The 5 Best Songs Of The Week sat out last Friday for the holiday, but we’re back today with a small batch of excellent tunes. Taking one week into consideration is already a hefty task, but this time around we’ve done double and sifted through music from the last 14(!) days for you. Today’s collection is our most ’80s-informed to-date and also features someone you wouldn’t believe has been nominated for a Grammy and the best use of “screwed the pooch” this week/year/epoch. The column also has a shiny new graphic by designer Ho-Mui Wong, so there’s no longer a #1 song spoiler, either! Check out the list below.
2013 still remains no country for posse cuts, but when you get five of the most insanely weird guys from the, for lack of a better catchall, warehouse rap scene to make a track together that deserves merits for more than just its oddities, the longstanding tradition deserves to stay in tact. Atop Hot Sugar’s Close Encounters boom-bap, Kool A.D. delivers nonchalant gobs of intellectual wordplay as if crafting non-corny references to Sisyphus and subtle critiques of the law are as simple as blowing your nose. Fat Tony cartwheels between tongue-twisting and sing-song flow while Lakutis spits half a verse through, what sounds like, a bullhorn, and Nasty Nigel rounds out the cut with oddball charm. It’s the kind of thing that makes Hot Sugar the perfect poster boy for Tumblr rap royalty, but so fine-tuned, his Grammy nod for work on the Roots’ Undun is no surprise, either. – Claire
“Easy Easy” is the closest thing we’ve have to a descendent of Billy Bragg’s minimal punk ruggedness in a long time. It’s all there: thudding guitar is tangled up in aggressive quiet spaces and while King Krule is not as much as master of hooks-precision as Bragg, he puts his own shiny stamp on by singing from the dankest place in his gut. It’s rare that something so sparse can sound so huge. – Claire
Other Scandinavian punks splinter and sputter, but these Swedes play things straight, barreling forward with the cold grace of Joy Division, if Joy Division had lasted long enough to hear Black Flag. The scuttling-spider Dead Kennedys riff and the icy-majesty keyboards make an unlikely but potent combination, slashing and burning with rigor and ferocity. – Tom
“I hate music! What is it worth? Can’t bring anyone back to this earth!” Sounds like a Mark Kozelek line, but no, it’s these North Carolina pop-punk perma-pogo legends and Merge tycoons, lamenting their inability to resurrect a great dead reggae keyboardist and making as much noise as possible in the process. Every line is a massive, voice-straining, throat-veins-popping-out singalong, and the band knocks them out with an abandon that hints at the thin line between desperation and joy. – Tom
“Hang On To Life” is the A-side of a collaborative 7″ from Ariel Pink and Jorge Elbrecht (Violens, Lansing-Dreiden), but it feels like either a great lost Christopher Cross track or the stunning first song from one of 2013’s best new bands. Pink and Elbrecht blend so naturally that it’s almost impossible to find the seams separating their voices, and totally impossible to assign credit. (In fact, Pink is the top-billed artist on the record’s sleeve, and he performed the song sans Elbrecht at Sasquatch! this past May, but Elbrecht’s cruise-ship voice and luxury-spa synths are prominent; the cut could be smoothly sequenced on to Lansing-Dreiden’s incredible 2006 LP, The Dividing Island.) The song balances melodramatic portent and foamy sweetness and even gallows humor; there’s self-loathing and male bonding in the pair’s lyrics and vocal interplay. But it’s mostly just rich, ear-tickling, delightful music made to sound great on summer weekends. (The B-side, “No Real Friend,” is even cooler and airier, and frankly just as good.) The only drawback to the whole affair is its brevity. It’s like those little Coronita bottles that come served in the galvanized steel buckets, chilling in melting ice and icy water: It goes down so smooth, and it’s gone so fast. And I just want more. – Michael