When I’m compiling my New Music playlist each month, I typically write down the songs that have brightened my mood or gotten stuck in my head. But this month, my list of songs feels more like a list of the things that have kept me sane, functioning, and emotionally balanced. Whether you’re in the need of a soothing song to calm your heart rate or something loud to scream along to, I’ve got a few recommendations to check out from home.
It’s impossible to talk about April’s new music without gushing about Fiona Apple. (I was tempted to simply include the entirety of Fetch The Bolt Cutters as this month’s playlist, but I used some restraint.) Fetch The Bolt Cutters is Apple’s first album in eight years. As the title suggests, the album shows a newfound sense of freedom from Apple, who spent the early years of her career boxed in by media executives who controlled her image and critics who refused to seriously consider the work of a teenage girl. Now, Apple is sprouting in all directions with colorful lyrics, playful instrumentation, and clanging percussion that isn’t afraid to take up space. I’ve definitely been feeling restless and a bit trapped in my apartment this past month. But listening to Fetch The Bolt Cutters, it feels like Apple is inviting me to throw open all the windows, dance barefoot on my hardwood floors, and transform my surroundings into an instrument of joy.
Need a soundtrack to the new quirks of your quarantine life? Check out hi, u, the first album from bobby pin. Bobby pin is the solo project of Minneapolis’ Stephanie Jo Murck, who has lent her singing and guitar playing to a plethora of local bands including Tony Peachka, Oyster World, and Sass. Murck recorded the album alone at home, and its songs acutely describe what it’s like to adjust to a life indoors, with titles like “cell” and “running naked around the house.” Murck’s band Sass also released a new single this month, called “11:11.”
If you’re in the need of something soothing, I’ve got a few recommendations. The first is the EP Dreamland from Zelma Stone. The EP reflects on the grief that singer/guitarist Chloe Zelma Studebaker experienced after the deaths of family members. In a time when we’re all experiencing grief, whether it’s a tragic loss or difficult daily disruption, Dreamland is a gentle balm. Studebaker’s calm vocal drawl blends with silky guitars and synthesizers, as if drawing a warm bath to soak in.
Other new releases to slow your heart rate include Tasha’s “But There’s Still the Moon” and Flunkie’s lo-fi guitar-and-vocal single “Everybody Feels.” Escape from the daily grind of answering emails in your PJ’s with Andy Jenkins and Erin Rae’s collaboration, “Far Away From Here.” The song’s jazz-inspired chord changes and intertwining vocal harmonies provide a brief respite from mundane tasks.
If something louder and cathartic is more your speed, here are a few suggestions. Montreal’s NOBRO stomp, shred, and scream on their latest EP Sick Hustle. NOBRO channel the pomp and confidence of classic rock anthems, but refresh the decades-old sound with their clean and punchy sensibility.
Cassia Hardy fronts the Edmonton-based band Wares, which released the album Survival this month. Hardy dedicated the album to “decolonial activists, anti-fascist agitators,” and “prairie queers fighting for community and a better life.” Wares deliver a sound as bad-ass as Hardy’s dedication, mixing gritty vocals, complex arrangements, and influences that range from Metallica to The Cure to Against Me!
Slut Magic mix glossy guitar riffs, driving bass lines, and lucid dream-inspired lyrics in their new single “Help Me.” You can learn more about the song in a conversation between the band and writer Jami Fowler.
You can listen to these songs, and the rest of the playlist, using the player below.