Look, it was a shit week. We lost Phife Dog. Then Garry Shandling. BRUSSELS, for God’s sake. You cannot live through that week, look back, and say it was good. Except … OK, here’s what: You can say it was a good week, because you lived through it. We lived through it. This week fucking sucked but we are still here, still listening to music. Play it loud.
The most important thing about pop-punk — the crucial thing that people forget all the fucking time — is that the “pop” has to hit as hard as the “punk.” This song remembers that. “Starting Again” is transparently a home recording, with a dinky click-track standing in for actual drums, but it’s still bold and bright and loud and hooky. Robin Edwards, the person behind the project, has a tough seen-it-all growl and a great mocking na-na-na delivery. But on “Starting Again,” she’s still vulnerable and real, pining over old memories and aching for some asshole who can’t tear himself away from his bad habits. It’s an intense and personal song, but one that could also make for a big-room screamalong. It is, in short, what a pop-punk song should be. –Tom
“Cinematic” can be a lazy descriptor, but “Solitude” actually sounds like it should be soundtracking a movie. More specifically, it’s another worthy entry into the pantheon of songs that would probably make better James Bond theme songs than several actual James Bond theme songs, à la Radiohead’s “Spectre” or maybe even Yo La Tengo’s “Here To Fall.” (Unsurprisingly, the internet has already rescored the Skyfall credits sequence with “Solitude” and “Spectre,” and both totally work.) Like many Bond themes, “Solitude” has a sense of melodrama to it that occasionally borders on cheese. But like the (admittedly much goofier) “Do It, Try It,” it embraces and eventually transcends that cheese factor, building into something genuinely and unreservedly beautiful right as that funky synth solo melts into that extended instrumental outro. In the press release that accompanied the announcement of Junk, Anthony Gonzalez explained the album title by remarking, “Anything we create today is going to end up being space junk at one point anyway.” And then with his very next sentence, he transformed that ignominious fate into something downright lovely: “I have this image of pieces of humanity floating in space, lost forever.” That’s what “Solitude” sounds like. –Peter
Homeboy Sandman is pretty much what 2 Chainz wished he was on “I’m Different.” Dude refused to tweet until last May despite having an account since 2011 because he was proud of the “Homeboy Sandman has not tweeted yet” or whatever it says on an empty page. He’s probably more known for writing “Black People Are Cowards” for Gawker in light of the Donald Sterling fiasco than his music. He obviously couldn’t care less about getting any radio play. It’s clear he doesn’t have any patience for bullshit or anything he thinks is small, but not in a bougie way. It’s more of an “I care about this so much that I can’t let this indiscretion pass” kind of way. Combine that impatience with his dexterous, unorthodox delivery, and a tendency to do away with hooks, and you’ve got “Talking (Bleep).” It’s not always entertaining to hear someone just go off on everything they can’t stand, but when it’s done with ill rhymes and a super funky beat it’s much more tolerable. And saying hook-be-damned in favor of the Charlie Brown-esque bleeps and bloops for words was an awesome move. I know I’m going to step to Boy Sand correctly if I ever meet him. –Collin
2. Hundred Waters – “Show Me Love (Skrillex Remix)” (Feat. Chance The Rapper, Moses Sumney, & Robin Hannibal)
There are so many names attached to this song, but just one feeling. It’s right there in the title. The original “Show Me Love” was a vocals-only song fragment that exuded a private kind of warmth and tenderness. On this remix, Skrillex and friends have built a whole world around Nicole Miglis’ voice, blowing out the sound and, in turn, the sentiment. Now “Show Me Love” glows with into a broader, more communal kind of intimacy — no less warm, no less tender. –Chris
In 2012, an album came out that reminded a lot of depressed and/or bored people what hedonistic fun sounds like. That album was Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, a collection of anthemic songs that spanned a world of heartbreak; it was filled with big, crashing reminders that the good times might already be gone, so it’s best to hold tight to your fleeting youth for as long as you can. The Hotelier’s new single reminds me of that album not so much in its lyrical content but in the way that it initiates. “Piano Player” builds itself up around an accelerating heartbeat that sounds like the frenzied moments before you leave the house for a night out. The propulsion of that drumbeat has an immediacy to it that makes me want to get the hell out of whatever room I’m sitting in and do something fun. It’s a perfect song to start your weekend with. –Gabriela