The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

Stereogum | February 5, 2016 - 3:29 pm

The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos face off at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, CA this weekend, and though some of us are mildly excited for the game, most of the ‘Gum staffers are looking forward to the halftime performance. It’s fated to be a shitshow, but it’s our shitshow, an all-American spectacle that we will look back on for years to come. This year’s halftime show belongs to Coldplay, but rumor has it that Beyoncé, Avicii (who cares), Bruno Mars, and Rihanna (!!!) might make an appearance. Thank you, Pepsi! Listen to the five best songs of the week while the actual game is on, or something.

5. Tinashe – “Ride Of Your Life”

There’s nothing overpowering about Tinashe as a singer. Instead, she uses her voice for wispy texture, sliding and insinuating and always, always holding back. On her mixtapes and her deep cuts, she uses that restraint to make these beautiful atmospheric drones. But when she needs to come up with a club-conquering single, she can still put it to work. With “2 On” in 2014, she adapted the Mustard wave of the moment and turned it into something sleek and flexible. Here, she does something similar with Future/Young Thug musical mastermind Metro Boomin, who slows his “want some more” tag way down for the occasion. “Ride Of Your Life” has a great Metro beat, a haunting and bottom-heavy synth-mirage that never quite resolves. And even if her lyrics are all goofy cars-as-sex metaphors, Tinashe knows what to do with that, leaning hard on Aaliyah-esque breathiness and disappearing into the shadows. –Tom

4. Into It. Over It. – “Required Reading”

After the initial swell that comes with every Into It. Over It. song has subsided, it’s the small details that keep you coming back. Evan Weiss has gone on record about how much he enjoys and appreciates “the process,” and you can hear that passion in the care with which “Required Reading” constructed. These things are immaculately layered beasts, meant to be listened to on big goofy headphones and geeked out over: The way the chugging rhythm in the verses slides seamlessly into the chorus, beat by beat folding over into Weiss’ big emotional wails — before you can even catch up with how it all progressed, it’s already started flowing back to stasis again. It’s in the metallic scratch of an acoustic guitar panned right, barely discernible unless you’re really paying attention. Weiss’ lyrics don’t beat around the bush with their symbolism and meaning, but he opts for the subtle approach when it comes to musicianship, and it makes all the difference. –James

3. Banned Books – “Fuselage”

Philadelphia is a cool city. You can examine and manipulate its many musical facets like a Rubik’s Cube and see as many different sides of it as you like. I mainly travel to Illadelph, as it’s known in the hip-hop sector, for Roots Picnic every other year or so. But I also know I can walk into any given venue and have my freaking face rocked off. Philly is ripe with a straightforward get-on-stage-and-shred-your-ass-off mentality — from high-profile bands to up-and-comers — and that disposition informs the noise-pop offered by Banned Books. “Fuselage” features catchy, melodic vocals that manage to stay afloat atop layers upon layers of guitars. There are at least five different riffs at work, with varying degrees of rhythm, distortion, and brightness weaving throughout with wild fluidity. And, oh yeah, everything else switches too — drums bang then bounce, cymbals crash then linger, weird ambient noises dart in and out. The lyrics “Break it up now/ Patch it up now” aren’t referring to the sounds of the song, but that is precisely what happens; all of these elements are a wonderfully chaotic mess … and then, they just suddenly aren’t. Banned Books better have their cues on point when they get on stage for this song — missing one while playing this track live could get you lost beyond the point of no return. But I’m sure they’ll kill it, whether they’re performing for two or 2000. That’s the Philly way. –Collin

2. Gallant – “Skipping Stones” (Feat. Jhene Aiko)

Gallant and Jhené Aiko are such radically different performers that it’s hard to imagine them existing in the same decade, let alone on the same track. Gallant is a classicist, a passionate and free-flowing retro soul singer who’s not afraid to soar into the upper reaches of his falsetto, Smokey Robinson-style. Aiko, on the other hand, is a ghost of R&B present, the kind of vocalist who transforms every lyric into a downcast sigh. On “Skipping Stones,” warm analog production by Adrian Younge and Stint bridges their worlds, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. One minute it feels like a box-set rarity, the next a SoundCloud loosie, but the whole thing is gold. –Chris

1. Eagulls – “Lemontrees”

Eagulls’ 2014 debut fell to earth like a meteorite, trailing fire and a uniquely British form of working-class alienation in its wake. Now, the flames have died down, the smoke has cleared, and from the twisted wreckage emerges something surprisingly…pretty. Even the title of the Leeds post-punk crew’s new single, “Lemontrees,” is a far cry from the serrated “Nerve Endings” and “Yellow Eyes” of yesteryear. But those spangly Smiths-esque guitar textures mask something still rotten at their core, betrayed by the ominously pounding rhythm and frontman George Mitchell’s wounded yelps: “The fallen fruits from all my labor/ Plummet over me/ To form a noxious scene/ Beneath the lemon trees.” Whether pummeling or shimmering, Eagulls know how to make an entrance, and “Lemontrees” hints at an intriguing new direction for the young band. –Peter