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Pickled Priest Mixtape: Our Favorite New Songs of 2024, Volume #3, "Rites of Passage"

Even more of the best songs of 2024 served like breakfast in bed for the lazy little bitches in my life. And I'm happy to do it. I beg for it. I need it. In fact, Volume 4 is already half assembled, so this baby couldn't wait any longer. So we're going to deliver the tasty goods, get out of the way, and leave you to your business.



SIDE A


Intro: "Blinding Faith" | Knocked Loose

When the idea of introducing our latest mixtape with Knocked Loose's "Blinding Faith" was initially floated there wasn't even a moment of debate around the Pickled Priest offices. With devilish grins and a total disregard for our readership, we knew it just had to be done. Not only would it snap some heads back, it would likely drive away the last of our remaining conservative christian readers. Lyrics like "With my final breath, I deny the church" should chase away any stragglers. Collateral damage in the grand scheme of things, but unfortunate, for we do aim for inclusivity; but a great song is a great song. This one comes from fast hands and raw throats of a metalcore band from Oldham County, Kentucky, hereafter rechristened as The Belly of the Beast. It'll take one listen to get what I mean.


01 "Bemba Colorá" | Sheila E. ft. Gloria Estefan & Mimy Succar

Intro now out of the way, we knew we had to run in a completely different direction (straight up, in this case) with our first "official" song choice and this superstar collaboration between "The Queen of Percussion," Sheila E., Cuban-American pop chart dominatrix Gloria Estefan, and Peruvian dynamo Mimy Succar is perhaps our most played song since Volume Two debuted about a month ago. This lively percolator is an old-fashioned backyard party starter, a wedding dancefloor ignitor, and a domestic mood recharger all in one. As if anything else is possible when Sheila positions herself behind three giant conga drums. No way you're not dancing now.

02 "Nearly Daffodils" | English Teacher

OK class, listen up. We have some precocious new students to welcome to the mixtape today. They're from Leeds in the UK and feature a magnetic singer and rhythm guitarist, Lily Fontaine, as master of ceremonies. Lily's brought her crack band with her and together they've already proven adept at shifting styles, speeds, and moods on a dime, like a band far more experienced. They're going to play the songs from their impressive debut LP, This Could Be Texas, for us so let's give them our full attention. First up, "Nearly Daffodils," a song about lamenting the lost promise of a once blooming relationship. It's one of many songs on the album that carves its own distinct identity, making them one of 2024's most interesting and unpredictable new bands.


03 "Short" | Shirlette Ammons ft. Mavis Swan Poole

A black, queer, poet, rapper, singer, genre-buster, and Southerner from Durham, North Carolina, Shirlette Ammons is used to being conveniently categorized, but her third record, Spectacles, defies all labels by being pretty much everything all at once. There's a genuine thrill when someone lines up familiar elements and then reconstructs them in a fresh, innovative way as she does here. The opening groove of first single, "Short," pulls you in immediately and rides a cycling vibe for the next three-minutes. Meanwhile, her lyrics pack real power, reminding me more than a little of Dessa, which is a high compliment. They ring with purpose, flowing effortlessly over a beyond funky sound bed, right up until a killer cameo from Mavis Swan Poole (whose debut EP, Adult Time, Vol. 1, is poised to make waves soon) drops in for a visit. An inspired collaboration on one of 2024's sleeper albums.



04 "Alien" | Dehd

Newly anointed Pickled Priest house band, Chicago's Dehd, have given us three records in a row that we absolutely love. We flipped our wigs over 2020's Flower of Devotion (#45 of the year) and we blew a gasket over 2022's Blue Skies (#24), and we're similarly enamored with this year's offering, Poetry, which could very well outrank them all. To say we're hard-wired into what this band is doing is an understatement. Ordering off this menu of catchy tracks, generally alternating between male and female vocal leads, is a win-win-win-win-win-win-win scenario. "Alien" is our current favorite so move over and let it have its fifteen minutes, but rest assured other songs will rotate in as the year progresses. It's anybody's guess which song will represent the album come year-end.



