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The 15 Best Songs of June 2019

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June 2019 brought us slow-burners and sad bangers, noise-rock showstoppers and big-name collaborators. A whole bunch of artists—like Whitney, (Sandy) Alex G and Jay Som—returned with new singles we’ll be playing on repeat until their new records arrive later this year. Others—like Lil Nas X, black midi and Stef Chura—dropped new EPs and albums, and we dug deep to find the best of ‘em. Keep scrolling to read about all our favorites, and listen to a Spotify playlist with all these songs and more right here.

1. Alex Cameron:Divorce

Alex Cameron finds a new character in “Divorce”—himself. Facing the threat of a bitter breakup, he sings, “I’ve killed little baby rabbits. I’ve killed microscopic crabs / But I never killed a feeling like the one you and me had.” Inspired by the empty threats of leaving that lovers make in the heat of a moment, “Divorce” is an impassioned exclamation of misery at the thought of losing a relationship. —Christine Fernando

2. black midi:953

“953” features one of the hardest hitting lead guitar riffs in recent memory, an opening salvo that makes you want to drop everything and go run a mile—something I actually did, resulting in my fastest time ever. Within mere seconds of hitting play on their debut album, Geordie Greep and Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin of black midi make their case as two of our most inventive contemporary guitarists, all while you try your hardest to keep time with a beat that will still elude you after 10 listens. —Steven Edelstone

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3. Boy Scouts:Get Well Soon

Taylor Vick, the voice behind the Oakland-based indie-country outfit Boy Scouts, just wants you to be alright. Her music is defined by its warm tenderness—twangy guitars, cooing vocals, supportive keys—but she doesn’t necessarily want to be your caretaker. Boy Scouts’ latest track, “Get Well Soon,” feels like a weighted blanket. Through the song, Vick works through the difficulties of helping someone you love who doesn’t want to accept the help; “Got a thought of you / Do you have one too? / I hope you think of you / ‘Cause we all want you to,” she sings with one foot out the door. —Harry Todd

4. Buddy & Julie Miller: “Everything is Your Fault”

The return of Buddy and Julie Miller has been one of the best unexpected treats of 2019. The long-reigning (and long-married) Americana luminaries air their marital grievances in a most humorous fashion on “Everything is Your Fault,” a song that will probably ring true with couples who’ve been sticking it out for a while. Julie’s wordplay is as clever as ever: “I’m fragile / You’re agile / At being so covert.” —Ellen Johnson

5. Caroline Polachek:Door

Former Chairlift vocalist Caroline Polachek unveiled the first glimpse into her new solo work in the form of a single titled “Door.” The song is not a clear departure from Chairlift’s springy, esoteric electronic sound (the single’s warm, cinematic intro recalls pluckier ballads from Moth), but it is a glossier and more hyper-real take on the pop landscape. “Door” finds Polachek stepping into lovesick shoes to lilt over glittering synths and weighty bass lines. “Sometimes I don’t know who I’m singing to / Who is the you who I sing to / When the house is empty?” she croons, leading into the flickering, pop-laden chorus. —Savannah Sicurella

6. Daughter of Swords:Fields of Gold

The fourth Daughter of Swords single, co-produced with Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn, has a more pronounced country-pop bent than its predecessors thanks to a steel guitar that shimmers like a concrete highway on a sunny day. A rolling cymbal and a shaker give a sense of motion appropriate for a song about driving, golden wheat whipping by on either side. Over the delicate instrumentation, Sauser-Monnig sings about the escapist pleasures of country roads: “Sometimes I can almost feel / Like I’ve left behind the crushing real.” She does for the American interstate’s “dotted white line trance” what Kraftwerk did for the Autobahn’s “fun”—create an ode to a feeling. —Substitute Thapliyal

7. Florist:Time Is a Dark Feeling

“Time Is a Dark Feeling” threads together fragile, echoing acoustic strumming with Emily Sprague’s gentle, unguarded vocals, freeing melodies and harmonies, and other beautiful things to whirl around her as the song dwindles down to its repeated refrain: “Time is a dark / Time is a dark feeling.” —Savannah Sicurella

8. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat. Anderson .Paak: “Giannis”

