It’s Easter weekend, it’s Coachella weekend, and of course, K.Dot just dropped the MOAB: DAMN. So yeah, you’ve got plenty to keep you busy. But before we get out of here, we gotta talk about the week’s five best songs. You guys know the rules by now, but in case you don’t: Kendrick arrived a little too late to be considered for inclusion below. That’s probably for the best — he already grabbed the top two slots a couple weeks back, and we’ve been talking nonstop about the LP since last night. Plus he’s gonna close out Coachella on Sunday night, which seems like a nice little consolation prize. So anyway, the weekend looks real good. And the week was pretty great, too. Here are the highlights.
“Loving,” the third single from Land Of Talk’s first album in almost a decade, starts with a killer opening line: “I’ve been meaning to forget you/ And God knows just what that means.” The rest of the song shares that sentiment’s ambiguity as Liz Powell sorts through memories of a relationship that feel murky and unknowable. It lends itself to the logical conclusion that loving someone usually ends in heartbreak, but why not suffer through the pain for the reward anyway? “Life’s not long, why don’t you live it?” she asks. Powell and co-writer Sharon Van Etten wrap up this notion in warm and swirling guitars, and the lead-up to the hook is pure magic: “There’s that song,” she says, intro-ing herself before stuttering into the indelible hook: “T-t-t-ouch it, but I feel it,” her voice tactile and smooth. “It’s gonna get worse.” –James
Girlpool always rocked. But now they rock, with honest-to-god drums and chords and distorted guitars and anthemic choruses and everything. If you really wanted to find something to complain about, you could say that some of the ineffable lightning-in-a-bottle magic of their debut, the singular intimacy of one guitar and one bass, is gone. Even more than “123,” “It Gets More Blue,” with its sweet-and-sour mixture of light dissonance and blissful vocal harmonies, is easily placeable in the lineage of ’90s-indebted indie-rock. But it’s a kickass song in that lineage, a maturation of their songwriting and an evolution of their sound without sacrificing what made them so special in the first place. They won’t have to fake global warming to earn a spot in your heart. –Peter
“LOL” is one of the most ubiquitous responses in modern communication, in large part because of its versatility; it can inspire levity, reduce urgency, signal annoyance, or convey distance, all depending on what it’s being used as a reaction for. The abbreviation is essentially a shrug, but a significant one — the kind that limits the power someone or something has over you. Pageant, PWR BTTM’s big-hearted-but-combative sophomore LP, employs bold vulnerability as a way to push back against forces that threaten to diminish one’s perceived value. And “LOL,” the album’s third home run in a row, successfully deflects encroaching self-doubt through acceptance, turning meditative would-be dismal outcomes via a forgiving awareness. “LOL” is an expression to not take oneself too seriously, and is perhaps the most commonly employed coping mechanism amongst a new generation. Those frenetic last 30 seconds of “LOL” capture just why: Laughing out loud is a way to repel the anxiety that would otherwise fill the silence, replacing it with life-affirming perspective. –Pranav
There are real knowledgeable jazz critics out there, critics who could tell you how Kamasi Washington’s new 14-minute burner draws from American traditions and recalls certain dead heavyweights. I don’t know jack fuck about jazz, so I’ll just tell you that it starts really slow and pretty, with a guitar and some piano, and then things just build and build. Eventually, a whole-ass orchestra shows up. A choir drops out of nowhere, singing some wordless thing that sounds like the theme to the original Star Trek. It all swells and ripples and undulates, and then it keeps going and going and going, changing and moving and maintaining the pretty-as-hell central melody. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth taking it in. As a jazz neophyte, here’s the nicest thing I can say about it: It’s not homework. It never gets boring, and it never gets too challenging, either. It just fills up your room and leaves you with a warm and pleasant buzz. And when it’s over, it somehow feels like it didn’t keep going for long enough. –Tom
Flasher were a fixture at SXSW this year, and they were omnipresent enough that I had the pleasure of watching them perform a handful of times, including at our very own show where they happened to play “Burn Blue,” the B-side to their new 7″. (Side A, “Winnie,” made this list a few weeks ago.) The band has a dynamism live that’s increasingly coming through on their newer recordings, even more so than it did on their excellent debut tape. “Burn Blue,” appropriate to its title, is a slow burn, and it unfolds in a methodical way, starting off knotted-up and intertwined and gradually unraveling so that, by song’s end, each member of the trio are still closely bonded but entirely distinctive. It’s a marvelous song to drown into, and the way that the band captures a spark and keeps it going over five minutes suggests that there are even better things to come from these DC punks. –James