It’s been a pretty slow news week, all things considered. The 4th Of July is upon us, and everyone’s gunning to get out of town. If you’re looking for something to read while you’re lounging poolside (lucky!) or just holed up in your apartment with the A/C blasting, we’ve got you covered. Check out Chris’ anniversary essay on his fave Radiohead album OK Computer and his piece on Calvin Harris and the golden age of the pop posse cut. Tom evaluated rap’s “well-connected old man era,” looked back on Puff Daddy’s No Way Out, and reviewed the new JAY-Z. We also ran an interview with Avey Tare on his mysterious new album. Enjoy the long weekend with some great new tunes — here are the five best we heard this week.
When you’re teetering on the precipice of adulthood you’re occasionally faced with some task that seems impossibly difficult (finding a new place to live, dumping someone, getting a job, etc.) This has happened to me many, many times, and when it does, my reaction is to blame the fact that growing up really sucks. Nandi Rose Plunkett, who records as Half Waif and plays in the band Pinegrove, released a song called “Cary” that pulls me right back into that feeling. “Cary, why’d you let me grow?/ Why’d you let me grow up?” Plunkett repeats herself over and over again, and while the levels of meaning to this song spin out in directions that I won’t even begin to parse, it’s that simple sentiment that makes “Cary” such a lovely song. Sometimes the weight of your experiences becomes a burden and the only thing that will lessen it is to time travel backward, revert to your childhood self. Obviously, that’s an impossible thing to do, so we write songs and blog posts about the possibility instead. —Gabriela
On last year’s Lamentations EP, Moses Sumney made good on the promise of his long string of one-offs by demonstrating how he could take his undeniably beautiful voice and morph it to any texture, using it to solidify tracks that would otherwise dissipate due to their minimalism. That’s also the case with “Doomed,” the first single from his forthcoming debut full-length. The track is little more than a tense strand of synth, but Sumney fills the empty space with heartrending and majestic vocal runs that hammer home his deep despondency and isolation. “Am I vital if my heart is idle? Am I doomed?” he wonders. “Cradle me so I can see if I’m doomed.” He’s asking for a connection from someone that might not be there, and the only reply is an echo of himself. –James
You see a song called “Sex Object” and you expect one thing. You expect to hear, maybe, a song that rips apart the way society reduces women to individual body parts. But this queer punk rock duo from Ontario isn’t coming with anything that heavy, at least not on this song. Instead, this “Sex Object” is about digging around through your roommate’s stuff, finding something private that you really shouldn’t know about, and then living with the awkwardness of it. It’s a fun idea for that song, and they’ve taken that fun idea and outfitted it with grand, gratifying ’90s fuzz-rock riffage and close-harmony vocal hooks and one absolutely triumphant guitar solo. It’s a giddy headrush of a song, one that will lift you up rather then piss you off. –Tom
Deerhoof have been making weird, special music for so long that it’s easy to forget just how how weird and special they are. For 20 years now, they’ve managed to sound like a million different bands — swaggering rockers, precious poppers, avant-garde goofs, often all within the space of the same song — while still sounding like no one but themselves. Thankfully, all it takes is one listen to remember, and it doesn’t hurt that their new single “I Will Spite Survive” is one of the most immediately accessible songs in their catalog. Deerhoof premiered the track on Democracy Now! along with a message about how, “In this world of tyrants and CEOs seemingly hellbent on achieving the termination of our species, perhaps the most rebellious thing we could do is not die.” But Deerhoof aren’t really a political band, and “I Will Spite Survive” isn’t really a political song. Instead, it’s a Deerhoof song, which means it’s a restless, disjointed epic full of crunchy power-pop riffs subverted by Satomi Matsuzaki’s sing-song vocals, this time with harmonies from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner providing some extra gravitas. Like Gloria Gaynor, Deerhoof will survive, and they’ll keep on making weird, special music. We can only hope it’ll keep being this good. –Peter
With last year’s Kiid, Mal Devisa (aka Deja Carr) established herself as one of the most exciting musicians working at the edge of genre. The album mostly comprised tender, minimal ballads, but there were also two ferocious rap songs on which Carr absolutely went off. “You Are My Sunshine” finds the middle ground between those poles: It’s a rap song but an exceedingly chill one, a laid-back soul sample looped to infinity and graced with Carr’s casually authoritative flows. On the hook and elsewhere she pays tribute to her mother, who helped her through a medical crisis last year, but there’s also a good deal of celebratory shit-talk such as: “Black intellectual/ My property is properly packaged and sold to mouth-breathers/ Mal Devisa/ Step this way, you are a true believer.” It’s basically four minutes of non-stop good vibes, Carr capturing the essence of Noname, D.R.A.M., and Lauryn Hill but ultimately sounding so self-assured you’d never mistake her for anyone else. –Chris