Did you guys hear the news? Indie rock is dead. Good thing the Grammys go down this weekend, an event that rarely honors quote-unquote “indie music,” though Bon Iver did win that one time. As for this year’s winners, Chris has a few guesses on who we expect will take home trophies on Sunday. (One word: Adele.) There are lots of artists up for their first Grammy this year, and if you don’t know who they are yet, you can learn more here. We’ll be hosting a comment party all night, so be sure to check in with us if you’re watching. And you’d better be, ’cause remember: Mom is performing with Metallica. Check out the five best songs of the week below.
I would like to go to church with Lydia Ainsworth. Actually, I should rephrase that: I would like to go to a grand cathedral (preferably historic) with Lydia Ainsworth, and instead of a priest telling me what’s up on-high, I want her to stand at the altar and perform Darling Of The Afterglow in its entirety. Ainsworth’s music craves space to spread itself out in, and “Afterglow” might be one of the best examples of that. It’s as languid as it is intense, and every word Ainsworth sings has the force of a stone dropped down a well. When her syllables land, they echo and reverberate and ripple in concentric rings. Maybe this reads like music writer BS, so when you listen to this song, you’ll hear what I’m talking about when Ainsworth’s voice deepens as she intones: “To play it safe is not to play at all.” It sounds huge. (Lydia, if you’re reading this, let’s book a cathedral gig.) –Gabriela
Jeremih’s early-career magnum opus Late Nights defined his precise, smooth-behind-tinted-lenses aesthetic, one he took even further with the spacey minimalism of his follow-up mixtape, Late Nights: Europe. It’s a sound that suits him; the low-rumble of the perforated bass and sharp, hissing percussion adding a daring wooziness to his stylized sexual advances. On those albums, he’s maybe the exact antithesis of fellow Chi-Town icon and collaborator Chance The Rapper’s youth group Crayola rap. So “I Think Of You” marks a major tonal shift — from the bedroom at 2-in-the-morning to the bubblebath at 11 — yet it’s not unwarranted, given that Jeremih’s most recent full-length achievement was the sublime joint Christmas tape he cut with Chance this winter. Here he’s taken that project’s soft palettes and vibrant color scheme and injected them with groove, the kind generally reserved for less contemporary R&B maestros. His music has never moved at such a peppy tempo, or come across so sweetly sentimental. “I’ma do you dirty while you dirty dancing on my private parts” is a far cry from “When I see the sun set/ Yeah, I think of you” as far as romantic come-ons go, yet he’s always been such a fluid vocalist that his delivery on a line like the former comes across with as much graceful allure as is naturally implied by the latter. So while there’s a bit of Michael, a bit of Stevie in “I Think Of You,” Jeremih’s such a singular talent that he sells that energy not as inspired, but simply as instinct. — Pranav
Paul White produced the bulk of Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown’s album-length deep dive into the abyss of his own fucked-up psyche. On that release, White’s soundscapes were murky and messy and claustrophobic, a fittingly nightmarish soundtrack to Brown’s paranoid headspace. But on “Accelerator,” that frantic energy sounds more exhilarating than exhausting. White’s pounding drums and scuzzy psychedelia launch the track into an adrenaline-pumping, high-octane chase sequence right from the get-go, but this time, instead of trying to outrun his demons, Brown’s actually doing the chasing. It’s a good look. –Peter
“Glitter” is just one ’90s teen movie away from ubiquity. But since we’re still awaiting this generation’s Can’t Hardly Wait, we’ll have to settle for endlessly spinning this candied power-pop pulverizer on the internet instead. Whether you were raised on Chumped or Veruca Salt, you’ll have a taste for guitar-pop this hard-charging yet sticky sweet. That craving is fully satisfied here: “Am I the best? Or just the first person to say yes?” is an unforgettable hook, one that suggests Eva Grace Hendricks knows exactly what she’s doing — in terms of crafting winsome melodies and clever lyrics, yes, but also in terms of dabbling in the kind of romance that would be better to avoid. The upside of such foibles is a whole album of songs this fun, one that cannot get out into the world soon enough. –Chris
Sometimes Vince Staples gives us empathetic, layered, incisive images of what it’s like to grow up as part of a subjugated population in a racist and classist country. And sometimes he just talks some very good shit. But when he’s at his best, he somehow fuses those two approaches until they become the same thing. That’s “Bagbak.” For all the lines about floating out them peons and taking you out a Honda and putting you in a Benz, there’s another about “prison system broken, racial war commotion.” And by the time it’s over, they’ve become one and the same: “Ain’t no gentrifying us, we finna buy the whole town / And tell the 1% to suck a dick because we on now.” And he does it all over a beat that sounds like submarine engine malfunctioning at dangerously high speeds, sounding icy and precise and unflappable no matter how fast and weird the track might be. –Tom