The 15 Best Songs of April 2019

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The 15 Best Songs of April 2019

The Boss said it best: “Hello Sunshine.” Bruce Springsteen’s first new single in five years arrived just in time to help us greet the warmer weather, and it was just one of a slew of slam-dunk songs we soaked up during this, the first full month of spring. Along those same lines was Faye Webster’s collaboration with Father, the lush R&B mashup “Flowers.” When we weren’t willing spring into existence with those two tunes, we filled our queues with new songs by Bleached, Marika Hackman and FKA Twigs and more. Hear all our favorite new tracks from April below.

1. ALASKALASKA:Tough Love

ALASKALASKA vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Lucinda Duarte-Holman says of the band’s new single, “‘Tough Love’ is a protest and a paradox. It is an invite to each individual listener to interpret however they like.” Duarte-Holman wonders “who gives a shit about my opinions / who gives a shit about my point of view / who gives a shit about anything lately” to open the song, struggling to reconcile the many contradictions of our current cultural moment over nervy guitars, shuffling drums and steadily escalating synths, all combining to evoke both confidence and near-collapse. —Scott Russell

2. Aldous Harding:Fixture Picture

Sometimes music videos are just for kicks. Other times, a song is best enjoyed while watching its accompanying visuals. The latter is the case for the two singles that arrived ahead of Aldous Harding’s new album Designer, out now on 4AD. First was “The Barrel,” a wacky showcase of the New Zealand singer’s restrained dance moves and bizarre costume that could only be described as disco-colonial-chic. At first it seemed weird and unsettling. After three or four watches, it’s hypnotic. The video for “Fixture Picture” is even more capturing, and the subtly graceful tune is one of Designer’s best. —Ellen Johnson

3. Bleached:Hard to Kill

Sisters Jessie and Jennifer Clavin of Bleached are pirouetting away from the stripped-down sounds of their recent track “Shitty Ballet” with their funk-inflected new single “Hard to Kill.” While earlier Bleached songs are made for head-banging, this one is meant for a good old bop. Sprinkle in some whistling and the odd cowbell, and you have a tune that’ll probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Despite its upbeat sound, “Hard to Kill” tackles serious subject matter. Jennifer explained in a statement that the song is about “staring down the road towards death and realizing I needed to wake up and get out of my selfish patterns of self destruction.” —Clare Martin

4. Bruce Springsteen:Hello Sunshine

“Hello Sunshine,” the first single from Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming album Western Stars deals with themes of optimism and nostalgia, set to the powerful accompaniment of steel guitars and associative visions of open roads. The new track is as classic as the Springsteen name itself, cuing listeners into what they can expect from the forthcoming album that he describes as “a jewel box of a record.” Springsteen declares in his quintessentially raspy croon in the single, “You know I always loved a lonely town / Those empty streets, no one around / You fall in love with lonely, you end up that way.” —Montana Martin

5. Charly Bliss:Hard to Believe

”‘Hard to Believe’ is a song about being addicted to a bad relationship, and the endless cycle of trying and failing to end one,” explains Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Hendricks. “[Drummer Sam Hendricks] wrote the guitar riff very early on in the writing process of Young Enough and we’ve always been obsessed with playing it because it’s so insanely catchy.” It certainly is. “Hard to Believe” is Charly Bliss power-pop in its purest form, an effervescent rocker that goes down like a shotgunned soda. As is customary for the band, the song’s bubbly instrumental blast belies harrowing emotional turbulence, a heavy weight masked by lightness: “I’m kissing everything that moves / I’m kissing anything that takes me far away from you,” sings Hendricks, unflinching in laying her conflicting feelings bare. —Scott Russell

6. Faye Webster feat. Father:Flowers

Dreamy songstress Faye Webster has teamed up with rapper Father on the next single from her forthcoming album, Atlanta Millionaires Club. In classic Webster style, the spring-appropriate song, titled “Flowers,” effortlessly blends healthy doses of both Americana and hip-hop influence for a final product that can be summarized with two words: Atlanta excellence. “Flowers” also pays tribute to Father, along with Webster’s time at Awful Records—the Atlanta rap collective that helped kickstart her career. “I learned a lot about making music with other members,” Webster explains of her time at Awful. —Lindsay Thomaston

7. FKA twigs:Cellophane

FKA twigs has returned with her first new song in over three years, “Cellophane.” The song comes with a breathless, ethereal new video directed by frequent Björk collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang. “Cellophane” is one of FKA twigs’ most personal tracks to date, dealing with a period in her life when she felt she had to rebuild herself from scratch. “Throughout my life I’ve practiced my way to being the best I could be,” she says in a statement. “It didn’t work this time. I had to tear down every process I’d ever relied on. Go deeper. Rebuild. Start again.” The stunning video accompanying the track finds twigs pole-dancing, falling through space and eventually being buried in pink mud. She trained for months in advance with pole choreographer Kelly Yvonne to learn the impressive acrobatics she performs in the video. —Adam Weddle

