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Ghosts, God, and a WCCO Radio Legend Make This Week’s Best New Music Playlists

5 great new local songs, 5 great new songs from everywhere else, and one song that sucks.

Zoe Prinds-Flash; Instagram|

Bad Bad Hats; SZA with unidentified friend

This week’s worst track is longer than either this week’s local picks or this week’s non-local picks combined. There’s a lesson there, I suspect.

Local Picks

Bad Bad Hats, “TPA”

Several lifetimes ago, I worked as a CSR at a TPA—a third-party administrator, that is, a company that managed insurance plans for employers. That’s not what the Hats are singing about on the lead single from their upcoming self-titled album, which is much more fun than fielding calls from people who are mad about their insurance coverage. 

Matt Caflisch, “Joyce Lamont”

There’s local music, and then there’s hyperlocal music, like this ode to WCCO/KLBB radio fixture Joyce Lamont, who died at 98 in 2014. Memories include the day she broke the news that Sinatra had died and her knack for homespun Midwestern recipes. Caflisch will be at the White Squirrel on Friday.

Mark Mallman, “Seen My Own Ghost”

Mallman’s leaning into his spooky side these days—at the Parkway last Friday he sang “The Goth Songbook” with a bevy of guests. And then he tagged this haunted lament #scarysongs and #eldergoth on YouTube. Boo! 

Maya Marchelle, “No Magic”

“Ain’t no Houdini/Ain’t no David Copperfield/Only Jehovah/He my light, my sword, my shield” testifies this explicitly Christian rapper before returning to a hook that could almost convince a non-believer like me in divine inspiration. 

Ray Gun Youth, “Therapists Hate Him (For This One Simple Trick)”

A rush of tuneful angst from some talented kids whose newish EP Toothache is a blast and whose therapist is right—they will get better. Till then, they’ve got their guitars and drums. They’ll be at the 331 Club this Friday.

Non-Local Picks

Homeboy Sandman, “Do It Right”

The thinking-out-loudest MC in underground rap surveys his romantic hangups, explains how he’s working to undo his worst male tendencies, and atones for his past mistakes. More importantly, he chants a catchy hook that echoes the bass. 

Maxo Kream, “No Then You a Hoe”

In that melodic, bluesy southern flow of his, the Houston rapper mourns his dad, who eventually succumbed to “heart attack, a couple strokes, blood pressure, dementia.”

Rapsody, “Stand Tall”

The North Carolina rapper returns with a message for busybodies snooping into whether or not she likes dick: “Y’all need to read Dick Gregory, bitches.”

SZA, “Saturn”

With SZA, you’ve always gotta wait a few weeks to see if her latest hooks you or just washes past you. Me, I’m hooked, and it helped when I listened to her lyrics close enough to convince myself that this tune’s not about her “Saturn’s return” but just the fact that, you know, she hates it here, she’s tired of this Earth, these people, etc.

Bailey Zimmerman, “Holy Smokes”

Zimmerman’s one of the best mainstream country fellas out there and, while I wish that was saying more, his 2023 album, Religiously: The Album navigated the ins and outs of a crumbling relationship with smarts and heart. This new track may be just another song reminiscing about getting busy in a Chevy backseat at 17, but he does convince me the sex was worth remembering—and let’s face it, how much teenage sex really is?

Worst Song of the Week

The Decemberists, “Joan in the Garden”

Rhyming “orrery” with “ought to be,” “dauphin” with “fountain,” “androgyne” with “stop signs,” and “parquet” with “display,” all over attenuated arpeggios, pompous progressions, and slapdash shlock, and never, ever, ever once meaning to be funny? Buddy, you’re almost 50—this shit is not cute anymore. I know, this is all on me. No one forced me to listen to a 19-minute song about Joan of Arc from these e’er-precious faux-antiquarians in 20-goddam-24. But I put in the time and I demand course credit.

Wanna get a local song considered for the playlist? To make things easy on both of us, email keith@racketmn.com with MONDAY PLAYLIST in the subject header. (Don’t, as in do NOT, DM or text: If I’m in a good mood, I’ll just ask you to send an email; if I’m in a bad mood I’ll just ignore it.)

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