(1) Me Rex - "Galena"
Technically a June release, but we need to talk about it now. I can't wait until next month.
Me Rex, a band near and dear to my heart (their "Stellar Abattoir" was my #2 Song of 2020) has announced their new project, and its brilliance makes my head hurt.
Their new album, Megabear, consists of fifty-two snippets of music, each about thirty seconds long, meant to be played in any order. In advance of the proper release (June 18), they created a website which automatically shuffles the songs in near-infinite combinations, and ... I hope you find this even one percent as fascinating as I do.
As a lead single, "Galena" is kind of a proof of concept - it's actually six songs pieced together, and it's beautiful. Somehow they plan to tour behind this album later in the year, which seems impossible, but I absolutely have to see it.
(2) Torres - "Don't Go Putting Wishes In My Head"
I was obsessed with this song for most of May, and I finally figured out why all of the disparate elements work so well together: it starts with a sinister synth throb before quickly transitioning into a propulsive rocker, adding layers of anthemic grandiosity, culminating in the addition of a choir of backing vocals. Add it all up and what you get, I think, is one of the top three Killers songs of all time. That's the formula, and it works.
(3) We Are The Union - "Make It Easy"
New Album Today! Adorable, aggressively queer ska revival from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Now that you've read that description, you already know whether you love or hate this band. I am firmly in the former camp.
(4) Wolf Alice - "How Can I Make It OK?"
New Album Today! The title of Best Band In The World is theirs until the next Martha album comes out.
(5) Lucy Dacus - "VBS"
"Thumbs" is still the runaway winner for the title of Most Lyrically Devastating Lucy Dacus Song of 2021, but for those of you who, like me, are veterans of that institution known as Vacation Bible School, I ask you, which of these hits harder:
"You say that I showed you the light / But all it did in the end / Was make the dark feel darker than before"
"When I tell you you were born and you are here for a reason / You are not convinced the reason is a good one"
(Also, please listen to the Greatest Podcast of All Time.)
(6) Bleachers - "Stop Making This Hurt"
The Jack Antonoff battle lines have already been drawn, and this song probably isn't going to change anyone's mind, but personally I support his decision attempt a remake of "You Can Call Me Al."
(7) Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen - "Like I Used To"
Springsteen-off! It's a Springsteen-off!
(8) Olivia Rodrigo - "Brutal"
The new rock revolution is being led by an actress from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, the Italian Eurovision winners, Will Smith's daughter, and one of the worst white rappers of all time. And honestly, that sounds amazing.
(9) Baby Queen - "Dover Beach"
Queen of Singles Jukebox, that's for sure.
(10) Japanese Breakfast - "Savage Good Boy"
New Album Today! Crying in H Mart was so, so good. The fact that Jubilee might be even better is mind-blowing. Quite a year for Michelle Zauner.
(11) Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall - "Two-Step Down To Texas"
Three great country songwriters got together, recorded a bunch of demos on an iPhone, and just released them without any additional editing or producing or anything. Pitchfork said that listening to it sounds like taking a vacation, and that is absolutely right.
(12) Mdou Moctar - "Taliat"
After three great singles, the full Afrique Victime record does not disappoint. I'm usually bored by guitar virtuosos, but this just works.
(13) 2nd Grade - "Favorite Song"
I've been playing last year's Hit to Hit quite a bit lately - it's a great early summer record. "Favorite Song" is the lead single from their new project, re-recording a bunch of old homemade demos.
(14) Cherym - "Listening To My Head"
Everyone's second-favorite Derry Girls keep building their war chest of pop-punk classics.
(15) Cowboy Boy - "Inconvenient"
Love a good half-speed middle eight.
(16) Georgia and David Jackson - "Get Me Higher"
This would have been fingernails-on-a-chalkboard for me two months ago, but between the warmer weather and improving Covid statistics, I am finally ready to embrace escapist pop music again, and this seems like a great place to start. Feels like this should be on the playlist for every boat trip of the summer.
(17) Wednesday - "Handsome Man"
Hanif Approved! That's really all I need to hear.
(18) Alien Boy - "Stuck"
Everyone's favorite "loud gay band from Portland" returns, louder and gayer than ever.
(19) Mannequin Pussy - "To Lose You"
The new songs are great, but MP will always have a soft spot in my heart for taking Pinkshift on tour with them. Are we planning a trip to Minneapolis around this? Maybe.
(20) Alex Lahey - "On My Way"
I still haven't seen The Mitchells vs. The Machines, but I can tell you that the music is impeccable. Every movie from now on should be required to feature two Los Campesinos! songs.
(21) Rostam - "From The Back Of A Cab"
New Album Today! It took me a few listens for the drums to go from "unsettling" to "fascinating," but we got there eventually.
(22) Origami Angel - "Footloose Cannonball Brothers"
New album from the revered DC emo duo. It's enjoyable, but it feels like they may have spent more time coming up with joke song titles ("Bed Bath & Batman Beyond," "Neutrogena Spektor," "Mobius Chicken Strip," etc.) than in actually writing and recording the songs themselves.
(23) Iron Chic - "Catgut"
Punk heroes return after a three-year absence, sound exactly the same, which is a good thing. I am literally wearing an Iron Chic t-shirt as I write this.
(24) NATL PARK SRVC - "The Deadline"
Minneapolis band who has been compared to Los Campesinos!, Titus Andronicus, and Ra Ra Riot, not sure why I don't love this more.
(25) The Glow - "Heavy Glow"
Easing out of this month's mix with seven minutes of shadowy, shoegaze-y atmospherics.