Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – March 31

Deerhoof, Xibalba, Brutus, AWOLNATION, Alice Merton, Soft Plastics, The Seshen

Clockwise from top left: Deerhoof, Xibalba, Brutus, AWOLNATION with Alice Merton, Soft Plastics and The Seshen.

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? RIFFdoes!

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.


Brutus, “Sand” — Coming off the heels of Nest, Brutus’ incredible 2019 album, this standalone single carries just as much impact. Spacious guitar work, bewitching singing and visceral rhythm combine to a singular effect. To call this music post-hardcore is almost reductive, considering the preconceptions most have about the term. It’s so easy to vibe to the melodies, but one can only imagine how quickly the intense execution would heat up a room. This is the kind of song to play on low volume for relaxation, and high volume for an apartment dance party.


Xibalba, “En la Oscuridad” — Hide your children! Pomona’s most lethal rockers have returned. Xibalba reminds everyone why they own the phrase “none heavier” with this album. The band’s balance of primal hardcore, brutal death metal and crushing doom hasn’t lost any of its potency. “En la Oscuridad” is for people who like their metal chunky, violent and unrelenting. Good luck listening to that final slam riff without punching the person next to you. The rest of the pandemonium will ensue when Años en Infierno drops on May 29.


Deerhoof, “The Loved One” — One of rock music’s weirdest bands is back with, well, more weirdness. The off-kilter grooves, unassuming melodies and minimalist dreamscapes come together in a way only this band could pull off. It takes a lot of confidence to repeat such strange motifs until you win everyone over, but they pull it off once again. “The Loved One” is proof that Deerhoof will remain in the rock conversation in the 2020s. The band might not be as overtly abrasive as before, but it will always be endearingly idiosyncratic.


Soft Plastics, “Rope of the Tigers” — While many will approach this band through the lens of frontman Carey Mercer’s previous band Frog Eyes, it’s best to just let Soft Plastic happen. Mercer, Mel Campbell and Shyla Seller pull from so many genres that categorizing it should only be tried on a dare. The alien reaches of post-punk are certainly present in the overall structure, but the vocal cadence might recall avant-dub. And that’s without mentioning the improvisational element—in the spirit of post-rock pioneers Talk Talk. The depth of Mercer’s creative mindset will reveal itself with the release of Soft Plastic’s debut LP, 5 Dreams, on May 8.


AWOLNATION featuring Alice Merton, “The Best” — I can’t remember the last time a dance-rock band actually sounded like a band. The new-wave-ish beats and multilayered synth balance well with a foundation staggered guitar. The electro-acoustics provide a unique backdrop for Alice Merton’s unmistakable voice. The synths represent both the futuristic and the fantastical, while the beat and vocal hooks pound onward until the whole room is filled with moving bodies. “The Best” manages to sound poppy and raw at the same time, leaving room for Merton’s spellbinding feature while developing this band’s well-lubricated sound. Not to mention: this video is a harbinger of what’s to come in the next few months, as AWOLNATION and Merton recorded in their own socially distanced spaces.


The Seshen, “Faster Than Before” — Though the song is contextualized within the Trump administration, The Seshen singer and lyricist Lalin St. Juste has a more universal purpose for “Faster Than Before.” The electro-soul number deals in identity and self-acceptance, learning to empower oneself no matter the circumstances. The song’s sparse arrangement lets her voice take center stage, guiding the listener through her inner journey. In an age where intolerance seems more and more normalized, The Seshen provides a vital glimpse into the mindset of those who champion self-actualization in the midst of it all.


Max’s Pick: Anyone who knows me knows I love Xibalba more than life itself. It’s brutal hardcore made by people who know their hardcore, their metal and exactly which elements to use for maximum destruction. No-nonsense, bulletproof and terrifying, “En la Oscuridad” is the soundtrack of a world-turned-inferno. It’s been a while since Xibalba released a full-length album, but this single should have every self-respecting fan of heavy music paying attention.

Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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