Hey guys, Caitlin here. I’ve got news to share: I’ve accepted another job that I’ll be starting in November, and I’m really excited about it. Today is my last day at Stereogum. Even writing that sentence gives me the most bittersweet mix of emotions, yet the fact remains. I came here in late January with a whole lot of self-doubt and a whole lot of hope. I’m happy to announce that most of the former has melted away and that the latter has increased exponentially, even as I leave. I write often about being a woman in the music industry, and issues of representation, gender, sexuality, and race. We’ve often disagreed about these things, and yet, I think even the vigorous discussion about them has helped refine my own thoughts on these matters. Being a woman who writes about music is incredibly difficult, and the industry was not very kind to me in many situations before I came to Stereogum. But during my tenure here, I found a group of editors and writers who exhorted and uplifted me to become the best kind of writer I could be. Working here healed something in me I wasn’t even fully aware was broken. That will always mean more to me than any byline, title, or recognition I go on to achieve.
I found healthy debate and a safe place to argue through opinions and ideas about music. I got to work alongside a longtime idol of mine, Tom Breihan. I had the immense privilege of getting to know Michael Nelson and receiving from him what I can safely say is the best editing I’ve ever had. James Rettig and Gabriela Tully Claymore became not just coworkers I enjoyed being around, not just peers I respected, but friends with whom I could share my life. I never knew what it felt like to be so fully supported by an editor until I worked with Chris DeVille daily. His belief in me eclipsed even my own confidence sometimes, but it also pushed me toward writing and thinking at a higher level. And of course, none of this would exist at all if wasn’t for Scott Lapatine. He has created this community and platform that survived when plenty of other blogs failed, that achieved a level of critical importance that rivals any publication in this sphere, and that continues to approach music with unbridled devotion. I’ve never been prouder to be part of something in my life than I have been working here. When I met former Stereogummer Amrit Singh a few months after starting this job, he told me Stereogum is a family, that these connections last forever, and they change you. He was undoubtedly right about that. So, without further ado, here’s our five best songs of the week. Music is still why we do all this, and always will be.
“Ch-Ching” is the name of Chairlift’s big-return single, the first thing they’ve done as a group in a few years. But it’s also the name of Lady Sovereign’s breakout track, the one that appeared on the grime compilation Run The Road a decade ago. Lady Sov’s career didn’t turn out to be that much of anything, but her “Ch-Ching” is still pure slaughter, a snarling burst of take-on-the-world personality. So it’s to Chairlift’s credit that their completely unrelated “Ch-Ching” has some of that same funky authority to it. This is, after all, a group that made its name on wispy indie-pop before getting a song onto the last Beyoncé album. And “Ch-Ching,” with its slippery rhythms and cascading vocal hooks and stomping horn riff, is a full-bodied colossus of a song, a massive declaration of intent. Chairlift haven’t compromised their old hazed-out sound; they’ve just turned it into something grander and more concrete. “I flipped it,” Caroline Polachek chirps. She’s not lying. –Tom
SOPHIE seems a bit distanced from his PC Music contemporaries. He’s not actually on the netlabel — he instead opts to release everything through Numbers, the heavyweight responsible for helping to break Jamie xx, Rustie, and Hudson Mohawke — and that divide starts to make sense with PRODUCT, the producer’s antiseptic debut singles collection. SOPHIE is an electronic artist first-and-foremost, and his songs are tailored to the DJ set. While PC Music is interested in cultivating a personality behind their music, SOPHIE keeps a distance. He’ll probably always be destined to sit behind the boards. With that said, though, “Just Like We Never Said Goodbye” is the closest yet that the English producer has flirted with the hyper-oblivion PC Music pop sound under his own name, though his work on LIZ and the still-unreleased Charli XCX collabs comes close. It plays out like a remix of a remix of one of PC’s brighter gems, keeping the nakedly emotional aspects — “It makes me feel, it makes me feel,” emphatically — while cutting through it with SOPHIE’s sharp knife. –James
Ty Dolla $ign’s most famous song to date, “Paranoid,” is about Ty$ worrying that the two women he’s sleeping with have become aware of each other and are plotting their revenge. It’s unscrupulous, unsympathetic behavior, but with an assist from a peaking DJ Mustard, Ty$ made his quest to keep his mistresses in the dark seem both honorable and fucking hilarious. “Airplane Mode” finds him in a similar but exponentially more difficult predicament: He’s smoking so much weed that he can’t keep track of the many, many women he’s been having sex with, so he has to keep his phone on airplane mode to keep them all at a distance until he can get his mind right. Ty$ produced this one himself with his D.R.U.G.S. compatriots, and they conjure such a luxurious, ceremoniously bleary sonic environment that what might’ve been another funny ha-ha punchline comes across as a simple matter of fact. The resulting track feels like longtime influence R. Kelly wandered into recent collaborator Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it’s at least half as great as that description makes it sound. –Chris
Mothers are from Athens, Georgia, so Kristine Leschper and her cohort came up steeped in the mesmerizing, pinwheeling swirl of new wave, bluegrass and psych-rock that city has come to embody. While Mothers aren’t openly country or folk in any concrete way, Leschper’s voice immediately calls back to Angel Olsen’s gorgeous yelping, and on “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t,” her phrasing and timbre evoke the same immediate empathy in the listener. Olsen tends to dwell in midst of the wound, though, while everything about “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” guns toward resolution, toward renewal. This is a song about pain and self-doubt with an end in mind, and all the psychedelic swirling behind Leschper’s captivating lyrics serve as a sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Pain is temporary, but it’s our journey through the stuff that lets us find what is eternal in ourselves; what is worth loving. It hurts and hurts and hurts, and by the time it doesn’t, you know more about yourself than you ever have. And that knowledge is so much more powerful and so much more valuable than whatever person or situation you have lost. Moreover, it belongs to only you. Leslie Jamison put it best: “I had a heart. It remained.” This is Mothers’ second single, but even if you’re one song in, it’s clear this is a band that will remain. –Caitlin
“Indigo” is the kind of song that leaves you feeling like you’re standing in the snow bare-ass naked, wrapped up in a wool blanket. Maybe you have socks on, but they’re getting damp, and the little warmth you’re experiencing is a fleeting comfort. Frostbite will eventually set in, your toes will fall off, and it will absolutely be the worst day of your life. This metaphor is fucking ridiculous, but in all honesty, it’s hard for me to try and explain why I care so much about “Indigo” without resorting to words like “gut-punch” or “heartbreaking.” This song overwhelms me, and regardless of how short and seemingly simple it is, “Indigo” is ridiculously hard to parse, because it requires a certain level of self-reflection. Zoë Allaire Reynolds’ doubled vocals recall a quarter of a second in time when she woke up tangled up with someone, physically uncomfortable and confounded by the fact that it felt really good. “I can’t move because it’s comfortable there; his legs tangled in mine, hands tangled in hair. I can’t move because he’s comfortable there.” But there’s something creepy about that level of acceptance, about revoking your own needs in favor of appealing to someone else’s. Reynolds makes falling deep into a romantic k-hole sound almost sinister, and she initiates “Indigo” by directly addressing the balance of power between the bedsheets: “I can’t stop thinking about how nice it would be to be bothered by your breath, reclaiming mine.” But that prelude doesn’t detract from the evocative rendering that follows, the stakes raised to towering heights when Jake Ewald’s (of Modern Baseball) spare, mechanistic drumming sets in. Maybe this is a song about giving yourself over to someone, but I doubt that. “Indigo” is about watching your individuality, your sense of self, start to blend in with someone else’s; about trying your absolute hardest to trust that everything won’t fall apart the second they get out of bed. –Gabriela