Essential Tracks This Week: JPEGMAFIA x Danny Brown, Midwife and Vyva Melinkolya, and more

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best songs of 2023 - Lean Beef Patty

In only a matter of days, spring will be here. But before that happens, we’ve still got some great new songs from the last days of winter to discuss, some of which still carry the chill from the last few months, and some of which seem to bring just the kind of heat we’ve been looking for. This week’s best new songs include a hip-hop tag-team match as well a dream pop tag-team for that matter (lots of duos!), some hypnotic indie rock, vibrant disco and a gorgeously dynamic ballad.

JPEGMAFIA x Danny Brown – “Lean Beef Patty”

The first taste of the highly anticipated collaboration between JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown, SCARING THE HOES, makes a big impression in a limited amount of space. That’s not necessarily unexpected for either emcee, who have their share of earth-shattering bangers that clock in at two minutes or less. But here the two of them take turns dropping one explosive line after another, though Peggy gets the most potent one in from the moment the first verse begins: “First off, fuck Elon Musk.” It’s frantic and thrilling, its production rife with elements of glitch, jungle and footwork, as if every element—emcees, beats, loops, everything—is in a race to win this thing. Banger isn’t a strong enough word for “Lean Beef Patty.”

From SCARING THE HOES, out March 24

Midwife and Vyva Melinkolya – “NMP”

Midwife and Vyva Melinkolya are birds of a reverb-effects feather, each one steeped in the influence of dream pop and shoegaze but to often different effect, which is to say the latter’s music is generally a little higher in fidelity and volume than the former’s. But the overall vibe is one of a kind of otherworldly melancholy, which on “NMP” achieves a perfect kind of stillness. Over nearly eight minutes, the duo gradually builds up a spacious slowcore dirge into an increasingly denser and even heavier piece, evoking both Jesu and Sigur Rós as they achieve a rich but uncluttered beauty. It’s a gorgeous lullaby for gazing up at the night sky.

From Orbweaving, out May 12 via Flenser

Vulture Feather – “Monument”

I’d like to take a moment to say a word of appreciation for The Wilderness, the Baltimore post-punk band that released a trio of incredible if underrated albums and then quietly called it a day. That band’s guitarist, Colin McCann, has a new band called Vulture Feather, and unsurprisingly, they rip. New single “Monument,” whose video captures scenes from recent Northern California wildfires, echoes that band’s blend of shimmering melody and uneasy tension. McCann’s vocals are at once captivating and gruff, his mystical presence evoking Lungfish cantor Daniel Higgs, while beneath him a bed of rhythm and chiming, minimalist guitars gradually evolve into something brighter and more emotionally gripping. While there’s no shortage of interesting post-punk and post-hardcore out there right now, very little of it carries this kind of hypnotic majesty.

From Liminal Fields, out June 2 via felte

Everything But the Girl – “Run a Red Light”

One of the albums we’re looking forward to most next month is the long-awaited return of Everything But the Girl, Fuse. And so far, all the singles they’ve dropped from their upcoming release have reminded us of their gorgeously understated power. “Run a Red Light” is subtler and gentler than their previous two singles, but is it ever stunning, as Tracey Thorn sings over the sparest arrangement of a lone piano, gradually building up beats and synths around it until it becomes an even richer but by no means maximalist slow jam. The duo’s always been expert at employing space in the service of pop and electronic music, and here it seems to echo louder than ever.

From Fuse, out April 21 via Buzzin’ Fly

Alison Goldfrapp – “So Hard So Hot”

In her namesake group Goldfrapp, Alison Goldfrapp excelled at both mystically ethereal trip-hop and more physical disco anthems alike, a versatile figure in whatever shape their chameleonic electronic pop might take. “So Hard So Hot” is very much the latter, a bright and intoxicating dance track that—along with recent favorites from Jessie Ware and Roisín Murphy—seems to suggest we’re in for a spectacular year of artfully hedonistic disco. “So Hard So Hot” lives up to its name, projecting the feeling of sweat and pheromones from the dancefloor, and it’s tempting just to let its acid bassline just loop on forever.

From The Love Invention, out May 12 via Skint/BMG.

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