We can all surely agree that this is the most important and exciting week of the year because, of course, THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONIES ARE TONIGHT! Not that you need to be reminded of such an occasion; you’re probably already wearing your fancy formal attire and blasting the Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits 1974-’78 in preparation. SAME. Man, it’s gonna be such a blast to watch that shit when it’s on TV in like six weeks or whatever. Anyway, while you’re imagining what Billy Corgan is saying about Cheap Trick, you should also listen to these five excellent new songs that came out this week courtesy of some artists who go to sleep every night praying they’ll one day be on that stage with Jann Wenner and Allen Grubman, and the whole world watching in awe.
Sometimes, the ups and downs of romantic entanglements put pressure on the way you go about your day-to-day, they disrupt your circadian rhythm. That’s not always a bad thing, but living the life of a normal, functional human being can be hard to navigate when you’re mired by lust. On “Emotions And Math,” Margaret Glaspy sings to someone she’s been waiting on, and calculates all of the ways the’ve come to occupy her life. “I’ve gotta get outta this tree/ Off of this limb/ I’m a woman actin’ like a kid/ A skinny mess that’s breathless from tellin’ you/ All of the things that I’m gonna do,” Glaspy sings. In a lot of ways, the lyrical content of this song reminds me of Angel Olsen’s “The Waiting.” It’s sentimental and pointed, but there’s a sinister edge to both Glaspy and Olsen’s devotion that calls co-dependency into question. Still, it’s hard not to get caught up in the romance of it all, even if it’s killing you. –Gabriela
As Animal Collective’s two lead vocalists, sole constant members, de facto frontmen, and well-known solo artists, Avey Tare and Panda Bear get the lion’s share of attention and credit. I don’t mean to undervalue Geologist and Deakin’s contributions, but from the outside looking in, it’s alway been a little more difficult to tell exactly what those contributions are. But after sitting out AnCo’s 2009 breakthrough Merriweather Post Pavilion, Deakin stepped into the spotlight a bit with a solo song on a 2011 cassette and his first lead vocal turn on Centipede Hz’ “Wide Eyed,” and now, with Sleep Cycle, he’s finally showing the world what Deakin is all about.
Consistent with his humble nature, Deakin’s years-in-the-making first solo effort arrived with little fanfare, but it’s a very good album, and “Just Am” is one of its very best songs. A return to the droning psychedelic textures of Animal Collectives past, it’s a sprawling eight-minute soundscape, an ocean that feels like it’s breathing you in. And while different synth squiggles and a lovely piano line bubble up to the surface before once again submerging, Deakin borrows the vocal melody from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” to relate an intensely sincere narrative of personal growth, leading from a crisis of self-confidence (“Dad I can’t see, I’ve lost my voice, I need direction/ Reweighed each choice so many times I’ve lost reflection”) to an acceptance of living with uncertainty and doubt (“When I let go I just am/ Conjured back to myself I just am”). Or, as he puts it in the song’s final lines: “Don’t wait for safe just fall inside/ And wisely forgetting to take/ That treasured stain you’ve always relied/ I wonder what you’ll show.” With “Just Am” and the rest of Sleep Cycle, Deakin has shown a whole lot. –Peter
As soon as I heard the opening line “Blank face, trey eight/ Kill everybody, fuck a AK” I knew Fig-side’s finest was back on some gangster shit. Q has never utterly abandoned his Hoover Crip roots, but 2014’s Oxymoron was his most exploratory work by far, and the blue hues were subdued, downplayed for more friendly singles like “Man Of The Year,” “Collard Greens,” and “Studio.” But “Groovy Tony” has Q on the get back to 2011’s Setbacks with some eerie boom bap and a hook that’s really nothing more than a continuation of the verse. It drips Crip-y with Q acknowledging a return to his pre pot-belly, bucket hats, and fashionable wide-brims era with the two-fold line “Fuck my image I need the blank face.” Q is still at his best when he spits vivid, hard, gully tales over more traditional beats, and though a whole album of that gets boring quickfast, it’s nice to know we’ll have at least one vintage Groovy Q joint on this upcoming album. I know this is five best songs, but I would be remiss not to mention the noir-esque clip is too ill and raises the song’s stock a bit — Collin
We’ve all been there, toiling over a glowing screen at an inane text from some dumb idiot boy who is definitely not worth the trouble but is all that you can think about. You can hear that frustration, that disconnect between what you know you want and what you irrationally feel in Veronique Allaer’s bruising cadence: “The reading and repeating and receiving it/ The reading, repeating, and really needing it.” Ohio punks Leggy haven’t been afraid of getting right to the point for three years now over three EPs, and on “Kick The Habit” they turn that aggression inwards: “The truth is I want to be bigger than my sadness,” Allaer punts, but knows it’s something easier said than done. “Scold myself — that’s the name of the game,” she sings on the outro. A self-perpetuating cycle of self-loathing, and seemingly no way out. Maybe “Kick The Habit” can be the escape rope. –James
Genres can and ideally should be fluid things, and a song like this is a great argument for why. Kaytranada comes from a dance-music background, and you can hear that in the textures of his track. But “Glowed Up” opens as pure sunkissed synthpop, and then there’s plenty of jazz in the way his bass hesitates for a split-second before it bubbles. Meanwhile, Anderson .Paak switches between raspy, playful, weirdly prim rapping and scratchy, insular old-school soul-singing with such preternatural ease that it’s hard to say, at any given moment, which one he’s doing, or whether it even matters. These two are clearly not worried about fitting what they’re doing into any established format. Instead, they create a vibe, a blissed-out atmosphere so tangible that you can almost reach out and grasp it. And when the song abruptly becomes a whole other song halfway through, it makes as much sense as anything else. After all, genre isn’t the only thing that’s fluid. A song like this can make you believe that anything can become something else if it feels right. –Tom