Each week we break down our favorite song, highlight our honorable mentions, and wrap them all up with other staff recommendations into a New Sounds playlist just for you. Be sure to subscribe here.
Tragedy can lead us down paths we wouldn’t have normally explored without its influence. Lead singer Matt Schultz’s recent divorce added instability in the recording studio, but what came out of that is pure self-aware rock entries in navigating the abyss. “House of Glass” is the latest single from next month’s Cage the Elephant album, Social Cues, and it has many confessional themes to its alarming guitar structures. To go from creepy surf strumming to a frantic eruption of unfazed solos, Cage has gained more of an understanding of their craft as time goes on.
“It’s an illusion, this admiration/ Of mutilation, my isolation,” sings Matt Schultz during the thunderous chorus. Even with all their growing success, Schultz doesn’t accept it, and his rejection gives the song a believable amount of weight. Producer John Hill lets Schultz dive into his frightening headspace, and he emerges more seasoned because of it. The sinister undertones shouldn’t cover up the fact that Cage have another garage rock party to add to their vast collection of hits. So far, they have proven that when dealing with emotional turmoil, they can peal back the layers to find some form of healing.
(Buy: Tickets to Upcoming Cage the Elephant Shows)
OTHER SONGS WE’RE SPINNING
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – “Fishing for the Fishies”
After a whopping (for the band) year-and-a-half wait, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard return with the title track from their upcoming 14th album. The break has done the band well, with a dreamy folk sound that sizzles with a sweet harmonica backing arrangement. Also, “Sorry for fishies” is just a satisfyingly fun line. —Parker Reed
Frankie Cosmos – “Tunnel”
Sweet and heartbreaking all at once, Frankie Cosmos’ “Tunnel” is a stripped-down piano lullaby that makes it hard for you not to go through different waves of emotions. Cosmos’ voice seems like it’s close to sobbing, but it’s her determination that keeps her poised to the point where it’s impossible to doubt her as she continues to move forward in life. —Brad Dountz
Tayla Parx – “I Want You”
With a touch of soul to a traditional trap-pop track, Tayla Parx defines herself in a crowd of similar artists. Deep, ocean-like production complements both a smooth delivery from Parx and the songwriting alike. —Parker Reed
Local Natives – “When Am I Gonna Lose You”
“When Am I Gonna Lose You” is one of those rare songs that illustrates the specific feeling it sets out to capture through both feeling and image — lines like “I remember you closing the shutters/ And laying down by my side/ And the light that was still slipping through/ It was painting your body in stripes,” complement the titular chorus with just the right indie-rock ache. —Laura Dzubay
The Get Up Kids – “Satellite”
A solid pop-punk track has a number of sonically sensible qualities. Yellable lyrics, the right production on those guitars, and a slight tenderness can help as well. Scene mainstays The Get Up Kids showcase all of this and more on new track “Satellite”. It’s sure to be a hit in those pits. —Parker Reed
Karen O and Danger Mouse – “Turn the Light”
Supported by a funky bass line, this Karen O/Danger Mouse collab is a wicked fantasy that pulls out all the stops to get you grooving to this dreamy melody. Having the potential to go in darker directions, this dynamic duo with all their precise instrumentation, choose to see that the sun will always rise even after a long night. —Brad Dountz
ScHoolboy Q – “Numb Numb Juice”
ScHoolboy Q is prepared for anything and anyone on this easy-breezy bomb. He doesn’t have time for posers who try to project false images “Faking like you got it in your pockets, yeah, that’s bitch shit.” ScHoolboy Q goes hardcore, ready to do whatever it takes to make his bars and verses lethal to all his haters. —Brad Dountz
Khalid – “My Bad”
In “My Bad”, Khalid turns the sun-drenched R&B and steady, plucky beat that are quickly becoming trademarks of his music onto the subject of not texting someone back: The cultural relevance of “I didn’t text you back ’cause I was workin’” feels like a peculiarly 2010s phenomenon, which lines up almost perfectly with Khalid’s specialties. —Laura Dzubay
CupcakKe – “Bird Box”
CupcakKe wields rhymes like she’s got millions to spare, and she sets out to prove it on “Bird Box”, rapping her way through a roller coaster of cultural references, boasts, and puns — the real strength all along, though, residing in her singular sense of presence and rapping ability, which remain striking and relentless. —Parker Reed