8. Japanese Breakfast:Essentially

Let it be known that Michelle Zauner’s first original release as Japanese Breakfast since 2017 is “Essentially” an indie-pop bop. “Essentially” wouldn’t sound out of place on Soft Sounds from Another Planet, as it’s a spacey, yet danceable thumper that finds Zauner demanding the kind of love that makes everything—and everyone—else seem trivial by comparison, like looking down on a crowd from a great height. “How is it you fall asleep so easy / Who is it you’re dreaming of tonight?” she wonders, insisting, “Love me essentially.” —Scott Russell

9. Julia Shapiro:Natural

Julia Shapiro, best known as part of Seattle outfits Chastity Belt, CHILDBIRTH and the supergroup Who Is She? (with Robin Edwards of Lisa Prank and Bree McKenna of Tacocat), is setting off on her own come June 14 with her debut solo album Perfect Version. The announcement arrived with “Natural,” the lead single exploring the nature of true self-love, tinged with a summery sorrow akin to Snail Mail’s Lush. Fans of Chastity Belt will enjoy the familiar, restless jangle-pop sounds on “Natural,” harking back to Shapiro’s work on their celebrated 2017 album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. —Clare Martin

10. Kevin Morby:Piss River

Kevin Morby’s previous work, particularly the back-to-back Singing Saw (2016) and City Music (2017), has been frequently compared to the singer-songwriter greats of the 1970s, notably Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Oh My God has a ramshackle energy to it, as well as a distinctly vintage instrumental ambience, that’s likely to encourage such comparisons. “Piss River,” which is about death not urination, even has a recurring cadence directly reminiscent of the “oh, mama” part in Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.” —Zach Schonfeld

11. Lucy Dacus:My Mother And I

Lucy Dacus has released another new track from her 2019 holiday songs series, this one titled “My Mother And I” in honor of Mother’s Day and Taurus Season. Dacus said of the new track’s thoughtful take on genetics and the tender balance of self-image in a statement: “Being adopted has encouraged me to consider what mothers pass on through blood and body, and what they impart in the way of socialization and context. We—daughters, and all children—easily inherit the shame and fear of our mothers, but also the pride, self-assurance, and lessons of love.” —Montana Martin


12. Marika Hackman:i’m not where you are

“I want the power in my music to come from lyrics and melody rather than trickery of the brain,” Marika Hackman told Paste back in 2015, just before the release of her full-length debut We Slept At Last. Fast forward four years and one more album, and the singer-songwriter continues to live up to this promise on her latest single “i’m not where you are,” all about “breaking up with people, or self-sabotaging relationships,” as Hackman explains in a statement. Between her sultry, languorous delivery and synths that are at once toe-tapping and melancholic, the English artist once again crafts a powerful melody with lyrics that reveal a fraught emotional underbelly. Hackman adds that “i’m not where you are” meditates on “[t]hat feeling of not trusting one’s emotions because you can’t seem to get to the same place as the other person. On the surface, it seems like an arrogant ‘everybody falls in love with me’ kind of song but it’s actually incredibly lonely, introspective and self-deprecating.” —Clare Martin

13. Omni:Delicacy

Atlanta post-punks Omni signed to Seattle institution Sub Pop and marked the occasion with two new songs as part of the storied Sub Pop Singles Club series (recently revived after a 10-year absence), “Delicacy” and “I Don’t Dance,” and they are currently at work on their third album—Sub Pop’s presser promises more new music “in the near future.” Omni frontman Philip Frobos explains in a statement that a-side “Delicacy” was “one of the first songs we wrote after a couple of years of non-stop touring behind Deluxe and Multi-task. It came naturally to [guitarist Frankie Broyles] and I felt like we were headed someplace new. It’s written about falling in love, with who would become my wife, on a 23-hour layover in Casablanca, exploring a new continent, feeling intrigued and truly alive.” —Scott Russell

14. Priests:Jesus’ Son

The first whisper of satire on The Seduction of Kansas takes shape in the provocative opener “Jesus’ Son.” A nod to The Velvet Underground, the track is as memorable a rock song you’ll hear in 2019. Though the band disclosed in a press release it is “an apocalyptic sci-fi tale of epic proportions,” it’s also a heated takedown of male entitlement. “Jesus’ Son” imagines the apocalypse not as the Second Coming—Christ descending unto Earth, bathed in heavenly light—but as some kind of warped dystopia where the Messiah appears as an entitled scumbag, no better than a pouty Brett Kavanaugh demanding he be throned on highest court in the land. Vocalist Katie Alice Greer convincingly plays the part of the “young,” “dumb” antichrist wreaking havoc on a crumbling society. ”I am Jesus’ son,” she sings (or more like warbles). “I think I wanna hurt someone / I’m young and dumb and full of cum.” —Ellen Johnson

15. Weird Milk:Anything You Want

“Anything You Want” sees Weird Milk stuck between two realities—a wistful, secure loneliness and an ambitious, fruitful venture into the unknown—but luckily everyone loves a good charming pop quandary. If their ravishing, subtle guitar warbles aren’t enough to satisfy your classic pop cravings, then the silvery vocal harmonies from co-lead vocalists Zach Campbell and Alex Griffiths will have you digging through your parents’ record collection in no time. —Lizzie Manno

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