The 5 Best New Songs We Heard This Week: Sufjan Stevens, Colleen Green, Pussy Riot

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Blur reunited and Scarlett Johansson formed a new band with Este Haim, yes, but have you heard these stunning new tracks?

Sufjan Stevens — “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

Sufjan went back to his roots for his heartbreaking, Seven Swans-esque new album, Carrie & Lowell (out March 31). The LP’s first single is just one small piece of his emotional and familial devastation. I cried actual tears over this song.

Pussy Riot — “I Can’t Breathe”

When I’d heard Pussy Riot’s first song in English was a tribute to Eric Garner that included punk icon Richard Hell reading the victim’s last words, I will admit that I was a little worried. Apparently so was Hell. “It felt weird to speak the words of a black man killed by the police, when I’m this privileged white guy,” Hell recently told Pitchfork. “At the same time, I believe in Pussy Riot. I have faith in them. I think they’re for real.” I, too, think they’re for real, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that “I Can’t Breathe” doesn’t play by the typical protest song rules. The song is almost like a news report, with moody synths helping to craft an unsettled feeling.

https://soundcloud.com/hardlyartrecords/sets/colleen-green-i-want-to-grow-up

Colleen Green’s I Want to Grow Up

Power-pop disciple Colleen Green’s Hardly Art debut (and third album over all) technically comes out next week, but it’s streaming on SoundCloud now and, to be honest, is the only thing giving me energy after a long week. Green — along with her wildly appropriate collaborators Casey Weissbuch of Diarrhea Planet and Jake Orrall of JEFF The Brotherhood — sharpens her grunge-pop into almost new wave and/or pop-punk territory at times, and softens it into ’60s pop at others. It would be easy to focus on the feedback-drenched riffs that make I Want Grow Up so infectious, but Green’s willingness to commit to utter realness — no matter how agitated she feels — is a big part of what makes the album stand out. I can’t pick just one song, though “TV” does something to the part of my brain where Weezer’s Green Album plays on loop.

Le Volume Courbe — “The House”

My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields has once again teamed up with London’s Le Volume Courbe (they collaborated on LVC’s 2005 debut), this time for the experimental pop band’s dreamy new single. “The House” has a few different components that, were they isolated in a song, may not stand out the way they do when combined: Charlotte Marionneau’s charming French lilt, urgent ’90s indie rock guitar jangle, the first catchy chorus to be led by strings, and toy gun noises.

A.G. Cook — “Drop FM” feat. Hannah Diamond

Last weekend I saw XL Records’ QT — the satirical pop star creation from PC Music boss A.G. Cook and London DJ/producer SOPHIE — DJ a Valentine’s Day rave in a fancy Chinese restaurant in New York’s Financial District, during a snowstorm, shrouded in intense fog, holding the energy drink she “sponsors” the entire time. It was great fun to say the least — and surreal to boot — but I must admit, I’m not sure QT will ever quite match the heights reached by PC Music’s more tangible pop star, Hannah Diamond. “Drop FM,” her strongest track to date, tips her over the edge.