The 15 Best Tracks of September

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The 15 Best Tracks of September

Though it ended with an insane, infuriating week, you can find some solace in all the great new music that September brought us. From the fiery soul of Charles Bradley and the pretty acoustic ballads of Adrianne Lenker to the jazz-infused rap of Ric Wilson and the hypnotizing psych-rock of Toy, we’ve got you covered. Check out Paste’s 15 favorite tracks of last month, as chosen by the Paste Music Staff.

1. Charles Bradley: I Feel A Change

There were few music stories in 2017 more devastating than the passing of soul icon Charles Bradley. A juggernaut of a live performer, whose passion for entertaining and joyously living every moment of his life were clear to anyone who ever watched him set foot on stage, Bradley was an infectious presence. It was impossible to wear a frown while watching him pour out his heart and soul to anyone who would listen—there have been few artists in the history of soul music, or popular music in general, who were so uniquely earnest. Consider us pleasantly surprised, then, to learn that there’s more Charles Bradley tracks out there we haven’t yet heard. Today, Bradley’s former label Daptone Records, via its Dunham records imprint, announced the release of the singer’s final, posthumous album Black Velvet on Nov. 9. Those songs include the single “I Feel a Change,” along with material recorded during the periods of each of Charles’ three albums. —Jim Vorel

2. Bill Ryder-Jones: And Then There’s You

English multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer Bill Ryder-Jones is releasing his fourth solo album, Yawn, on Nov. 2 via Domino Records. Ryder-Jones rose to prominence in the ‘90s as a founding member of Wirral pop band The Coral and he also recently played guitar on tour with Arctic Monkeys. In addition to his work in previous bands and his prolific solo career, the 35-year-old Ryder-Jones has also produced records for bands like The Wytches, Hooton Tennis Club, By The Sea and Our Girl. Tuesday, he released a new single from his forthcoming album, “And Then There’s You,” which was recorded and produced almost entirely by Ryder-Jones himself at his Yawn Studios in West Kirby, U.K. Following the lead single “Mither,” this new track proves Ryder-Jones’ classical music upbringing didn’t wear off as its richness, attention to detail and emotional chord progressions indicate his uncanny songwriting skills. His status as crafty wordsmith is also apparent in his use of poetic devices in the song’s chorus: “My mistrust/ My mistress/ Takes me home again/ My mistress/ My mistrust/ We’re alone again.” —Lizzie Manno

3. Thom Yorke: Suspirium

Thom Yorke has shared the first song from his forthcoming score to Luca Guadagnino’s horror reboot Suspiria, following the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival this past weekend. Yorke’s Suspiria score will be out Oct. 26 through XL Recordings. The song, titled “Suspirium,” is one of 25 tracks Yorke wrote and performed for the film. “Suspirium,” which Yorke teased last week, features the melodic theme that recurs throughout the film and its score. Fans of Radiohead’s most recent album A Moon Shaped Pool will find plenty to love here, with Yorke’s ethereal vocals gliding over a simple piano figure reminiscent of tracks like “Daydreaming” or “Codex.” The song’s accompanying video features color-shifted images of ballet dancers. 1977’s original Suspiria, directed by Dario Argento, focused on a haunted ballet academy. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) marks Yorke’s first foray into film scoring. —Justin Kamp

4. Kurt Vile: Bassackwards

Vile recorded “Bassackwards” with engineer and producer Shawn Everett at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles, and his Bottle It In bio describes the track as “the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world.” Vile is of two minds—and sometimes none at all—on the song, singing, “I was on the beach but/ I was thinking about the bay/ got to the bay but by then I was far away,” over dreamy backmasked guitars and gentle acoustic strums. The polarized instrumentation fits perfectly with the song’s refusal to settle on one direction—”Bassackwards” moves two ways at once, leaving us wondering which way is true North, or if there even is one.—Scott Russell

