The 10 Best New Songs

Featuring The Beths, Nick Hakim, BLACKSTARKIDS and more

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The 10 Best New Songs

At Paste Music, we’re listening to so many new tunes on any given day, we barely have any time to listen to each other. Nevertheless, every week we can swing it, we take stock of the previous seven days’ best tracks, delivering a weekly playlist of our favorites. Check out this week’s best new songs below.

The Beths: “Knees Deep”

The Beths take a huge leap of faith on their latest single, “Knees Deep,” from their forthcoming album Expert in a Dying Field, out Sept. 16 via Carpark Records. Vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Stokes expresses her hesitations to take the emotional (and later, literal) plunge on the band’s jittery new track, opting instead to test the waters, wade in slowly and not allow herself to get in over her head. An ambivalent track teeming with tightly wound guitars and a jumpy bassline, the song is a rush of anxious energy that mirrors the same high-strung circles her thoughts race around in. Sporting a nervous charm as she expresses reservations despite yearning to loosen her grip, Stokes laments, “The shame! / I wish that I could say what I’ve been thinking / But I never have done and never will do / Still only knees deep / I’ll never be brave like you.” Facing her fear and bungee-jumping from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the accompanying music video makes even the intimidating stuff seem not so scary when soundtracked by The Beths’ adrenaline-drenched power-pop. —Samantha Sullivan

BLACKSTARKIDS: “SEX APPEAL”

“Yeah, we BLACKSTARKIDS and we super rad / Not a fan of us? Let me fix that,” chirps TheBabeGabe, one third of BLACKSTARKIDS, on the Kansas City trio’s neon-lit new single “SEX APPEAL.” She, Deiondre and TyFaizon aim for “fun and confident” on the first preview of their forthcoming mixtape CYBERKISS* (Sept. 23, Dirty Hit), which they call “a[n] homage to 2000s Neptunes, Timbaland and Missy”—and hit the bullseye. Over the trio’s own exhilarating production, they swagger their way through a wild night, holding court in the club at all hours and demanding nothing but the best: “I’m up for the night, I don’t need a pill / Don’t talk to me ‘less you got sex appeal.” The song’s aura of unerringly carefree cool is irresistible, as well as further evidence of BLACKSTARKIDS’ ability to twist their indie hip-hop sound into whatever shapes they like. —Scott Russell

Field Medic: “i think about you all the time”

Field Medic, i.e., Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Kevin Patrick Sullivan, shared the second single from his forthcoming album grow your hair long if you’re wanting to see something that you can change (Oct. 14, Run For Cover Records). “i think about you all the time” is a jangly folk-pop ode to the insidiousness of addiction, in which Sullivan reimagines his struggles with sobriety as a torch song about longing to lose himself at the bottom of a bottle. Between its bright instrumentation and Sullivan’s unrelenting vocal hooks, “i think about you all the time” is sure to lodge itself in your head one way or another. Over a drum machine beat and cheery acoustic chords, Sullivan sings, as if to a long-distance lover, “I think about you often / When I close my eyes / You tumble like an acrobat / through my dreams at night.” Gradually building out the track with a melodic bass line, banjo backing, distorted electric guitar flourishes and tambourine, Sullivan keeps the song’s energy unerringly upbeat in spite of the living hell it belies, the kind of feat Field Medic makes seem so easy whenever he pushes “record.” —Scott Russell

Gilla Band: “Backwash”

Gilla Band, the Ireland-based post-punks formally known as Girl Band, have shared “Backwash,” the second single from their forthcoming album Most Normal, out Oct. 7 via Rough Trade Records. The follow-up to “Eight Fivers,” the band’s second release under their new moniker, “Backwash” is another hard-hitting dose of buzzing noise-rock. With blitzkrieg bursts of sound splicing through the sparse, yet steady percussion in the chorus, it’s a Kafkaesque barrage of static that blindsides you. A jumble of unorthodox imagery resulting from their stream-of-consciousness songwriting style, Gilla Band produces an accidental love song rife with contradictions like, “Overthought it / Still was excited / Still needs improvement / But that was perfect.” As the song ultimately dissolves into a deluge of muffled industrial-sounding distortion, Gilla Band delivers an avant-garde masterpiece. —Samantha Sullivan

Meat Wave: “What Would You Like Me to Do?”

Chicago punks Meat Wave have announced their fourth full-length album, Malign Hex, out Oct. 14 via Swami Records. To accompany the announcement, the band dropped their blistering single “What Would You Like Me to Do?” The 10-track record includes the previously released tracks “Honest Living” and “Ridiculous Car,” along with eight new offerings they spent the latter half of 2019 crafting. The trio decided to take their time on Malign Hex, working on it in shifts when inspiration struck, a strategy that varied drastically from the four-day mad dash of recording and mixing that produced their previous album, The Incessant. One result is the carefully calculated “What Would You Like Me to Do?” in which angular riffs and the skittering slam of percussion embody the track’s too-far mentality. With a driving rhythm, the song bristles with a pulse-racing sense of anticipation, but for what, the band doesn’t directly articulate. Instead, they keep listeners suspended in a state of unwavering suspense, struggling to answer the nagging question, “When the sun shines for you / Only to blow up in your face / What would you like me to do?” —Samantha Sullivan

