5Best

For the first time in the short history of this column, 5 Best Songs and Straight To Video have cross-pollenated. Which new cut transcended its visual treatment and landed on both lists? Find out below.

5. The Blow – “From The Future”

Something we heard with “Make It Up” and, now, with “From The Future,” what’s to come from the Blow’s self-titled album is evolutionary pop. But anchor member Khaela Maricich has always been a progressive songwriter, from the sparse, handclap-driven tracks on Bonus Album to the immersive euphoria of Paper Television. With new member and gearhead Melissa Dyne in the duo, not only are we getting the same lyrical innovation, the sounds are unlike anything we’ve ever heard before — and it’s mostly because they invented a ton of them. The track is its own evidence that what these two are doing is totally brand new, but the title totally helps to make its case, even if it is about fear of the unknown. – Claire

4. Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals”

You can talk about the different musical ingredients in play here: Sugary early-’90s R&B girl-group harmonies, face-blistering no-chord punk rock riffage, trunk-annihilating drum kicks, snap-music snaps. But why? Who cares? The thing that matters here goes way beyond sum-of-their-parts. It’s the pure-energy endorphin-rush when that beat drops and Alexis Krauss’s voice goes from coo to snarl, or when the already-furious drums get even nastier. Best playground-taunt anthem since, I don’t know, “Fergalicious.” – Tom

3. Cults – “High Road”

Cults seemed back to their alt-pop tricks when they released “I Can Make You Mine,” the lead single from their upcoming sophomore album Static. But with “High Road,” the duo steers the ship in a new direction, crafting a dark romp that combines latent psych and French pop with a wash of reverb and low bass throughout. But there are so many pieces here — strings, twinkling piano keys, and a sense of haunting throughout that make this one to come back to just to find a bit you have missed. – Claire

2. Pixies – “Indie Cindy”

The Pixies’ new EP has already been massively shit on as a half-assed cash-grab, and who knows, maybe it deserves it. God knows, it’s a bit embarrassing to see anyone name a song “Indie Cindy,” let alone a team of legends who predate the term “indie.” But try to divorce the song from its context. It’s hard, I know, but it’s easier if you read this great Brian Phillips piece on the idea of “legacy” beforehand, or if you already liked the Breeders better anyway. On its own merits, this is an absolutely kickass rock song, one that seesaws wildly among ferociously unfocused beat-rant to still college-rock beauty to Morricone float and still hangs together. It’s not “Gouge Away,” but did you really expect it to be “Gouge Away”? – Tom

1. Oneohtrix Point Never – “Zebra”

It was about figuring out the distance between one musical object to another, how I could represent long distances in short periods of time. I would try to use these bleak breaks in the song and turn them into a sort of weird vortex or wormhole moment.

That quote from our Q&A with Daniel Lopatin is good to keep in mind when listening to “Zebra,” one of the highlights off Oneohtrix Point Never’s overwhelmingly brilliant record, R Plus Seven. Early OPN felt like a soothing soundtrack for space, but “Zebra” might as well throw you into a black hole. Stabbing sampled voices are warped beyond any humanity and the glitchy sounds are stretched in a way not unlike the impossible digital sculptures artist Nate Boyce used in collaborations with Lopatin. Yet after being hit with the aggressive opening section, the ambient interlude pushes you through the void to what sounds like an entirely different, and strikingly beautiful song – what was once heavy and chaotic becomes as weightless as a rocket breaking through the atmosphere. – Miles

Comments (5)
  1. Tom, how old are you? The Pixies do not pre-date the term “indie”. Maybe in the sense that it is thought of today. But back in the 80s, they were exactly the sort of band that someone would call indie.

  2. Treats is great, and the second album grew on me, but wow after a few bright seconds that new Sleigh Bells song devolves into tuneless faux-rap mess

  3. Hey, it’s not the first time both lists “have cross-pollenated”. It was that time with “Chum” at #1 (Sorry for the geeky good memory, but I like Stereogum a lot).

  4. Man is that Sleigh Bells song awful..Really digging High Road though. Loved the last Cults album and I’m expecting them to put out a great sophomore album now.

  5. The pixies defined indie music in the 80s.

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