Let’s be honest: This was a pretty stacked week. It’s always a joy to find new music that surprises and impresses you, and while this week’s list is indeed impressive, it may not be especially surprising. These are just five (well, six) artists at the tops of their respective games, and they’re fucking killing it. Check out our picks out below, and let us know what we missed in the comments.
It’s almost definitely pure coincidence that “Monster,” Future’s base-life anthem, is entering the world at the same time as we’re learning of his breakup with R&B singer Ciara. But what timing! Future and Ciara seemed like a perfect couple, two beautiful and talented people who seemed genuinely into each other. And now, when we learn that Future was out (allegedly) cheating, immediately after Ciara had given birth to their kid and named him Future, we have Future going full cartoon-supervillain, snarling about fucking everything that moves and somehow making that conscience-free life sound cool. “Fuck all the rules, rather fuck your baby mama,” Future sneers, all amoral magnetism, while Metro Boomin and Southside’s beat purrs underneath him. If this is the beginning of the Heel Future Era, I am so ready. –Tom
When you live with it long enough, revolutionary music starts to sound normal. Deerhoof is a weird fucking band, but they’ve given us so many cutesy, disjointed crushers at this juncture that they seem like a basic component of indie rock. They are the bizarre public sculpture in town square that elicits outrage, confusion, and glee until one day it’s just there, another normal part of the landscape to be ignored while texting. “Exit Only” is the latest in a long lineage of absolutely bonkers art-punk tracks. It bears all of Deerhoof’s beloved trademarks: Satomi Matsuzaki’s cheery chirps, Greg Saunier’s off-balance clatter, hyper-real post-Pixies guitar leads, and the general sense that we had better get out of the way. How the world has been desensitized to such noise is perhaps even stranger than the song itself. –Chris
Lyrics don’t get much more juvenile than “I don’t want to go to school/ I just wanna break the rules.” And of course “Break The Rules” is juvenile; juvenilia is Charli’s specialty. Recall that the two massive international hits she co-wrote and featured on are (a) the one about driving your car into a bridge because you are “a ’90s bitch” — as opposed to the fossils from the ’70s — and (b) the one about trashing hotels “from L.A. to Tokyo” while getting tanked on the minibar. It’s music that equates partying with rebellion, just like the Beastie Boys and other ancient relics before her. That kind of sentiment can be utterly facile coming from the wrong person, but put it on Charli’s acerbic tongue and it’s an anthem. Her shouts have an edge on them, each syllable a sip of sweet fizzy cola spiked with perilous quantities of whisky. Throw in that pantheon-worthy keyboard line, a (big) beat that proves Ms. XCX is most definitely a ’90s bitch, and the expert timing of releasing this the very same week many students have to stumble into homeroom, and she’s got herself another winner — albeit one that absolutely adheres to pop music regulations. –Chris
As Dan Snaith married the sounds of Caribou with his more club-oriented Daphni project on “Can’t Do Without You,” he also revealed an emotional directness that had only been hinted at on his breakthrough, Swim. That total unification is present throughout his breathtaking new album, Our Love, and its title track is its thumping heart. Built from countless brief looped recordings, it sounds like a homemade valentine. It’s a song pieced together from thousands of homemade samples, and you won’t be alone if you get entranced by “Our Love” only to snap back in the second half and wonder, “How did I get here?” But that’s the genius of Snaith’s music, which is at its absolute best right now in 2014: He leaves you stunned, dazed, and in a place where thought gives way to complete feeling. –Miles
Is it possible that these guys got even harder in the past year? Killer Mike: “Top of the mornin’, my fist to your face is fuckin’ Folgers.” El-P: “The fellows at the top are likely rapists/ But you like, “Mellow out, man, just relax, it’s really not that complicated.” El’s beat runs the Doctor Who theme through an industrial-rap splat-blat filter, and he and Mike both lock in so hard that I can’t listen without gritting teeth and clenching fists. But there’s such joy in this, these two old warriors finding their groove and trading off lines, that the gritted-teeth feeling isn’t tension. It’s the euphoria of battle. –Tom