05 "Shake it Down" | C Turtle

It's good to see there are still bands influenced by Pixies and the Breeders all these years later. "Shake It Down," the obvious single from C Turtle's debut record, Expensive Thrills, pulls off a little of both with casual confidence, but that doesn't mean the whole record channels the exact same energy. Influenced by and derivative of are two different concepts and the band falls on the right side of that line. The record was recorded in three days and it benefits the end result. Operating quickly is often the best way for a young band to harness their youthful exuberance and ambition without overthinking things to death. Not everything works by design, a natural byproduct of haste, but when it does ignite, like on "Shake it Down," it's a thrill (also check out "Melvin Said This"). They aren't all the way there just yet, but give them another record or two to sort things out and things could get real interesting real fast.


06 "Pull the Rope" | Ibibio Sound Machine

Coming off our #5 record of 2022, Ibibio Sound Machine are back and they are inclined to dance this time. "Pull the Rope" is nightclub gold, a modern dance craze for the taking with Eno Williams as your guide to the new moves, which I'm thinking I could execute right now without so much as a lesson. Every amateur mime worth his or her salt knows how to pull an invisible rope, but somehow the ISM make it sound like it was just invented yesterday. But it's far from just a mindless dance number, there's an important subtext to it all—let's all work together to fix our problems and not resort to violence to get our own way. And if that ain't worth dancing about, nothing is.


07 "Whatever His Name" | Lady Blackbird

Well, the Best EP of 2024 race may already be settled with this new five-songer from Lady Blackbird, who seems destined for a major breakout in 2024 if life finally delivers a fair fate to the artist whose Black Acid Soul from 2022 made the #2 spot on our year-end albums list. The breakout, in other words, should have already been televised. Apparently, the songs on Slang Spirituals are the ones that didn't make her forthcoming record, and if that's the case, we're in for something really special when that record eventually emerges, for every song included here is a knockout, a real "no skip" affair. I'm choosing "Whatever His Name" because it's an extended 8-minute masterpiece with a coda that would've made Eddie Hazel smile with pride. Every song included shows Lady B going into new sonic directions so get ready for what could be the record of the year. The anticipation is unbearable.



08 "Broken Man" | St. Vincent

Annie Clark, no relation to Caitlin, has accumulated one of the most interesting bodies of work of any artist over the last 15 years, yet I feel she's somehow still tragically underrated. What I see and hear is a restless artist willing to experiment and take chances, somehow pulling off a complicated landing each and every time. She's among the most compelling live performers I've seen, capable of dazzling a crowd and dropping jaws with her combination of original songs, guitar mastery, and visual innovation. Her latest record, All Born Screaming, ranks among her best, too. "Broken Man" is particularly charged, soon to be a live show standard and it features a vocal hook that would make Travis Bickle nod with approval.



09 "Tattoos" | Shellac

Even if I give you the out

Of not knowing what the fuck this is about...


Ten fucking years since Shellac's last album and Albini dies ten fucking days before its release date. Go figure. Many more qualified people have eulogized Albini already, a unanimous outpouring of mad respect for a guy with actual principles (imagine that), so I'll leave it there and focus on the record, which is without a doubt a vital return worthy of standing alongside the band's best albums. I didn't doubt for a moment that Albini, Bob Weston, and Todd Trainer could pull it off—they're not the kind of guys to phone shit in. Integrity, what a concept. To All Trains has everything you'd want in a new Shellac record and more. I feed on sarcasm, the more biting the better, and "Tattoos" spits our three questions early on that appeal to my non-genetic sharp-tongued sensibility: "What's the panic with you?", "Can't you just fuckin' wait?" and "How many people did you kill?" All said with just the right amount of bile and incredulousness. From there, I indeed don't know what the holy fuck this is all about, but it puts me in just right mood to deal with all the crap being pumped into life's pipeline lately. I think that may have been Shellac's secret purpose all along.


