We’re only about two months through the year, and while I am not quite drowning in tunes, I certainly feel my legs getting tired and I’m starting to drink the saltwater. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t dug too deeply into new music because you’re still clinging to driftwood from yesteryear (I just got tickets to see Courtney Barnett and have been mainlining Sometimes I Sit).
But don’t worry! I’ve collected all the great singles from soon-to-be released albums that you need to hear. You might still be chewing on Twin Fantasy and Black Panther and In A Poem Unlimited like me, but you can at least be prepared for the next wave of albums.
P.S. Most of these singles have outstanding videos you need to watch, too.
“After the Storm” by Kali Uchis feat. Tyler, the Creator & Bootsy Collins
You’ve probably already heard this one, but if not, what are you doing? This is an early song-of-the-year contender. It has Uchis’ signature smoothness, a dose of woozy psychedelia, and a little Bootsy Collins for good measure. It’s catchy as hell and the music video is great and I believe Kali Uchis will be a star in 2018.
If you like this: You better have heard their excellent joint cut “See You Again” from Tyler’s 2017 album Flower Boy. Her debut album is scheduled for release this spring.
“Lemon Glow” by Beach House
Again, if you haven’t heard this, YOU ARE SLEEP. “Lemon Glow” is probably my favorite Beach House song of all time already. The weird, springy synth opening is an absolute unit, and the production across the whole song is hypnotizing. It’s a banger that makes me want to shotgun a bottle of Robitussin, which is to say: Beach House is back.
If you like this: Have you tried Robitussin? Nevermind – if you’re an actual Beach House stan, Vinyl Me, Please’s record of the month is a sexily packaged and remastered version of their Devotion LP. Their next album is scheduled for release this spring.
“Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” by Parquet Courts
This is the first single from artsy garage rock band Parquet Courts’ upcoming album, which is being produced by Danger Mouse. I have mixed feelings about Danger Mouse – some of his production is timeless (Demon Days, St. Elsewhere, Broken Bells) while a lot of the recent work feels polished to the point of sanitation (El Camino, Evil Friends, At.Long.Last.ASAP). This single is toeing the line a bit, but I trust Parquet Courts to stick to their vision.
If you like this: Sunbathing Animal is probably on my top-twenty album art list, please go appreciate it (the album kicks ass, too). I can’t tell if that sounds low or high – I think I need to actually make a list. Their new album Wide Awake! is due out May 18.
“Nameless, Faceless” by Courtney Barnett
I’m deep in the Courtney Barnett wormhole right now, and “Nameless, Faceless” feels different than her prior work – it’s somehow blunter and less interested in irony. A recent Pitchfork profile about her upcoming album noted: “Though she had previously excelled at weaving witty anecdotes with minute details of her friends’ daily lives, Barnett now found herself fueled by the need to work through her own emotional life.” The new emphasis on personal storytelling hits hard here, as she sings about man-on-woman violence in a way that doesn’t play for laughs.
If you like this: Barnett’s wife, Jen Cloher, plays a similar style of honest rock, and her album last year, Jen Cloher, received about 1% of the attention it should have. Barnett’s new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, is due out May 18.
“Everybody’s Coming To My House” by David Byrne
David Byrne with Brian Eno and Sampha is enough to get my buy-in. While the title of the song sounds fun and playful, that actual song is mysterious and ominous and by “Coming”, Byrne seems to mean “Dying” and by “My House” he seems to mean “The Afterlife”. It’s still bouyant and textured and a great listen, and the upcoming album (Byrne’s first solo album since 2004) will make waves.
If you like this: Remember that David Byrne is an absolute fucking nut and a king. Byrne’s new album, American Utopia, is due out March 9.
“Addictions” by Lucy Dacus
Singer-songwriter/indie-rocker Lucy Dacus’ debut in 2015, No Burden, was an excellent album, but it didn’t have beautiful horns. “Addictions” has beautiful horns. Dacus’ debut was recorded for a school project in about 20-hours according to this excellent New York Times profile, so I can only imagine what other beautiful surprises are in store for her next album. The horns are a great start.
If you like this: Remember Beirut? This single reminds me of Beirut. Where did Beirut go? Dacus’ new album, Historian, is due out March 2.
“Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” by Janelle Monáe
A typically retro-future funk jam, “Make Me Feel” is a dance jam, a sexual statement, and a piece of rock arcana all at once. “Django Jane” is just an excellent stunt-on-em rap. Monáe is due for a bigger share of the spotlight this year, and her brand of visionary, genre-defying musicality might knock you over your head if you’re not ready.
If you like this: Remember “Celery Man” did it first.
“Lucky88” by Speedy Ortiz
Speedy Ortiz discovered synths! The band’s aggressive, ‘90s art-indie sound is a little cushioned here by those synths and some generally poppiness, but you can still hear the Major Arcana sound, particularly in the outro. I’m super intrigued to see how Speedy’s sound is developed on the new album, but “Lucky88” is a sign that for as great as their old sound is, the band is still evolving.
If you like this: Make sure you’re familiar with everything from Major Arcana. Fuck, that’s a good album. Speedy Ortiz’s new album, Twerp Verse, is due out April 27.
“Mr. Tillman” by Father John Misty
If you’re a regular reader of this prestigious website, I’m sure you’ve already heard this. In case you haven’t, get stoked. “Mr. Tillman” is a return to the guitar-heavy sound that characterized I Love You, Honeybear and it hearkens to the literary-style songwriting like that on “I’m Writing A Novel”. The song is essentially a hotel clerk’s side of a conversation with a certain Josh Tillman who seems to be having some kind of breakdown, a “Hotel California” for the modern age. My hype meter is at eleven.
If you like this: There’s a reference to country renaissance star Jason Isbell in “Mr. Tillman”. Real countryheads will pick up on that, and will also ask: have you ever heard the excellent “Pure Country”? Stay tuned for an announcement for Misty’s next album, which should be out this year.