For much of this week, it felt like there was only one song, period. So maybe it will come as a surprise to see that song not on our list of the week’s 5 Best. It coulda been included here — for all the attendant controversy, it’s still a good song — but there were five better. Here they are.
This is probably a good place to point out that we fucked up when we didn’t make Drake’s “Tuesday” remix one of the five best songs of whatever week it came out. That song showed how well Makonnen’s bittersweet-stoner chillwave-rap style could work in a pop context. And in retrospect, it marked the bubbling-over moment of a certain strain of insular Atlanta dorm-room rap. “Wishing You Will” finds Makonnen pushing even further inward. He’s thinking about a friend who’s far away, remembering old road trips and close scrapes, sending good feelings out to someone who’s out there in the mysterious ether. Take out the references to shootings, and this could lyrically be a Jets To Brazil song. Makonnen doesn’t even really rap it; he sings it softly to himself. Mike Will Made-It’s beat is all sitar twang, a mystic swirl of softness. End result: A beautiful song, no qualifiers necessary. –Tom
At the beginning of this decade, it was easy to see Joel Ford and Daniel Lopatin as guys focused purely on the past, making music that treated retro synth sounds with an almost fetishistic obsession. Lopatin soon shifted that perception with a run of near-perfect and increasingly forward-looking releases as Oneohtrix Point Never — but what about the other guy? Joel Ford has only now begun to release solo material, but he justifies the long wait with “Breathe,” a song that chews up the past and spits it at you with the force of a shotgun slug. The ingredients here are ’80s action-movie scores, but rather than serve us another replica, Ford grinds up the primary sources to create the kind of techno banger you could expect to hear in a club in 2014. The colossal result is a track that doesn’t quite sound retro or futuristic, though Ejecta-singer Leanne Macomber puts it best in her airy hook: “Feels like forever.” –Miles
They mastered basement-punk intensity on Ugly and monolithic basement stomp on their “Ancient Civilization” single. And now Scremales have conquered the fired-up jangle of mid-’90s alt-rock radio on their latest 7″. (Touring with Garbage must’ve paid off.) “Wishing Well” goes 0 to 100 real quick, going from a quietly splintered opening verse to the kind of chorus that would’ve taken them straight to the Buzz Bin if this was 1994. “I toss dimes in the wishing well/ And I’m broke cuz you took all of me,” howls Marissa Paternoster. Later, she bursts into the sort of triumphantly melodic solo that she plays better than anyone else. Someone, please, give this lady a giant pile of money and politely ask her to make her Siamese Dream. –Tom
To borrow a phrase from the War On Drugs, so many of the young musicians making ethereal synth music get lost in the dream. They conjure up all this atmosphere but don’t do anything memorable with it. Hannah Rodgers has a gorgeously moody cloud-rap canvas on which to paint here, the sort of music that might emerge if Lorde and Clams Casino ever get together. Rather than let the instrumental swallow her up, she rises to the surface with a chilling, alluring siren song that marks “A Way To Say Goodbye” as a mighty fine hello. –Chris
It’s likely you felt your blood start pumping a little faster last Friday whether or not you were aware AlunaGeorge had set “Supernatural” loose. This thing is audio cardio — a breath of fresh air so strong that it doesn’t just pump life into your lungs, it whisks you out the door and into the street (likely to join some elaborate choreographed dance number already in progress, not that I speak from experience). These two have long since perfected their formula, letting slinky futuristic synth lines dance with breathy R&B vocals over beats that snap. If you were worried the recipe would get stale after Body Music, “Supernatural” is your assurance that AlunaGeorge have another great album cooking. At the very least, they’re going to have the makings of a killer greatest hits someday. –Chris