Every week, there’s a plethora of new music at our fingertips.
Artists on platforms like Spotify and Bandcamp are plentiful, and the radio offers a steady deluge of new singles, but who has time to sort through all that? RIFF does!
We pooled our resources to find some of the best new singles from all genres and backgrounds, so you can find your newest earworm without all the drama. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems.
Jetty Bones, “Nothing” — This single from Jetty Bones’ upcoming debut album would probably make the list on the strength of its ’80s-inspired alt-pop sound, paired with incongruously serious lyrics about leaving something you love. But that’s not what pushed it over the edge. The deciding factor was the saxophone solo. Any push to return us to the “Careless Whisper”/“Baker Street” golden age of saxophone has my full support.
Cane Hill, “God is the Enemy” — The title of the song, the look of the band and the sound of the music will likely make you assume that this is another cookie cutter edgelord metal song about the devil. And that would be fine if it was, the devil has been inspiring music for centuries. In this case, though, the song is actually apt commentary on modern Christians straying from the actual teachings of Christ and using religion to justify racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. Never judge a book by its cover.
Jaguar Jonze, “CURLED IN” — Billed as “Australia’s Eastern cowgirl,” Jaguar Jonze is a cyberpunk persona created by Asian-Australian singer-songwriter Deena Lynch. The music itself is pop with digital undertones and shades of country, evoking sci-fi westerns like “Cowboy Bebop” or “Firefly.” It’s a unique combination of sounds and influences that, given how good it sounds, should probably be a lot more common.
Slothrust, “Cranium” — Like “Nothing,” this is a good song that takes the next step to great because of the bridge. The extended guitar solo near the end of the song, equal parts bluesy and psychedelic, is fantastic. I would listen to an entire instrumental guitar album by Slothrust. Though if anyone can explain to me exactly what’s happening in the video, I’d appreciate it.
Elise Davis, “Empty Rooms” — This song was, believe it or not, written in February 2020, before lockdown began. But shortly thereafter the pandemic began, the country was locked down, and we got a whole lot more empty rooms. Prescient or just coincidental, the song by Elise Davis took on an additional meaning for performers and venues trying to make it while their livelihoods are on hold.
Stage Moms, “231” — We end this week on a bit of a downer. This song is a tribute to Thunderbirds, a music venue in Moundsville, West Virginia owned by Stage Moms’ frontman, which shut down due to the pandemic. It’s a reminder of the toll COVID has taken even beyond the deaths. It’s also an example of the fact that pop-punk is capable of being surprisingly melancholy despite its reputation.
Danny’s Pick: This is a tough choice because of the slate of very strong candidates, but only one of them simultaneously reminds me of Buck Rogers and “Borderlands,” so this week’s favorite is Jaguar Jonze’s “CURLED IN.” We’re in the midst of a space western renaissance (“Westworld,” “The Mandalorian,” “The Outer Worlds”) so it’s about time that extended to music as well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly have the urge to play some “Rebel Galaxy.”
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.