10 "Oh So Close, Yet So Far" | Shannon and the Clams

Speaking of loss, some stories are so tragic, it's hard to believe cards could be so callously and cruelly dealt. Most of us pause for a few breathtaking moments to contemplate such things before moving on with our day, but what about those living in the middle of such a story, fact not fiction, not the movies? Is there hope of ever rebounding from such a thing? Knowing Shannon Shaw's fiancé died in a car accident a couple weeks before their wedding day, you would understand if she never recorded another album or song with her band, the Clams. I mean, how can one deal with that kind of profound grief? In Shannon's case, and for many of us who rely on music to get us through just about everything, a new record was the natural next step. And you'd better believe there are some heartbreaking moments being worked through on The Moon is in the Wrong Place, easily the band's best record ever. Sometimes, as a listener, it's hard to keep it together, like on "Oh So Close, Yet So Far," when Shannon sings, "I'm so proud to have had your love." If you don't drop a tear, I have nothing for you. While similar moments pepper the record, that doesn't mean there's not joy to be had almost everywhere, which amazes me. This doesn't sound like a record that's mired in sadness, even if it is. At one point Shannon admits, "I don't own beauty and I don't own love." It's so honest that it can be hard to take. That the record sounds so full of life is a testament to the power of music and love, but not in that order.



11 "Sleepwalking" | Camera Obscura

I'm overjoyed to have another Camera Obscura record, which was not a given, especially considering it's been over a decade since their last one. Sometimes you don't know what you've missed until you hear it again, but this is not one of those cases. I knew what I was missing all along and that was the songs and voice of Tracyanne Campbell. I had past records to tide me over, but there's nothing like hearing new material from a favorite band. I've been settling in with the record little by little, savoring it like a morphine drip, luxuriating in the band's knack for just the right mixture of melancholy and melody, allowing myself the time and circumstances such a record requires. "Sleepwalking" is one of those sublime love songs you expect from Campbell, seemingly simple on the surface, but deep as an ocean below. Welcome back nuance, we missed you.


12 "So Long Chicago" | Pokey LaFarge

I have a soft spot for songs about, or referencing, Chicago, my hometown. I have a running iTunes playlist dedicated to Chicago songs that's 40 songs deep at the moment. Now 41, actually, thanks to Pokey LaFarge's playful "So Long Chicago," from his new record Rhumba Country. From the title of the record you might discern a Latin and South American influence and you would be correct. "So Long Chicago" is about escaping an interminable Chicago winter for a much needed vacation in Mexico. Any Chicagoan worth their salt (pardon the pun) knows that love of the city doesn't mean you aren't still desperate to flee from it the moment some plane tickets to a warmer climate are dangled. This song takes you on just a such a vacation, if only for a few amusing minutes. I might've released this song in January, though. That's when we really needed it.



13 "Seattle" | Connie Smith

Here's something we may not have revealed before: We love songs about cities. Not just Chicago either; any city will do: New York, Boston, El Paso, Baltimore, Detroit, London, Memphis, Vienna...bring me an atlas and a dart and let's see where we land. Now, thanks to the return of Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith, at the young age of 82 no less, I finally hear her version of "Seattle," re-recorded for her new album on Fat Possum Records, Love, Prison, Wisdom and Heartaches (adding prison to the title is country music at its finest). She still sounds great and the song, a re-make of her original version from 1969, is one of those big, bold, Broadway numbers with prideful lyrics like The bluest skies you've ever seen in Seattle! / And the hills the greenest green in Seattle! You know it's a good "city song" when you suddenly have the desire to hop on a plane right now to the get there and experience it for yourself.



SIDE B


14 "Funeral for Justice" | Mdou Moctar

Uh, yeah! My first reaction to hearing the new song from Niger's Mdou Moctar. It's a guitar feast. While I'm not in love with picking the first song from a record or even the title track, in this case both—it just oozes laziness doesn't it?—the opening licks on Mdou's latest scorcher, Funeral for Justice, destroy from moment one, so here it is. This is raging rock and roll, so if you've been looking for a guitar record supreme, get the fuck over to Africa. Or just buy this record and have it brought directly into your home.



