The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
The world lost one of the biggest voices in rock this week way too soon — rest easy, Chris Cornell. We published a few tributes to the late musician in wake of his death, including a list of 15 essential non-Soundgarden tracks, essays about Cornell as a chronicler of black days and Cornell as the best singer in ’90s alt-rock, and a celebration of some of his greatest moments. It’s been one hell of a week — check out the five best songs below.
Grizzly Bear took their sweet time writing the follow-up to Shields, and the songs they’ve revealed from Painted Ruins so far suggest they used that time to accent their new music with a depth of detail that feels extreme even by Grizzly Bear standards. “Mourning Sound,” for instance, is something like a synth-pop song, but it’s a dance-punk song and a chamber-pop song and a krautrock song, too. There are so many elements subtly coexisting within the mix that its sonic space feels untethered from genre entirely. This particular wave of textures and subtleties is foreign territory for Grizzly Bear, but Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen sound right at home cruising in its current, trading bars and piquing our interest about what else is to come. –Chris
The first time I saw Guerilla Toss, one of its members whipped his dick out before jumping off of the stage, hurtling through the crowd in an attempt to incite a mosh pit, or maybe a riot. It was kinda gnarly, but it was also kinda expected from a band that was well-known for throwing wild shows. Years later, G-Toss still put on a spectacle, but they’re way more professional about it now. They’ve got a projectionist along with a crew of people who negotiate the intricacies of their live sound, and their music has evolved in ways I couldn’t have anticipated way back then, too. The band’s latest, GT ULTRA, is an equally playful and carefully arranged collection of songs that will make you want to pogo dance or vomit, depending on your mood. Seasick single “The String Game” is a post-hardcore slow-burner that features vocalist Kassie Carlson at her most poetic and controlled. “I’m driving the car/ But I’m not the owner,” she intones deliberately over percussive claves. “I’m moving the car ever so slowly/ It hums the engine like science fiction/ Crossing the field in staccato.” Carlson’s voice sounds like a transmission from the subconscious and her lyrics read like automatic writing, but most importantly, “The String Game” sounds like a band that knows exactly what they’re doing. They don’t need to tear shit up onstage anymore in order to make a lasting impression. –Gabriela
Selena Gomez can’t seem to face up to the facts. She’s tense and nervous, can’t relax. But it’s not because she’s about to kill a bunch of random strangers, or even Justin Bieber. It’s because she has a really bad crush. The bassline from the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” and its little off-kilter claps form the track’s backbone, and it’s fun to think about Gomez loving the Talking Heads, which she does, and about David Byrne loving what Gomez did with his song, which he does. But it’s not as fun as the song itself. Gomez has quietly been spinning absolute pop gold for a while now. (You ever listen to “Good For You”? You ever listen to “Good For You” on weed?) But “Bad Liar” is still a huge leap, a dizzily joyous burst of frothy charm and self-conscious intensity. Just as it did 40 years ago, that Tell-Tale Heart bassline radiates sweaty anxiety. But this time, Gomez turns that sweaty anxiety into the potential for starry-eyed happiness, turning all that anticipation from something bad to something good. It’s one hell of a magic trick, and it’ll stick with you. Selena Gomez won’t let you run run run run run away. –Tom
All of the music that Sophie Allison makes as Soccer Mommy has a warm, open-hearted sweetness to it, even when she’s singing about being mired in the slow death throes of a toxic relationship. “Out Worn” is a song about being with someone who only cares about you on their own terms, about needing validation and not receiving it and hating that you even need it in the first place. “I want the feeling of being admired/ You only taught me to be out worn,” Allison sings. “This ain’t the love that I had desired/ I’m sick of living in your eyes.” But it doesn’t sound like any of that. There’s no malice in her voice, and she’s not whining. Instead, the song is a warm and twinkly indie-pop gem, all jangly guitar and faraway heavenly synths propelled along by a driving rhythmic current. It’s a perfect, bittersweet encapsulation of falling out of love, and somehow, it still manages to sound like falling in love. –Peter
The best Broken Social Scene songs tend to be the ones that shine a spotlight on the women in the collective. You can speculate for yourself as to why that is, but the fact that “Hug Of Thunder” was helmed by Leslie Feist should give you a good indication of its quality. But the beauty in how the group is structured is the way that improvisation and spontaneity are valued, allowing one person’s kernel of an idea to blossom into something made stronger by the whole. “Hug Of Thunder” started off as a leftover from Feist’s Pleasure, and you can hear how it developed from the bare-bones aesthetic of that album. The way it builds and billows towards the end is pure Broken Social Scene bliss, and it comes across so naturally because of the intuition and trust that the members have built over the years. “Hug Of Thunder” is a high water mark in the band’s maturation and, while it’s skeletal compared to the anthemic lead single “Halfway Home,” it’s stronger for its minimalism. Feist’s lyrical preoccupations are similar to what she explored on Pleasure: the acceptance of the inevitability of disappointment, the intertwining of past and present. The line I keep coming back to is this one: “Certain times in our lives come to take up more space than others.” It feels like an appropriate sentiment for a collective that never feels truly gone as long as the other people in it keep fanning the flames. Broken Social Scene has certainly come to mean a great deal to everyone involved, and the title track of their new album appropriately signifies some of that tremendous importance. –James