Nick Hakim: “Happen”

Washington, D.C.-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Nick Hakim has announced a new album, Cometa (Spanish for “kite”), coming Oct. 21, and shared the video for lead single “Happen.” The follow-up to 2020’s Will This Make Me Good features collaborations with DJ Dahi, Helado Negro and Arto Lindsay, while Alex G and Abe Rounds contribute piano and drums, respectively, to the mesmerizing “Happen.” Our first preview of Cometa reveals a new twist on Hakim’s sound, eschewing his usual psych-soul slurry in favor of a more purposefully constructed composition. A simple chord progression, steadily strummed on acoustic guitar, and Rounds’ looped drums serve as the framework for Hakim’s hushed vocals: “The sweetest angel fell into my world / She gives me reason, was lost for a damn long time / She pours honey down my throat / We stay up all night, I watch the sun scan her body / and just let it happen.” You can hear fingers moving across a fretboard and the pops of Hakim’s consonants, but the track is at its most atmospheric in the choruses—Hakim’s chants of “let it happen” ping-pong from one end of the mix to the other, with a distant organ hum eventually revealing itself as choral vocals. Hakim’s celestial imagery renders the preciousness of his life-changing love on an interstellar scale, with piano and pedal steel elevating the track ever further into the stratosphere. —Scott Russell

Pretty Sick: “Black Tar”

Pretty Sick, led by Sabrina Fuentes, has shared “Black Tar,” the second single from their forthcoming debut album Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile, out Sept. 30 via Dirty Hit. The follow-up to “Human Condition,” Fuentes pulls back the curtain on “confusing feelings brought on by a suffocating, toxic relationship” on “Black Tar.” There’s a gentle sense of resignation as Fuentes mistakes pain for pleasure, admitting, “Covered in a thick black layer of tar / I can’t breathe / But I feel so warm and smooth.” The band swap out their trademark razor-sharp riffs and early-’90s nostalgia for a different kind of heaviness, one that is sustained through soul-stirring strings and the sinking feeling that Fuentes’ spectral vocals evoke. Instead of tearing into a thundering chorus, Pretty Sick maintains a precarious balance that keeps Fuentes desperately trying to become whatever the other person wants through the last echoing notes of the song. —Samantha Sullivan

PVA: “Bad Dad”

The Grammy-nominated London trio PVA have graced listeners with a new single, “Bad Dad,” off their forthcoming debut album Blush, out Oct. 14 via Ninja Tune. On the follow-up to their 2020 EP Toner, they continue to blend sharp electronic ear candy with surprisingly tender subject matter that projects sleek futurism. A pulsing beat and cascading synthesizers decorate the track as they explore “the internal world of a new father checking in on his son at night, afraid of the lineage of masculinity and how it might impact someone so untainted,” according to vocalist/guitarist Ella Harris. Incorporating elements of dance and techno into their meticulous mixes, PVA have an air of point-blank precision. —Samantha Sullivan

Sonnyjim & The Purist feat. MF DOOM and Jay Electronica: “Barz Simpson”

It’s not everyday you see a new posthumous MF DOOM verse surface—it’s similarly uncommon for Jay Electronica to hop on a song. That makes “Barz Simpson,” our first preview of Birmingham, U.K., rapper Sonnyjim and London producer The Purist’s forthcoming collaborative project White Girl Wasted, awfully rare indeed. Over a sample flip that’s all jazzy flute and throwback funk wah-wah guitar, Sonnyjim and his heavyweight collaborators turn in nonchalantly acrobatic verses, putting on a clinic that makes Purist’s beat feel particularly regal. DOOM sits at the center of the track and does DOOM things—at one point, he reflects wistfully on what’s important in life, then menaces a snitch in the space of a single couplet: “Most precious things in life, you can’t bring back / Use your thinking cap, that’s what happens when you sing, rat,” spits the man in the mask. (Sonnyjim and Purist asked DOOM for 16 bars before his death in 2020, and got an entire verse back days later.) “Barz Simpson” feels like a victory lap for Sonnyjim and The Purist, even prior to the rest of White Girl Wasted’s release. —Scott Russell

TOLEDO: “Flake”

Brooklyn-based duo Dan Álvarez de Toledo and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, who record and perform as TOLEDO, are back with two more singles from How It Ends (Sept. 23, Grand Jury Music), their forthcoming debut album. “Flake” and “What Happened to the Menorah?” are accompanied by visuals created by Matt Hixon. The surefire standout of the two tracks, “Flake” is a lush indie-folk strummer that lands like a shot to the heart. The titular flake is the narrator’s father, who always ends up hurting his child, whether by his blood or behavior: “Everything wrong with me lands where you are,” TOLEDO sing, an indictment laced with as much sadness as anger. The duo find catharsis at the crest of each chorus, harmonizing, “I fuckin’ hate your guts right now”—it’s only by expressing this pain that they can find a way to carry it. The song swirls through its crescendo, twangy guitars and thrumming bass masking TOLEDO’s enjoined voices as they resolve to protect themselves from further suffering: “And I could take the hand that you’re reaching out / But you’d only disappoint / You did it then / You’ll do it now.” —Scott Russell