As of today the year is half over and we’ve already heard a lot of amazing songs. (Even if we did miss a couple weeks—don’t tell anyone!) This week has a few ringers, a few old favorites, even an underdog or two, be it indie rock, atmospheric jazz, funk or otherwise. Add this week’s five essential tracks to the queue!
The Armed – “Sport of Form”
There are few bands whose music feels like it requires more physical preparation than The Armed. And it helps that they’re all absurdly ripped, of course. But “Sport of Form,” the first single from their upcoming follow-up to 2021’s ULTRAPOP, reinforces that intense physicality with heroic pop immediacy. As the band steps even further into pop realms, complete with a guest vocal from Julien Baker, “Sport of Form” juxtaposes those anthemic, soaring moments of melody with explosive hardcore intensity. They’ve never strictly been a hardcore band, but here, they’re revealing their evolution toward something else entirely. They’re treading into uncharted territory, and it’s a unique thrill to follow them into this unknown horizon.
From Perfect Saviors, out August 25 via Sargent House
Ratboys – “The Window”
One of the albums to put near the top of your queue later this summer is The Window, Ratboys’ highly anticipated follow-up to 2020’s Printer’s Devil. After kicking off with the energetic first single “It’s Alive,” the group tugs at the heartstrings with the aching “The Window,” which begins as an aching acoustic ballad before surging into a powerful climax as vocalist Julia Steiner reflects on mourning the loss of her grandmother without being able to visit her during her final days. It’s maybe the most heartbreaking song they’ve ever released, but it’s also one of their most beautifully written and crafted—a gorgeous and deeply affecting way to say goodbye.
From The Window, out via Topshelf
Sampha – “Spirit 2.0”
Six years have passed since the release of Sampha’s Mercury Prize nominated debut album Process, and his return couldn’t come a moment too soon. With “Spirit 2.0,” his first solo single since 2017, he’s in the company of a number of standout artists: Yussef Dayes, El Guincho and Owen Pallett, as well as guest vocalists Yaeji and Ibeyi. There are a lot of big names involved, but it’s still Sampha’s voice that resonates the deepest here, repeating the refrain “life will catch you” against alternately soothing keyboard tones and skittering rhythms. It’s a warm reminder of the importance of connecting with others when you need it—and a welcome return from an artist whose voice we’ve missed.
Out now via Young
Carlos Niño & Friends – “Flutestargate”
International Anthem is a label that frequently focuses on the most exciting new jazz releases, with occasional forays into ambient and electronic music. Los Angeles artist Carlos Niño often bridges the gap between these styles, merging atmospheric pieces with a transcendent quality you’d often hear in spiritual jazz. “Flutestargate” is one such track, scanning at first as downtempo or trip-hop but revealing a powerful, emotionally charged melodic core that drives it. Within the haze there are layers to be untangled, details to hone in on. It’s subtle, but there’s a great deal of beauty to uncover for those who seek it.
From (I’m Just) Chillin’, On Fire, out September 15 via International Anthem
The Budos Band – “Crescent Blade”
There are certain expectations that come with every release by The Budos Band, foremost among them that it’ll be deep in the groove. Such is the case for “Crescent Blade,” the second song they’ve shared from upcoming EP Frontier’s Edge, which is heavy on big flashes of Afrobeat horns, thick psychedelic organ and an immediacy that seems to end every measure with an exclamation point. It’s in instrumental jams like these where The Budos Band truly showcase their strengths, making funk and soul that rocks a little harder than most, and carries one hell of a punch.
From Frontier’s Edge, out July 28 via Diamond West
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.