The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

It’s been a week, and still no Frank Ocean. A lot of fans gave up entirely, others have reached peak levels of ennui. Michael conducted an investigation on Reddit to show us all just how dire the situation’s become:

Who can blame these woeful disciples? Honestly… we out here waiting for Godot with them. In the meantime, listen to these other songs not made by Frank Ocean while you wait with us.

5. Isaiah Rashad – “Free Lunch”

Meal ticket ticket meal ticket ticket, uhh. Seems like a simple, catchy phrase that rolls easy enough off the tongue, right? But for kids in the public school system who get government-assisted “free lunches” or the homeless, that little piece of paper can be a physical manifestation of shame with a huge, invisible heft. Ain’t shit free. My school had cards, so your embarrassment had a laminated shine to it. I thanked my mom every day that I wasn’t one of those kids with the plastic mortification because the ruthless teasing was incessant.

Full stomachs have status, and status can seem like everything when you don’t have it. Isaiah Rashad rubs his metaphorical pot belly on “Free Lunch.” He details the myriad ways he ensures he has nothing in common with the have-nots, whether it’s slanging pills, potions, raps, clothes, whatever, as long as he’s not broke(n). He gloats about what his hustle affords him and how he shares it with a small, trusted circle of family and friends, “I come from where you can’t suck my dick and leave my cousin out/ In my hood we call it clout.” He does it so slick that you have to feel him, especially over that beat with Organized Noize-esque “Me and you, yo mama and yo cousin too” Outkast era smoothness. So yea, 9/2 can’t come soon enough. I’m hungry. –Collin

4. Against Me! – “Haunting, Haunted, Haunts”

A couple of years ago, Against Me! made an absolutely stunning, rousing album about Laura Jane Grace’s gender dysphoria, about how it feels to come out as transgender in a hostile world. That whole narrative has dominated every story about Against Me! for years now, and you can understand why. But we shouldn’t let that obscure something else about Against Me!: They are an absolutely ripshit punk rock band, one capable of cranking out anthems about just about anything. Case in point: this rocketing-forward sea shanty about heartbreak and loss. It’s a breakup song, and breakup songs exist outside questions of identity and binary. They just are, and this one, with its furious lostness and its “oh shit, what do I do now?” conclusion, stands as a powerful reminder that Against Me! are still a band. –Tom

3. Joyce Manor – “Fake I.D.”

Joyce Manor are low-key masters of deception. They’ll bait you with song titles like “Fake I.D.” and “Eighteen” and “This Song Is A Mess But So Am I,” and you’ll think it will be some silly, trivial, or whiny laments about youth and not knowing anything about the world yet. Then they come with evocative introspection and emotion disguised as nonchalance. “Fake I.D.” begins with an inconsequential but still loaded question, “What do you think about Kanye West?” Though you can probably discern all you need to about a person based on the reasons why they love or hate Kanye West (because there’s no in-between), it quickly gets deeper without you knowing it. The controlled chaos of the crashing cymbals and fuzz distract you as they slowly work you toward real sentiments wrapped in a deadpan delivery. That’s rare. It seems it’s all about the feels these days, but they’re rarely accompanied by a deft subtlety. –Collin

2. Sex Stains – “Land Of La LA”

OK, first of all let’s just acknowledge the obvious: Sex Stains is a great band name. It’s suggestive and sticky and only a little gross sounding, and I’m honestly just mad as hell that I didn’t think of it first. I want to buy this band’s T-shirt without even hearing a single note of their music, so its great that their debut single is really fucking good. Sex Stains make the kind of free-form, no-fucks-given punk that pioneered the genre, which makes a lot of sense since they’re fronted by Bratmobile’s own Allison Wolfe. “Land Of La LA” is a simple call-and-response, a loving and snarky homage to a city that inspires. It’s abrasive and totally charming all at once. –Gabriela

1. Johanna Warren – “Hungry Ghost”

Ghosts are one of the oldest and most obvious metaphors there are — our pasts come back to quite literally haunt us, our memories and regrets and traumas manifesting themselves with a frighteningly familiar face. In Chinese Buddhism and folk religion, hungry ghosts are the spirits of the greedy and the selfish reborn as ravenous creatures, cursed with mouths so tiny that they can never sate themselves. On “Hungry Ghost,” Johanna Warren transposes that concept from the purely spiritual realm to the personal, lamenting, “They say that what you give is what you get/ I gave you everything and all I got is a lot of regret,” stretching out the last syllable in “regret” like a wistful sigh. Her voice sounds as ancient and timeless as ever, but the music around it sounds more earthbound than usual, granted weight and heft by Jim Bertini’s drums and flickers of almost psychedelic guitar. “The thing is, I try to forget it but it’s here to stay,” she sings, and so is her music, its presence felt even after the last echo dies down. –Peter