Welcome to SPIN‘s Singles Mix! The SPIN staff has rounded up their favorite, must-hear tracks for your personal playlists. From resurrected Britpop legends to eyebrow-raising indie-folkies to Canadian garage-punk hooligans, these are the songs you need to know right now.
Ashley Monroe, “On to Something Good” (Warner Music Group)
Bouncier than anything off of her heralded debut (or even her ragged Pistol Annies contributions), Ashley Monroe gushes about her good fortune with an appropriately jangly tune that rides a surprisingly funky bottom. Only time will tell if it propels her to Kacey Musgraves’ sales, but they’re certainly punching in the same weight class. DAN WEISS
Blur, “Go Out” (Parlophone Records)
For their first new song in three years, Blur find themselves in territory closer to the frenetic 2012 B-side “The Puritan” than its statelier A-side, “Under the Westway.” That’s certainly not a bad thing — the choppy guitar, submerged keys, loping bass, and cheekily bum-out lyrics (“I get into my bed and do it to myself”) make it the rare 21st-century Blur song that’s as fun as Damon Albarn’s more animated (in every way) work with Gorillaz. Self-gratifyingly scummy: Not a bad look for Blur in 2015. ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Cannibal Ox feat. Artifacts & U-God, “Blade: The Art of Ox” (IGC/iHipHop)
Say this for Vast Aire and Vordul Mega: They know how to time their releases to stand out. The future shock of 2001’s The Cold Vein stuck out like a thorn amidst the slick fabric of Timbaland and the Neptunes in 2002, and the soul-sample salad of the just-released “Blade: The Art of Ox” brings some RZA-level mystagogy back to rap in a year that’s (so far) been typified by its lack of flex zones. D.W.
ESKMO, “The Sun Is a Drum” (Apollo Records)
On this evidence, Brendan Angelides’ unclassifiable electronic constructions have grown denser and more symphonic since his excellent self-titled debut, which yielded more in the way of attractively scrambled collages. The battering drums, oceanic synths, and trance-like vocals all want us to know that he’s aiming straight for the sun. D.W.
Jacco Gardner, “Find Yourself” (Polyvinyl Records)
David Axelrod-style fuzz bass and crashing drums meet with Ariel Pink-y melodic preciousness for an entrancing psych-pop throwback that sounds neither overly reverential or overly self-aware, like the best songs on Foygen’s underrated …And Star Power. “Let it take you to a summer scene… See the world outside on a sunny day.” These days, gladly. A.U.
METZ, “Acetate” (Sub Pop Records)
The Toronto noise-punks are back with a vengence in this feedback-fueled track from their forthcoming II album, out May 4. Drummer Hayden Menzies surely must resemble a certain ginger-bearded muppet as he wails in the percussion, and lead singer Alex Edkins torches your ears with a scorching guitar solo. Be warned: Instruments were (likely) harmed in the making of this blistering single. RACHEL BRODSKY
MNEK, “A Thousand Miles” (Virgin/EMI)
For Valentine’s Day, British pop singer MNEK — you’d know him from his Gorgon City track, “Ready For Your Love,” or his songwriting on Madonna’s “Living For Love” — decided to go full cheeseball by releasing a massive, club-ready modern-day version of Vanessa Carlton’s 2001 single, “A Thousand Miles.” MNEK — born Uzo Emenike — also chops and samples the B-52s’ “Love Shack” onto his cover’s chorus, melding the greatest and corniest of worlds. BRENNAN CARLEY
Passion Pit, “Lifted Up (1985)” (Columbia)
Passion Pit doesn’t reinvent the wheel with their lead Kindred single, but they certainly refine it. As the name “Lifted Up” hints, it’s a soaring, hands-toward-the-sky anthem whose euphoric synths and high-pitched lyrics look back to halcyon days. It’s Passion Pit at their most passionate — to the point where some grouchier listeners might not be able to stomach it. Ignore the naysayers; with two albums to their name, Michael Angelakos and Co. have mastered the intricacies of their signature style. JAMES GREBEY
Sufjan Stevens, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” (Asthmatic Kitty)
“Fuck me, I’m falling apart,” sings a broken-sounding Sufjan Stevens in this sparse, whisper-soft track. More skeptical than accepting, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” sounds like it was written from Job’s perspective after one too many God-inflicted life hurdles. Is the indie-folk troubadour losing his religion? Well, if Carrie & Lowell‘s reality-facing mission statement foreshadows anything, it’s that everybody — even the most devout among us — experiences doubt. R.B.
Waxahatchee, “Under a Rock” (Merge Records)
Most of us, at some vulnerable point or another, have tried to ID an anonymous admirer (and if you say you haven’t, you’re lying). Such perplexing personalities are what intrigues Katie Crutchfield in her brazen new track, “Under a Rock.” Accompanied by mid-tempo guitar strums, the fringed singer sneers at her walled-off love interest (“The brick house that you built around your cranium / You wear it like a crown”), with whom she’s clearly grown exasperated. Her frustration is understandable, and why shouldn’t it be? After all, she discovers what lies beneath most immovable rocks: a clump of dirt and worms. R.B.