Essential Tracks This Week: Waxahatchee, Gouge Away, and more

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January is typically a slow month for new releases (which maybe isn’t true anymore?), but it’s a super busy month for building anticipation for albums in the spring. To wit: This week has been bonkers with album announcements, many of which have been accompanied by some truly outstanding songs, five of which you can read about here, including the latest from Katie Crutchfield, the return of two noisy favorites, and two quick returns from longtime favorites who just released some recent records.

Waxahatchee – “Right Back to It” (feat. MJ Lenderman)

Katie Crutchfield’s last album, 2020’s Saint Cloud, emphasized that she’s one of the best singer/songwriters in America right now, and based on the first single, “Right Back to It,” her follow-up, Tigers Blood, has potential to surpass that already high bar. A slow-moving love song that leans away from the fireworks and focuses more on the unromantic everyday. However unpolished the narrative, the melody itself, however, is utterly gorgeous, driven by plucks of banjo and some spectacular vocal harmonies with MJ Lenderman, who also drives the boat they’re on in the Everglades in its music video.

From Tigers Blood, out March 22 via Anti-

Gouge Away – “Stuck in a Dream”

The more than five years since Gouge Away’s last alum, Burnt Sugar, sure went by fast—or slow, depending on how you look at it (a pandemic will do that). Their return, however, is a most welcome one, the band’s agitated and eclectic hybrid of hardcore, noise rock and expertly applied hooks has long made for an invigorating listen, and “Stuck in a Dream” is no different. It’s rife with big riffs, churning grooves, and Christina Michelle’s abrasive vocal screech, which has the uncanny ability to make a heavy song sound even meaner. God damn I missed this band.

From Deep Sage, out May 15 via Deathwish Inc

Pissed Jeans – “Moving On”

Speaking of bands we’ve missed like crazy: Pissed Jeans. In a press release accompanying the announcement of new album Half Divorced, Matt Korvette likened the band to an art project rather than a full-time thing that has to be maintained on a daily basis. Which is probably why every time they reemerge, they do so energized and ready to rip. Which “Moving On” most certainly does. Simultaneously among their most accessible and hook-driven while surging with raucous noise-rock energy, “Moving On” is Pissed Jeans at their best. Truly one of the best ruckuses going in rock music.

From Half Divorced, out March 1 via Sub Pop

Shabazz Palaces – “Angela” (feat. Stas THEE Boss and Irene Barber)

Shabazz Palaces have been in an interesting creative space of late, having announced their second new mini-album of new material since this past fall, and the results have been both interesting and unpredictable. “Angela” is the first taste of their latest, Exotic Birds of Prey, but one thing you won’t hear is Ishmael Butler’s voice. Rather, Stas THEE Boss and Irene Barber lend their voices to this funked-out space-age track, which feels a little bit like g-funk on the moon. It’s a cosmic groove that has vibes for days, a concise jam that could keep going for twice as long and I’d be just fine with that.

From Exotic Birds Of Prey, out March 29 via Sub Pop

Big|Brave – “I felt a funeral”

Not even a full year has passed since Big|Brave released nature morte, one of the best albums of 2023, and they’re already lining up a new one. The first song released from the group’s upcoming A Chaos of Flowers is a decidedly different approach from the group, but one connected to their previous couple releases, tying together elements of drone and noise with folk music—and in this case, references the poetry of Emily Dickinson. It’s one of the more quietly powerful songs from the group, as well as one of their most beautiful songs to date, offering a look toward a new and fascinating avenue of exploration from the Montreal trio.

From A Chaos of Flowers, out April 19 via Thrill Jockey

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