Between the sudden and unexpected return of My Chemical Romance, the runaway success of Lil Nas X and the rise of goth queen Billie Eilish, 2019 has been a hell of a year for music. In the midst of all of this, it’s easy to miss releases that haven’t made as much of a splash. So from a wide assortment of genres, here’s ten songs that dropped way back in September that you might have missed.
1. Green Day – “Father of All…”
“I’m sorry, WHAT?” I can hear already. “I thought Green Day broke up?” I’m always surprised at how many people think Green Day broke up after 21st Century Breakdown. In truth, they’ve been making music all this time – Uno! Dos! Tre! was a three-in-one album concept a few years back, followed by Revolution Radio. The September announcement of a tour with Fall Out Boy and Weezer got a lot of the same reactions.
The new single “Father of All…”, however, isn’t just a return to their roots in the classic sense. It’s a mix of their blisteringly punk-political sensibilities with the fast, grungey guitars that marked their early releases. “Unh-unh, come on honey, unh-unh, count your money, unh-unh, what’s so funny-” is a pre-choral hook that I can already tell is destined for future best-of albums.
2. Ghost – “Mary On A Cross”
Taking a swerve from punk into metal, Ghost’s EP Seven Inches of Satanic Panic also came out this September. Of the two songs, “Mary on a Cross” is infinitely catchier (although ‘Kiss the Go-Goat’ isn’t bad). The lyrics are a bit odd, but which Ghost lyrics aren’t? Ghost has been branded ‘bubblegum blasphemy’ by some music outlets, and it’s a rather fitting epithet. With vaguely sexual lyrics (“you go down just like you were Mary, Mary on a cross”) mixed with semi-religious references, “Mary on a Cross” is a great jam for those who like their Satanic Panic with a shake of glitter and 60’s glam on top.
The release of this LP comes in tandem with their North American tour, and the sale of a special edition of Prequelle.
3. Pussy Riot – “1937”
Most people know Pussy Riot by name as ‘that feminist band that got arrested by Putin’. While that’s a pretty fitting claim to fame, Pussy Riot’s music itself is pretty damn cool. They describe themselves as a ‘feminist performance art collective and occasional punk band’ which – look, maybe it’s just me, but that should have made into the news releases, because that’s rad as hell.
This song, “1937”, isn’t particularly punk on its surface. It’s almost reminiscent of t.A.T.u.’s quieter music, quiet Russian voices over a soft backdrop. However, translating the lyrics spits out things like “Comrade major, your tortures are skillful/ I keep insulting your feelings/ Electroshocked in a temple, my head is all empty/ My tasty life’s crunching sadly.” The title of “1937” is a reference to one of the worst years in Stalin’s regime, and the song is a demand for the release of all Russia’s current political prisoners. Pussy Riot is not kidding around this September.
4. WSTR – “Filthy”
With the 2020 U.S. elections looming, the Canadian elections only recently over, and the overwhelming threat of climate change casting a shadow over everything, political themes are omnipresent in media right now. “Filthy” by WSTR is no exception; it’s a sarcastic, angry, and yet somehow cheerful jibe at those who keep telling the younger generation ‘what are you so mad about?’
“Filthy” takes place in a psych office as the singer faces the fact that his “therapist ain’t feelin’ it, needs a break, thinks we should quit”. His problems are because of his father, or something else, but it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that millenials got stuck with a bad deal. The chorus is infinitely catchy, and the bitterness is palpable in every word and guitar lick. In short, it’s a pretty good reflection of most millenial brains at the moment.
5. The HU – “The Legend Of Mother Swan”
Plenty of awesome albums dropped this September, but one that was hotly awaited by certain fans is the HU’s debut album, The Gereg. The HU burst onto the international stage earlier this year with the single “Yuve Yuve Yu” and their unique blend of throat-singing and traditional Mongolian instruments with heavy metal.
Beyond the album’s own success, though, there are always those little gems on an album that aren’t ready to be singles and inevitably get overlooked. “The Legend of Mother Swan” is one of those, a more rhythm-focused traditional song retelling a Mongolian legend. The song is light on killer guitar riffs and heavy on throat-singing and violin, but that’s what makes it so breathtakingly gorgeous. The true measure of a metal band, after all, is often how well they pull off their ballads.
