Summer is fast-approaching and the office has been pretty much empty all day seeing as how it’s Memorial Day weekend. We’ve had some heavy consecutive news weeks, so remember to take time to hang with your family and friends before another heaping pile of bad news dumps all over us. Sending you all good vibes this weekend — dive into the best songs of the week below.
It takes about 10 seconds for “Plants” to cast its spell on you, Lila Ramani’s vocals wrapping around a jazzy guitar line that snakes its way right into your brain. “Tell me, tell me something sweet/ And I won’t stay away,” she sings, her cool voice betraying just a hint of menace. “Bake me, bake me up a treat/ And I can’t stay away.” Ramani lulls you into a soft atmosphere before the rest of the band blast you off into space, subtle finger-snaps and keys blooming into a woozy form of acid-tinged psychedelia. It’s intoxicating and seductive and sweet, and it suggests more good things on the horizon for this young band. –Peter
There’s a specific tone that a lot of the ascendant jazz-rap aficionados adopt that’s inimitable and completely intoxicating — it’s a sort of twisted fusion, one that combines warm queasy rhythms with pinched-vocals and short, diminished notes. It’s on full display on “Intentions,” the first track released from the Pollyseeds, a new group that’s helmed by Terrace Martin — one of the prime purveyors of that sound — and includes a bevy of Los Angeles collaborators including notables like Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper. “Intentions” is smooth and velvety, serving as a spotlight for Chachi (fka Problem) to spin a seductive tale, bolstered by some of the most talented musicians working today. It’s a great showcase for the modern LA jazz scene’s consistency, but most importantly, it’s just a great song. –James
Amy Oelsner wrote “Lavender Night” after a cancer scare. The “mysterious lump” turned out to be a false alarm, but anyone who’s gone through the trials of CT scans and endless doctor’s visits only to discover that their own mysterious lump is a cyst, or benign, or whatever, knows that the process is… stressful, to say the least. It’s hard to look on the bright side when you’re suddenly stricken with the realization that terrible illness doesn’t discriminate, that any one of us could fall victim to it. “Lavender Night” describes how intensely hard it is to remain positive, to resist “the black hole-like vacuum of negative thought patterns” when you’re sitting in a doctor’s office wondering whether or not you might die sooner than you anticipated. But this buoyant and whimsical rock and roll song is under two minutes of optimism written with the explicit purpose of brightening your darkest days. It’s a generous tune, and a catchy one too. –Gabriela
“Well, I don’t want to have your children/ Does that make me less of a woman?” Anika Pyle definitely knows how to grab a listener’s attention, huh? The former Chumped frontwoman follows that with “I don’t believe in getting married/ It’s a social economic prison,” eventually concluding, “Love is not enough.” Pyle’s confident independence here is an intriguing progression from the youthful longing of Chumped songs like “Hot 97 Summer Jam,” on which she proclaimed, “I will wait for you all summer long.” The music sounds a bit older and wearier to match, Pyle and drummer Dan Frelly’s former vigorous youthful pop-punk easing into indie-rock adulthood before our ears. But such strikingly melodious vocals and unforgettable turns of phrase, matched with chugging power chords and Frelly’s bashed-out undercurrent, suggest Kate Ellen have kept the best parts of the Chumped equation in their pursuit of something new. –Chris
When a Latinx punk band comes out with a song called “A Wall” in 2017, you already know what they’re talking about. And “A Wall” is everything you might expect — everything you might hope for — from one of the most righteous and urgent bands working today. “You can’t pull the plug on us!,” howls singer Victoria Ruiz. “I won’t let that go!” Behind her, her bandmates bark, “Fuck it! Fuck it!” But what you might not expect is how confident and anthemic the song is, all these gorgeous little guitar melodies and galvanizing horn bursts grandly swelling in the mix. Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto producerd “A Wall,” and I love imagining him standing there in the studio, shaking his head, a loopy grin on his face. Downtown Boys have it, and he’d know better than just about anyone else. –Tom