We’re not sure when it will be safe to hug our friends or gather in public again, so that means you likely have more free time on your hands than normal—and perhaps more than you’d like to have given that we’re all stuck inside. The Paste HQ in Atlanta has been closed for almost two months now, which means our writers have had to keep ourselves occupied and sane while we work from home. Here are a few music releases that have brought us joy or eased our minds while we aggressively type away.
Here’s a reminder that bands can be good, sometimes. Romero brings us an urgent power-pop chug on their first single, with the wrist-shredding strums of the Wedding Present, some great melodic guitar lines and the invigorating robotic plod of every good Australian band from the last however many decades. Alanna Oliver’s vocals and the slightly blown-out guitars will reap Sheer Mag comparisons, but this is the real deal. It’s hard to pick a winner between two evenly matched champs, so just add both songs to your 2020 playlist and let ‘em rip. —Senior Editor Garrett Martin
Ahead of her new album Chaotic Good, out this Friday on Wax Nine/Carpark Records, Johanna Warren has decided to start a brash folk riot in the form of her fourth and final promo single “Twisted.” It might very well be the angriest and most impassioned folk track of the year—gurgling screams ring out over gleaming guitars, but even fans of dainty folk will gravitate to her simmering raw emotions. “I used to be too concerned with maintaining a certain crystalline prettiness in my high register to ever let myself go there,” Warren says. “It was a very restrictive approach to such a versatile instrument as the human voice. But now that prettiness is something I specifically try to avoid. I’d much rather my voice sound rough and textured. I’m more interested now in trying to make as many different kinds of sounds as I can.” —Associate Music Editor Lizzie Manno
I’ve always been a Fruit Bats fan, but when Eric D. Johnson released his seventh album under the alias last year, I blew through it a few times and swiftly forgot it ever existed. For some reason, it just didn’t stick. That is, until last week when a friend sent album opener “The Bottom of It” my way as a rainy day recommendation, and the record entered my consciousness once again, where it has been taking up space ever since. Gold Past Life is way groovier than anything Johnson has released before: It very often verges on ’70s disco or funk (the title track sounds like a Bee Gees song—full stop) or maybe even ambling folk-rock in the vein of The Byrds, whereas something like 2016’s Absolute Loser or 2009’s The Ruminant Band was more firmly planted in the indie-folk sphere. Gold Past Life is thoughtful and smart all the way through, sometimes cheerful and sometimes sad and always brisk—like a gust of wind slapping your face as you stare at the ocean, or a gentler cool breeze guiding you up a mountain on a long, peaceful hike. I find more to enjoy in each listen, and I only wish I had given it more credit last year upon its initial release. But, as they say, better late than never! —Associate Music Editor Ellen Johnson
I’ve had the time to explore and revisit so much music during the quarantine, but this week in particular it’s been all about Madonna. Madonna makes me feel empowered, badass and like I can do anything even during the pandemic. Her Celebration album—a compilation of her biggest hits—has been blasting through my Bluetooth speaker on repeat during the past week. When I decide to actually put a little mascara on and maybe something cute, “Vogue” is the ultimate tune to dance around the house to. Plus, my hopeful anthem has been “Holiday,” because, “You can turn this world around and bring back all of those happy days.” —Editorial Intern Daniella Boik
This glorious synthwave album will remind you of sensations you forgot about. There’s a numbness to sitting inside all day, far removed from the daily hustle and bustle and vibrant nightlife of the city. Memory Tracer, the new album from Los Angeles experimental artist AURAGRAPH, will reacquaint you with those bewitching textures, helping you reconnect with your exhilarated side while tapping into your current blurry state. Minimal synths trickle in, building to dramatic ’80s soundscapes and wisps of moody vaporwave. —Associate Music Editor Lizzie Manno
I’ve been bumping Alice Longyu Gao’s track “Rich Bitch Juice” everyday since the start of quarantine. Many discovered Gao, a DJ and performance artist, during 100 gecs’ recent Minecraft concert “Square Garden” (Dylan Brady co-produced the track) or through Laura Les’ recent remix of the song, but she’s got an array of relatable tracks perfect for any confrontational mood, including sister song “Dumb Bitch Juice” and “Karma is a Witch.” Somehow, no other song captures my entire range of emotions as this manic party song: “You should chill, don’t be mad / What about lying by the pool?” Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a private pool, but Gao is right. I should chill. “I’m fucking tired / Don’t you tell me to be happy / Don’t you dare talk to me,” she yells, flaunting her resting bitch face. When I’m as fed up as Gao, I need “Rich Bitch Juice” to get through it. The recipe? Champagne with some lime salt to taste. Take a sip and shut up. —Editorial Intern Austin Jones
Oasis used to pride themselves on the fact that they rarely wrote throwaway tracks. Their b-sides are just as beloved as their singles, and so much so that many fans thought the band was terrible at picking album tracklists. Noel Gallagher’s response is fair enough: “Well, I don’t write shit songs!” Because of their incredible b-sides and rarities, any time the Gallagher brothers unveil another, it’s an event. This week brought a lost demo called “Don’t Stop…,” previously only available via crappy soundcheck audio on YouTube. The recorded version was recently discovered when Noel was digging around in boxes while in quarantine. “As fate would have it I stumbled across an old demo which I thought had been lost forever,” he wrote in a statement. If you love Noel’s acoustic b-sides like “Talk Tonight” and “Half the World Away,” you’ll latch onto this one immediately. —Associate Music Editor Lizzie Manno