Anything with both Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s names on it is already bound for glory, but add an Anderson .Paak feature and you’ve got a soulful, wavy, dark-as-hell groover so listenable it should be illegal. That’s “Giannis,” track 10 on Gibbs’ and Madlib’s Piñata follow-up Bandana, which was more than the worth four-year wait. —Ellen Johnson

9. Jay Som:Superbike

“Superbike” is a sweeping dream-pop odyssey that paints from Jay Som’s sonic palette, but does so on an expansive canvas: Stretching past all but one of Everybody Works’ tracks in runtime, the single’s lyrics—which find Duterte moving on, both literally and figuratively (“I pick up the superbike / Going 80 in the night / Said you wanted something else / Something new for show and tell”)—fall away after its midpoint, shifting focus to the single’s mournful strings, ghostly voices and a guitar solo that sounds like the earth shifting beneath your feet. —Scott Russell

10. Lil Nas X: “C7osure (You Like)”

Music’s breakout 2019 star and Twitter’s resident horse enthusiast Lil Nas X proved he’s so much more than “Old Town Road” (now the longest-running #1 hip-hop song in the history of the Hot 100) when he released his 7 EP a few weeks ago. But the real reveal happened last weekend, on the last day of Pride month, when Lil Nas came out as gay in a tweet, advising fans to “listen closely” to “C7osure (You Like).” While the song’s lyrics aren’t super obvious, it’s a banger. And you can’t help but root for Lil Nas and his trail of rainbow clues. —Ellen Johnson

11. Mark Ronson & Angel Olsen:True Blue

“True Blue” truly is blue. A dreamy, detached, dark sort of disco with a rumbling bass, “True Blue” leaves us gloomily twirling while alone on the dance floor. A collaboration with Angel Olsen, the song is a standout off Mark Ronson’s freshly released, star-studded new album, Late Night Feelings. —Christine Fernando

12. (Sandy) Alex G:Gretel

“Gretel” is (Sandy) Alex G’s (aka Alex Giannascoli) first new music since last year’s one-off single “Fay.” This new single is an amalgamation of Giannascoli’s strengths—showing off both his penchant for melancholy, country-tinged acoustic ballads and his more experimental side with warped vocals, electronic percussion and freakish sonic whooshes. Giannascoli’s heartwarming vocals yearn with brooding nostalgia as he sings, “I don’t wanna go back / Nobody’s gonna push me off track.” —Lizzie Manno

13. Stef Chura:Scream

“Scream” is peak Stef Chura—skronky, introspective, fuzzy, fun. Over staccato guitar riffs, Chura shouts at an unnamed figure, revealing feelings of loneliness and anger; with a crunchy bass line and chomping drums, the song is a delight, effortlessly moving from one verse to its subdued guitar solo bridge, to its crescendoing finale. —Harry Todd

14. Thom Yorke:Dawn Chorus

Thom Yorke’s biggest fault—if there is one—on ANIMA, his first proper solo album since 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, is his inclusion of “Dawn Chorus,” a song so devastatingly gorgeous it threatens to overshadow the eight other tracks’ ingenious advances in glitchy electronica. “Dawn Chorus” is so mind-numbingly beautiful it doesn’t just distract from the rest of the album—it places the listener in a different world entirely, one seemingly hundreds of miles away from the late-night dancefloor occupied by tracks like “Not the News” and “Traffic.” —Steven Edelstone

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15. Whitney:Giving Up

“Giving Up” is Whitney’s new album’s opener, a dynamic entreaty to an increasingly distant long-term lover. Soft cymbal taps and sparing, plucked guitar notes evoke the serene darkness just before the dawn, even before Julien Ehrlich’s falsetto vocals crystallize that moment in words: “Waiting for the morning sun / Are you coming home, my love? / Tears are falling one by one / I can feel you giving up.” A lilting bass line punches up the choruses, the second of which culminates in a false ending, as if the song itself were surrendering—horns break the silence and are soon joined by Kakacek’s lively guitar, like the first fingers of sunlight reaching out over the horizon, suggesting brighter days to come. —Scott Russell

Listen to our Best Songs of June 2019 Spotify playlist right here.

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