The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
This weekend, New York City plays host to Governors Ball.
ah, the Governor's Ball! the bright young things of Indie descend upon Albany to be feted by Lord Cuomo. glamour, elegance and…intrigue
— Ezra Koenig (@arzE) June 7, 2013
And with the event, of course, comes enough gross weather to make even the most enthusiastic ticketholder question his or her actual fondness for things like Drake, music festivals, summer, and New York City. Much of Team Stereogum is there right now, looking forward to some respite and/or Charli XCX’s set, whichever comes first. But we’re looking back, too, at The Week That Was. It was another good one, and at its best, it sounded like this.
The song is called “Tick,” but it sounds like a bumblebee; rarely since Joey Santiago’s heyday have guitars zipped across the rhythm section with such a cartoonish buzz. Toronto upstarts Weaves seem to have stripped the Flaming Lips’ joyously silly lumbering beast “She Don’t Use Jelly” for spare parts and used them to build a fleeter, nervier, more agile blast of fuzz-pop. Those colorful sonic zigzags steal the show, wildly twisting with the mischief of neon signs come to life. But don’t miss the Breeders-worthy bass line or the wash of power chords stirring up angsty undercurrents. Maybe this is what running through the 6 with your woes sounds like in the light of day? –Chris
Out of all three Sorority Noise singles that have made it into our 5 Best Songs list, “Using” is the hardest to write about. It feels uncomfortable to try to summarize Cam Boucher’s confessional lyrics, and it’s especially scary to feel like I might misinterpret his words, because this is the kind of song that saves people’s lives. Whether or not one identifies with its thematic content, releasing an unapologetic chronicle of opiate abuse, relapse, and ongoing struggles with severe depression is a fucking brave thing to do. Imagine taking every single thing that would make a stranger deem you “unstable” or “troubled” and putting it on display; it’s cathartic and terrifying and self-affirming all at once. It’s safe to assume that at the heart of “Using” is a message of resiliency, because if you ignore the pain in Boucher’s words, “Using” is so damn catchy. It’s the kind of song that gets stuck in your head, its blown-out chorus of “I stopped wishing I was dead” surfacing at lonely points in your own narrative. This song represents a personal cleansing for Boucher, sure, but Sorority Noise released this as a single to remind people that admitting you need help doesn’t make you weak or weird or any less human. Everyone deserves a support system that’s more substantial than a temporary high. –Gabriela
“Dimed Out,” the first single from Titus Andronicus’ forthcoming The Most Lamentable Tragedy, was an all-out rager with a surprising string break, but this one sounds positively jaunty in comparison. It sounds jaunty even though it’s an anthem about different kinds of drug dependency, about feeling like there’s something inside yourself that will always hold you back. Patrick Stickles is a rock-history student, and that’s splashed all over the song. There’s some Rolling Stones in the high-strutting piano, some Thin Lizzy in the twin-guitar solo, some Replacements in the way Stickles lets playfulness creep into his gnarled delivery. And I don’t know where those strings come from; I’ve never heard incandescent strings deployed in service of an amped-up rock song like this. Is it even legal to use strings like this? And if it is, why isn’t everyone doing it? –Tom
“The way I truly love people seeing our music is through a sense of fun and silliness — but silliness doesn’t negate it being emotional or anything like that. It’s a sort of craziness, a sense of heightened emotion.” That’s Danny L Harle, one half of Dux Content, in a recent interview effectively putting to rest the question that has plagued PC Music since its inception — how much of it is, for lack of a better word, sincere? Are they dismantling pop clichés or just making good pop music? The answer to that probably lies somewhere in the middle, and “Snow Globe,” their latest offering, provides some fodder for both sides. But at the center of every PC Music track, there’s an aching heart underneath all of the digital artifice. That’s what makes them so compellingly listenable — the transformation of the void into something human, tangible, and real. Or maybe it’s the other way around. A cyclone of pinging synths and showoff-y buildups pivots around an essential moment where the whole track drops out and their female vocalist du jour whispers, “I was alone.” The lyrics are surface-level stupid, but sometimes the best way to say something is also the simplest. And for a song that’s begging for someone to “take me away, all the way to the edge of the sky,” it certainly sounds like enough of a fantasy. What better way to escape than through music? –James
That Brian Wilson is the figure in Chance The Rapper’s mind as he presides over the holy collective of Surf establishes once and for all the enormity of Chancelor’s ambitions. “Wanna Be Cool” establishes those ambitions as reality. The opening half-scat/half-Beach Boys harmonies are too clear a tribute to be missed; how they hit like a fine golden mist is a further testament to Bennett’s lab partners in this glorious experiment. Here he operates as Kanye-like curator, reeling a phenomenal verse out of anti-cool spokesman Big Sean: “If you don’t like me, FUCK it I’ll be by myself” transcends petulant, becomes powerful. Both Sean and Kyle sound possessed by the ghost of Acid Rap past, but it’s not their fault. Chance The Rapper is our new standard, one that everyone will be clambering toward for a few years, as they did with Kanye. Similarly polemical, Chance picks apart the performative aspects of our culture — specifically hip-hop’s endless sizing up — and plays a joke on trap-and-drug posturing with a song about dorks. If you don’t recognize a buried longing within yourself by the time Chance’s sprawling rebellion against popularity hits his barbed-wire-squawk, I’d suggest you’re not only not cool, but also participating in self-denial. He further strays from bitches-and-hoes diction of rap to embed some anti-consumerist body positivity at the end: “Baby got her jeans from Goodwill/ But I bet that ass look gooooooood still.” God only knows where I’d be if 15-year-old Caitlin had heard this. If Surf is a wave, “Wanna Be Cool” is the perpetual crest, a high that never breaks. Good vibrations indeed. –Caitlin