We’re gearing up for Halloweekend here at the office, and though we all opted to be minions last year, we’re in plainclothes today lest we get too spooked on the job! Speaking of spooky, Kelly Conaboy ranked 15 Halloween songs by spookiness for us earlier this week. On top of that seasonal #content, we published an extensive oral history of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and looked back on three important albums on their anniversaries: Back To Black, Being There, and Ironman. We hope you have a very scary weekend! The fun kind of scary, not the dangerous kind. Check out the best songs of the week below.
It makes total sense that Joanna Newsom would share a B-side for Divers, an album obsessed with the linear progression of time, exactly one year after its release. Since Divers first arrived, our Earth has rotated around the sun once and we’ve all come one step closer to our own inevitable dooms, a fact that Newsom is all too happy to remind us of on the elegiac “Make Hay.” The song functions as a prelude of sorts to album closer “Time, As A Symptom,” ruminating on the death of a friend over an airy shimmer of piano, celeste, and Wurlitzer. “And how was I to know/ Seeing my seconds pass in a line/ If there was a way to reckon love/ Except as a symptom of time?” she asks here, later correcting herself, “It pains me to say, I was wrong/ Love is not a symptom of time/ Time is just a symptom of love.” We are all “gored, and abased/ And adored, and erased/ All before our time,” and all we can do is make hay while the sun shines. –Peter
Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy has a voice that sounds like sleeping in. Kevin Morby, who is quoted in the press release of Hand Habits’ forthcoming album, Wildly Idle, describes it as being akin to “warm water.” Either way you spin it, Duffy’s music comforts like she’s singing some familiar old lullabies. Which is why it’s kind of funny when you stop and really listen to the lyrics on Hand Habits’ “All The While.” “Bring me to the deepest pit,” Duffy sings. “You can push me right off the edge.” This song navigates some of the murkier waters of a friendship or relationship, the ones that you don’t necessarily realize you’re steeped in until you’re drowning. Still, Duffy relates these subtle complexities in such a cool and collected way that they sound like daily dilemmas. “All the while the rain will fall, and I still feel the same/ And all the while the wind will blow, but I don’t hear your name,” she sings with resignation. –Gabriela
There’s a pleasant familiarity about Hazel English’s music. It hearkens to the buzz bands of late last decade, when chillwave and the lo-fi resurgence tugged indie rock in a blissed-out direction and each new Beach Fossils and Best Coast track sent listeners spinning deeper into reverie. But “Make It Better” does not sound like a memory of a memory; it’s too present and pristine to be a daydream. English seems to realize that her songwriting is substantial enough that too much aesthetic affectation would obscure its power, so the glycerine texture is applied with the utmost subtlety. The result is a pleasing middle ground between sparkle and obfuscation, suggesting that she may be better at managing conflicting impulses than her lyrics here suggest. –Chris
Run The Jewels 3 needs to come pre-election so we can make it through to 11/9. No one is ever spared the wrath of the psyche of Jaime and Mikey, and it’s no different on “Talk To Me.” Donald Trump, Hitler, other anti-Semites, “All Lives Matter-ass white folks,” a wrist-flicking government, allies, and rivals alike can all get some venom. Some philosophers believe there must be chaos for revolution, and what better calamity is there musically than monstrous, punishing El-P beats with hay-maker rhymes from a man that gives zero fucks about either candidate in the race. RTJ is not the magic bullet for our country’s problems, but if anyone’s got the artillery to address them and distract from them at the same time, it’s the jewel runners. –Collin
It shouldn’t all fit together. It should sound like an absolute mess. The bass and drums are loud and muffled and overdriven, and they sound like they should be anchoring some murderously scuzzy noise-punk song. They practically sound like Unsane. But the synths and guitars sparkle together like prime New Order. And Allison Crutchfield’s voice, one of the great feelings-transmitters in the indie rock universe, sound faraway, like she’s singing into a mic with a couple of socks taped over it. And yet it all works together beautifully, for reasons that are not immediately apparent. We’ve heard Crutchfield’s voice in so many different contexts — in P.S. Eliot, in Swearin’, in the touring version of her sister’s band Waxahatchee. But here, it jumps out to the front, pulling this whole thing together and conversationally dishing out some truly vivid lines: “Think of you as a roach at my feet / I am just as scared of you as you are of me.” And in this context, with everything working just right, she suddenly sounds like an alternate-universe pop star. In a couple of months, we’re going to get a whole album of songs like this. Start getting excited right now. –Tom