A lot of bad things happened this week. The presidential debate was a shitshow of epic proportions, Ken Bone became a meme, and Donald Trump is still opening his mouth and letting words tumble out of it. We’re fucked. We’re totally and completely fucked. The only remotely cool thing that happened this week is Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize In Literature. Congrats! As Dylan once said, “The times they are a changin’.” Too bad the times seem to be a changin’ for the worse this week. Uplift yourself with some of our new favorite songs.
“If you don’t want it, you can reset it,” Elaiza Santos chants at the end of “There Was A Door,” the towering highlight from Crying’s new album, Beyond The Fleeting Gales. The song is a reclamation of ownership — over your body, your mental state, yourself — and channels that newfound power and confidence into transcendently restorative and rejuvenating power-pop. “Just when I thought I had run into a standstill/ How, suddenly, there was a door!” the track exclaims — a proclamation that rings clear and true, and also communal and participatory thanks to a powerful second verse from and subsequent duet with Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko. “All I’ve wanted for the place I live is respect for the vessel I’m in,” they sing together, commanding respect and agency and arguing that anyone can find that open door out of the box they’ve been put in. “If you don’t want it, you can reset it.” –James
To think that Dawn Richard was flattened under Puff Daddy’s money-grubbing thumb in Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money for so long is a shame. It’s as funny as it is difficult to imagine some classic Puff banter and ad-libs all over the songs she’s released as D?WN. “Renegades,” an early foray into her upcoming third album Redemption, has her nestled in a comfortable confidence that she was very close to approaching on her previous efforts. The melodic command she has over the shifting aesthetic from dry, retro, Casio-esque 808s to full EDM mayhem wasn’t quite there before. Now she’s got it down pat and that makes almost the entire song an undeniable earworm broken up by the morphing sounds. There’s no way you won’t be either moving or mouthing to this monster when it drops at the club, and it seems D?WN has plenty more where that came from. –Collin
“JJ” is a reminder that the earliest punk bands were obsessed with the earliest rock ‘n’ roll. Priests veer hard here into groovy ’50s sock-hop sounds without losing the immediacy that marks them as one of the greatest young DIY bands of this moment. Katie Alice Greer howls her way across a landscape of buzzing surf guitar and raucous piano out of the Little Richard playbook, the rhythm section lacing her era-appropriate Archie references with claustrophobic tension. Halfway through, it’s as if the song shifts to color from black-and-white as an emotional, modern-sounding chord progression plunges reflections on a soured relationship into the harsh light of now. “You thought I was disgusting!” Greer growls before revealing, “I wrote a bunch of songs for you! But you never knew, and you never deserved them.” Here’s another one for the pile, one so good we may not deserve it either. –Chris
First things first: Calling yourself “Blobama” when you’re all tied in with the Hillary Clinton campaign, in the final weeks of a hotly contested election, is a patently insane thing to do. One day soon, these Trump surrogates are going to figure out who Pusha T is, and the already intolerable tone of this election will get even worse. But unapologetic intensity has always been a huge part of what Pusha does. And what he does on this song, spending two minutes calmly dissecting one of the most quietly weird beats Mike Will Made-It ever made, will live a whole lot longer than this election: “Rolls emblem, black Virginian/ Pull up in a neighborhood I don’t blend in.” Also: “These niggas Call Of Duty cuz their killings ain’t real/ With a questionable pen, so the feeling ain’t real.” Also: “They never seen with him, so they fuck his ghost.” Pusha has labeled this song a “freestyle,” and yet it resonates harder than so many other rappers’ real songs. –Tom
Depression is often described as a deep, impenetrable sadness; an excess of feelings so dark and tempestuous that they’re impossible to tame. A badness that permeates every day. But depression can also be described as an emptiness, a lack of emotion — good or bad — that leaves you alienated from your body and mind, a stranger to the world you once knew. It can be hard to eat, or sleep, or do anything that one must do in order to radiate some semblance of functionality, and perhaps most cripplingly, it can be near-impossible to create. Art, writing, philosophy, music — we use all of these things to give structure to the inexplicable. But it takes a curious mind to build those structures, and on “Spell,” Emily Reo grabs at that curiosity as it starts to fade.
“Time cast a spell on me, bind me to your feet,” Reo sings, her voice warped by a vocoder. “Mountainside, wildfire/ River running dry.” She describes a series of simple natural wonders — oceanside, a breeze, mountainside, the trees — as they catch fire, erode, fall to pieces before her. It’s as if Reo is staring down an apocalypse in slow-motion, and her doomed vision counteracts that tropey thing people tend to ask when they’re standing in the middle of a valley, or flying over the ocean, or looking up at the cosmos in awe. Doesn’t it make you feel so small and insignificant? Sometimes, that smallness fills us with wonder, and other times it fills us with dread. “Time cast a spell on me, burn down the trees,” Reo sings in the song’s final verse. “Make me believe, feel something.” From there, she repeats “I can’t feel anything” on and on and on, echoed by production that sounds like a gentle, mystical oblivion. It twinkles and cushions Reo’s words, but it doesn’t make them any less real or relatable. I can’t feel anything. I can’t feel anything. I can’t feel anything. Her repetition is mechanical, as if stating and restating the realization might generate a spark; some faint, guiding light to draw us out of a long, dark tunnel. –Gabriela