New Music Sunday

The Best Songs Released in May 2023

We’re approaching the halfway mark of the year and I truly cannot believe it. There was so much fantastic music released this month, I still haven’t sifted through it all. Let’s do it together!

Noteworthy album & EP releases:

The Answer Is Always Yes, Alex Lahey
My Soft Machine, Arlo Parks
Tired Hearts, Bailen
The Last Songs I’ll Write About You, Blü Eyes
PULSE, Benson Boone
still scared to go asleep, carobae
Petals to Thorns, d4vd
– (Deluxe), Ed Sheeran
Special Occasion, Emily King
Secret Life, Fred Again / Brian Eno
the fourth ep, girlhouse
I Love You, I’m Trying, grandson
Aperture, Hannah Jadagu
Just Now, Homeschool
Big Dumb Heart, Chapter 1, Jenna Raine
The Album, Jonas Brothers
Kaytraminé, Kaytraminé
More Photographs (A Continuum), Kevin Morby
Gag Order, Kesha
To Learn, Leith Ross
Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, Lewis Capaldi
SELF-TITLD, Little Image
My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely, Lola Young
Wake Up & It’s Over, Lovejoy
ROACH, Miya Folick
Wilderness Within You, Parker Millsap
Playing The Part of You is Me, Savannah Conley
Campanita, Summer Salt
CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP, Summer Walker
Live at Electric Lady, Sylvan Esso
The Big Mess, Tanlines
Midnights (The ‘Til Dawn Edition), Taylor Swift
Make It Out Alive, Trousdale
Venus in Love, Venus & the flytraps

In chronological order:

“4runner” – Brenn!
Release date – April 28th 2023

This song technically came out in April, but right before the cut off for our April songs feature (or maybe I just missed it but I will never officially admit that), so I figured it was only fair to add it to our May track list. Brenn! is probably one of my new favorite artists right now, at least based on the four only songs he has released on Spotify so far. One of TikTok’s musical children, Alabama-native has absolutely won me over and has been added to my personal folky pop obsessions like Lizzy McAlpine and Adam Melchor.

4runner is Brennan Keller’s biggest song to date, even though it’s his only release since 2022, and what an honor it is to watch him become a regular presence in people’s playlists with less than a handful of tracks in his discography. After releasing singles that wandered all over the genre-spectrum and got closer to artists like Two Feet and Labrinth, Brenn!’s new soft and acoustic approach seems to be working just as well. I can’t even picture what else he has in store but I will be looking forward to it and so should you. – Javi

“The Last Song” – BLÜ EYES
Release date – May 5

If you’re reading this and you’re also on TikTok, I’d take an educated guess that you’ve seen the meme about “never having a unique experience” when you stumble across someone’s video that resonates with you in such a specific way that you didn’t know was possible. That’s exactly how I feel about BLÜ EYES—the musical project by Katie Stump’s—”The Last Song,” featured on her new EP. The song fittingly closes the project, wrapping it up in a bow to deliver as the last songs she will be writing about the subject.

“The Last Song” is a strong showing of Stump’s lyrical genius and ability to be vulnerable (The moniker ‘BLÜ EYES’ is a reference that blue eyes are affected most by light sensitivity). The song tells a journey of a relationship unraveling and Stump coming to the realization that the things she did for the other person were unhealthy and born from a place of being manipulated (“I was craving your permission to let me feel all my feelings / Now I’m laughing at the irony / I took the bait and let you break / Then expected you to save me”) – that’s just the tip of the literary iceberg. – Kristin

“Blue” – Peter McPoland
Release date – May 5

I have never even seen Peter play live, but when listening to his music, especially his most recent releases, that’s all I can think about. The energy in “Blue” brought back memories of when I listened to McPoland’s “Tonight” for the first time, both electrifying tracks that make you feel surrounded by the music. Peter is kind of angry, but in an acceptable and aware way. “Don’t feel very upset right now, just grinding my teeth ’cause I like how it sounds” he sings ironically, before putting his raw emotions out into the world.

“I sound like a baby, admit it, I sound like a whining excuse and a dick.” It’s like the soundtrack of a movie scene where the main character is about to do something insane after having a mental breakdown, which will mark a before and after in their character arc. Although it feels like the production is more focused on giving the protagonism to the guitar, Peter’s clearly distinguishable voice still gets a spotlight of its own. – Javi

“5am” – Leith Ross 
Release date – May 19, 2023

It’d be inaccurate to say there wasn’t anything riding on Leith Ross’ latest album, To Learn. Some of Leith’s songs have been circling TikTok in the past year, and rightfully so. Tiktok is how I discovered them. But I think the tiktokification of Leith’s music is nearly a disservice to their artistry. Leith has drawn some of the most impressive lyrical pictures of modern relationships that are available right now. Leith’s music is not understated, but it’s the type of sound that deserves to be consumed in fullness rather than casual listening. It’s a film rather than a movie. They don’t have a sound that’s conducive for mainstream success, and yet they’re finding their way there. 

