The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring The Armed, Dry Cleaning, Moontype and more

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The 10 Best New Songs

This week has had its ups (today is Bandcamp Friday!) and downs (yesterday was April Fools’ Day), but we’re focused here on its sounds, rounding up the best tracks released over the past seven days (March 26 through April 1). Two of these 10 standouts are the final singles from albums released today, April 2, courtesy of Dry Cleaning and Moontype, while the other eight include overwhelming “ultrapop” from The Armed, compelling indie rock from Squirrel Flower, entrancing dance music from Doss and more. Read on for the rest of the week’s best new songs.

The Armed: “AN ITERATION”

Ahead of their new record ULTRAPOP—one of Paste’s most-anticipated April albums—Detroit, Michigan’s The Armed shared a third and final single on Wednesday, “AN ITERATION,” following “ALL FUTURES” and “AVERAGE DEATH.” The enigmatic hardcore collective remain true to their stated purpose of maximum intensity on “AN ITERATION,” the opening moments of which feels like being shot out of a cannon, all rib-rattling drum flurries and serrated guitar noise. The Armed’s Dan Greene describes their album as “a joyous, genderless, post-nihilist, anti-punk, razor-focused take on creating the most intense listener experience possible,” and on their latest single, they continue to live up to that promise, melding hardcore instrumental firepower with a slyly precise sense of pop melody, like they’re fishing with hooks and dynamite at the same time. Consider us caught. —Scott Russell

Claire George: “Pink Elephants”

Artist on the rise Claire George has announced that her full-length debut takes shape in The Land Beyond The Light, out May 21st via Cascine. The album’s lead single “Pink Elephants” arrived Wednesday with an accompanying music video. While “Pink Elephants” has previously never been treated to a studio recording, Paste contributor Adrian Spinelli caught a performance of the track at South by Southwest 2019, leading to George’s ranking as one of the 20 Best Acts Paste saw at the festival that year. There’s no surprise that it did; George’s electronic magic on “Pink Elephants” is distractingly beautiful, its neon-flavored indie pop masking the song’s heart-wrenching origins. The video for “Pink Elephants” sees George pursuing a hooded figure in woods, and works with the song’s lyrics to allude to her past substance issues: “I don’t blame you, I know how it feels / with tusk and teeth gnawing at your heels.” —Carli Scolforo

Dead History: “Sleep Safe”

Minneapolis-based post-hardcore outfit Dead History are part of a long lineage of Midwestern emo history. Their new song “Sleep Safe” pays homage to the fuzzy comfort of Swervedriver and Quicksand in anticipation of their self-titled debut album, out on June 11 via Landland Colportage. Featuring a staticky wall of drums and guitars effortlessly blending into each other to create a euphoric feeling of emo nostalgia, Dead History’s new song proves they’re one to watch in their genre’s revival. —Jade Gomez

Doss: “Look”

Pioneering hyperpop producer Doss returned for her first solo release in over seven years to announce a new EP 4 New Hit Songs, out May 7 on LuckyMe. Its second single is an infectious dance track that loops into a bubbly club banger, a perfect soundtrack for a more optimistic summer. The body-thumping bass and wiry synths slither underneath the pitched-up vocal: “You see me on my own / You know that I’m on my own / I’m not looking at my phone / Myself on my own.” It’s a much-needed pick-me-up for a hopeful summer of dance floors and fresh air. —Jade Gomez

Dry Cleaning: “Unsmart Lady”

London four-piece Dry Cleaning released “Unsmart Lady” on Tuesday, the band’s third single ahead of their debut album New Long Leg, out today, April 2, via 4AD. The song follows previous releases “Strong Feelings” and “Scratchcard Lanyard,” one of Paste’s Top Songs of 2020. “Unsmart Lady” opens with a clattering cacophony of wailing guitar and drums before leaning back into a steady blend of post-punk and psychedelia. Vocalist Florence Shaw’s drawling monotony swims on top of the band’s high-energy, fuzzy distortions for a sound both dark and unmistakably cool. The music video for “Unsmart Lady,” directed by Tilly Shiner, shows an aesthetically grainy performance by the band in a carpet shop in south London. Shaw spoke of the song’s lyrics in a statement: “‘Fat podgy, non make-up’—I was thinking about these things that are supposed to be a source of shame about your appearance and wanting to use them in a powerful way. Just trying to survive when you feel knackered and put-upon and shit about yourself, but you say, ‘I don’t care what I’m supposed to be.’” —Carli Scolforo

heka: “(a) wall”

