We’re reaching an interesting turning point in the year in music, where much of what we’re hearing is a preview of albums that don’t arrive until next year. Such is the case for a couple of our picks for Essential Tracks this week, but we’ve also got some just-out singles from late 2023 releases, including the latest from an art-rock giant whose long-awaited new album finally arrives next month. Hear our picks for this week’s best new songs.
Peter Gabriel – “And Still (Dark-Side Mix)”
Peter Gabriel’s i/o is finally being released next month, after a year-long rollout of its singles, most of which have been released in two different versions—Bright Side and Dark Side mixes. Untangling the differences between the two is something we won’t get into right now, but the Dark-Side mix of “And Still,” the latest single to be released from the album, is a prime example of the level of subtle-yet-grand inspiration that Gabriel’s been untangling on his latest batch of songs. Featuring cello from New Blood Orchestra’s Ian Burdge, it’s an atmospheric dirge illuminated by moonlight, reminiscent of later Kate Bush or recent(ish) Radiohead, written in memory of Gabriel’s late mother. It’s gorgeous.
From i/o, out December 1 via Real World
Home Front – “Jupiter”
Earlier this year, Edmonton synth-punk group Home Front released their excellent debut Games of Power, a unique and invigorating blend of hardcore aggression, goth-rock darkness and synth-laden danceability. Last Friday they dropped a new EP, produced by Fucked Up’s Jonah Falco, that closes with this gem, a dark and distorted industrial/EBM pulse that veers between noise rock intensity and sleek dancefloor groove. I spent Halloween night at a goth club (which was a blast) and the DJ could have easily snuck this one into the setlist between the darkwave classics. My kind of weird post-punk hybrid.
From Nation EP, out now via La Vida Es Un Mus
Church Chords – “Recent Mineral”
Church Chords is a difficult band to describe. The project of Stephen Buono, guitarist in Philadelphia art-rock group Split/Red, it features a wide ranging list of collaborators, including Wilco’s Nels Cline, Jeff Parker and more. And its first single, the mesmerizing groove of “Recent Mineral,” swirls together psychedelia with post-punk, eerie organ drones juxtaposed against woozy guitar licks in what feels like Fugazi at their most weirdly dubby or Blonde Redhead indulging in more of a free-form jam. Genevieve Artadi’s Portuguese-sung lyrics provide an anchor for all the weirdness that surrounds it, but it’s mostly a joy to simply get caught up in the swirl of buzzing and shrieking sounds, a gloriously weird surrealist post-punk frenzy.
From elvis, he was schlager, out February 23 via Otherly Love
Vyva Melinkolya – “222”
Earlier this year, Vyva Melinkolya released the collaborative album Orbweaving with Midwife, and now Angel Diaz is prepping her solo follow-up, Unbecoming, which is out next week. Her latest single, “222,” features backing vocals from Ethel Cain and captures a sweetly mellifluous kind of melancholy. Not unlike that of her sometimes collaborator Madeline Johnston, Diaz’s music is slow and graceful, a gauzy and richly rewarding take on slowcore that feels massive even when composed of only a few stark elements, and “222” puts this into practice beautifully.
From Unbecoming, out November 9
Mildlife – “Musica”
Earlier this fall, Australian psych-jazz outfit Mildlife took an astral turn on their sprawling space disco single “Return to Centaurus.” Their follow-up to that single, “Musica,” is more concise, more immediate, but no less cosmic. In just under six minutes the group conjures a glorious, retro-futuristic synthscape that nods to the likes of Cerrone and Giorgio Moroder, with arpeggiators aplenty and a surplus of polyester funk. All it’s missing is a glossy sci-fi film to go with it (though its film noir-style video, set in the band’s native Australia, is pretty cool).
From Chorus, out March 1 via Heavenly
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.