So how are you guys enjoying your inaugural Global Release Friday? It’s pretty great, huh? Look, we all needed this. Tuesdays already had so much going for them: You know, Mondays suck, so Tuesday means Monday is over, and, like … Tuesday is almost Wednesday. Tuesday has it all! Friday deserved a little pick-me-up, and now it’s got one. So here we are at the beginning of A New Era and the end of An Historic Week. These were its five best songs.
As Inside Out so brilliantly showed, emotions are fucking complex, and they only get more muddled as we grow older. Feelings don’t have great analogous words; our language hasn’t caught up with our reality, and it probably never will. So when Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock say that “some feelings are impossible to place” on their latest Antarctigo Vespucci jam, you know in your gut exactly what they mean. In this case, it’s the knotty vines of love, the sentiment that there’s no place you’d rather be than with this person. “Stay, stay around me for the evening/ You don’t have to be alone,” they duet, and soon after: “I can’t bear to be alone.” They acknowledge that just as much as they want to serve as that foundation for someone else, they selfishly need it themselves as well. Their sense of weightless elation carries through to the music as well, which sounds like a song most likely to play a punk Enchantment Under The Sea dance. It’s a sharp, sentimental, unfuckwithable track from two of the scene’s best. –James
Friendship is a dance; an awkward, often frustrating, extremely gratifying dance. And once you’ve learned all the moves and settled into a groove, there’s a natural tendency to want to go a little faster. On “Sleep Talk,” Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano stresses about taking the next step. Lines have been blurred, feelings developed and turned into subconscious desire. Familiarity dissolves into something else. “We’re so good at being alone, but we’re always together,” she sings, knowing how comfortable being with the other person makes her feel. But… “If I told you I loved you, I don’t know who it would scare away faster.” Sometimes what we want is not want we need, and the best action is probably inaction. And so the song ends, no resolution. Luciano said it best a little while back: “Fuck all your romance, I just wanna dance.” –James
Drop a word like “existentialism” into a music review and you automatically seem like a pretentious asshole — and 90% of the time, that writer is exaggerating. The truth is, it’s really hard to write a song about that particular feeling of free-fall, that sinking moment when (if?) you ever feel so detached and godless that it’s hard to figure out why you exist in the first place. That’s what boundless depression feels like, but it’s harder still to write about that feeling in accordance with a philosophical treatise. Perpetually optimistic, Montreal’s Ought always manage to lean into the void without falling, and this song could be skewed as a contemporary re-rendering of Camus’ seminal essay The Myth Of Sisyphus. On “Beautiful Blue Sky,” the exchange of pleasantries repeat like mantras and drizzle out of Tim Darcy’s mouth in a just-barely-understandable slur: “How’s your family? How’s your health been? How’s the church? How’s the job? Fancy seeing you here!” But the list of exchanges hiccups and flatlines when Darcy declares: “That’s all we have in the big, beautiful sky/ And I’m no longer afraid to die.” But his admission isn’t dejected; it’s liberating. Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the day after, this song finds comfort in the beautiful weather, the familiar site of condos, new developments hitting that big blue skyline and the reminder that spontaneity is always an apt challenge to the mundane. “I’m no longer afraid to dance tonight, because that’s all that I have left.” If you believe in something on-high capable of filling the void, that’s ideal. The rest of us just keep faith in the predictable. –Gabriela
Julia Holter’s songs are like chamber-pop collages; baroque melodies re-imagined as ethereal, fractured narratives. She seems to see the world in mosaic form. Her 2013 album, Loud City Song, was more than loosely based on a French novella from the ’40s called Gigi — a fearfully bizarre prospect in less skilled hands. But Holter’s supple songwriting and panoramic vision rendered that album one of the year’s sweetest, most mysterious releases. If “Feel You” is a good representation of her new album, Have You In My Wilderness, then this one will be less an interpolation of past relics and more a meditation on personal mythology. The sweeping majesty is all still here, her voice still has all the same magma-smooth magnetism, but the song functions like a microscope instead of a telescope. She’s turned her gaze inward here, peering into the galaxies of herself instead of the cosmos. “Feel You” is dark and warm; a marvelous, silvery return from an artist who is constantly fusing fragments of the world in devastating, unexpected ways. –Caitlin
Imagine the person you hate the most in the world. Got it? OK, now imagine a beautiful woman leveling that person with a flamethrower. That’s how listening to “Hellraiser” makes me feel: like a warrior princess is taking out my worst enemies with her acerbic, bubblegum surf rock. Colleen Green is the slacker queen of female angst, ruling over her kingdom from a slumped-up couch cushion. Green is ferocious without ever raising her voice. She lets her guitar do the snarling on her meticulously fuzzed-out third album, I Want To Grow Up, a record full of gleaming anxieties and gut-wrenching wisdom. This song was recorded during those sessions, and feels like it could be a victorious bonus track on the album. So many modern rock albums are full of veiled attempts at poetry or fake-deep imagery — lyrics that are more shallow and convoluted than anything produced in the pop world. Green is the opposite of all that bullshit, opting for brutal honesty and defiant, simple phrasing. “Hellraiser” is a prime example of that. It seethes with contempt for people who thrive on the suffering of others. It seethes against the way our brains warp our abuse, convincing us that we need people like this in our life, that earning their affection is important no matter how many times they reveal themselves as destructive. Female anger is so often typified as evil, screeching, or hysterical, and Green flips that script by calmly casting her tormentors as the demonic ones. The guitar solos are the only things that rage here, twisting barbed-wire knots into blistering perfection; beautiful, discordant noise that will slice through your blazing aggression and leave a kind of clean, peaceful anger in its place. “Hellraiser” is anger grown up — Green finally got her wish. –Caitlin