album’s third single, featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B. The song is carried by a wistful guitar, uniquely romantic among Thundercat’s mischievous previous work. It sounds much like a reimagining of the works of ‘90s boy groups like Boyz II Men and Jodeci. —Austin Jones

15. Waxahatchee: “Can’t Do Much”

It may not be sentimental, per se, but “Can’t Do Much” is tupelo honey-sweet: Katie Crutchfield croons, “I want you all the time / Sanity, nullified,” as if stating a fact, rather than expressing her feelings, yet the song is all the more romantic for it. Twang-tinged guitars and trebly chords take a backseat to Crutchfield’s wonderful voice, which conveys the song’s ample emotional vulnerability as well as all the confidence and clarity of a church bell. —Scott Russell

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