The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

Staging a summer festival in NYC is always a gamble, and this is a pretty bad year for Governors Ball to come up snake eyes. But this has been a pretty bad year for Governors Ball! First, their territory got invaded by a corporate giant, so they were forced to sell their whole shop to another corporate giant. That’s pretty bad, right? Gets worse! Last week, a gun went off in a club run by Gov Ball’s new corporate-giant overlords; one person got killed and three more were injured. That’s not just pretty bad; that is fucking horrible. But it was pretty bad, too, because that fucking horrible tragedy resulted in the Gov Ball-owning corporate giant cancelling a whole bunch of “Governors Ball After Dark” shows that had been booked at the club in question. (Just the rap shows, of course. The rock shows got relocated or rescheduled.) Prettay, prettay bad. But they didn’t cancel Gov Ball! (Or…Train Plays Led Zeppelin.) THAT show must go on! Except…well, the fest kicks off today, and NYC is a gross, rainy mess today. And that’s nothing compared to what we’re looking at on Sunday. What ya got, Accuweather?

In the afternoon and evening, the strongest thunderstorms threaten to unleash damaging winds. Though clear conditions are likely for many performances including Mac Miller and Misterwives, Sunday’s performances such as Galantis and Kanye West could be threatened by storms.

OK, now that right there? That’s pretty bad. Clear conditions for Misterwives, but NO KANYE? That’s why staging a summer festival in NYC is a gamble. But, y’know, who knows. It’s only Friday. And NYC weather guys have been known to make some real bad bets, too. So here’s hoping it’s a clear-skied 72 and we’re all hanging out on a dry patch of Randall’s Island when they hit the switch on that gigantic light rig. And if not…well, at least the man popped up today (maybe G.O.O.D. Fridays are back?) with the promise of an autumn tour and a Winter mixtape and a new song. That one wasn’t eligible for this week’s 5 Best — you’re late again, Mr. West — but these five go hard just the same.

5. And The Kids – “Picture”

On their new album Friends Share Lovers, And The Kids deftly weave together the personal and the political, and interrogate what happens when the two of them mix. Nowhere is that marriage more jarring or compelling than on “Picture,” a song that places police corruption against musings over ownership and authority, and comes up with only more questions than answers. The track is propulsive and chaotic, lurching to-and-fro: “Who needs answers when your best friend’s a cop?” Hannah Mohan sneers. “Who needs answers when your best friend’s the fuzz?” “How did we get here?” the whole group sings later on, pinging off each other and their interlocking melodies in a raucous fashion that matches the confusion of the question itself. There are no easy answers, though, and “Picture” ends just like it began: a complicated knot of intangibles. –James

4. The Avalanches – “Frankie Sinatra” (Feat. Danny Brown & MF Doom)

The fact that “Frankie Sinatra” even exists is a marvel. It still doesn’t feel real. After 16 years of false starts and dwindling hopes, it really seemed like the Avalanches would be one of those groups that put out one perfect album and then fell off the face of the planet. There’s definitely something seductive in that narrative, all the doomed romanticism of dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse. But on the other hand, fuck that, because holy shit there’s a new Avalanches song and it’s great. “Frankie Sinatra” is more “Frontier Psychiatrist” silliness than “Since I Left You” transcendence, but when the silliness is this goddamn fun, that’s not an issue. The drunkenly lurching tuba beat sounds vaguely like Gorillaz doing Tom Waits, and both honest-to-god, not-sampled guest rappers — a new look for the Avalanches — fuse their oddball personas to the demented carnival nicely. Let me put things this way: If you haven’t cracked a single smile by the time the Sound Of Music sample pops up, seemingly just for the hell of it, you should probably get your facial muscles checked out. I’ll be over here grinning. –Peter

3. Jay Som – “I Think You’re Alright”

Sometimes you fall in love with people who make life seem more dangerous, exciting, volatile, and sometimes you fall in love with people who fit into your preexisting routines, who feel comfortable. Jay Som’s single “I Think You’re Alright” narrates the latter. It’s a laundry list of things you do when you’ve been with someone for long enough that they start to look like a person-shaped body pillow in your bed, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot of comfort to be found in the predictable; knowing that when you wake up in the morning the person you fell asleep with will still be laying next to you, that they will hang around long enough for you to make them a cup of coffee then “lay about and let the day pass.” This list is underscored by a steady, measured drum beat that guides Jay Som through each syllable with the same consistency one should expect from a partner. Theirs is a quiet love affair, and “I Think You’re Alright” is an appraisal of the little things we do to show someone we care about them. –Gabriela

2. Angel Olsen – “Intern”

Even singing over quiet acoustic music, Angel Olsen can be a force-of-nature singer. Her voice radiates boldness, intensity, pride. So what’s striking about “Intern” isn’t necessarily all the twinkling synths. We’ve heard Olsen move from hushed folk to full-band indie rock before; those keyboards aren’t that much of a leap. Instead, what’s striking is the way Olsen is willing her voice to blur into the track, the way Julee Cruise once did on “Into The Night.” We still don’t know if we’ve heard all of “Intern”; the song’s video, labeled a trailer, seems to cut off midway through. Nevertheless, it’s a total image overhaul, Olsen twisting around her persona in a brand-new sparkly tinsel wig. “I just wanna be alive, make something real,” she sings, before sending her voice off into a strange new Annie Lennox upper register. Real is a relative thing, but she has made something here, and it’s exciting that we might soon get to hear more of it. –Tom

1. Pusha T – “Drug Dealers Anonymous” (Feat. Jay Z)

Every time I hear a Pusha T song I think of Money Making Mitch’s sincere soliloquy in Paid In Full. Mitch was a drug dealer in the midst of an existential crisis. His man Ace took a bullet to the dome and was thinking about the drug game differently while planning an exit strategy. It had Mitch in his feelings and questioning his pharmaceutical path. In response to a comment from Ace about there being no reciprocated love in the game, Mitch says: “A nigga like me, man, I love the game. I love the hustle, man. I be feeling like one of them ball-playing niggas, you know? Like Bird or Magic or something. Yea, you know a nigga got dough. A nigga could leave the league. But if I leave, the fans still gon’ love me, man?”

If Push is actually still moving dope and not just leading us to believe he is, he’s stupid. But if he ever stopped having so much fun rapping inventively about it, we would never love him the same. You’d think after so many years the coke talk would get old, but it seemingly never will. That’s all “Drug Dealers Anonymous” is about. It’s simply Push word-playing in the snow as usual. Him in his (chemical) element over a woozy beat, and his wherewithal to get Jay Z in “a dark place” to resurrect a rare, vintage, “nosetalgic” Hov makes the song itself addictive. Never change, King Push. Never change. –Collin