Essential Tracks This Week: Sleater-Kinney, Katy Kirby and more

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We made it through the first week of 2024 with a small but fresh batch of new releases. But more importantly, we have a thrilling new stack of Essential Tracks worth being excited over, giving us even more to look forward to in 2024, including another great new single from Sleater-Kinney, plus some atmospheric post-screamo, jangly power pop and more.

Sleater-Kinney – “Untidy Creature”

Sleater-Kinney took on a somewhat more restrained approach the last time we heard them, on the relatively subdued Path of Wellness in 2021. Yet new single “Untidy Creature” finds them sounding bigger and bolder once gain, arriving upon that most-perfect of Sleater-Kinney combos—Carrie Brownstein’s soaring riffs backing Corin Tucker’s powerful pipes—with an unexpected dose of classic rock flourish in the form of a piano-driven bridge. It’s exciting to hear them explore new ground, but above all, it’s simply one of their best pure rock anthems in years.

From Little Rope, out January 19 via Loma Vista

Katy Kirby – “Hand to Hand”

In the lyric video for “Hand to Hand,” Nashville singer/songwriter Katy Kirby wears a wedding dress as she applies makeup, and then paints figures on the mirror and lights a cigarette, but the song itself finds her working through her own angst about long-term relationships and the risk that comes with commitment. It’s not a grand or dramatic piece, however, but a gradually moving piece of elegant folk pop with a subtle but effective climax, a stunning mirror to her own meditations and revelations as they come into focus.

From Blue Raspberry, out January 26 via Anti-

Slift – “Weavers’ Weft”

French space rock outfit Slift make their Sub Pop debut later this month with Ilion, their third album overall, and to date each single they’ve released has been at least nine minutes long. Which offers some indication of how cosmic and epic their compositions are. “Weavers’ Weft” is no exception, a slightly more subdued dirge than their prior two space-scorchers, a mystical confluence of atmosphere and mood, building into a thunderous surge and eventually a rhythmically frantic prog midsection reminiscent of King Crimson at their most furious. There’s nothing about this that doesn’t rule.

From Ilion, out January 19 via Sub Pop

Finnoguns Wake – “So Nice”

The late, great Royal Headache released a handful of excellent, garagey power pop albums before calling it quits in 2017, and since then, frontman Tim Wall debuted Shogun and the Sheets with one solitary but excellent single to their name. Now the Australian singer has launched another new band, Finnoguns Wake, whose debut EP drops later this month, and is off to a spectacular start with standout singles like “So Nice.” A power pop gem rife with ’80s UK jangle-pop brightness, fuzzy ’90s-era grunge-pop grit and lots of melody to go around, “So Nice” feels like a welcome dose of nourishing heat in the dead of winter.

From Stay Young, out January 26 via What’s Your Rupture

Infant Island – “Kindling” (featuring Greet Death)

Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Infant Island exist at the intersection of screamo and post-metal—sprinkled with occasional blackgaze—which puts them in a similar league as the likes of Deafheaven and Oathbreaker. With “Kindling,” however, they stretch out into atmospherically gorgeous, emotionally weighty material through a collaboration with their shoegazing labelmates Greet Death. A graceful dirge that rises up into a mighty roar, “Kindling” is reminiscent of Thou’s collab with Emma Ruth Rundle, a powerful dose of melancholy that nonetheless packs a punch.

From Obsidian Wreath, out January 12 via Secret Voice

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