Each week we break down our favorite song, highlight our honorable mentions, and wrap them all up with other staff recommendations into a New Sounds playlist just for you. Be sure to subscribe here. This week’s top song, “No Bullets Spent”, comes from Spoon.
Austin staples Spoon have a career spanning nearly three decades. Over the years, the group have continued to reshape and redefine their sound. Stylistically, the difference among their albums — A Series of Sneaks, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Hot Thoughts — is measurable; however, each record remains based in a very recognizable indie structure. This summer the indie rockers are celebrating a culmination of their work with a greatest hits album, Everything Hits at Once. The collection is set to include 12 classic Spoon (now classic-indie) songs.
However, as we eagerly wait for that record to drop, we were graced with a new track this week. “No Bullets Spent” is very much a signature Spoon song. It’s dressed with the band’s trademarked metrical energy and isolated instrumentation. There are gliding, yet intruding, guitar riffs and abstract lyricism, which mark the song as classic Spoon — and, based on our need to dance along, a potential Spoon classic.
OTHER SONGS WE’RE SPINNING
Julien Baker – “Red Door”
Sure it’s only been two years since her breakout sophomore studio album, Turn Out the Lights, and, technically, we did hear from her as one-third of the power behind the instantly loved boygenius supergroup and EP, but it’s always a delight to be graced with a new Julien Baker track. “Red Door” is the A-side from Baker’s Record Store Day 7”, and though technically it’s not exactly a new song (she’s been performing it live for a few years now), it’s nice to finally have an official studio recording. The song finds Baker demonstrating her technical expertise along with her go-to emotional charge, making for a delicate and enchanting four minutes. –Samantha Lopez
Vagabon – “Flood Hands”
Laetitia Tamko first started releasing music under the Vagabon moniker in 2014. Three years later, her debut LP, Infinite Worlds, established her as a capable multi-instrumentalist and storyteller, an artist able to challenge traditional genre boundaries without sacrificing cohesion. “Flood Hands”, like Infinite Worlds, straddles genres, synth, guitar, and percussion all unified under Tamko’s airy vocals. It’s a confident return and arrives as the first single ahead of Tamko’s sophomore effort, All the Women in Me, due out late September. –Sean Lang
PJ Harvey – “The Crowded Cell”
“It would move you to tears if it wasn’t so dreadful,” writes Lucy Mangan in her review of The Virtues for The Guardian. The same could be said for the song PJ Harvey wrote for the new drama, directed by Shane Meadows. “The Crowded Cell” sounds like the anthem for an off-kilter sort of death march. Violent images of fingernails on the floor, guards forcibly removing men’s teeth, and women howling pass by slowly while a plodding guitar evokes a certain deterministic claustrophobia. When the track resolves, two thoughts linger, one a troubling question (“What kind/ Of freedom do you want?”) and the other a threatening promise (“You will see us again/ You will remember this”). –Sean Lang
Frankie Cosmos – “Windows”
Earlier this year, Frankie Cosmos’ frontwoman, Greta Kline, treated us to a more minimalistic approach to her music in a series of brief EPs titled Haunted Items, which showcased a more solo approach with little instrumentation. On “Windows”, we hear Kline return to her guitar and band members, and while Haunted Items was a collection of stories in relation to oneself, “Windows” is a song about learning to see yourself as part of something much bigger than oneself — amid bright synths and sharp cymbal crashes. –Samantha Lopez
Devendra Banhart – “Kantori Ongaku”
Aughts indie staple Devendra Banhart returns this year with a new album, Ma. The album, due this fall via Nonesuch, is a follow-up to 2016’s Ape in Pink. This week we got to hear its first single. “Kantori Ongaku”, which is Japanese for “country music” and an eclectic, jangly homage to Haruomi Hosono, the musician who is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in Japanese Pop. The song also has a colorful music video directed by Giraffe Studios you won’t want to miss. –Samantha Lopez
Violent Femmes – “Another Chorus”
Violent Femmes are back, and they’re meme-in’. “Another Chorus” is a tongue-in-cheek call-out of bands with songs that lean too heavily on their choruses, repeating them seemingly ad infinitum. And what else could a song about too many choruses have but, of course, too many choruses? We can only hope their whole album isn’t quite so “meta”, but the bit is certainly worth the two and a half minutes they commit to it. Violent Femmes’ new album, Hotel Last Resort, is due out in late July. –Sean Lang
BTS – “A Brand New Day” ft. Zara Larsson
“A Brand New Day”, which arrives as the second single ahead of the release of the BTS World: Original Soundtrack, due out Friday, June 28, finds the K-pop phenoms collaborating with Zara Larsson. Following the Charli XCX-featuring “Dream Glow”, the song opens with an immediately catchy flute melody and features a wide variety of percussion throughout (including steel drums!). All in all, “A Brand New Day” is a satisfying listen, with BTS and Larsson somehow managing to balance the song’s competing identities as potential stadium hit and steamy bedroom jam. –Sean Lang
Freddie Gibbs – “Giannis” ft. Anderson .Paak
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s first full-length collaboration, Piñata, arrived five years ago. Now, and at long last, their follow-up is imminent. Named for NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Anderson .Paak-featuring “Giannis” is the fourth and final single ahead of Bandana’s drop next Friday, June 28th. Across its just over three minutes, Gibbs and .Paak both hit satisfying flows as they reminisce on their respective come-ups, before a Bollywood sample (whose lyrics translate to “Behind you, you’ve taken a world of love”) sees them out. –Sean Lang
The Avett Brothers – “High-Steppin'”
Blue-grass/indie folk brothers Scott and Seth Avett announced earlier this month a new album is in the works. The record, titled Closer Than Together, is due out in October via American/Republic Records. The news arrived with a jangly and rambunctious new single, “High Steppin’”, and while the new album’s predecessor delved into personal qualms, this track and record will focus more on political issues and a social commentary, which is kinda hard to veer away from, considering our current political climate. –Samantha Lopez