The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
Are you ready for some … Republican National Convention?! Yeah, that shit is gonna be bananas. But you should try to get outside a little bit this weekend, too! If you’re at Pitchfork Fest, make sure to say hi to Stereogum’s own Tom Breihan and Chris DeVille, both of whom will be real close to the stage when Carly Rae Jepsen plays. (Tom’s the tall guy. Can’t miss him.) If you’re anywhere else, watch out for hordes of people wandering aimlessly while playing Pokémon Go. (Are people still playing Pokémon Go? Is that still a thing?) If you’re playing Pokémon Go, more power to ya. And if you need some music, here are the 5 Best Songs Of The Week.
Philadelphia’s Beach Slang seem to exist in a state of constant tumult: A breakdown and apparent breakup on-stage was soon followed by calming assurances to the contrary … and that was soon followed by the departure of a band member. As far as I’m concerned it would be a true goddamn shame if Beach Slang were to call it quits right now, because they’re making some really incredible rock music, and it would suck to lose that. But the intra-band chaos is oddly consistent with the lineage into which Beach Slang have inserted themselves. This is exactly how the Replacements behaved at their own artistic peak (it’s no accident that the Mats’ 1985 live album was titled The Shit Hits The Fans). And yeah, you can hear plenty of Westerberg in “Punks In A Disco Bar,” but you’re missing out if you think Beach Slang are just replicating the Replacements. There’s a whole history of anthemic guitar-rock written into this thing — the hoarse ferocity brings back ’90s SF proto-emo greats Jawbreaker and J Church; the break just after the half-minute mark is pure Def Leppard. The song’s title sounds like a scene from Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, and the song itself sounds like the music you’d hear while the whole place went nuts. –Michael
Honestly, AlunaGeorge’s latest songs haven’t stuck with me like I’ve wanted them to. Many of their recent offerings are huge, bursting anthems like their last album, and though they are exciting upon first listen, they tend to fizzle in terms of staying power. “Mean What I Mean” is the first song that I think has a chance at getting some rotation after the increasingly brief window of attention albums get nowadays. It’s a scathing piece of feminism thanks to cutting verses from Dreezy and Leikeli47 about warding off touchy-feely men and independent paper stacks, and AlunaGeorge’s knack for raising the stakes on anthems only makes it that much more potent. Sadly, this song’s longevity comes from the fact that it’s still socially relevant, and probably will be for a very long time. I don’t understand why some men think it’s OK to dry hump strange women in the club without so much as a hello, or grab them, or suck their teeth at them like rats on the street. But the song does a great job of not being too heavy-handed while still making the point very clear and keeping you moving from start to finish. It should make for some interesting interactions on the dance floor. –Collin
Every Katie Dey song sounds like it was recorded in a beehive. Her compositions are tinny, buzzing thresholds of noise, and her voice is pitchy and altered in such an unfamiliar way that initially, it stings. Dey’s music is risky, but there’s so much life in it that you’d have to be a real hater not to indulge her. When you do, it’s impossible to not hear the sweetness in her discordant melodies. “Only To Trip And Fall Down Again” begins with the sound of heavy dew drops, a hand clap, and then Dey’s voice comes in. “Don’t be falling off/ It’s just your thoughts again, messing up,” she sings. “The devil won’t stay in your throat for long, if you want.” Dey’s lyrics on this song are so good. She stares down the devil and god, uses massive biblical allusions to describe a sense of impeding insanity. It’s a lot to untangle, but once you do, this song and the rest of her forthcoming album Flood Network sounds like straight-up pop music. It’s pop music for introverts, maybe, but pop music all the same. –Gabriela
Jenn Wasner has demonstrated an impressive range in the years since Wye Oak moved away from languid, crisp folk and into more sonically adventurous waters. As far as side projects go, her track record is two-for-two: the sparkling pop of Dungeonesse was a delight, and the more atmospheric rock of her solo project Flock Of Dimes is equally winning. She describes “Semaphore,” the lead single to the project’s debut full-length, as being about “communication over great distances — both literal, physical distance and the infinite space that exists between even the closest of people,” and it grows and blossoms to encompass all of that distance. Wasner makes desire sound like the empty chore that it is, building to glitzy quiet-loud dynamics that ring as hollow as they make Wasner feel. “Today, the only thing I can do is wait for you,” she sings, feeling too far away to do much of anything. –James
I had a lot of trouble choosing which song on Jamila Woods’ HEAVN to write about, partly because they’re all so good and partly because they’re hard to separate from each other. The album manages to be expansive and laser-focused at the same time, a genre-spanning but cohesive exploration of what it means to grow up as a black girl in Chicago, anger and pride and love and a million other things all wrapped up together. Over the course of its 13 tracks, Woods interpolates various songs from her childhood — Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait,” the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” — and on “VRY BLK,” she flips the rhyming games of “Miss Susie” and “Mary Mack” into a condemnation of racist police brutality and a defiant self-affirmation: “I’m very black, black black/ Can’t send me back, back, back/ You take my brother, brother, brother/ I fight back, back.” The elliptical verse from fellow Chicagoan Noname hammers home the deeply fucked up state of our current society, but Woods chooses to end things on a more hopeful note: an anecdote about the schoolyard chants that the song is built around, an ode to the shared experience of black girlhood. “It was literally like the best inside secret that I felt like I had ever had,” she says. “That’s one of my favorite things about blackness.” –Peter