The Best Songs of March 2024

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The Best Songs of March 2024

March came in, as they say, like a lion and out like a lamb, giving us more than 50 fantastic new tracks that we highlighted in our weekly Best New Songs column. You can catch up on our picks for February here. March gave us more brilliance from Babehoven, Ekko Astral and Jessica Pratt, who are starting to monopolize these monthly roundups. But, Paste favorites like Good Looks, Wild Pink and This Is Lorelei also came out swinging across the last 31 days, too. And then Merce Lemon and the Ophelias came in at the buzzer and blew us all away with two of the very best tracks of the entire year. Narrowing this list down to just 10 entries was a nearly impossible task, but we got it done. So, without further ado, here are the best songs of March 2024.

Babehoven: “Lightness is Loud”

To know Babehoven—the Hudson, New York duo of Maya Bon and Ryan Albert—is to know warmth. Their work together, which is often draped in gentleness and glossed with a kind of featherweight charm, remains simply fascinating. Be it Albert’s surrounding instrumentation or Bon’s elegant, intimate sensitivities. Their chemistry is unyielding, brandishing its own phenomena of tangible, communal energy. On “Lightness is Loud,” Bon and Albert take things slow and let the arrangement unravel into a “Coral, coral, snake snake / Curl inside me / Soft wool, rough blue / Pearl inside you” chorus. Paced by a slight acoustic strum that’s emotional like a tempest, Bon singing “I am trying to hear you / Open up, lightness abound” will fall into you like a beating sun. “Lightness is Loud” demands patience from its listener, as no climax looms but the reward of a beautiful conclusion waits at the track’s final measure all the same. —Matt Mitchell

Ekko Astral: “devorah”

D.C. post-punk band Ekko Astral announced their debut album pink balloons and released “devorah” at the end of March. The track’s intro is led solely by hollow, ringing vocals and jeering, accented guitar before the track abruptly bursts into a brash, percussive spiral of energetic noise. Short, glaring vocals are sung, spoken and snarled in the verses and chorus by Jael Holzman, contrasting their elongated and angelic intro. According to the band, the track is about “empathizing with marginalized people” and persevering through “the worst our world can offer,” referencing murder, Taco Bell, two-week trials and seven-dollar coffee. To that truth, “devorah” is a lean and hard-hitting post-punk miracle. —Grace Ann Natanawan

Good Looks: “If It’s Gone”

Austin four-piece Good Looks have album #2—Lived Here For A While—arriving in June via Keeled Scales, and lead single “If It’s Gone” is just delicious country-rock at its finest. Though it’s a breakup song, Tyler Jordan and co. never let it teeter on any kind of overblown typecast. “And I always feel so lonely when a lover leaves my life,” Jordan sings over a charming, sunny guitar arpeggio, colliding with Vanessa Jollay’s back-up vocals. “I already lost my mother, left my family far behind. And I don’t believe in Jesus, God, or Buddha, or beyond. OK, a little bit in Buddha, trying to keep from hanging on.” There’s a wax earnestness that succeeds across “If It’s Gone,” which bakes a marvelous arrangement into an already moving story. Nearing its end, the track quickly swells into a seering guitar solo from axeman Jake Ames that—when paired with Robert Cherry and Phillip Dunne’s divine percussive, rhythmic consistency—brandishes flourishes of rock ‘n’ roll any aching heart would die to hear. —MM

Grace Cummings: “Ramona”

On the title-track of Gace Cummings’ forthcoming LP Ramona, the Australian singer-songwriter references “two of the most momentous songs” in her life: “To Ramona” by Bob Dylan and “If I Were King of the Forest” from The Wizard of Oz. Cummings’ robust vocals glide across the track with ease, effortlessly hitting dynamic highs and falling into more subtle spaces. The track saunters forward, relishing in its buzzy and sparse atmosphere. She sings of the struggle to find a real sense of bravery and confidence, painting a feverish portrait of her experience. On “Ramona,” Cummings’ emotive vocal performance ties the track into an urgent and burning sermon of personal examination. —GN

Hot Joy: “Folded Tongue”

St. Louis-based Hot Joy returned last month with another rocker off their debut EP, Small Favor. The minute-and-a-half track was the first song that Austin McCutchen—formerly of Choir Vandals—wrote for his new punky outfit, and “Folded Tongue” is about the battle between embracing confrontation to make life easier in the long run—even if you are deathly afraid of standing up to someone. Although the short track doesn’t leave much space for contemplation, the fuzzed-out arrangement hits us in the gut with a standstill opening line: “Don’t separate the fact and fiction / I need it in the world right now.” “Folded Tongue” is a quick blast of grungy energy and brazen lyricism from a blossoming lo-fi band you ought to look out for. —Olivia Abercrombie

Jessica Pratt: “World on a String”

