The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
The Stereogum staff has had an eventful week. Some of us witnessed LCD Soundsystem’s reunion, others found Rih-Ligion at the ANTI World Tour, and we were all floored by Beyoncé’s Ivy Park video launch. April Fools’ Day is almost over, which is fortunate, because the five best songs of the week are no joke. Check ‘em out.
The songs on Mourn’s 2015 debut were runaway trains, unkempt documents of teenage emotion building up inside and spilling over into adrenaline rush rock ‘n’ roll. What we’ve heard so far from Ha, Ha, He finds the Barcelona youths cleaned up and in control — no less powerful, just clear as day and agile enough to pivot. Case in point: “Storyteller” is Television by way of Helium that skirts the edges of Unwound along the way. Spindly interlocking guitars and a shifting rhythmic landscape serve as musical side-eye towards the tale-spinner in question — the one who “just wants to have fun” — until finally that former fury erupts again, harsher and more potent than ever. –Chris
Told Slant are part of The Epoch, the Brooklyn-based collective that also includes projects like Eskimeaux and Florist. That means that, despite Emily Dickinson’s advice to “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant,” they specialize in intensely personal directness, using their songs as X-Acto knives to etch specific emotions into the hearts of their listeners. In “Low Hymnal,” that emotion starts out as despair: “When the dirge is done/ And my body is still my body, will not be a legible one/ Why don’t you comfort me?” Felix Walworth laments over a mournfully spindly guitar figure, their voice sounding drained and defeated. Then the plaintive desperation of “Why don’t you comfort me?” melts into a tide of crashing martial drums, drawing the battle lines of self-definition as the despair turns to anger — “I want to shriek at a pitch so dissonant all the rafters will fall” — and eventually a mantra-like triumph of sheer will: “You can battering ram this life/ Felix, you can battering ram this life/ You can battering ram this life/ Did you know that you can battering ram this life?” “Low Hymnal” is a comforting psalm for anyone brought low, a testament to the strength that can be found in weakness. Also? It’s just a beautiful song. –Peter
I don’t know exactly what the Paul Institute is — label, duo, collective, clique, what have you — but the Brothers Paul have a habit of not disappointing. So I didn’t think twice about entering my phone number in an ominous rectangle on the Institute’s enigmatic website. They bestowed on me the name Brute Bunker and told me to wait for further communication. That is exactly what I shall do with bated breath if that means more of the groovy, infectious, cosmic, retro-futuristic Prince-core of “Landcruisin'” will come directly to my phone. You have no clue what’s going to come about with the crazy sci-fi synths and zooming racing sounds, but once the song launches, it’s irresistible. The minimal magnificence of synths, drums, and a magnetic electric guitar riff combine for a subtle sexiness, and just as you think it may get boring, A.K. throws in some beautifully controlled chaos to close things out. So yeah, call me young Brute Bunker, and catch me checking my phone more than usual. –Collin
“They say I split my pride in two/ When I became a bride for you/ But what do they know?” That’s Mish Way, in full megaton-snarl mode, on White Lung’s freewheeling sprint. That feeling — that sense that it’s you and your one and only, standing against a world that’s trying to tear you apart — is one of the most urgent, fearsome feelings there is. It goes beyond love-song banalities. It’s really as much to do with anger and defiance as with love. Way growls it through gritted teeth, right before a lyric about giving birth in a trailer. And the while the gleaming production is miles away from the band’s trash-can hardcore roots, they’ve managed to make something tight and clean and catchy without sacrificing that feeling of all-out abandon. White Lung are still one of our finest punk bands; it’s just that the work “punk” might mean different things to them now. –Tom
“If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” sounds like it could’ve been included on Brand New’s debut album Your Favorite Weapon. Half the songs on that thing are hook-heavy, rage-fueled pursuits of vengeance, and no one knows how to nail someone with a death-wish quite like Jesse Lacey. PUP come pretty close to leveling him, though. This is a song about hating someone so much that you wish they were dead, and it’s pretty easy to hear echoes of the breakdown in “Seventy Times 7″ when Stefan Babcock wails: “I don’t wish you were dead, I wish you’d never been born at all.” Both songs are about really, really, really hating a band; in the case of Brand New, that band is Taking Back Sunday. In the case of PUP, that band is their own. This song is purposefully melodramatic, an overblown bit of comedic songwriting that is a total banger despite its lyrical content. Consider it an ode to the frienemies among us. –Gabriela