Words by the Penny Staff
This year, the Penny staff is making note of our favorite new releases as they come along. For now, we've compiled a few of our repeat-listens from this year thus far in the following listicle. Stay tuned for further editions!
Food For Worms - Shame
With a healthy dose of both aggravated, frenetic, guitar-ripe rippers and introspective and heady crooners, Shame's newest project, Food For Worms, is their most expansive yet, and a testament to their malleability in an ever-demanding and frequently short-of-attention musical climate. Especially highly recommended is unexpected tear-jerker "Yankees," a topsy-turvy, love-lorn, nostalgic, and all-around pain-stricken portrayal of a tumultuous relationship. Later, "Burning By Design" takes on a similarly melancholy air, punctuated by vocalist Charlie Steen's wailing drawl. Aside from the all-too-real emotional turmoil seen on tracks such as this duo, the line "Now, I'm burning out before the end of the show" (from "The Fall Of Paul") resonates astoundingly true, too, and I'm sure I'll experience it firsthand when Shame return to the stage in New York this spring and my lungs struggle to retain breath in the midst of the pit. Ultimately, since the arrival of their debut Songs Of Praise, Shame has been one of the most exciting bands on my frequently-listened-to list and I'm excited to see that they're still burning hot. - Erin Christie
"Welcome To My Island" (Remixes) - Caroline Polachek
Ahead of her long awaited sophomore LP, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, Caroline Polachek has only added to her growing momentum with the release of two remixes of the first track off the record: “Welcome To My Island”. Carrying lyrics including the titular “Desire, I wanna turn into you”, Polachek has reinforced the track’s role as the flagship single leading up to the Valentine’s Day release date of the full LP. With features from heavy hitters like Charli XCX and George Daniel (The 1975) on the first remix track and South London-based electronic ensemble PVA on the second, there was a high bar to live up to.
In the original version of the track, the repeated droning of Polachek’s voice took listeners by the hand and guided them through the first few steps into the vibrant landscape she’s constructed within her upcoming LP. Just a few seconds into the George Daniel & Charli XCX remix, the gripping new intro verse established that the duo had taken a detour and instead thrown the listener into a landscape more reminiscent of hyperpop-heavy rave. With a pulsing beat accompanied by alluring, mechanical vocals by Charli XCX that wrap around you on all sides, the exhilarating combination leaves you nearly visualizing the flashing strobe lights that would accompany the song at a club. The duo have taken an already well-crafted track and successfully repackaged it further into a euphonious electronic dance hit that instills listeners with a nearly irresistible desire to move in any and every way possible.
In spite of the transcendent nature of the first track, it seems that the bar may have been just a bit out of reach for PVA on the second remix track. This track is understandably a bit lackluster when placed directly adjacent to the high-energy hyperpop interpretation of the previous track. Taking a more traditional electronic sound in their rendition, PVA fixated on just two sets of lyrics from the original track for most of the song, these being the titles of both the song and the album itself. While the song perked up in the last thirty seconds, it was unfortunately not enough to compensate for the remainder of the track. It was clear that this was not the ensemble’s best work and, when considering the ethereal tracks off of their recent LP, it should not be taken as a reflection of PVA’s very real potential to soon join the roster of incredible talents coming out of the UK. - Brian Mecinas
Rat Saw God - Wednesday
It's always such an honor to discover a band that I'm truly, truly excited about, and that's the thought I had when I first came across Wednesday's I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone (2020). Currently speaking, I'm admittedly definitely on an intense noise kick, which is partially inspired by the band's newest material, a record entitled Rat Saw God (which came out this past Friday, April 7). What makes me love Wednesday is that they definitely venture into that sweet fuzzy shoegaze territory but beef it up a ton with ultra-descriptive lyrical imagery of the mundane turned poetic (i.e. the sex shop with the biblical name, for one) and do so via interspersed moments of quiet reflection contrasted with bursts of lofty, yet grounded noise in which you can easily find yourself getting lost (but not in the scary kind of way). Vocalist and songwriter Karly Hartzman's ever-expanding sonic universe (of course, in collaboration with the rest of the amazing band) is utterly entrancing, and it's almost fun to listen to this record in particular over and over again, if not for the sheer catchiness that floats to the surface, but the i-Spy x scavenger hunt game you can play while dissecting the words and stories you're consuming for little Easter eggs and niche references. In all, what makes this record so immediately classic is the familiarity of it — though you might know nothing about the tall tales you're hearing, you're still in on the joke, and trusted enough to hear them. - Erin Christie
"Goddess" - PVRIS
Determined to invigorate fans with high-energy tracks, January saw the release of new single “GODDESS” by PVRIS. Frontwoman Lyndsey Gunnulfsen delivers passionate vocals that draw a perfect balance of empowering and enraged for this ode to femininity and anthem of self-determination. Packaged in a dance pop vessel, the track wears its heart on its sleeve with Gunnulfsen rightfully unafraid to make her message clear through lyrics like “Dance goddess dance, it’s your body fuck the men”. Having immediately established her versatility through other recent singles like “ANIMAL” and “ANYWHERE BUT HERE”, the new direction that PVRIS has taken her sound in definitively makes her next album one to look out for. - Brian Mecinas
"cry about it" - firstname.lastname@example.org
Staying true to the essence of his character, email@example.com’s (aka lentra) new single, “cry about it” is meanspirted, bossy, and an all around bop. His signature funky beats, snarky lyrics, and “I don’t give a fuck” attitude, all work together to deliver a wickedly mean song you can’t help but dance to. Consistent with the rest of his discography, lentra, under his alter ego firstname.lastname@example.org, has managed to create a catalog of semi-ironic songs that scream raging capitalist Wall Street douchebag, but are oh so catchy. - Brandy Hernandez
Momma - "Bang Bang"
I was put on assignment to interview Polyvinyl garage-rock sweethearts Momma back in early 2020 ahead of the release of their sophomore record, Two Of Me, and was immediately hooked on their sound within the span of my first full listen of the record. As of 2023, the band has their third record, Household Name, in their arsenal, with a slew of positive reviews and accolades in tow. It's no question that they're latest offering "Bang Bang" hits in the same compelling way their previous material has. - Erin Christie
- Model/Actriz - Dogbody
- Blondshell - Blondshell
- Slow Fiction - Slow Fiction
- Lana Del Rey - Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd
- Dry Cleaning - Swampy & Sombre Two
- Paramore - This Is Why
- Tanukichan - GIZMO
- Fontaines D.C. - "' Cello Song"
- Beach Fossils - "Don't Fade Away," "Dare Me"
- Protomartyr - "Make Way"
- The Dare - "Good Time"
- Pearly Drops - "Kiss Away The Pearly Drops"
- Militarie Gun - "Do It Faster"
- Feeble Little Horse - "Tin Man," "Steamroller"
- You Said Strange - "(Song For A) Wasted Land"
- Bully, Soccer Mommy - "Lose You"
- Squid - "Swing (In A Dream)"
- Gilla Band - "Sports Day"
- Drahla - "Lip Sync"
- PinkPantheress, Ice Spice - "Boy's a liar Pt. 2"