15 "Like I Say (I Runaway)" | Nilüfer Yanya

How many times do I, like, have to say it? Nilüfer Yanya is a creative, intelligent pop force for now people bored with the current Top 40. If you want a pop song that doesn't pander to every fucking trope and stereotype under the sun, try "Like I Say (I Runaway)" the first single from what I hope is an upcoming record and it's about how you choose to spend your time. In other words, use it wisely. And listening to this song is a good start down that road.


16 "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys" | Taylor Swift

As most already know, Tay is a longtime Pickled Priest reader. If you knew that, you also know she can be a bit demanding, constantly on the lookout for some positive press, no matter how insignificant the source. Lately, she's been especially irritated with us, what with the complete brush-off we gave the lukewarm Midnights (not even the Record of the Week, let alone year) and our recommendation last year that she date nice Christian boy Harrison Butker instead of loutish buffoon, Travis Kelce. We knew of secret dreams of being an ordinary housewife and having lots of babies long ago, but she wouldn't admit to it. On top of all that, we gave her shit for making her fans pre-order The Tortured Poets Department in multiple different variants with different bonus tracks only to dump an expanded "Anthology" version moments before the album's formal release (buy another copy, girls!). We tell it like it is, so we naturally assumed she'd moved on from us and toward one of her millions of sycophants. But alas, an email broke the chill recently enquiring as to our favorite new track, implying, no expecting, one or more of them to be on our Favorite New Songs Mixtape, Volume 3. While we don't buckle to celebrity pressure, we did love "My Boy" from the first listen, even though we had to wade through a lot of mid-range Taylor to be sure of our choice, but this song almost made that long, long trek worth it.


17 "In Front of Me Now" | Nada Surf

Nada Surf has never stopped writing insightful lyrics housed inside sneaky pop melodies. They formed in 1992 and there have been no major breaks between albums, every one of them featuring a few perfect pop songs. Another new one is expected in September (titled Moon Mirror) and the first single, "In Front of Me Now" is for all you failed multi-taskers out there. It's basically permission to focus on one thing at a time instead of trying to do many things half-assed at once. Perhaps I'll learn my lesson as I try to write a post, listen to music, thumb a magazine, have a snack, and watch a ballgame simultaneously, stressing myself out beyond belief in the process.



18 "Strange World" | La Luz

The always interesting Shana Cleveland returns to her band La Luz after some solo work, a child, and a breast cancer diagnosis (since beaten!). It's always good to have these ladies and their moody psych-pop creations back for another round. News of the Universe won't blow you away, that's not its role right now. What it can do is take all the unpredictable happenings in this "Strange World" and offer a reverberating sense of inner calm to deal with them.



19 "Point Blank" | Killer Kin

Killer Kin is starting to go the Nashville Pussy route if the video for new single "Point Blank" is any indication, and that's a little worrisome, even though the song still rips with the energy of a group of high school burnouts on a meth binge. So far, they haven't let me down, so consider this portion of the mixtape your spring clock-cleaning, ironic because it's covered in more dirt and grime than a West Virginia coal miner.


20 "Working the Ditch" | Melvins

It can be argued convincingly that the prolificacy of Melvins often obscures their occasional brilliance. While I loved the documentary The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale, its sheer exhaustiveness was, um, exhausting. I can't be expected to keep up, can I? Which is why I have forgiven myself for taking a few albums off now and then, only choosing to engage when the band seems to lock into one of their intermittent cult classics. The last time I checked in was for 2021's Working With God and I'm back at the altar again for their new record, the downright accessible Tarantula Heart. Well, as accessible as an album with a sprawling 19-minute opening track can be, I guess. That said, there are some new Melvins nuggets within, including "She's Got Weird Arms" and the captioned "Working the Ditch," an ominous mantra which perseverates on one doomed phrase repeated for six-and-a-half minutes, "It was a dark time for us / The whole goddamn godless world." Believe it or not, in the Melvins universe that's what passes for accessible.



21 "Soul Wandering" | Paul Weller

Really digging the new record from Paul Weller, one of those rare artists who have written great songs at every point in his career, from the Jam to the Style Council to a long, productive solo career. Sometimes I take him for granted, but not this year. He goes the Adele route by naming his new album after his (soon to be) age, but these days 66 no longer seems that old (I'm counting on it) and it's doubtful Adele will be making albums at that advanced age anyway. The record has a pleasingly consistent vibe throughout, epitomized by the late-album "Soul Wandering," a cut co-written by Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie. A forever Mod, Weller knows the value of some Northern Soul spliced into his routine and this hits all the right notes for me, a lover of that genre.