“5am” is the most fitting opening track I’ve heard since “DVD Menu” off Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher. It introduces the landscape Leith is writing about. It’s a moment to reflect on the things that ground us in our bodies. “5am” is all the feelings of growing up and learning that our minds are capable of taking us back to times that felt perfect. It’s the recognition of cognition. It’s a song that I’ve been needing lately. – Meleah

“Say Hi” – Medium Build
Release date – May 10

If you’ve yet to hear of Medium Build, you’re running out of time to join in before he becomes a big bright star that feels unreachable. Though, Nick Carpenter, the man behind the Build, doesn’t seem like the type to blow up and forget about the people that helped him get there. “Say Hi” is a perfect addition to Medium Build’s evolving and extensive discography. He leans into this guitar slide, bluesy riff that feel like a soft landing for simple but evocative ponderings of if somebody that you used to be involved with ever thinks about reaching out just to say hi :), or to stay the night :), or to break your heart when they inevitably say goodbye again :(. The production is light and bright, incorporating elements of country that feel so authentic to the Medium Build ecosphere. It’s a sound that fits nicely in the pocket on a jaunt around town. 

Medium Build just finished performing to his biggest audiences yet, opening for Lewis Capaldi on the Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent tour. Since then, he’s been in the studio working on his next album, so it seems like this single was a crunchy little snack to hold us over until dinner. Yum, thanks! – Meleah

“OK” – Jeremy Zucker
Release date – May 12

There are certain artists that I’m a little annoying about, which means that any time I get a chance I will talk about them with an unrequited and unrequested passion, and Jeremy Zucker is one of them. But guess what, even our editor-in-chief Kristin liked this song (which I see as an absolute personal win), so I think this might be the one time I’m based enough to add a Jeremy song.

“OK” is the epitome of a song that feels like a hug. The indie pop track acknowledges in simple words the way some of us struggle with ourselves, and it lets us know that we are not alone and that the feeling is not uncommon at all. I have been listening to it every morning when I get out of the house, because it makes me start my day with a completely different mindset, its cute melody and happy beat makes me feel a little bit better about being alive (though parasocial-emotional connection to the artist probably has to do with it.) It’s just a feel-good song that doesn’t fully sugarcoat the feeling of depression (yes, he talks about wanting to die!). This, alongside “internet crush” mark the start of a new era for Zucker and I am so unbelievably excited. – Javi

“Double Shift” – Odie Leigh
Release date – May 12

While I have no idea if folk singer-songwriter Odie Leigh was inspired by one of the greatest-written songs of all time when she created “Double Shift,” but I am choosing to live in a world where that’s reality. “Double Shift” is a story told from the vantage point of “the other woman,” stressing out about the person she’s sleeping with and hoping they will leave their partner for her. So the story goes.

But what stands out to be in “Double Shift” is the competing feelings Odie is coming to terms with: simultaneously idealizing this person while also developing a deep-seated disdain for them, and herself, in the process. After all, they do say that the opposite of love is indifference, not hate. – Kristin

“Body” – Briston Maroney
Release date – May 16

On the opening verse of this song, Briston sings “Rememberin’ what I forgot when I was a kid,” which perfectly captures the nostalgic feeling that’s present throughout the track. It’s an ode to being alive that also acknowledges how temporary our existence really is.

“But I got today and the only plan I’ve made / Is to love like I might never get to love someone again.” It’s optimistic despite the overwhelming weight of knowing we will eventually be gone and our bodies will be just bodies, as the song says. As the leading single for the Tennessee-raised musician’s upcoming album Ultrapure, it gives us a glimpse of the powerful rawness he plans to deliver. – Javi

“Red Wine Supernova” – Chappell Roan
Release date – May 17

Chappell is one of Staged Haze’s favorite indie artists today, as we hope that eventually she will reach her full star potential, so it was only right to include one of her best recent releases. “Red Wine Supernova” is a perfect pop anthem, that’s what I thought when I heard it live for the first time. I did not know the words yet since it was still unreleased, but the chorus and melody stuck with me and the familiarity of it made it even better now that it came out.

It’s a singable and danceable song with a chorus that will have you singing it unconsciously during the day. Much like “Femininomenom” and “My Kink is Karma,” it’s an upbeat song about pure emotions like lust and desire. It’s just so fun, and it makes me pray that Chappell releases an album soon. – Javi

“Cheerleader” – Liza Anne
Release date – May 18

I want to start off by saying I have been anxiously awaiting for Liza Anne’s breakthrough moment since discovering her 2018 album Fine, But Dying, and I really hope “Cheerleader” gives her the momentum that she deserves. Second, despite all of the despicable hatred that’s been brewing in the United States in terms of trying to erase LBGBTQ people in this country, I am in awe of the simultaneous spike in queer representation and acceptance in mainstream music. Artists like boygenius, Chappell Roan, MUNA, and now Liza Anne (and of course, there are millions more I could reference), have been amazing champions for this community, and are proud to be doing so.

“Cheerleader” is an ode to giving someone you love, platonic or romantic, the support and love they deserve to have the confidence to do whatever they please to. It’s a fun, fresh and catchy single that, in my opinion, has the ability to catapult Liza Anne to new heights in her career, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. – Kristin

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