Words by Brian LaBenne
Every month Off Shelf contributor and Best Song Ever Podcast host Brian LaBenne brings you the best singles of the month and puts together a playlist for your enjoyment. Below you’ll find five highlighted songs that stood above the rest, which is followed by the entire playlist. Please follow our Spotify account so you don’t miss any future playlists!
Clairo – Sofia (FADER)
Clairo is hopefully about to take the world by storm. After sharing an affinity for Flaming Hot Cheetos and impressing Rostam (ex member of Vampire Weekend) with her music, the two stepped in the studio together and recorded what very well may be the pop album of the year. But this isn’t your typical pop album by any means. Using Death Cab for Cutie, Robyn, The Strokes, 90s R&B and many other disparate influences as a jumping off point, Clairo has created a lane all her own. Sofia is the third and best single from Immunity, which is out on August 2nd. You’ll hear The Strokes, you’ll hear Robyn-esque synth pop flourishes and you’ll hear a wonderful tale of queer love. Go check out her other singles after listening to this and mark Immunity as a must listen. This album is going to be special.
Anna Meredith – Paramour (Black Prince Fury)
This song is almost as bonkers as the music video. Seriously, have you watched it yet? It’s right up there! Just click and watch, trust me. I’ll wait … Incredible right? One of the coolest videos you’ve seen in a long time, I know, trust me I know I was the one who told you about it! Anyway, Anna Meredith has crafted a really inventive instrumental track and paired it with an absolutely insane miniature train track performance. It has an extended rock out portion with a TUBA, what else do you need? Really excited by this song and will definitely never forget the name Anna Meredith now.
Julien Chang – Of the Past (Transgressive Records)
Of the Past is Julien Chang’s first single ever as far as I can tell and it’s hard to imagine a more confident entry into music than this. When I first listened to it I was drawn into the funky Chillwavey environment. It made me think of Toro Y Moi, Blood Orange, Tame Impala and I was sold. Then, halfway through something really remarkable happens that sets this song apart and is really exciting. There’s a jazz piano solo right smack dab in the middle of it and a great one at that. Again, this is such a phenomenal statement from a young, new musician who has definitely made it on my radar.
Channel Tres feat. JPEGMAFIA – Black Moses (GODMODE)
First Channel Tres was Sexy Black Timberlake, now he’s Black Moses? This guy better be careful of getting caught for identity fraud! Just kidding, these are song titles folks, it takes a lot more than song titles to be convicted of identity fraud these days. I saw Channel Tres open for Robyn this year and his performance was exciting and raw. When I saw that he made a song with JPEGMAFIA I knew I had to drop everything and listen and boy was I not disappointed. This has what you expect from a Channel Tres song, except he seems to keep refining and distilling his sound with each track he puts out. This is some catchy stuff with a lot of fun lines and of course incredible rapping from JPEGMAFIA.
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar)
It’s no surprise that the new song from Angel Olsen took my breath away. That’s almost par for the course for her and myself at this point. What is surprising about All Mirrors is the incredibly vast sonic landscape she creates. Utterly beautiful and enormous, one that you may actually be able to get lost within. For her new album Angel Olsen recorded bare bones versions of songs and was going to put out two albums at once, one bare bones and one fully expanded in the studio with John Congleton. After crafting the studio version, the songs had morphed and fleshed out so completely that she knew it was only one album and this is its truest form. Well, Angel, I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.