5. Rostam: In A River

Rostam Batmanglij is a man of his word: The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist who first came to fame as a member of Vampire Weekend recently teased the impending release of the first single from his forthcoming second solo album, and said single has indeed arrived. “In A River” is Rostam’s first new music since the September 2017 release of his acclaimed solo debut Half-Light, though the details of his follow-up album remain mostly under wraps. “In A River” opens only with bright mandolin chords and the idyllic intimacy evoked by Rostam’s vocals (“Slide into the cool mud/ Underneath the pines/ Somewhere to your right or left/ Is my body you can find”), which are soon joined in the chorus by a thumping 808 beat. Like its eponymous body of water, the song slows and speeds at intervals, contracting and expanding its instrumental palette in a way that feels as unknowable as nature. The song’s core sentiment is as simple as its instrumentation is complex: “We are swimming/ with no clothes on/ in a river in the dark,” Rostam sings, “And I am holding / onto you, boy/ in the faint light of the stars.” —Scott Russell

6. Adrianne Lenker: symbol

Lenker’s new single features the same breathy, close-mic’d vocals that fans of her work with Big Thief have come to love. But where Big Thief’s instrumentals are given space to sprawl, the guitar here is a densely knotted acoustic finger-picking figure with the faintest of motorik backbeats that Lenker rides through crest and valley alike. The end result is something hermetic, a hymnal that belongs more to the confession booth than the church altar. —Justin Kamp

7. Richard Swift: Sept20

Richard Swift’s final album, The Hex, dropped on Sept. 21 through Secretly Canadian. Swift, a longtime collaborator of The Shins, The Black Keys and more, died in July at the age of 41. Listening to Swift’s final song, “Sept20,” is an experience in epiphany. It goes something like this: You listen to the song, a vaguely melancholy piano ditty elevated by Swift’s eerie falsetto, and maybe you feel a bit thrown off by the show tunes-y chorus. You might puzzle over where you’ve heard his name before. The first realization comes with seeing that today is Sept. 20, and that this song is supposed to be some microcosm of today. Then you see the single artwork, a scrawled note, and as you read along, you find Swift speaking the words into being. There’s scratches, cross-outs. It’s his lyric sheet. —Justin Kamp

8. Miya Folick: Stop Talking

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Miya Folick has shared the details of her debut album, Premonitions, out on Oct. 26 via Terrible Records and Interscope. Her debut album will follow two EPs, 2015’s Strange Darling and 2017’s Give It To Me. She previously released two singles from her forthcoming album, “Stock Image” and “Deadbody.” The album was recorded in Los Angeles and was co-produced by Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Angel Olsen). Thursday, she dropped another new track and video from her album, “Stop Talking.” The track is a bubbly pop track, laced with funky guitars, silvery synths and Folick’s spirited, heavenly pipes. The track is a triumphant pop wake-up call that’s best suited for dancing late at night with a few of your closest girlfriends (or as an elaborately choreographed dance routine, as shown in the song’s video). These three album tracks prove Folick is firmly next in line for pop stardom with her rare, innate vocal talent, unforgettable melodies and painfully relatable, timely lyrics. —Lizzie Manno

9. Kate Teague: Gilly

Kate Teague’s debut album won’t arrive until 2019, but the indie singer-songwriter out of Oxford, Miss., is sowing the seeds of a standout release, the latest of which is her heartwarming new single “Gilly.” The deeply personal track finds Teague reaching out to console a loved one, doing her best to be there for her from afar. Teague sings softly over a bright, yet restless lead guitar line that roams both high and low, not unlike the peaks and valleys of a life. She reassures her heartbroken sibling that the best is yet to come, promising, “Gilly, you’ll be alright/ Let it end/ Don’t let your willful heart win/ Tomorrow’s man will be all in.” The song is a moving attempt to bridge the kind of gap that can’t help but exist between two adults, with Teague reminding the song’s namesake that when she needs a loving sister to lean on, there’s no distance too far. —Scott Russell

