The 10 Best New Songs

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The 10 Best New Songs

Picking just 10 (or less!) new tracks to highlight on this list never gets any easier, and that continued to hold true this week, which saw dozens of releases worth pushing play on. Veteran acts like José González and Iceage returned with new material—with the former sharing his first new song in over half a decade—while rising stars like Grrrl Gang and serpentwithfeet continued to assert themselves as acts to follow. We’ll guide you through all the week’s best new songs below.

Dawn Richard: “Bussifame”

New Orleans artist Dawn Richard released her latest single, “Bussifame” Tuesday, along with an accompanying music video. The track is her first release after signing with Merge Records in January, and the first single ahead of her new album Second Line, out April 30. The genre-bending artist pays homage to her New Orleans roots on “Bussifame,” starting the track with a sample of swinging, old-school jazz before jumping into a fusion of soul and danceable electro-pop. The self-directed music video finds Richard surrounded by fellow dancers in futuristic styles, bringing the party to seemingly isolated locations ahead of a Covid-affected Mardi Gras. Richard said of her latest single in a statement: “The term ‘bussifame’ is a nod to the way New Orleanians run our words together when we speak (‘bust it for me’). ‘Bussifame’ is a dance anthem celebrating New Orleans second line footwork and second line culture; it’s a request to move your feet no matter where you are in the world. A pandemic won’t stop the parade!” —Carli Scolforo

Grrrl Gang: “Honey, Baby”

On their first new material since 2018, Indonesian indie act Grrrl Gang put the jangling guitars and dreamy vocals of Alvvays in a blender with vintage Tame Impala psych-rock touches and yesteryear’s pop harmonies, resulting in the all-around lovely “Honey, Baby.” The Yogyakarta-based trio of Angee Sentana, Akbar Rumandung and Edo Alventa signed to London’s Damnably Records in 2019, and appeared poised for a Stateside breakout via SXSW 2020, though, of course, the pandemic had other plans. But they’re bouncing back by performing at the digital 2021 festival and readying a new album, for which the warm ‘60s psychedelia of “Honey, Baby” bodes quite well. Vocalist and guitarist Sentana says the song is the story of a relationship, recalling, “I tried to reflect and express how sweet the relationship was to me at that time, despite knowing that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I guess, what I was trying to say in this song was, ‘Hey, I am willing to go through this. Are you?’” —Scott Russell

Iceage: “Vendetta”

It’s official: Copenhagen’s Iceage will make their Mexican Summer debut on May 7 with Seek Shelter, their fifth album and first since 2018’s Beyondless. The Danish rockers shared another preview of the album in the form of new single/video “Vendetta” on Wednesday. “Vendetta” is a menacing, yet danceable blues-rock track that moves in a fashion somewhere between swaggering and stumbling. “This ain’t no place for a sightseer,” Rønnenfelt warns, his impressionistic lyrics conjuring hazy images of transaction, exploitation and retribution. He swears vengeance over swaying shakers and drums, rowdy guitars and a monolithic synth hum that swells as “Vendetta” crescendoes, with discordant horns only sending it deeper into its dark downward spiral. “Crime is the undercurrent that runs through everything. If you don’t see it, you’re not looking,” says Rønnenfelt in a statement. “In its invincible politics, it is the glue that binds it all together. ‘Vendetta’ is an impartial dance along the illicit lines of infraction.” —Scott Russell

José González: “El Invento”

José González released his first new song in over five years on Wednesday with the track “El Invento.” The song is the first in the Swedish singer-songwriter’s career to feature lyrics in Spanish. The music video for “El Invento” features the song’s lyrics in both Spanish and English, making it easy to enjoy the profound lyrical work of González in either language. The song asks questions of creation and purpose against a gentle Spanish guitar as the video offers a sweet glimpse into simple, domestic life. González credits releasing his first work in Spanish to speaking the language with his young daughter in a statement: “Every now and then I try to write lyrics in Spanish—this time I succeeded! I guess talking to Laura in Spanish every day helped. I started writing ‘El Invento’ around 2017 when she was born. The song is about the questions—who we are, where we’re going and why? Whom can we thank for our existence? Historically, most traditions have invented answers to these questions. Thereof the name of the song: The Invention (god).” —Carli Scolforo

MAN ON MAN: “1983”

Roddy Bottum (Faith No More, Imperial Teen, CRICKETS, Nastie Band) and Joey Holman (HOLMAN) hold nothing back on the lead single from their self-titled debut album (May 7, Polyvinyl Record Co.) as MAN ON MAN (or M.O.M. for short), an anthemic, indie-rock ode to cruising the duo released this week. “1983” is an irresistibly upbeat, boldly arranged blend of deep, tuneful vocals and fuzzily melodic guitars that eventually gives itself over entirely to synth- and drum machine-assisted danceability. But the song’s most compelling quality is its mix of unabashed sexuality and heartfelt romance, as exemplified by lyrics like “You know sucking really makes me feel good / It’s just that when we’re fucking I feel more understood.” “We found the concept of outdoor cruising and anonymous hookups particularly interesting in this barren chapter of history,” the band said of the track in a statement. “While sex apps have nearly obliterated IRL hookups and the pandemic currently forbids human contact, ‘1983’ is a heartfelt homage to an era that glorified danger, anonymous encounters and sex positivity.” —Scott Russell

