A lot of crazy shit is happening in the world right now, but one of the craziest is definitely the revelation that Adam Driver doesn’t know what “emo” means. The dude is only 34 years old!! He was born in 1983!!! He grew up in Indiana!!!! He was in his teens and 20s during the golden era of emo!!!!! What the actual hell!!!!!! In other news: Ad-Rock Agrees That His Dad Is A Creep, Radiohead Are Skipping The Rock Hall Ceremony, We Published Jay-Z Grammy Fanfic, and A Formerly Relevant Musician Has A Bad, Out-Of-Touch Opinion. It’s about time you place your bets over who will win the glorious title of Stereogum’s #1 Album Of 2017. While you dig up some pocket change you can listen to the five best songs of the week below.
The opening salvo on U.S. Girls’ new In A Poem Unlimited, “Velvet 4 Sale” is a menacing reclamation of power, a luxurious revenge fantasy that aims to turn the tables. “Don’t offer no reason/ Instill in them the fear that comes from being prey,” Meg Remy sings in the chorus, cushioned by a brassy swirl that’s among the most gorgeous sounds she’s ever dreamt up. Remy sets a narrative that’s played out in the accompanying video, where every man is a target and complicit in the violence enacted against women: “You’ve been walking these streets unguarded waiting for any man to explode/ You spend hours in the mirror hating but you can get that power too,” she advises. The danger of violence feels like a persistent throbbing. Remy is not, of course, arguing for a literal reaction, but the threat of the fantasy is pungent. What would it feel like to have the power to instill that sort of control? To take down the patriarchal structure that encourages and breeds that kind of callous hate? “Velvet 4 Sale” exists to provide an outlet for those thoughts, and it’s a forceful showing, an encouragement to assert yourself and stand your ground. –James
The opening guitar line on “Drippy” reminds me of “Silent Night,” but this motherfucker sounds like an extremely loud night, one spent at a wild rock show making memories. Admittedly, this is total projection on my part. The actual subject matter is far bleaker: “I went down to the park/ Needles all around,” Dean Spunt sings, recalling “a feeling that’s not felt by just anyone.” But musically this song about an opioid crisis(?) evokes feelings that are plenty universal, the real-time substance of the memories James Murphy basks in throughout LCD Soundsystem’s nostalgia anthem “All My Friends.” Maybe it’s that Christmas carol association or the warm, simple chord progression or the fact that No Age’s melodious noise-punk racket triggers personal flashbacks of my own, but I can’t shake the feeling that “Drippy” should be blaring during some movie scene depicting young adulthood at its most exhilarating. Perhaps such a scene will even play out in real life at a No Age concert near you. –Chris
To diehard fans, the Hold Steady are a transcendently everyman rock band whose classic records have brilliant, novelistic lyrics. To casual fans, they’re a reliably endearing punk-inflected pub-rock band plugging along and carrying the torch. But anyone invested in the band to any extent had their reasons to lose faith in recent years, with curiously misled production decisions making both Heaven Is Whenever and Teeth Dreams seem deadened and distant compared to the hyperactive and vibrant details of their earlier work, despite the fact that there were some killer songs still hiding under that unnecessary sheen.
The good news for any Hold Steady fan is that “Entitlement Crew” — one of two songs the group released ahead of their Brooklyn residency this week — is a vigorous return to form. Raw and booze-soaked, it has those little decisions that make for great Hold Steady songs, like the dramatic uptick as the band crashes in around Craig Finn singing, “You liked that song, too/ I know that you do,” about a minute in, or the way his slurred yet percussive sing-speak-spit vocal style makes the whole thing feel immediately lived-in and conversational and profound. I mean, Finn kicks the whole thing off by singing, “Tequila takeoff/Tecate landing,” which besides being a hell of an opening couplet is the sort of intro that, as in plenty of Hold Steady songs before, immediately lets you know you’re in for some kind of ride. It’s good to have them back. –Ryan
“Arisen My Senses” is the first song on Utopia, and it’s also the biggest, brightest, most immediate song on Utopia. It’s supposed to be. “Just that kiss/ Was all there is,” Björk sings, a cascading harp blooming into rhythmic pulses of technicolor synth behind her. “Every cell in my body/ Lined up for you/ Legs a little open/ Once again/ Awaken my senses.” It’s an explosion of pure, ecstatic feeling, melting off the icy walls left by Vulnicura and lighting the flame of love that burns for the rest of the album. It’s the moment that Björk is ready to touch and be touched and feel again, and even after the moment is over, that kiss, and this song, remain. –Peter
There’s a lot of history tied up in that heavy, pounding piano on the “Affiliated” beat. There’s a couple of generations of West Coast g-rap, a finely distilled aesthetic that’s evolved without really changing since its mid-’90s heyday. The same is true of G Perico’s delivery. Perico is 29 — young enough that he was just a kid when DJ Quik’s deranged nasal honk first hit the airwaves, old enough that he’s had a couple of solid decades to let it seep in. Perico’s delivery is somehow prissy and nasty at the same time — a stylized tough-guy yammer that would’ve fit in just fine in a ’30s gangster movie. And on “Affiliated,” he talks street-talk with ease and vitality, absolutely sticking to that old-school beat. There’s nothing new about this song, but it does its old sounds so well that little things like innovation don’t really matter. –Tom