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!
Shura – religion (u can lay your hands on me) (Secretly Canadian)
What better way to celebrate Pride Month than with a new Shura song that explores queer desire and sex within the confines of religion. Having grown up in the church I have always found it interesting how “Church Language” can sound pretty sexual. Shura exploits this with the parenthetical title phrase “u can lay your hands on me,” which is a popular saying especially with the Evangelical community that I grew up in. This song is catchy, synthy and really great to practice some sexy dance moves to as you really feel it in your hips. Also, the music video has lesbian nuns, what more could you ask for?
Amber Mark – What If (Universal)
Ever since I heard Amber Mark’s 2017 song Lose My Cool I have been obsessed with the singer. Her brand of RnB finds the sweet spot of being relevant, creative and unique in a crowded field. She deftly cuts between spacey, catchy, jazzy and funky music with soaring vocals that rise above all of the other elements. Amber is a true talent to watch and I can’t wait until she releases a debut full length album, hopefully sometime in the near future.
Whitney – Giving Up (Secretly Canadian)
As a huge fan of Whitney’s debut album Light Upon the Lake news of their upcoming sophomore album hit me with a thunderbolt of excitement. Sophomore albums are notoriously tricky. Do you recreate the sound that fans already love or do you take your sound in another direction? It’s hard to know what the right answer is and can really differ from band to band. All that to say, Giving Up is an instant Whitney classic for fans of their debut album. It has all the trademark elements of a great Whitney song from the chill guitars and beautiful vocals all the way down to a great trumpet solo.
Frankie Cosmos – Windows (Sub Pop)
Frankie Cosmos is back again so soon and I couldn’t be more excited about it, especially given how fantastic the first taste from the album is. Of course, it sounds like a Frankie Cosmos song and would fit nicely onto previous albums; however, there is a subtle shift in the sound that I find exciting. The band says this is their most collaborative writing process to date and instead of just looking inward their upcoming album focuses their attention outward. That subtlety can be especially felt in the skittering drums, interesting synth and Greta Kline’s songwriting. It’s an exciting entry that marks a potential change for a well established and already fantastic band.
Moon Duo – Stars Are the Light (Sacred Bones)
Stars Are the Light is not at all what I was expecting when I went to play the new Moon Duo song. Often drenched in darkness and/or bombarding psychedelia, this track finds Moon Duo at their brightest and catchiest. There are still some strange sounds happening, which veer into the psychedelic territory they trod so well; yet, something has shifted in the best possible way. The band took disco as their point of departure and add elements of 70s funk and 90s rave to the mix, resulting in a new sound for the band but also an interesting and unique sound in general. It’s always exciting when a band reinvents itself and that seems to be happening before our very eyes with Moon Duo.