6. Blind Melon – “Way Down and Far Below”
“WHAT YEAR IS IT?” Certainly over the last few months, that particular Jumanji quote has had a lot of usage. Between returns by the Pet Shop Boys, My Chemical Romance and Blink-182, and the messy affairs of the States feeling like a bad-timeline version of Watergate, time is apparently fake. Blind Melon certainly isn’t helping. Even though the original lead singer Shannon Hoon died from a drug overdose more than 20 years ago, the rest of the band has come back together with a new vocalist (Travis Warren) and somehow kept the core of the sound that kept them famous. The vocals are different, but the soul of Blind Melon is still there.
“Way Down and Far Below” is a melancholy country-grunge song about wandering from place to place, weighed down by the memories of the past. The guitars in particular (Rogers Stevens and Christopher Thorn) are more of the stars of the song than Warren’s admittedly good-but-nothing-spectacular vocals. This is the first of Blind Melon’s new songs we’ve heard since 2008, but I’m excited to see what comes next.
7. Pet Shop Boys ft. Years and Years – “Dreamland”
Speaking of unexpected returns, though – I wasn’t expecting to run across a September 2019 release from the Pet Shop Boys of all people. Apparently the duo have been comfortably releasing music this whole time, marking this less as a ‘return’ and more of a ‘you finally noticed we didn’t die?’, but the glee is real. (I love them, but there’s only so many times you can listen to “It’s A Sin” and “Go West” before you start to wonder. God bless the Internet, eh?)
“Dreamland” is a particularly pleasant surprise amidst all the dark, heavy songs of this month. It’s sheer, unabashed technopop with smooth hooks and clean, processed synth sounds, ready for the club, the dance floor or even the grocery store radio. There’s nothing wrong with that, either – sometimes the strongest political statement is that you can still enjoy yourself amidst all the chaos and have sweet, loving dreams. Not everything has to be intense. Sometimes you just wanna dance.
(Seriously, though. What freakin’ year is it?)
8. Bad Wolves – “Sober”
Bad Wolves is a new-to-me band that somehow reminds me of Hinder, Nickelback and Our Lady Peace all at once – in the best possible way. (Don’t make me write an article in defense of Nickelback. I’ll do it. Watch me.) Maybe it’s the slight twang to the heartbroken lyrics, or the deceptively simple writing. Either way, it’s a great listen.
“Sober” is a September single from their latest album (N.A.T.I.O.N., their sophomore release), and the singer watches a loved one struggling through an addiction that he shares as well. It doesn’t try any tricks or gimmicks – it’s just a song about a fight that too many people can relate to. It’s a song that catches your notice the first time, and then on the second or third listen, really starts to hit home.
9. McFly – “Red”
Oh, McFly, how we missed you. For those who didn’t hop on this particular bandwagon, McFly was the boy band du jour somewhere between N’Sync and the Jonas Brothers, except they owe a lot more of their sound to Queen and the Beach Boys. After an unplanned hiatus of nine years, they’re back with a reunion tour and a new album. In fact, the album was fully recorded before their hiatus and just never released, hence the title The Lost Songs.
“Red” is possibly the closest to hard rock/heavy metal that McFly has ever gotten. With distorted electronic riffs making an almost techno-like wall of sound behind Fletcher and Jones’s vocals, the song follows a love affair that ends in blood. It’s certainly a far cry from “Five Colours in Her Hair”. The result, however, is gorgeous, haunting and a fascinating departure for McFly. Of course, McFly has never entirely shied away from the gothic – “The Ballad of Paul K” and “Transylvania” prove that well enough.
10. Refused – REV001
My favourite music tends towards the unclassifiable to begin with – this list makes that pretty clear – but Refused is a special case. Refused was born out of a wedding between death metal and punk in Sweden’s subcultural milieu, and the combination is a killer no matter how you cut it.
“REV001” isn’t specific in its lyrics about revolution, but it’s hard to imagine that it’s not a deliberate reference to the unrest in the world today, albeit the European end of things. Rocking erratically between soft, crooning vocals and death-metal screams, it keeps listeners on their toes.
These weren’t the only new releases in September – Tegan and Sara’s new album Hey, I’m Just Like You finally dropped, as well as Keane’s long-awaited Cause and Effect. But this is a pretty good mix of old and new, big and small, and slow and fast. One thing’s for sure – 2019 is closing off the decade with a punk swagger and a call to arms.
Have we missed any of your favourite September releases? Let us know in the comments!