Welcome to the second installment of The 5 Best Songs Of The Week, a new column where we spotlight the tracks in the conversation this week that we liked the most. The last seven days have been enormously weighty with stuff to consume, especially when a lot of favorites (including Disclosure’s “F For You,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Despair,” and M.I.A.’s “Bring The Noize“) were given eligibility again via stellar new visual treatments. What made the cut? A lot of indie rock revivalism, something from the Toronto bounty, and more. Get into it below.
5. Lulu James – “Step By Step”
House divas don’t necessarily need to make siren calls, they rally you to the dance floor via beseeching wails, rarely via sultry, yearning coos. But Lulu James’s output has very little to do with what’s standard issue and here she functions as a nightclub siren rocking a soul-force purr over IDM minimalism. And while each electronic layer is stark on its own, when they come together it’s a concrete wall that calls simultaneously for smirking flirtation and austere footwork. If MC Lyte didn’t own “cold rock a party,” it would be James’s signature look. – Claire
4. Hausu – “Kool Off”
I too thought about Sonic Youth the first time I saw the title of this song, but you know what? Where SY’s “Kool Thing” streamlines driving fuzz-sludge, “Kool Off” stomps that sound into something totally unlinear. If it’s a nod or not is hard to say, but with the ethos of hardcore awash in a muted palette of angular guitar, they may be respecting their elders, but they’re also pushing the sound even further. – Claire
3. Drake – “The Motion” (Feat. Sampha)
Easily the best of the four new songs Drake dropped over the weekend, probably the best Drizzy track since he dropped Take Care in late 2011, quite possibly the most Drake song of all time. It’s all here: The honeyed coo, the awkwardly confident rapping, the endearingly emo and put-upon sentiment, the passive-aggressive save-a-chick relationship talk, the flirtations with au courant British dance-pop styles (via singing guest Sampha), the heart-stoppingly beautiful production from Noah “40” Shebib. And when Drizzy’s tenor-Eeyore voice floats over those fluttering sonar pings, it’s about the saddest and prettiest thing you’ll hear in the club this weekend. – Tom
2. Kevin Gates – “4:30 AM”
Baton Rouge groaner Kevin Gates raps over the same kind of hazily pretty synth-beats that Drake likes, but his milieu is way different: “Where was you when I was slumped over, gums hurting from a old bullet, in front the toilet while hunched over, puking all my insides?” There’s not glamor here, just cold and regretful murder-talk, a hard stare at some deeply fucked-up circumstances. – Tom
1. Speedy Ortiz – “Plough”
It’s totally appropriate that the third preview from Speedy Ortiz’s forthcoming full-length debut premiered only a few days after Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville turned 20: Much of Speedy’s music sounds like the work of a songwriter who’s spent her entire life listening to Exile, and “Plough” feels like something of a celebration of that record. And not just because of lines like, “Yeah, you picked a virgin over me,” but the way Speedy’s Sadie Dupuis delivers them: equally sarcastic and joyous; slightly nasal and just off pitch. Dupuis knows her way around a powerful lyric and an obscure reference, of course; along with fronting Speedy Ortiz (itself a tribute to a tragic character from the ’80s indie-comix landmark Love & Rockets), she’s getting her MFA in poetry at UMass-Amherst. I guess it’s also appropriate, then, that “Plough” is being honored here on the very same day the Pixies released their first new song in nine years. All these tasteful nods dating back to the presidential administration of Bush The Elder make Speedy sound so dour and fusty on paper; good thing they sound so fucking sharp, electric, and alive through speakers. – Michael
What’s your favorite new song(s) of the week?