McKinley Dixon: “make a poet Black”

Richmond, Va., rapper McKinley Dixon makes his Spacebomb Records debut on May 7 with For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her, the final installment of an album trilogy that began with Dixon’s self-released 2018 LPs Who Taught You to Hate Yourself? and The Importance of Self Belief. The enthralling lead single from his new album is “make a poet Black,” the creation of which Dixon says came “at a pivotal moment, not only in my musical timeline, but my life”: After losing “someone integral to my childhood,” the artist began to question his memories and himself, which “resulted in a song that challenged who I was, challenged my intentions and created this narrative of me chasing a version of myself that I lost,” he explains. “‘make a poet Black’ is the result of me questioning: What about trauma forces a Black person to feel the need to create?” Over unnerving koto and bass plucks, Dixon struggles not only with the pressure to succeed as an artist (“The money is stackin’ as long as you snappin’”), but also with persistent self-doubt (“You not the realest, you know that, right? / They not gon’ feel this, you know that, right?”). The track’s lyrics and instrumentation each get under your skin, growing increasingly harrowing as its intensity swells, but “make a poet Black” becomes truly special once Dixon releases all that tension, with strings and piano making their way to the forefront in the song’s stunning climax. —Scott Russell

Pansy: “Anybody Help Me”

The second single from her forthcoming debut album as Pansy, “Anybody Help Me” finds Chicago rock singer/songwriter Vivian McCall (formerly of Windy City collective Jungle Green) looking back at the most difficult point in her transition, laying her physical and emotional struggles as bare as an exposed nerve. The ramshackle bedroom-rock track surrounds McCall’s rending entreaties (“I can’t find the woman in me [...] Can somebody help me, anybody help me?”) with fuzzy guitar noodling, chugging acoustic strums and a metronomic drum machine, all heartening counterpoints to her at-wit’s-end lyricism. Fred Rogers said, “If you can mention it, you can manage it,” and McCall’s song operates in that same spirit: it’s a fearless emotional inventory taken during a time of inner tumult, then made into an easygoing piece of jangle-pop that has us excited about what more Pansy (April 2, Earth Libraries) has in store. —Scott Russell

Paris Texas: “Heavy Metal”

It’s thrilling to see a new act arrive with a clear idea of who they are and what they’re here to do. Enter South Central Los Angeles duo Paris Texas, whose statement debut single “Heavy Metal”—the culmination of two weeks of mysterious Instagram teases—has the unmistakable intensity and energy of intention. Louie Pastel and Felix trade self-assured verses over a spidery riff that kicks into full overdrive in the choruses, distorted power chords blasting alongside pumping 808 bass, crashing cymbals and flying-saucer synths, all of which collapse into an unexpected shoegaze reverie at the song’s end. Paris Texas’ imaginative raps reference The Matrix and using Orion’s Belt as a weapon, but reveal a deeper pathos beneath all the bold braggadocio: “I just wanted my father’s applause / I just wanted my mother’s applause / I just wanted these crackers’ applause / So I stand on the stage with the boys.” —Scott Russell

serpentwithfeet: “Same Size Shoe”

Los Angeles-based artist serpentwithfeet shared his latest single “Same Size Shoe” on Wednesday. The artist’s newest release comes ahead of his sophomore album DEACON, out March 26 via Secretly Canadian. DEACON follows serpentwithfeet’s acclaimed debut album soil and is a continued exploration of his perspective on love as a Black, gay man. “Same Size Shoe” professes serpentwithfeet’s preference to date other Black men and enjoy the profound connection that comes through similar life experiences with his closing ad-lib: “You’re my heel and my toe mate / I know that you can actually walk a mile in my shoes / That’s why I love you.” The track is mellow and playful, with serpentwithfeet’s vocalized trumpet solo breaking up the R&B beat. —Carli Scolforo

Shura: “Obsession”

U.K. art-pop artist Shura put out the previously unreleased “Obsession” earlier this week alongside the details of her forthcoming forevher Deluxe Edition, coming March 26 via Secretly Canadian. The acclaimed 2019 album’s new expansion features the original 11 tracks and nine new extras, including acoustic reworks of five forevher songs, Shura’s 2020 Ivy Sole collaboration “elevator girl,” previous Bandcamp single “magazine launch (demo),” and two unreleased tracks, “Obsession” included. “‘obsession’ was one of the songs I wrote whilst I was writing forevher I always wanted it to be a duet between two women but it never came to fruition during the recording process,” Shura recalls in a statement. “Then, when I toured forevher in Europe, Rosie Lowe came with us and we’d always spoken about wanting to collaborate on something together, and I suddenly remembered this song, which I loved but had somehow never finished. I sent the track across to Ro and when she sent back her rough take I was like ‘YES. this is it.’” The finished product is a sleek, intimate love song in which Shura and Lowe exchange romantic oaths over airy synth-pop that’s powered by a deceptively propulsive low end. —Scott Russell