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The Playlists: Let’s Listen to 20 Great New Songs—And 1 Lousy Old One

A special expanded edition of our weekly new music playlists.

Sammie Jean Cohen; provided|

Clare Doyle; Willie Nelson

Well this sure is a bit overdue. The last edition of The Playlists was on April 4, which was almost a full month ago. As a small penance, I’ve doubled the number of tracks this week. Still only one lousy track though. I have my limits.

Local Picks

Bryn Battani, “~The Thing~”

Battani’s voice begins as a rich, amused whisper over soft keys and rises to meet the chorus, where a hushed trumpet joins her, without losing any subtlety. She has a release show for an even newer single at Icehouse on May 4, and she’ll be at the 331 Club tonight. Both songs will appear on an EP, Guest Room, due on June 7.

Molly Brandt, “Daughter of the Oil Tycoon”

We love class traitors here at Viraluae, and on Brandt’s latest she gives voice to an especially robust one—the titular scion wants to ship her moneyed pa to the guillotine. Brandt robustly embodies her imagined heroine as Eric Carranza’s guitar scrapes ominously around the edges and vocalists the Sunsettes add support.

(Br)other, “(Br)others”

Didn’t know what to expect from chopsy Prince alums Michael Bland and Sonny T, but it certainly wasn’t this engaging, good-natured, soulful lope, which exudes a strong “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” vibe—and that is indeed a vibe to exude.

Ciemme, “The Fighter”

“I wanna be a fighter/But I don’t know what to fight first,” sings this self-described “sad gay trans person writing songs about being sad, gay, and trans,” strumming desperately and pugnaciously on the first single from an upcoming album, The Finest Error, that I’m now anticipating.  

Clare Doyle, “Devices”

What I like about Doyle is that she realizes that upbeat country wit is just as honest (if not more) than downbeat folkie confessionalism. Her latest kicks off with the singer keeping as far away in bed as she can from a too lovey-dovey one-night stand and just gets sharper from there.

Faux Jean, “There’s a Hole in Your Soul”

Onetime City Pages Picked to Click Winner (2000? 2001?) Faux Jean, then a group, is now strictly the alter ego of bandleader Matty Schindler, who has been busy uploading and annotating his archives. This demo is from 1996, and it holds up. “I’d even hold down a regular job,” Schindler sings—quite the promise from a 20-something young man in the ’90s. 

MAKR AN ERIS and Bigg Kiaa, “BIGG BAGG”

Party rockers Sophia Eris and Bigg Kiaa trade verses over truly ugly bass and choir snippets on this highlight from Me 2, the kinetic new EP Eris recorded with veteran electronic producer MAKR.

Typsy Panthre, “Transformer”

Alison LaBonne and John Crozier make for a winning team, and this track, the product of “a month-long sprint where we wrote a new song each day” is a delicate mix of electric and acoustic that builds and rumbles and only gains intensity by refusing to explode. 

Unattractive Giant Monster, “R.U.M.T.”

A Speak & Spell blurts out the titular letters, which turns out to be a question that the song doesn’t quite answer, though the band certainly shows its work with hectic beat, cutting guitar, and hysteric vocals. 

Larry Wish, “Astral Projunction” 

A wobbly, pumping carousel of a song, whirring about in waltz time, with Wish’s baritone adding to the pleasing disorientation.  

Non-Local Picks

Amadou & Mariam, “Mogolu”

Well, that’s a name I haven’t heard in quite a spell. Twenty years ago, working with lite-rhythmed, irrepressible Euroreggae internationalist Manu Chao, this blind Malian couple was at the cutting edge of Afro-Parisian world pop, and they bested themselves a few years later on Welcome to Mali. They’ve kept up with the times surprisingly well: Slide this on an Afrobeats playlist and won't you disturb the groove at all.

Camila Cabello feat. Playboi Carti, “I Luv It”

As a fan of Cabello’s solo debut who thinks she’s deserved better ever since, I’m willing to excuse whatever corporate machinations went into pairing her off with Carti on a track that might pass as hyperpop if you’re feeling generous. As a fan of Barcelona producer El Guincho since Alegranza in 2008, I’ve been happy to see him thrive in the pop realm. Do I luv it? Let’s not get carried away. But I liyk it. 

Dasha, “Austin”

I won’t pretend the process is in any way organic, but TikTok trends do tend to click with some snappy tunes. Country radio sure wouldn’t have figured to play this slick little number if the girls hadn’t come up with a viral dance for it, that’s for damn sure. Yee—and I really do mean this—haw.

Ekko Astral, “baethoven”

These ranty femme DC speed freaks are my kind of agitators, breaking down at “the crypto castle” and “the open office” over “the pain of being myself” (repeat multiple times) but determined to push on through.

Margaret Glaspy, “24/7”

Glaspy has followed up her wonderful 2023 album, Echo the Diamond, with the less gregarious but equally rewarding solo acoustic EP, The Sun Doesn’t Think, which leads off with this very accurate song about perpetual anxiety: “Whether life is hell or heaven/I worry 24/7.” 

Illluminati Hotties, “Can’t Be Still”

Well, what do you know? Just the other day we were wondering in the ol’ chat when Sarah Tudzin would have some new music for us, and now here’s her first single since “Truck” last July. She remains chipper but never too earnest, and that chord progression would’ve had David Geffen’s underlings eagerly chasing her down 30 years ago.

Les Savy Fav, “World Got Great”

I never thought I’d be turning to these arty postpunks for hope, but here’s an anti-doomer anthem you won’t feel stupid for shouting along to. “Just because we’re stuck today/Doesn’t mean there’s no game left to play.” Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Amber Mark, “Comin’ Around Again”

Do I love this for its own sexy, tuneful sake or because so much of modern R&B is vibes-first? Does it matter? Mark’s not sure she’s looking for love, but she’s willing to fuck around and find out. 

Willie Nelson, “Made in Texas”

Old voices are underrated, and no codger uses his increasingly limited range with as much brains as Nelson. Hardly a surprise, since he’s maybe the smartest singer in pop since Billie Holiday, who knew a little something among overcoming physical limitations on the mic herself. 

Previous Industries, “Showbiz”

Reliable underground MC Open Mike Eagle teams up with pals Still Rift and Video Dave under a group name so bland I would have pegged it as belonging to some drab neo-postpunks. Dig Dave’s mild boast: “I feel like I am better than every David/Excluding Trugoy and Letterman.”

Worst New Song

G-Eazy, “Lady Killers II”

As a longtime foe of this lanky creep, I was hardly surprised this 2012 single got a second life on TikTok—he goes where the young girls are. I’ll admit, the Christoph Andersson remix improves on the original, if only by jettisoning (where is he now?) Hoodie Allen. But when G-E brags (?) “All day I keep drinkin' whiskey straight until I got no liver,” I wanna buy him a round of the cheap stuff to help him on his way.

Wanna get a local song considered for the playlist? To make things easy on both of us, email keith@viraluae.com with MONDAY PLAYLIST in the subject header. (Don’t, as in do NOT, DM or text: If I’m in a good mood, I’ll just ask you to send an email; if I’m in a bad mood I’ll just ignore it.)

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