Essential Tracks This Week: Hotline TNT, Soul Glo, and more

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Hotline TNT

It’s funny when our Best New Releases and Essential Tracks don’t quite line up from week to week. For instance: This week is a little bit unusual in that today’s new releases lean pretty heavy on jazz, whereas here, every song featured is some variation on guitar-driven rock; we make a point not to be so narrow in our selections. But that’s just how it worked out. That said, you’d be hard pressed to say these songs sound alike. If you’re practicing your air guitar along with them, you’ll need to switch up your choreography. Or just get comfortable and turn them up. Here are this week’s Essential Tracks.

Hotline TNT – “I Thought You’d Change”

Shoegaze is as much about sound as it is about songs, often more so, and sometimes it’s not even really about the songs at all so much as capturing a particular feeling within a dense haze of effects, depending on the intent of the artist behind the pedalboard. Such a thing can’t be said about Hotline TNT’s Will Anderson, whose take on thick, fuzz-driven indie rock goes directly through the big hooks and arpeggiated jangle of power pop. On new single “I Thought You’d Change,” the Brooklyn group delivers a stunningly perfect pop anthem, mesmerizing vocal harmonies and all, through a thick wall of guitars. It’s a glorious richness of sound that the group stacks up here, but it’s the song that comes first, a genuine song-of-the-summer candidate if it weren’t pretty much already over.

From Cartwheel, out November 3 via Third Man

Soul Glo – “If I Speak (Shut the Fuck Up)”

Soul Glo do a lot of things well, chief among them going hard as fuck. On their standout 2022 album Diaspora Problems, they delivered one of the year’s most ferocious hardcore records, and with “If I Speak (Shut the Fuck Up)”, they deliver an encore performance of intensity and hostility, with vocalist Pierce Jordan screaming the parenthetical title phrase with attitude and intent. Its video offers its own weirdly intense viewing experience, with shibari-tied guys blindly feeling around for dildos, but it’s the ferocious hardcore explosion of the song itself, rife with declarations like “If I speak, I’m coming through elbows first,” that leaves the longest lasting impact.

Out now via Epitaph

Ragana – “DTA”

The second single from Oakland black metal group Ragana’s upcoming Flenser debut Desolation’s Flower (and fifth album overall) sounds initially nothing like black metal, other than the intermittent burst of snare that offer the briefest suggestion of a blast beat eruption. Its stark shimmering guitars recall the eerily nostalgic musical palette of Twin Peaks, or perhaps Phil Elverum’s own music that’s taken influence from David Lynch (Ragana started out in Olympia, Washington, which helps put the pieces all in place). But once that transition happens, and the innocent twinkle turns to soul-searing metal, “DTA” transcends with a trail of flame in its wake.

From Desolation’s Flower, out October 27 via Flenser

Slaughter Beach, Dog – “Engine”

The third single off of Philadelphia indie rock outfit Slaughter Beach, Dog’s fifth album Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling is a big one. Literally—it’s over eight minutes long, a sprawling journey of a song by what we typically consider the standards of a single, though the rules of what makes a successful song have long been thrown out the window at this stage. “Engine” is a breathtakingly dreamy song, juxtaposing a simple folk-rock progression against layers of mesmerizing effects and a swirling wash of sound. The song itself is a personal reflection on what it means to be a musician that lives a great deal of their life on the road. Singer Jacob Ewald voices frustrations about stolen vans, highlighting mundanities such as watching The Sopranos and ordering Chinese takeout, and the small moments of joy and connection that spring up in between. It’s a beautifully, quietly moving song from a songwriter hitting his stride.

From Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling, out September 22 via Lame-O

Faith Healer – “The Game”

There’s a stillness to the opening of “The Game,” the new single from Edmonton, Alberta duo Faith Healer. Vocalist Jessica Jalbert’s vocals rest against a gauzy haze of synthesizers, her words made crystal clear as she sings of growing weary of enduring in a world that offers little support in return. But that stillness doesn’t remain, well, still. It’s a song that slowly advances toward a powerful but measured climax, with guitar, piano and drums building up behind Jalbert’s refrain of “I’m so tired of playing the game,” offering just the kind of power and reinforcement that the game itself won’t provide.

From The Hand That Fits the Glove, out October 13 via Mint

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