10 New Albums to Stream Today

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10 New Albums to Stream Today

It might be the tail end of the month, but today (Jan. 31) may very well be the most significant New Music Friday of the year so far. Several artists who released albums today landed on our list of the Best Albums of January: Squirrel Flower, TORRES and Frances Quinlan. If you still haven’t heard something that has excited you in 2020, we have a good feeling that you’ll find something here to connect with. Scroll down to sample 10 of today’s most essential new music releases.

1. Destroyer: Have We Met

Dan Bejar’s songs often sound like part of the soundtrack to a movie that exists only in his mind. An ’80s-style noir flick, maybe, set in some retro-futuristic cityscape where wet pavement glistens with the reflection of neon lights, and the juxtaposition of idiosyncratic lyrics, Bejar’s plummy voice and the squelch of synthesizers makes perfect sense according to some obscure internal logic. That stylized artificiality has been an unspoken running theme in Bejar’s music as Destroyer, at least since Kaputt in 2011. He and bassist-producer John Collins (former bandmates in The New Pornographers) take it to the extreme on Destroyer’s latest, Have We Met, on which the only actual instruments are electric guitar and bass—and a whole lot of electronic accompaniment, including synthesizers, keyboards and beats. —Eric R. Danton

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2. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling

Directness is the defining characteristic of the songs that Patterson Hood brings to the Drive-By Truckers. He writes what he means, with a big open heart full of empathy for the characters in his songs and a barbed sense of indignation on behalf of people getting a raw deal. That has included a lot of folks over the years, including the sick, uninsured and out of work on “Putting People on the Moon” and an Iraqi war veteran wrestling with PTSD on “The Man I Shot,” from 2004’s The Dirty South and 2008’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, respectively. Hood’s empathy was stretched like never before on the Truckers’ 2016 album American Band, an apprehensive look at a fractured nation divided over race, guns and, what Hood called, the “coming storm” of Trumpism. Things haven’t improved in the three and a half years since then, and the band’s new album, The Unraveling, is just as political as its predecessor, shaped by what the past few years have wrought: more shootings, more race-based violence, an opioid crisis, an immigration policy based largely on cruelty. —Eric R. Danton

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3. Frances Quinlan: Likewise

Joni Mitchell once said, “I’m a painter first. I sing my sorrow and I paint my joy.” You’ve heard her songs, but you’ve also seen her portraits, on the covers of Clouds, Both Sides Now and Taming The Tiger, to name a few places. Frances Quinlan, the frontwoman of esteemed Philadelphia punk outfit Hop Along, is a bit like Mitchell in that sense. She’s a lyricist, a writer, a singer (one of the most instantly recognizable in rock music, at that) and a talented painter. Her artwork appears on the three most recent Hop Along covers: 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, 2012’s Get Disowned and 2015’s Painted Shut, one of Paste’s favorite albums of the 2010s. Using someone else’s work for Hop Along visuals was always out of the question. Cut to now, and Quinlan is preparing to release her first solo album under her own name. Likewise is probably folksier than much of Hop Along’s more recent material, but only in the sense that the instrumentation is more bare and the storytelling takes center stage. —Ellen Johnson

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4. Harmless: Condiciones

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Nacho Cano, who records under the name Harmless, has shared his new EP, Condiciones, which premiered exclusively at Paste. The EP has a pretty dramatic backstory: In 2017, Cano was nearly killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike. As a result, Cano was put on bed rest and had to relearn how to walk. During his long recovery process, a friend lent him a keyboard to write music. The result was his new EP Condiciones, which features samples of loved ones’ voicemails, audio from the hospital and video of Cano learning how to walk. The four-track EP melds rich saxophone and sleek vocals with twinkling, lo-fi psych-pop. —Lizzie Manno

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5. Sløtface: Sorry for the Late Reply

Wedged between surging punk energy and serrated pop hooks, Sløtface found just enough room for pointed social commentary on the band’s new album. The Norwegian foursome has already proven themselves adept at striking that balance: Their 2017 debut Try Not to Freak Out had a feminist bent on songs taking aim at how women are portrayed in mass media and indie-rock’s dude-centric culture, among other topics. The band refines its approach on Sorry for the Late Reply, tying in the socially conscious elements with personal ruminations and wry humor on 13 new tracks. —Eric R. Danton

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6. Son Little: aloha

Son Little, the bluesy R&B project of Grammy-winning Los Angeles artist Aaron Livingston, has shared his third album aloha. It’s his first album with an outside producer, and Livingston plays almost all the instruments on the album. aloha follows 2017’s New Magic and 2015’s Son Little. —Lizzie Manno

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7. Squirrel Flower: I Was Born Swimming

Squirrel Flower (aka Ella O’Connor Williams) has released her Polyvinyl debut, I Was Born Swimming. She made a splash with lead single “Red Shoulder,” a wrenching rock tune that pairs her poised vocals with scorching guitars, sounding astoundingly alive. “Headlights,” Williams’ second track from the record, is practically its opposite—a soft, shimmering track that proves she’s just as excellent in the realm of tender introspection. —Amanda Gersten

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8. TORRES: Silver Tongue

In April 2018, Mackenzie Scott, the preternaturally talented songwriter who records under the name TORRES, announced on Twitter that her storied label, 4AD, had dropped her from a planned three-album deal “for not being commercially successful enough.” It was an upsetting blow, particularly given the strength of TORRES’ third album, Three Futures, an alluring art-pop concept album examining bodily pleasure with Kraftwerk and CAN as aural reference points. Scott tumbled into self-doubt. “I was in a really bad place,” she reflected in a more recent interview with SPIN. She considered leaving music altogether. Instead, she started writing, and didn’t stop for months. Silver Tongue, TORRES’ excellent fourth album—and first for Merge—is the result of that defiant burst. It’s not a set of sugary hooks designed to crack the Discover Weekly algorithm: The record, which is self-produced, sacrifices no ounce of Scott’s sharp-angled, emotionally explosive songcraft. —Zach Schonfeld

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9. Tricot: Pitch Black

How often does a song genuinely surprise you? My guess is maybe one out of every 10 or 15 songs. Japanese quartet Tricot have an inherent advantage when it comes to perplexing listeners—they’re a math rock band, after all. The band’s latest album, Pitch Black, dropped this week, and it’s full of surprises. The title track centers on an intricate, circling riff which cuts through their especially sweet pop vocals. —Lizzie Manno

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10. Wild Nothing: Laughing Gas

Following his 2018 LP Indigo, Jack Tatum, has shared his first new music as Wild Nothing in the form a five-track EP Laughing Gas. “I think of the EP’s title as being representative of a kind of manufactured bliss and loss of control,” Tatum says. “So much of people’s lives are caught up in the quest for wholeness and sometimes it feels so much easier to loosen our grip through these fabricated shortcuts, whether it’s escapism, self-medication, seeking external validation or any number of other things. I often find myself guilty of almost all of these, but ultimately I think this EP finds me in a place of trying to go easier on myself.” —Lizzie Manno

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