22 "Suffer | Pillow Queens

No I’m not sad / Let’s just play some rock and roll music

-Pillow Queens, "February 8th"


Irishwomen Pillow Queens released one of the best records of 2020 (In Waiting was our #23 album of that year) and then suffered a slight dip with 2022's Leave the Light On (individual tracks still fantastic). Now they are back to form with this year's new LP, Name Your Sorrow. If the title indicates a change of mood, the song we selected should only reinforce that idea. "Suffer" shows the band settling into a new space for their third record, always a tricky maneuver for a once-hyped new band. It's got a satisfying soulful undercurrent that makes it sound unlike anything the band has done before. Take your time with this record, it's subtleties will grow on you. A fantastic return for a great young band.


23 "Calling Off the Rescue" | +/-

A little power-pop late in a mixtape is always a good idea. You've been put through the paces so far, so a song like "Calling Off the Rescue" from New Yorkers +/- (aka Plus/Minus) should be the perfect palate cleanser to prepare us for the final segment of our mix. Like a shot of 4-minute caffeine from a tiny bottle of Red Bull, the veteran band is back after 10-years away and they sound like they haven't lost a step. Call it power-pop plus minus the fluff, leaving us with only the good stuff that we addicts crave.


24 "I Need Help" | Margaret Glaspy

Last year, when I ranked her record, Echo the Diamond, in my Top 50 Albums list I wrote this about Margaret Glaspy: She's a wailing, brawling singer and guitarist, not some wallflower singing to herself in her upstairs bedroom. Well, guess what? Her new EP, The Sun Doesn't Think, features Glaspy singing to herself, possibly in her bedroom, possibly even upstairs, but definitely with an acoustic guitar. And, guess what again? It's still great—proof of talent, proof of concept. The definition of a real artist, able to do it all, any way, any day. "I Need Help," one of five out of five excellent songs on the EP, proves that while the strong may survive, they too need some help now and then.



25 "Keeping in Time" | Bill MacKay

While in the acoustic mode, we wind down with an unpolished little gem from Chicago's Bill MacKay, an amazing guitarist and a pretty fine songwriter, too. His singing, not his strongest suit, fits his new material well giving it an "everyman" feel, like a guy finally deciding to sing a song to his girl on open mic night. "Keeping in Time" from the only locust-referencing album so far in 2024, Locust Land, is one of those small but beautiful moments that often gets lost in the shuffle. Don't miss it.



26 "I'm Waiting for the Man" | Keith Richards & "I Love You, Suzanne" | The Afghan Whigs


In the newly minted "Coin Flip" portion of our mixtape, we'll allow you some interactivity by leaving this choice to you. On offer are two cuts from the new Lou Reed tribute album, The Power of the Heart, a record respectfully loaded with some pretty substantial contributors (Angel Olsen, Joan Jett, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Ricki Lee Jones, etc). Such is the posthumous draw of one of the greatest urban poets ever. The irony of Keith Richards singing "I'm Waiting for the Man" is not lost on us, neither is his laid-back swagger which fits the song's strung-out impatience perfectly. Also great is The Afghan Whigs take on New Sensations opening track, "I Love You, Suzanne" with Greg Dulli—another guy seemingly built to thrive after midnight in a big city—delivering just the right leery tone on lyrics like "I love you when you're good, baby, I love you when you're bad." It's like the song was written just for him.



Outro: "Quality Pints" | The Bug Club

As promised by the title, an open-hearted, open-mouthed ode to drinking quality pints at a local pub all night long. Nothing more, nothing less. The press kit amusingly cites Mark E. Smith's barstool philosophy that the key to drinking is "The Three R's"—repetition, repetition, repetition—and that's good enough for us. As we move on to our next mixtape we hoist a glass to our readers and expect the same in return. Cheers!


The Priest

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