The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
Have you seen the new LCD Soundsystem album art? Did you hear that Martin Shkreli has finally been convicted? Have you listened to Chris DeVille on The New York Times Popcast? Have you read our interview with Peter Buck? If the answer to any of these things is “no,” then congratulations! You now have something to ponder this weekend while you listen to the five best songs of the week.
On stage, Weaves are a flurry of limbs enacting a torrent of ideas in real time; “weaves” is a good word for what this band does. Last year’s debut album bottled up Weaves’ giddy chaos into tightly wound indie rock oddities. And “#53,” which kicks off their new album Wide Open, blasts that pent-up electricity all the way to some imaginary cheap seats. Jasmyn Burke’s stated touchpoint here is Bruce Springsteen, and “#53″ indeed bears traces of the same grandeur that made “Born To Run” soar. But as Burke wrote in conjunction with the song’s release, “in a lot of ways my experience of the world couldn’t be less like Bruce Springsteen’s,” so in place of highway motorcycle fantasies we get a statement of defiant independence: “I am a woman who feels the plight of these walls/ So don’t tell me what you wanna hear/ I don’t wanna hear it!” Wide Open is a good phrase for how it feels. –Chris
Most of the many, many members of BROCKHAMPTON — the sprawling music/art/other stuff collective founded by 20-year-old rapper Kevin Abstract — come from Texas, but they all got together online, on a Kanye West fan forum. You’d think that origin story would mean the group might show the same sort of strained, awkward chemistry that you tend to see in online-dating first connections. But the main thing that BROCKHAMPTON have going for them is chemistry — that bouncing, careening adrenaline-rush energy of kids doing something great together, figuring out that they can all make each other great. “Gummy” features five different rappers, and you’ve probably never heard of most of them, but they’ve got the giddy one-for-all abandon of, say, prime Pharcyde or Souls Of Mischief. None of them really says anything more notable than “awf awf awf awf, swervin’ like a donut,” but the power is in the way they all bounce off of each other, ready to take over the world. –Tom
It takes a lot of charm to pull off a goofy three-minute song about having a high school crush on a girl that plays a bunch of sports and make it land with emotional resonance, but thankfully that’s what Partner do best. The recent Band To Watch honorees take anxieties and turn them into anthems, taking a page from their queer forebears and making their outsiderness into a badge of honor. “Play The Field” feels like it would be best heard blaring out of a tinny radio while prepping to go out on a first date, and those energetic butterflies are infectious. Lines like “lacrosse my heart and hope to die” and the quick adlib of “guitar!” before breaking out into a guitar solo show that Partner are having just as much fun as they sound like they are, but it’s the more intimate moments that really get to me on “Play The Field,” like the anecdote sandwiched in the middle about trying to avert your curious stare in the gym class locker room for fear of being bullied. That’s the sort of story that any queer kid can relate to, and the way they address those awkward adolescent moments are what make Partner so great. –James
Circuit Des Yeux’s Haley Fohr introduces her new single “Paper Bag” with a Joan Didion quote. “It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag,” Didion wrote in her essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It’s an absurd recommendation to open an oddball experimental song that defies genre limitations. Fohr sings in a deep voice that almost sounds like the narrator in a haunted house, and it climbs to a falsetto that mimics an especially dramatic musical theater kid. Range and ambition make “Paper Bag” worth listening to. –Gabriela
On 2013’s Cut 4 Me and 2015’s Hallucinogen, Kelela fused shadowy architectural dance music and ’90s R&B into dark, futuristic robo-soul, finding the gooey emotional center at the heart of all those shiny surfaces. But on “LMK,” she’s not really fusing anything. This is just Kelela being Kelela, sounding as in control of her own sound as she is of her string of casual hookups: “Let me know/ It ain’t that deep, by the way/ No one’s tryna settle down/ All you gotta do is let me know.” It’s still plenty weird, with her old Fade To Mind buddy Jam City providing a throbbing underwater bassline and flecks of glimmering synth, but it’s also the catchiest and most approachable thing she’s ever done, letting the minimal production accentuate the sleek sensuality of her startling direct voice. And what a voice it is. –Peter