Earlier this week, London-based multidisciplinary artist heka released “(a) wall,” off her forthcoming EP (a). It’s a hauntingly stunning single that challenges the conventions of time, space and structure to create a harrowing portrait of anger. The trumpet, played by Jemima Coulter, creeps in and out of consciousness like an alarm clock seeping into a dream, trying to break a spell of deep slumber. Heka describes the track as “an ode to anger. Not in an absolute sense but as the cathartic alternative to the numb powerlessness that can take over and swallow every other emotion when we find ourselves in a painful or shocking situation.” —Jade Gomez

JayWood: “Some Days”

Winnipeg, Manitoba indie singer/songwriter Jeremy Haywood-Smith, who records and performs as JayWood, announced his signing to Captured Tracks on Wednesday, detailing his debut EP Some Days (out April 23), and sharing its lead and title track. In a way, the forthcoming EP finds Haywood-Smith time-traveling: He originally wrote and recorded it in 2015, employing a DIY approach that found him writing its five tracks while simultaneously learning to record—”I just went with the first ideas that came to mind. I made a rule for myself not to go back on anything, because I didn’t have the time to tweak around,” he recalls. That’s since changed, providing Haywood-Smith the opportunity to revisit his past output from his present perspective, an act that fits thematically with “Some Days” itself: The songwriter says his new single is “about feeling that push/pull of moving forward versus staying comfortable,” an inner conflict he explores over plentiful psych-pop guitars, shrewdly placed synths, and propulsive, subtly funky bass and drums. There’s a melodic immediacy to the track that heralds the creative confidence Haywood-Smith honed in his bedroom and will soon bring to a much bigger stage. —Scott Russell

L’Rain: “Two Face”

L’Rain, the experimental-pop project of Brooklyn-born and -based multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, shared “Two Face” on Wednesday to herald her signing to Mexican Summer—the label will release her second album, Fatigue, on June 25. As its title implies, “Two Face” is of dual minds, leading with piano and percussion clatter, bass pulse and Cheek’s artfully garbled vocals, then shifting into angelic psych-pop mode, with Cheek’s ethereal voice overtaking both foreground and background, permeating the mix as guitars twirl beneath her. A press release characterizes this dichotomy as “two voices, one of lightness and the other of darkness,” with instrumentation intended to oppose to each tone. Eventually, these two voices intertwine and speak in unison, merging into the track’s lovely extended outro. —Scott Russell

Moontype: “Stuck on You”

Moontype shared their debut single “Ferry” in late 2020, quickly capturing hearts and becoming a Paste Best of What’s Next pick. Tuesday, the trio released a final single and music video, “Stuck on You,” ahead of their highly anticipated debut LP Bodies of Water, which arrives today, April 2, via Born Yesterday Records. The animated music video for “Stuck on You” was created by artist and DJ Lya Finston. The track is fresh and upbeat, playing on the strengths of the trio with singer Margaret McCarthy’s honest and imaginative lyricism, drummer Emerson Hunton’s complex rhythms, and a closing shredding solo from guitarist Ben Cruz. The song’s light sound conceals the darker themes of its lyrics, as McCarthy tries to cope with having feelings for a person she shouldn’t. McCarthy elaborated on the song in a statement: “This song is about a crush I had on someone who had hurt my friend and really didn’t deserve that kind of love from me. It took me a long time to finally come to terms with what had been in front of me the whole time, that this person was not worth longing for. Despite the subject, it’s really a jaunty song, and it feels really joyful whenever we play it now.” —Carli Scolforo

Squirrel Flower: “Hurt a Fly”

Squirrel Flower, the moniker of Ella Williams, has announced the follow-up to her 2020 album I Was Born Swimming. Williams’ sophomore release as Squirrel Flower, titled Planet (i), is slated to arrive June 25 via Polyvinyl. The news of Williams’ forthcoming album arrived Thursday with a new single, “Hurt a Fly,” and an accompanying music video. The video, directed by Ryan Schnackenberg, finds Williams thrashing around in the same sort of plastic bubble favored by The Flaming Lips as of late, all against the almost telephone-like processing of Williams’ breathy, brooding vocals. Lyrics like “Thought that I told you the storm ended, / And I’m never wrong / Took it too far again / Followed you home again” add to the dark atmosphere that the song’s urgent piano and fuzzy guitar help to create. Williams elaborated on the song’s lyrics, and the creation of the music video, in a statement: “‘Hurt a Fly’ is me embodying a persona of gaslighting, narcissistic soft-boy type shit. The classic ‘sorry I acted violently, I’m not mad that you got upset at me, wanna hang out next week?’ I wanted to see what it was like to be a character trying to skirt around accountability. It’s an angry and unhinged song, and for the video I wanted to be inside a bubble writhing around and trying to get out.” —Carli Scolforo