Please wish our very own Gabriela Tully Claymore a happy birthday. She shares the date with North West, Ice Cube, Neil Patrick Harris, and Courtney Cox. If you’d like to wish them a happy birthday, you may do so as well. Donald Trump’s birthday was yesterday; hopefully he had a shitass time! Dive into the five best songs of the week below.
Muncie Girls write catchy pop-punk songs that sound like eating a ton of candy and then puking it up after. Their lyrics, on the other hand, present biting critiques as much as they try to start a conversation. “Picture Of Health” is simply about being out of sorts and looking to your friends for comfort. “I’ve been having a hard time looking after myself/ You’re not looking exactly like a picture of health/ I was thinking maybe you could look after me and I could do the same for you/ Just for a while ’til we’re back on our feet,” Lande Hekt sings on the chorus. Seeing as how so much of the discourse has focused on mental health lately, “Picture Of Health” feels especially timely without being pandering. –Gabriela
When LVL UP announced their official break-up earlier this week, it was met with sadness and admiration. They had something so special, a genuine connection and sensitivity that ran from their 2016 debut Space Brothers until their final song “Orchard.” Like many of their songs, its meaning is multifold, doubling as a love song and a goodbye tribute. Memories about “running through the halls” flow into “sweet sticky kisses.” Their tenderness has always felt universal and rare. It’s hard to let a band like LVL UP go, but “Orchard” leaves us with the wistful optimism that resonated in the first place. –Julia
Do you ever go to the beach and swim all the way out, until you can barely make out the land behind you, until there are no people around you and it’s just you staring into the vastness of the ocean? It’s probably dangerous. You probably shouldn’t do it. I do it whenever I get the chance. Out there, it’s probably the closest that most of us will get to feel to being up at space, staring down at the planet, feeling your own insignificance against the infinite backdrop of the universe. Being out there, feeling the currents pulling you around, staring into infinite nothingness, there’s a vague sense of panic. Sharks do, after all, exist, and so do waves that could push you off to who knows where. But there’s also a peace, a tranquility.
Deafheaven seem to know about that. “Canary Yellow,” their new 12-minute reverie, goes from dazed amniotic bliss to punishing, teeth-gnashing violence and back again. But these aren’t abrupt, jarring transitions. Instead, all these things exist together, part of one grand continuum. Shoegaze moves into black metal so naturally, so assuredly, that you’re never sure where one ends and the other begins. It’s a gooey, free-floating, endless masterpiece, a drift off into transcendence. Let it pull you away. –Tom
Whatever had to happen in order for this chorus to exist, I’m glad it happened. Like most of the songs on Snail Mail’s Lush, “Full Control” floats along lackadaisically at first, all lazy strums and a loose, tumbling groove. As usual, the mood is melancholy, with Lindsey Jordan ruing the end of a romance gone wrong: “Don’t even wanna fix it now/ I should know better than to wait around.” The easygoing prettiness of the backdrop can’t fully mask the disgust in her voice, but it does create the illusion of a comfortable equilibrium that could carry on forever. And then, almost out of nowhere, the first verse ends and you realize you’ve been climbing to the top of a rollercoaster all this time.
That’s when the distortion kicks in, the cymbals crash, and Jordan lets her voice ring out at maximum volume. The melody is simple, bright, and clear, designed to be howled right back at Jordan at concerts for years to come. I’d say it’s the kind of genius you can’t teach except Jordan is clearly a devoted student of the masters, so maybe you can teach it. Either way, that tune is transcendent, especially when backed by a meat-and-potatoes power-chord bombardment that inspires involuntary fist pumps on every listen.
Even better, Jordan affixes it to a declaration of independence as admirable as the music: “I’m in full control/ I’m not lost/ Even when it’s love/ Even when it’s not.” As with the song itself, which gets in and out in under three minutes, the concision in those lyrics is remarkable — the sentiment behind them even more so. But to be totally honest, I played “Full Control” dozens of times before I bothered to learn what it was about. When I listen to Lush, I often cue up this one first and then circle back to start of the tracklist, just to experience tipping over the precipice and racing downward into exhilaration as often as possible. I can’t help myself. Jordan may be the master of her domain, but her song about it is addictive to the point of compulsion. –Chris
These new Low songs. I mean, where did these even come from? Low have surprised us before, like when they released the bleak Drums And Guns in 2007. But when they unveiled Double Negative earlier this week with the opening triptych of “Quorum,” “Dancing And Blood,” and “Fly,” it was immediately clear that, this time, Low were on to something else entirely. Each of those songs was entrancing in its own way, but out of the bunch, “Dancing And Blood” proved itself the one impossible to look away from.
“Dancing And Blood” is emblematic of this new Low material. These are songs that exist almost entirely out of focus, like you’re hearing this haunting music in the distance, getting suffocated in the wind as you barrel through a subterranean tunnel. You can’t even necessarily always tell what the instrumentation is. There are foreboding throbs, corroded ambience, voices drowning in noise and, briefly, emerging for moments of piercing clarity, like when Mimi Parker finally sings the name of “Dancing And Blood” before ceding to a broken guitar figure. In a way, you witness the song come into being, only to soon be squashed out — it pulls you along as if promising answers, then just drops you into nothingness.
The accompanying video was equally transfixing. An eerily simple clip of an old man, dancing in a bar, rendered in the kind of heavy black and white that luxuriates in the darkness. The two work together perfectly, but otherwise “Dancing And Blood” barely sounds human. A dozen listens in, the song can still be confounding, a thing of harsh enigmas while also possessing this inevitable gravitational pull. It sounds alien, sinister, in the way of something you know is luring you someplace you shouldn’t go. It’s the sound of the void, tempting you with a sound equal parts beautiful and horrific, beckoning you to stare deeper, beckoning you to surrender. –Ryan