The 10 Best New Songs We Heard This Week: Christopher Owens, Janelle Monáe

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Another week, another onslaught of new tunes. Lots of competition this week, but we loved the new one from ex-Girls leader Christopher Owens, Janelle Monáe’s relentlessly posi Rio 2 song, and the catchy debut single from a mysterious pop singer to watch, Allie X. Get listening, folks.

Christopher Owens — “It Comes Back To You”

Much of what made Girls’ 2011 album Father, Son, Holy Ghost great was the way it meshed together various styles and vintage influences effortlessly,while still feeling fresh. So it comes as a lovely surprise that that same quality is intact in a new impromptu track from former Girls leader Christopher Owens. Off his TBA forthcoming album, the song’s got a little twang, a whole lotta gorgeous harmonizing, and a proper guitar solo (which we don’t hear enough of these days.)

Mac DeMarco — “Brother”

Instead of trying to match the psychedelic energy of recent single “Passing Out Pieces,” DeMarco chose the chilled-out “Brother” as the second track from his forthcoming (and excellent) third release, Salad Days, out April 1. “You’re better off dead when your mind’s been set from nine until five” — wisest thing I’ve heard all week, man.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlpZCfIM33w]

Allie X — “Catch”

Allie X’s debut single has been floating around for a few weeks, but the up-and-coming pop singer got a huge boast yesterday with a Katy Perry co-sign. The Neon Gold signee stands out from the pack with moody production, an onslaught of synths, and a lithe voice.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbOCLEIKZOo]

How To Dress Well — “Words I Don’t Remember”

Another slow jam to soundtrack sad sex from HTDW’s Tom Krell, who’s been away too long. I mean, I spent last year kissing people to that Rhye album when I really needed this.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cl5c-Q1BC4]

Janelle Monáe — “What Is Love”

The Electric Lady pulls a Pharrell/”Happy” move and soundtracks an upcoming animated film, Rio 2, with this positively joyous new track. I wouldn’t hate it if little kids sang this, not that they’d be able to hit Monáe’s spikes of falsetto.

Tame Impala & Kendrick Lamar — “Backwards”

That Imagine Dragons mash-up at the Grammys didn’t satiate Kendrick’s desire to spit over guitar riffs, so he’s back with a reworking of Tame Impala’s stellar 2012 track “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” for the Divergent soundtrack. The production, more than Kendrick’s verses, is really something, with a number of orchestral elements added. You can only stream it over at Pitchfork, where the Divergent soundtrack is streaming in full. Skip to track 7.

La Sera — “Losing to the Dark”

As the Vivian Girls come to an end, a new track from La Sera — VG member Katy Goodman’s band — emerges. If you’re not familiar with La Sera, they’re a little bit harder than Viv Girls, but pop melodies peek out at times. “Losing to the Dark” is one of those times, and it’s a great juxtaposition of hard and soft. The third La Sera LP, Hour of the Dawn, is out May 13.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5gUsnJX2oA]

Future Islands — “A Dream of You and Me”

Letterman trying to make Future Island dude’s AAAAAAMAZING dance moves into a meme this week is the best thing ole Dave’s done in a while. But do not let us forget that there’s a great new Future Islands single out this week as well, off an album that’s quickly looking more and more promising.

Beach House — “Saturn Song”

This is too intriguing not to highlight: There’s an upcoming compilation of new songs inspired by recordings made in space by the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes, titled Space Project and out on Record Store Day. The Antlers and Spiritualized, among others, contribute to the comp, as do Beach House with this ambient track that sounds like nothing else in their discography, yet distinctly Beach House at the same time. You can only hear “Saturn Song” one over at NPR .

Sharon Van Etten — “Taking Chances”

Look, I know I already highlighted Sharon Van Etten in this week’s staff picks, but you guys, this song. Woodblock and synths. ‘Nuff said. Sharon’s new album, Are We There?, is out May 27 on Jagjaguwar.