The 10 Best New Songs We Heard This Week: Joanna Newsom, Beaches


Over the last year or so, we’ve been spending our Friday mornings rounding up the best downloadable MP3s from around the web. Over that time, it’s become clear that the (legally) downloadable MP3 is in something of a decline — the advent of Soundcloud and Bandcamp has meant that bands are far more inclined to stream their work than offer it up for free, which is entirely fair enough, and it’s also meant that of late we’ve missed being able to share a whole bunch of new music that wasn’t downloadable. So from here on in, we’re sharing the best new songs we’ve heard over the course of the week, and offering them up for you to stream at your leisure. This inaugural edition features work from Joanna Newsom, Beaches, Dam-Funk, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, and plenty more. Happy Friday!

Joanna Newsom — “The North Star Grassman and the Ravens” In which Newsom covers Fairport Convention singer and general folk icon Sandy Denny, under the auspices of some sort of clothing company. Whatever the corporate sponsorship behind it, this is quiet, understated, and really pretty — its simple vocals-and-harp arrangement is reminiscent of The Milk-Eyed Mender-era Newsom, and works beautifully for such a stark, sad song. [via Fact]

Beaches — “Distance” Yay for the return of Beaches! This is a lush psych slow-burner along the lines of “Free Way” from the band’s excellent self-titled debut, and it features guitar from Neu!’s Michael Rother, with whom Beaches have apparently been friends since both played at the Nick Cave-curated Australian ATP event a few years back. This is the first single from their new album She Beats, which is is out in May and already on our shopping list. [via Gorilla Vs Bear]

Dam-Funk — “I Wanna Know How It Feels Inside, of U” And here’s another endlessly prolific artist: the ever-generous Dam-Funk, a man who’s apparently never recorded a track he wasn’t up for uploading to Soundcloud. This comes furnished with the sort of liquid bass sounds and keytar flourishes we’ve come to know and love from the man, along with a beat that sounds basically exactly like the one from epic Toeachizown highlight “Brookside Park.” (It’s also no accident that he’s sitting underneath a picture of Prince above, we’re sure.) [via Ad Hoc]

The-Dream — “TRON” The-Dream raps! And does so in a rather terse manner! Above a backing track that sounds a bit like Salem! And it’s kind of awesome! [via Stereogum]

Mutya, Keisha, Siobhan — “Swimming Pools (Drank)” People occasionally accuse us of not liking any pop music, but it’s not entirely true — it’s just that good pop tunes are kinda hard to find these days. Huzzah, then, for the return of three of the original Sugababes, who have apparently gotten back together to make a record with Dev “Blood Orange” Hynes. This studio outtake finds them tackling Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” with surprisingly good results. [via Fact]

Motion Sickness of Time Travel — “SicSic Tapes” (excerpt) It’s kinda getting difficult to keep up with the flood of Motion Sickness of Time Travel-related material that’s emerged in 2013, but it’s worth making the effort since it’s pretty much all good. This is an excerpt from a new release that’s out at the end of March, and from the two minute-long snippets to be heard, it sounds like classic MSOTT – the first track reminiscent of the comparatively edgy, jittery sounds on her self-titled release from last year, the other blissed-out, evolving ambient goodness along the lines of her earlier albums. Excellent.

Factory Floor and Peter Gordon — “Beachcombing” In a similar vein, Peter Gordon is part of NYC experimental ensemble Love of Life Orchestra, and this track finds him collaborating with Factory Floor to most excellent effect. It’s a slow-building atmospheric piece that’s not unlike MSOTT’s work, and certainly a lot less abrasive than Factory Floor’s usual stuff. The whole thing works beautifully — it’s out on April 8 as part of a collaborative EP. [via The Quietus, where you can also hear another track from the EP]

Azealia Banks — “Yung Rapunxel” Here we have proof that when she gets off Twitter and concentrates on making music, Azealia Banks can still turn out some pretty killer tracks. Notably, it was produced by seapunk luminary Lil Internet, which we’re assuming means that Azealia has buried the hatchet with the sea people. [via RCRD LBL]

Xander Harris — “Vultures of Tenderness” We’ve written a fair bit over the last year or so about how much we like Not Not Fun-affiliated producer and apparent Buffy fan Xander Harris, whose faux-horror film soundtrack Urban Gothic was one of the more overlooked records of 2011. He’s got a new album due out next month, from which this is taken. [via Pitchfork]

Computer Graphics — “Synthavision” And finally, ’80s-inspired electronic weirdness from unheralded Russian producer Pixelord, who’s adopted the Computer Graphics moniker to make what sounds like rave music for a Windows 95 commercial. It’s really pretty great in a schizoid kind of way. [via XLR8R]