The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

We skipped 5 Best Songs last week because of the holiday, so we considered any music that dropped between last week and this one eligible for this week’s installment. And wouldn’t ya know it: Over the course of two truncated weeks we got five new songs from straight A-listers. Stakes is high. But who took home the gold? See for ya self …

5. How To Dress Well – “Teenage Spaceship” (Smog Cover)

Last night we got hit with a blizzard in New York. Trudging home late at night through my un-plowed neighborhood with barely anyone on the street gave me time to really take in Tom Krell’s recent cover of this classic Bill Callahan track. They’re both experts in lonely, late-night music, but this cover of Knock Knock’s “Teenage Spaceship” suggests connections between these two songwriters that you might not have noticed. Both got their start through raw, self-recorded releases (in fact the final line of “Spaceship” references Callahan’s first album Sewn To The Sky, recorded on a tape player found in a dumpster) and have often created songs with a simple construction that only heightens their emotional pull. Krell’s version of the track is less representative of the Smog-era/Jim O’Rourke-produced original, and more to the natural beauty of Callahan’s most recent album, Dream River. Building the beat around just finger snaps, Krell’s voice floats and drifts through the song until the vocal-manipulated finale, where his quickly looped voice flutters and dances with a gentle grace. It’s an extremely thoughtful cover and a good reminder that we could really use a new How To Dress Well album in our lives. -Miles

4. Run The Jewels – “Pew Pew Pew” (Feat. Q-Bert)

No 2013 rap music clanked, clattered, and crushed like Run The Jewels. Yes, Yeezus was visceral, but Killer Mike and El-P were gleefully visceral. They matched freewheeling verbal chops with next-level sonic violence, the sound of superheroes saving the world but destroying several city blocks in the process. “Pew Pew Pew,” a song recorded late last year and affixed to the European release of Run The Jewels, suggests the same will be true in 2014. Forget that bullshit Rick Rubin cooked up for Eminem — this Bomb Squad redux is what ’80s revivalism should sound like in the second decade of a new millennium. And speaking of revivals, isn’t scratching due for a big comeback? Q-Bert’s deft lacerations here suggest “overdue” is more like it. -Chris

3. Drake – “We Made It Freestyle” (Feat. Soulja Boy)

I write a goddam weekly mixtape column, and even I didn’t bother with the last Soulja Boy mixtape, which only shows that Drake is more thorough a cool-hunter than I am. And it’s clear that I fucked up; that triumphant honking tuba-fart beat simply demands to be heard. Drake uses it as an opportunity to get deep into a goofy Tourettic punchline, making an SNL skit out of it and giving me a new catchphrase that I can’t actually yell because white-people reasons. The whole thing, particularly the digression about texting, is just outrageously fun, and the two Eastbound And Down samples build the idea that Drake may have found himself a delightfully over-the-top new role model. The high point of a great week for Drake, one that also includes the all-out banger “Trophies” and the very good YG collab “Who Do You Love.” -Tom

2. Ariel Pink & Sky Ferreira – “My Molly”

The most aggressive tracks on Night Time, My Time piled on tons of lumbering low-end to undergird Sky Ferreira’s spiked sweetness. “My Molly” takes that tack, too. Earth shaking, bodies quaking, Ferreira remakes one of Ariel Pink’s many queased-out lo-fi oddities in her own smeared-plastic image. Tom has already suggested this duo could become indie rock’s own Run The Jewels, and while those guys’ Christmas surprise (see above) plays more like a victory lap, we can only hope “My Molly” is a warning shot from a partnership that’s just getting started. Lord knows Pink has no shortage of material for Ferreira to perfect. -Chris

1. Vampire Weekend – “Step (Remix)” (Feat. Danny Brown, Heems & Despot)

The original was all incandescent harpsichord float, but its sighing grace held a great little rhythm-section swagger — one that, it turns out, makes a gorgeously wide-open rap beat. And so here we have a “Last Huzzah” semi-reunion, a lineup of goofily referential Tumblr-rap tough guys getting stone-cold vulnerable and lovestruck, taking a rare opportunity to snuggle up by the lyrical fireplace. Danny Brown is in cartoon-boyfriend form, and Despot is protective like a sitcom dad, but the real heart of the matter is Heems going all goo-goo eyes, spinning a tale of an unlikely college romance with the sort of unbitter fondness that you simply cannot fake. Bonus points, too, for the fact that none of the rappers tries a “Vampire Weekend” pun. -Tom

Comments (3)
  1. That How to Dress Well cover needs to be way, way higher than 5. Number 1 even. All the same, glad it got mentioned. Absolutely beautiful/heartbreaking cover.

  2. Nothing was better on New Years Eve than getting turnt and loudly bumping Drake like “NIGGA WE MADE IT.”

  3. Vamp Weekend Track is great!

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