While “Life Is” arrived earlier this year and quickly became one of the best singles of 2024 so far, Jessica Pratt’s latest musing, “World On a String,” is just as powerful, warm and entrancing. With her first album in five years—Here In The Pitch—knocking on the doors of our hearts, “World On a String” is a lesson in timelessness. In equal measure, the track sounds like a Mamas and the Papas demo while also sitting cozily in the belly of mid-2010s, lo-fi bedroom pop. “I want to be the sunlight of the century,” Pratt sings in a summery volume. “I want to be a vestige of our senses free.” Pratt herself was inspired by forgotten teen garage bands, and you can hear the charm of the Dandy Girls aching through every syllable. Stepping into “World On a String” is like making a home inside a time capsule, and only Jessica Pratt could make such archaic familiarities feel so new. —MM

Merce Lemon: “Will You Do Me A Kindness”

Shoutout to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Winnebago Man—seriously. Though I grew up a stone’s throw across the Ohio border near the state line, I still can’t help but feel anything but kinship with those ketchup heads. And with that, I can’t stop listening to the new Merce Lemon track “Will You Do Me a Kindness.” If the year ended tomorrow, this song would be #1 on my list with a bullet. At nearly six minutes, Lemon channels one of the warmest, most compelling indie rock confessionals you’ll hear: “I cook dinner with some friends, tidy up the house, tie up loose ends / Now the sun has yet to set, a little staring at the ceiling, pick a book I never read / And I get lonely for a bit, comes in waves and then it split like a kiss that missed my lips.” The song is charming yet devastating—a hell of a paradox to revel in, but Lemon holds no qualms with testing the strength of her own musical equilibrium. “The way a fly comes so quick through a door that’s swung open,” she sings. “Flung out chairs scatter the yard while the wind does its whipping.” The instrumental climbs like a skyscraper before exploding into a firestorm of emotions; the language is a sensory treasure trove that’ll crack you in half and then piece you back together with the way Lemon sings “I’ll paint that hide cherry red.” And that guitar solo? Godspeed to the rest of the music industry. It’s gonna take a miracle to do better than “Will You Do Me a Kindness.” —MM

The Ophelias: “Soft and Tame”

It is once again time for Ohio to rise up. The Ophelias, with their EP Ribbon ready to come out this month, are back with another single: “Soft and Tame.” The band—Spencer Peppet, Mic Adams, Jo Shaffer and Andrea Gutmann Fuentes—don’t consider themselves to be Cincinnati-based these days, but that’s not stopping them from writing the most heartbreaking homecoming anthem you’ve heard in a minute. “Giving up love in the South of Ohio, I hate it here, in the in-between,” Peppet sings out. “I wanna feel safe, I wanna feel seen. The curve of the hills when the sun is gone, a knot in my throat, another fucking song.” Fuentes’ violin rips through the noise of the track with a paradoxical, piercing delicacy that renders “Soft and Tame” into a brand new register of beauty. I am biased, as not just a born-and-raised Ohioan but as a born-and-raised Ohioan who, too, hates how uncomfortable and merciless it can be to live in this forsaken state—but the Ophelias are one of the best bands alive. —MM

This Is Lorelei: “Dancing in the Club”

Following the massive success of Water From Your Eyes’ 2023 album Everyone’s Crushed, Nate Amos returns to his This Is Lorelei project with “Dancing in the Club” and a new album on the horizon. In the past, This Is Lorelei has acted as a place for Amos’ creative experimentation and off-the-cuff playfulness to live beyond his usual project with Rachel Brown, but with Box for Buddy, Box for Star, he is looking to bring a traditional LP format to the project. On the vocoder-driven “Dancing in the Club”—which began as a character study and morphed into personal exploration—Amos plays the part of a romantic fuck-up. Even with this newfound desire to make a more traditional-sounding record, Amos’ creativity refuses to take a backseat—with the glittering synth-pop tune bringing in a mix of strings, keys and a Steely Dan reference. Amos’ commitment to making music with a clear head has brought a new vibrancy to his work, and I expect the first full-length This Is Lorelei album to be a kaleidoscopic portrait of discovery. —OA

Wild Pink: “Air Drumming Fix You”

New York singer-songwriter John Ross’ band Wild Pink has returned—and many of us can rejoice. After making the Waiting Around EP with multi-instrumentalist Laura Wolf last year as Lilts, Ross has returned to his main project and signed with Fire Talk Records. The band’s 2022 album, ILYSM, was a Paste favorite, and for good reason: It signaled Wild Pink rising toward an apex you’d be a fool to ignore. Now, on “Air Drumming Fix You,” Ross and the crew pair diner jukebox-gentle drum machines and synthesizers with cresting saxophone scales and a spumante pedal steel—all while Ross sings about “shitting my pants in a VR world,” “baby breath” and someone, as the title aptly suggests, air-drumming Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Through vignettes of quick humor, however, come sharp lines that’ll gut you on the spot. “I guess the good life didn’t look like you thought it might” is going to be a lyric that sticks with me for a good while, especially, maybe forever. This Wild Pink track is handsome and sublime. Good luck getting me to turn it off anytime soon. —MM

Listen to a playlist of these 10 tracks below.

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