10. Jeff Tweedy: Some Birds

“Some Birds” finds Tweedy up to his old Uncle Tupelo tricks once again. The rusted alt-country of No Depression has, throughout the years, alternately been Tweedy’s boon and bane—some of Wilco’s best work occurred when he was running as far away from roots rock as he could. But when he’s on his own, that naturalistic style of songwriting feels, well, natural. —Justin Kamp

11. Jay Som and Justus Proffit: Invisible Friends

“Invisible Friends” is the second single from the duo’s forthcoming collaborative EP Nothing’s Changed, following the title track’s release in August. Where the title track was a buoyant, folk-ish jaunt that found the pair dipping their toes into distortion, “Invisible Friends” finds them basking in waves of fuzz and swanky bass grooves that sound like the good old days of arena rock. “Melina (Duterte, aka Jay Som) and I wanted this song to sound really big,” Justus Proffit said in a statement. “This song is kind of Oasis inspired. Every two-count of the song, there is a note hit on the keyboard that was inspired by Len’s ‘Steal My Sunshine.’ We generally just wanted a groovy ‘90s rock song. —Justin Kamp

12. Molly Burch: Candy

“Candy,” is introspective and defiant, depicting Burch’s battle with her own self-confidence. It’s all give-and-take between the jangly lead guitar and Burch’s warm, jazzy vocals, painting the singer-songwriter as both feminine and in-charge. “I wrote “Candy” after a long conversation with my dad on the phone, where I had been just walking around getting out a lot of my self doubt and creative anxieties. It may sound like I’m talking to a past love, but it’s really meant for that voice in my head that tells me a negative narrative,” said Burch in a statement. “Anxiety can be so addictive—the cycle of it, the relief after you’ve spent time worrying about something that turns out fine. I felt like writing about all of this because it’s a significant part of my waking life, but all wrapped up in a sweet pop song.” —Emma Korstanje

13. Ric Wilson: Sinner

Chicago-based rapper Ric Wilson has shared the video for his jazzy, joyous track “Sinner” off his May EP, BANBA (short for “Black Art Not Bad Art”), out now through Innovative Leisure. The song features fellow Chicago rap phenom Kweku Collins, as well as up-and-comers Rane Raps and Nick Kosma. Wilson is cut from the same cloth as Chicago’s current batch of conscious superstars, including Chance, Noname, Vic Mensa and others. His tracks are as bouncy as they are thoughtful, and “Sinner” has the hallmarks of what defines a certain portion of Chicago’s rap output today: jazzy, horn-based instrumentals, slick soul grooves, and a communal sense of collaborative talent, showcased here by Wilson’s interplay with his three guests. —Justin Kamp

14. Toy: The Willo

The krautrock five-piece unveiled two new tracks, “The Willo” and “Energy,” for a limited edition 12-inch single, out Friday, Sept. 14, via Tough Love Records. The 12-inch is the band’s debut release for the label and it will also serve as the first taste of their unnamed forthcoming fourth studio album, which will be released in January 2019. “The Willo” opens with electronic percussion and acoustic guitar as the band’s ghostly ringleader and frontman Tom Dougall warns of a sinister ray of light, which has become woven into English folklore. The song hovers with Max Oscarnold’s (also of Proper Ornaments) whispering, psychedelic synths, twinkling guitars and Dougall’s eerie yet calming vocals, which culminate into a slowly unfolding, hauntingly beautiful track that highlights what the band does best: scrupulous writing and musicianship with equal parts brooding and dazzling. —Lizzie Manno

15. Grapetooth: Red Wine

Grapetooth, the Chicago-based synth project of Clay Frankel (Twin Peaks) and Chris Bailoni (aka Home-Sick), have released “Red Wine,” the third single from their forthcoming self-titled debut album, out Nov. 9 on Polyvinyl Records. The track is named after that most essential ingredient in the genesis of the band: wine. The duo initially bonded over their shared love of the stuff, and the name Grapetooth is an affectionate term for someone who drinks a lot of it. Wine is also pretty essential to the feel of their music—their new-wave-ish tendencies are cut with a fuzzy romanticism that says, “I’ve just downed a jug of Sutter Home.” —Justin Kamp