Coming out of the holiday weekend, this week has been overstuffed with new music. The hangover from 2023 is over, folks, and there’s a huge onslaught of new releases on the way. Which means this week’s Essential Tracks column could have been twice as long. That said, keeping it to a trim five means everything here is A-plus, 10 outta 10, five-star, insert your own ratings system, etc. The return of an indie legend with a surprising sound, the debut solo single from a Ugandan noisemaker, and more great music to add to the queue.
Chelsea Wolfe – “Everything Turns Blue”
After delivering an acoustic album and a collaboration with Converge, Chelsea Wolfe returns to more atmospherically haunting sounds on “Everything Turns Blue,” the latest in a series of great singles from her upcoming She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She, and arguably even the best. Buzzing with heavy bass and propelled by a trip-hop-like pulse, it feels less like a new direction for Wolfe than simply a reconfiguration of her doomy gothic rock with more electronic grandeur surrounding it. There are no heavy metal guitars this time around, but there’s no mistaking how heavy this is.
From She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She, out February 9 via Loma Vista
Jlin – “The Precision of Infinity” (feat. Philip Glass)
Just months after the release of the stellar Perspective EP, Jlin introduced her upcoming full-length, Akoma, with a Philip Glass collaboration that showcases the fluidity and grace of her music even when driven by more intense rhythmic elements. The intricate, complex beatwork that’s defined her music to date remains here, but it spirals around cascades of piano and gorgeously haunting melodic elements, placing chamber music in an unexpected and energizing context. Given Jlin’s collaborations and modern ballet scores in the past, it’s not necessarily that leftfield, but the result is still a stunning thing to hear.
From Akoma, out March 22 via Planet Mu
Kim Gordon – “BYE BYE”
Kim Gordon trap song? Kim Gordon trap song! In fact, one of Pitchfork’s final acts before the announcement it was being folded into GQ was naming this song the must-hear rap song of the day. It’s not so crazy; the beat itself is dark and nasty, with harsh, industrial-ish squeals and thumps, with Gordon giving a spoken word delivery that’s not quite rapping, but certainly not singing either (and frankly not that far removed from the material on 2019’s No Home Record). It’s actually not so surprising that Gordon, the coolest person in music, could pull this off, but damn, this one just goes.
From The Collective, out March 8 via Matador Records.
Lord Spikeheart – “TYVM” (feat. SAIONJI BBBBBBB.)
Lord Spikeheart is one half of Duma, the frantic electro-industrial-grind group from Uganda that made one of the most extreme records of 2020, maybe ever. He’s also launched a new label, Haekalu, which is dedicated to releasing Africa’s heaviest music, and “TYVM” from his new album The Adept most certainly qualifies. Two minutes of piercing highs, rumbling lows, distorted screeches and rhythmic chaos, “TYVM” most certainly qualifies. It’s something like Godflesh gone gabber, a strange and intense hybrid of industrial metal and dance music at ludicrous BPMs, and it’s thrillingly terrifying—or terrifyingly thrilling.
From The Adept, out April 12 via Haekalu
Moor Mother – “GUILTY” (feat. Lonnie Holley, Mary Lattimore, Raia Was)
Let’s just clear something up right now: There’s no way that a new piece of music from Moor Mother, featuring Lonnie Holley and Mary Lattimore (as well as the gorgeous backing vocals from Raia Was), wouldn’t end up in Essential Tracks. That’s just how this works. “GUILTY” is, nonetheless, utterly gorgeous, a mournful and atmospheric piece that stems from what’s described as an album length exploration of the long-term legacy of British colonialism. Multi-generational trauma is at the core of this song, but it’s beautifully performed and crafted—a heavy song with a kind of weightless beauty.
From The Great Bailout, out March 8 via Anti-
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.