Another day done, another week over. We’ve been bumping Bhad Bhabie’s “Hi Bich” at Stereogum HQ and no offense but… it’s kinda good? Not good enough to dethrone reigning Queen Cardi B (congrats!) but still… we may have underestimated Danielle Bregoli. Cash me ousside indeed! In any case, Bhad Bhabie is a controversial figure and we thought it best to leave her off of this week’s list. Who knows what the future will hold. Check out the tracks that made it below.
Oh boy. David Brooks. This morning, the conservative, performatively clueless New York Times columnist seized on Chance The Rapper’s Colbert performance from earlier this week, building a whole piece out of of what he saw. Brooks loves Chance, it turns out, which should be the kiss of death. Brooks spends the back half of his column drawing out a false binary between Chance and, of all people, Taylor Swift, hearing a humility and a humanity in Chance that’s not there in “Look What You Made Me Do.” For an artist already skirting corniness, that’s not what Chance needs. But the thing is: Brooks isn’t wrong, exactly. He’s wrong about Swift, of course. He’s wrong if he thinks that Chance isn’t building his brand every time he does something like this in public. But he does see the insight and nuance in Chance’s quiet, virtuosic interrogation of all the shitty shit that comes along with fame: “It ain’t really fun to hang out with me no more / We can’t go to River East to hang out at the beach no more.” But I do think Brooks misses something crucial: This is a pretty song, but it’s also a fundamentally angry and bleak and pessimistic one. The ending: “I’m just gonna keep rapping / And y’all just keep clapping and keep acting / Like Flint got clean water / And y’all don’t got teen daughters / Y’all just gon’ say nothing / Know that the day coming.” Let’s hope. –Tom
No band in history has ever done shrapnel-grenade hardcore quite like Converge. On their fastest, shortest, most chaotic songs, Converge make you feel as if your brain is tearing itself to shreds. There’s a violence to that music that’s mysterious and majestic and sometimes terrifying. But what’s amazing is that the Boston band gets ever better when it slows down and lets things breathe. That’s what happens on “Reptilian.” The song isn’t as slow or doomy or epic as some of theirs, like “Eve,” the masterful song that they released a few months ago. But “Reptilian” has a sense of grandeur and beauty that can, if it hits you right, take your breath away. It starts like a grim doom-metal funeral march — like something Converge’s buddies in Neurosis might conjure — and it gradually ratchets up the speed and intensity and fury until it becomes an absolute maelstrom. “Devils do not need a hell in order to exist,” Jacob Bannon howls, as if to remind us that dystopia is what’s happening now. But if you breathe deep enough when a song like this is on, you might feel just about ready to send those devils back to hell. –Tom
Somewhere along the way, Screaming Females stopped being a ragged, nasty punk band and started being an efficient delivery system for some truly righteous rock ‘n’ roll fury. Even when she reins it in, Marissa Paternoster has one of the best voices in rock — a sneering, elemental wail with vibrato licking around the edges like flames — but the real display of strength is the music, which always hits like a fist of charged-up riffage straight to the teeth. On “Black Moon,” that takes the form of a driving bassline and locked-in drums hurtling forward in a four-minute sprint to the finish. Although it never lets up, it never fully lets go either, but that coiled snake momentum is augmented by little melodic flourishes like the subtle harmonies on the thousand-ton chorus. Honestly, at this point, it’s not even a surprise anymore: Water is wet, the sky is blue, and Screamales fucking rip. –Peter
Tamara Lindeman’s already garnered acclaim for her writing style, defined by her penchant for stringing together observations of tiny details and moments and making them seem huge and full of emotional weight. Like many songs on her upcoming new album, The Weather Station, “You And I (On The Other Side Of The World)” is heavy with the feeling of time having passed, tracing the distance between memories and individuals as people pass in and out of each other’s orbits through the years. Narrating a relationship — the lyrics are suggestive enough that it could just as easily be an intense friendship as a romantic one — the song doesn’t gallop like its predecessors “Thirty” or “I Kept It All To Myself.” Instead, it calmly meanders, string arrangements bursting around it like hints of color flooding into a black and white image.
Lindeman, as she often does, tells a whole story via snapshots, the song beginning and ending with the “You” of its title entering the hallway, shy. Along the way, you get pulled along in the currents of this relationship, glimpsing different moments and places. They are remnants out of context, and yet you feel like you know the whole story by the end, with Lindeman’s reiteration of the first lyrics with the addendum “shy, and alone” the kind of denouement that lands like soft thunder. In the end, you don’t need to understand all the stray details. “You And I (On The Other Side Of The World)” is powerful because it captures the way past important relationships linger in your mind as more years accumulate: amorphous collections of images that hold way more than that single moment, coming together into a watercolor echo of the past as memories congeal. –Ryan
ABRA has always produced her own songs, but for the most part the production was never the focal point. Instead, it was just one element of the young Atlanta artist’s whole mystique — that voice, her presence, her acuity at building a tense, foreboding atmosphere out of wisps and smoke clouds. But “Novacane,” her new one-off single for Adult Swim, is something else entirely. It’s sharper and icier than anything she’s ever done, a row of crystals getting ready to drop and smash. There’s a Halloween synth line that floats throughout that feels apt for the approaching spooky season, but “Novacane”‘s chill is even deeper and more alien than that. The only human piece to latch onto is a chirping voice halfway through, ABRA’s own pitched down and dirtied. In a sense, it’s a logical progression from the gauzy-goth vibe she had going for her, but it also feels like a haunting (and welcome) surprise. As a piece of production, it’s simply pristine, and it bodes well for what ABRA has in store in the future.–James