Essential Tracks This Week: L’Rain, The Serfs and more

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L'Rain - Essential Tracks

Perhaps an apology is necessary. We skipped last week’s Essential Tracks, which we’ve done a couple times this year—not because there weren’t enough great songs. That’s never the problem. But sometimes the week gets away from us. Not this week, though—we’ve got nothing but mandatory-repeat jams for you to spin throughout the weekend, from some of our favorite artists in post-punk, psych-pop, noise rock and more. Turn up this week’s Essential Tracks!

L’Rain – “Pet Rock”

L’Rain offered a preview of where she was headed next with her single “New Year’s UnResolution” from earlier this year, a lush yet delightfully weird summer jam that swirled in diffuse and disparate elements like those that defined her 2021 album Fatigue. “Pet Rock” is perhaps a little more immediate, a bright, brief but gorgeously immersive psychedelic pop song with harmonized guitars, a hypnotic and lovely vocal melody and more than a little groove. It finds Taja Cheek (credited on the song as playing “Human synthipede”) delivering something more explicitly pop in its approach without letting go of the delightfully weird pieces that make L’Rain unique. – Jeff Terich

From I Killed Your Dog, out October 13 via Mexican Summer

The Serfs – “Club Deuce”

The Serfs are part of the Cincinnati collective of punk and post-punk bands that includes The Drin and Crime of Passing—they actually were the first to release an album of that trio of bands. They announced their first album with the always exciting Trouble in Mind label this week, and with it, a club banger for the ages. On “Club Deuce,” the group steers briefly away from the coldwave and jagged post-punk they specialize in for the sake of delivering a dancefloor single steeped in industrial weirdness. Somewhere between Technique-era New Order and the austere disco of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle’s “Hot on the Heels of Love,” “Club Deuce” is both sexy and robotic, dark and hedonistic. Just in time for goth season. – Jeff Terich

From Half Eaten by Dogs, out October 27 via Trouble in Mind

Soft Play – “Punk’s Dead”

If you’re still on the fence about the decision made by the band formerly known as Slaves to change their name to Soft Play earlier this year, then their new single, “Punk’s Dead,” ought to knock you decisively one way or the other. Hopefully, the sardonic thrashing that the song gives to anyone who acts like the band’s new name somehow heralds the downfall of Western civilization will have you enthusiastically convinced that Soft Play’s fast, fun, biting style has gone absolutely nowhere. And if it doesn’t, well, it’s abundantly clear that Soft Play are simply incapable of giving a fuck. They’re making no attempt to compromise with the haters and have stuck to their guns with sneering relish. Now that’s punk. – Ed Brown

Out now

Lost Girls – “With the Other Hand”

The debut album by Norwegian duo Lost Girls, Menneskekollektivet, was marked by lush layers of synthesizers and rich, slowly unfolding compositions that reveal their majesty gradually. The two singles that Jenny Hval and Håvard Volden have released thus far from their follow-up, Selvutsletter, are more concise and carry a little more post-punk darkness, but operate in a similar manner. At just over three minutes, “With the Other Hand” is an epic in miniature, building up from Hval’s spoken word delivery and a backing of tensely strummed guitar chords, but ultimately builds up into a soaring electronic pop anthem featuring one of the most infectious, if mysterious, vocal hooks Hval’s ever sung. – Jeff Terich

From Selvutsletter, out October 20 via Smalltown Supersound

Sprain – “We Think So Ill of You”

The new album from Los Angeles noise rock group Sprain, The Lamb As Effigy…, is shaping up to be one of the most overwhelming releases of the year, in large part because of how long it is at over 90 minutes of music, but also because it comprises some truly brutal sounds. Like a meeting place between late Scott Walker and the last Chat Pile album, “We Think so Ill of You” is an exercise in anxiety pushed to explosive limits. It’s raw and brutal in its intersection of dissonance, pummeling bass and churning guitars, climaxing in a white-knuckle sequence of throat-ripping screams. Not a summer jam, but a cathartic piece of absolutely harrowing art-scrape. – Jeff Terich

From The Lamb As Effigy…, out September 1 via Flenser

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