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Charli XCX, Skrillex, and some people with no ‘x’ in their names at all—it’s the week’s 6 best new songs

Charli XCX, Skrillex

Charli XCX, Skrillex Press photo, Marilyn Hue

After a slack few weeks, July is giving us the music we deserve. Here are six songs that won’t waste your time.

Miranda Lambert – “Locomotive”

This century’s greatest country star indulges her jokier side on the fun-and-then-some “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” which I love but my readers of more refined tastes might find too broad. So lemme instead recommend the second track Miranda dropped last Friday (what we used to call a b-side, I suppose), which probably hits harder than whatever nominally “rock” band you’re currently stanning and contains the line “I ain’t no Machiavelli.” When she brags that her new studly cop hub “gives me wings,” I bet she means both inspiration and fried chicken. 

Cassie – “Speaking Of”

It’s been 13 years since this beloved mononymed R&B singer’s debut full-length, and if she’s yet to release an official follow-up it hasn’t been for lack of trying. (She and Tinashe should form a supergroup of the criminally industry-wronged.) The latest of four terrific new songs she’s dropped this summer is my favorite: From the opening drum fill on, producers Chris N Teeb give her small, polished voice a steamy environment where she can work out some kinks. 

Skrillex ft. Alvin Risk – “Fuji Opener”

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow going pop—going pop with Diplo even—has diminished Sonny “Skrillex” Moore’s true gift: his bad taste. But if this dreamy crescendo of breakbeats seasoned with a sexy lady chipmunk voice won’t make you (or the chipmunk lady) exclaim, “Oh my god!” it’s a showcase for “mature” Skrillex at his dopest.

Four Tet – “Dreamer”

Subtlety may not become Skrillex, but Kieran Hebden has a genius for allowing small electronic details to accrue incrementally into panoramic wonders—his ecstatic “Only Human” remains my dance track of the year. These melodically rippling synths are so engaging you can almost imagine a small, well-meaning indie voice not ruining the track. But Hebden knows better than to take that risk.

Charli XCX & Christine & the Queens – “Gone”

Anyone else feeling antisocial lately? Judging from the online response to this team-up between “one of the top 15 pop stars in the world” and a French electro avatar of cool, that ain’t even a question. This is Charli at her sobbiest, reminiscent of her pre-Sucker tracks, and I personally prefer her synthetic gloss. But this does have its charms and its insights.

Ezra Furman– “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”

In a time of revolutionary gender blur, there’s something almost quaint about Furman’s aching to call themselves Esme and settle into a traditional female role, which the ’50s slow dance arrangement only underlines. Just a little reminder that all desire may be a kind of drag, but it doesn’t have to be kind of a drag.

Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.