This week was brutal here in NYC as the city got hit with widespread panic and potentially unstoppable plague. Yes, dear readers, CMJ is back! We also had our hands full with plenty of great songs, including a few that didn’t make our 5 Best. There are two songs in particular that deserve a mention, but were too divisive to make the list: Taylor Swift’s “Welcome To New York” and Ariel Pink’s”Black Ballerina.” Those two songs couldn’t be more different musically, but both managed to spawn some pretty reverent and furious responses. In the end they canceled each other out, but that just made room for other stuff — just as worthy, maybe more so. Check ‘em out.
“Try Me” is a transcendent song and has been for a while. Remixes have the potential to ruin songs like this, ones that so completely realize an artist’s unique vision while playing up the elements that make them special. But Dej Loaf couldn’t have selected more appropriate guests to accentuate the way she turns ruthless drill music into dream-world pop. Remy Ma is her sister in snarl, a figure who’s been breathing threats in verses long before Ms. Loaf started chirping. “I’m the original/ These boys copies,” she raps, though here she’s very much following Dej’s lead. Ty Dolla $ign, meanwhile, has never met a despicable lyric he couldn’t disguise as the sweetest thing you ever heard. Does it surpass the original? Nah, but we never big-upped that one, so let’s all give Dej a round of applause and download Sell Sole post-haste. –Chris
Growing up is hard. There’s something intoxicating about youth, something that makes people want to hold onto it forever. It’s a feeling that everything is wonderful and new, and you’re just naïve enough to believe that feeling will always last. “Name That Thing” — and Chumped’s new album as a whole — is about trying to navigate the awkward transition between adolescence and adulthood, holding onto the good things about youth while leaving behind the bad. It’s a tale as old as time, and one that’s been fertile ground for punk songs for decades. And Chumped tap into that incredibly well: “And we drank and we talked shit and I was happy/ Tried so desperately to hold onto the feeling/ of being young, being sure, being lucky/ ‘Cause I get down and it’s so easy feeling nothing.” Everything about “Name That Thing” feels vibrant — it’s a constant pump of energy, a sweeping rush of endorphins. It’s about that nameless, unknowable feeling (that “thing” in the song title): experiencing something while already feeling nostalgia for it, like in that moment there were no other moments before and there will be no other moments after. It’s something that only happens when we’re young, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to recapture it. –James
You know that feeling when two of your friends start dating each other and you suddenly realize, maybe before they do, that they’re perfect for each other? That’s Meek and Boosie. In a changing rap ecosystem, these two are an endangered breed: Uncompromising regional street-rap cult heroes who can’t stay out of trouble and who mean everything they say so much. They both have pinched tenors, and they both rap like they’re buried alive and trying to alert the people six feet above that they’re still down here — even if they’re just rapping about how expensive their jeans are, which they mostly are here. Meek takes off sprinting the second he lands on the jackhammer track, gloating feverishly and bringing feverish intensity to his money-talk. Then Boosie jumps on the track and handily steals it, doing everything Meek was doing but bringing a serious dollop of personality with it. Bitches left him in prison, they threw away they dream. He’s the leader of a Mad Max murder team. The jeans in his closet add up to a Range Rover. And even if the jeans in your closet add up to a used children’s bicycle, you can drink that spectacular knuckleheadedness in and use it to your own ends. –Tom
First of all, regarding the preposterous yet persistent notion that Tomboy was a disappointment: That’s just silly. To these ears, Noah Lennox is not in need of a comeback. But supposing he was in need of a comeback, “Mr Noah” would do the trick. If a computer could be squished like a sponge, it’d be this beat. The melody is classic Panda Bear, a whimsical psych-pop beach ball bouncing atop the gurgle. It’s all quite pretty, and by his standards, quite concise. Person Pitch was praised for stretching pop songwriting into secular hymns the size of infinity, and if this is anything to go by, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper will be the sound of him wrangling all that metaphysical beauty back into tight pop structures, of friendly ghosts clattering around inside the trap. If so, we’re in for a treat. –Chris
The most miraculous thing about this song is its simple existence: A beloved band, quiet for nearly a decade, announcing the end of that storied indefinite hiatus by hiding a secret gift in a reissue box set. In 2014, the album announcement is an art in itself, and I’ve never seen it done better. But the other most remarkable thing about this is the way it sounds like the past decade never happened. The incredibly complex machinery of a Sleater-Kinney song — interlocking guitars, monster-shimmy drums, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker trading off lines like Run and DMC — is moving again, without the slightest ghost of rust-creak. This sounds like a logical back-to-basics next step after The Woods, marrying the feverish psychedelia of that album with the internal focus of The Hot Rock. Lyrically, it’s half lamentation and half call-to-arms, just like so many Sleater-Kinney classics before it. This time, though, maybe they’re the idols being exhumed. Or they are to us, anyway. –Tom