The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

We skipped 5 Best Songs last week due to SXSW, and came back to a Week In Music so overcrowded with options that we could have easily filled two or more such lists and still had worthy songs to argue about. Remember this when you note the absence below of, say, Lykke Li or Agalloch or tUnE-yArDs or Future or Merchandise: To include any of them would’ve meant leaving off one of the songs featured here. But if you want an alternate 5 Best, it would likely look a lot like that. In this reality, though, 5 Best looks like this:

5. Wye Oak – “Glory”

The songs we’ve heard so far from Wye Oak’s foray into bass-driven synth-pop maintained the moody twilight sonics that colored the guitar-based work the Baltimore duo made its name on. But the frenetic rhythms and berserk keyboard trills of “Glory” show Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack as entranced by new tempos as they are by new textures. Thus, we’re now privy to the first ever Wye Oak song that’s ever inspired me to move, groove, scream, and shout. The album is called Shriek, after all. –Chris

4. William Tyler – “Whole New Dude”

Impossible Truth, the album that William Tyler released last year, was all impossibly gorgeous and zoned-out acoustic-guitar meditations — folk music, but folk music refracted through such a specific prism that it really just sounded like the inside of one person’s mind. “Whole New Dude” starts out like that, too, but then Tyler’s band kicks in, and it becomes a gently rollicking and straight-up fun roots music rave-up. Like everything on Impossible Truth, it eventually blurs into the background, so most of its 13 minutes play out as mood music. But the mood is a different one — warm, satisfied, playful. –Tom

3. Ben Frost – “Venter”

“Have you ever seen a wolf pack running in the snow? Bleak is not my intention at all … It is drawn from, if anything, primal, elemental forces … Bleak? I cannot think of a time I have felt more joyful than when I was running around in that blizzard with those beasts.” This was Ben Frost’s reaction to an interviewer asking about the bleakness of his music in 2009. Aside from being the most metal fucking response imaginable it’s important to keep that attitude in mind when you listen to “Venter,” the earth-splitting centerpiece to A U R O R A, Frost’s first album in five years. Much like the work of Swans (with whom Frost has performed and recorded, and whose drummer, Thor Harris, plays here), this is music filled with abrasion and savagery, but even more so, it’s music forged with intense feeling and emotion. Listen to how the drums gallop and pound like a lumbering beast, while quick manipulations blink in and out — and when Frost finally unleashes his full melodic force, it hits with the blinding intensity of a flash grenade. On “Venter” he’s throwing haymakers and jabs with equal precision, but the bruises they leave form a beautiful battle scar. –Miles

2. YG – “I Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

YG spents most of My Krazy Life, his beyond-great new day-in-the-life concept album, partying and fucking and breaking into people’s houses. “I Really Be” is the beginning of the inevitable crash, the moment where YG’s crimes and excesses and their attendant tensions finally catch up to him. YG, finally letting some squeaky fear creep into his tough and assured flow, airs out a laundry list of trials, one that moves from his useless morning boner to his almost-murdered friends like they’re all parts of the same grand oppression. The beat is an eerie, panting, spare thing, drawing tension from the same deep-bassline/whining-synth contrast that Dr. Dre used to build “Deep Cover.” And when Kendrick Lamar shows up at the end, he’s in purposeful-whisper mode, declaring his own supremacy as he describes the hardships that give him his motor. If you’re still thinking of My Krazy Life as frivolous pop-rap, spend some time with this and rethink your position. –Tom

1. Fucked Up – “Paper The House”

Fucked Up spent the past few albums piling on the prog signifiers and narrative framework, to the point that after 2011′s rock opera David Comes To Life there’s nowhere to go but simple, straightforward, and personal. It’s the kind of comedown fellow high-minded ragers Titus Andronicus struggled to pull off after The Monitor, but “Paper The House” proves Fucked Up is still fully capable of crushing us without so much conceptual weight. The mysterious hardcore frontman Pink Eyes long since gave way to the jovial media personality Damian Abraham, but on the upcoming Glass Boys we’re promised our first window in a while (Twitter notwithstanding) into “what Damian thinks.” On this first taste of the album, those thoughts — about his legacy, his plans, his debts — are paired with absolutely searing harmonic hardcore that’s every bit as awe-inspiring as Fucked Up’s more elaborate flights of fancy. The curtain comes down, the magic begins. –Chris

Comments (8)
  1. Lykki Li? tUnE-yArDs?

  2. Fucked Up? But they suck.

  3. Glory is a great track. I hadn’t heard of Wye Oak before ‘The Tower’ but I already can’t wait for Shriek.

  4. Venter! OWWWWOOOOOOOOOO!

  5. “Venter” is something else. Really enjoyed “Paper the House” and “Water Fountain” as well. And as someone who just listened to My Krazy Life, I completely endorse “I Really Be”‘s inclusion. That whole album is remarkable. Love stumbling across unexpected gems such as that.

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