The Song Of The Summer poll is up! Please go rock the vote and check out the five best songs of the week below.
Guerilla Toss have been working at a steady clip, knocking out an album a year. Stylistically, they haven’t stopped moving along the way, smoothing out some of the more abrasive, experimental aspects of their earlier iteration and moving towards something resembling pop. This is, of course, still a deeply weird interpretation of pop. On “Meteorological,” the first single from their newly announced Twisted Crystal, Kassie Carlson adopts an affected no wave sing-speak-bark cadence over funk bass gurgles, strategically placed airstrike guitars, and oscillating synths that sound like the exploding colors in a “galaxy brain” meme.
On paper, it sounds like a mess. That’s a lot of competing elements, and “Meteorological” is a funny word to build a chorus rallying cry around, as prone to becoming a tongue-twister as it is to let its many syllables tumble forward. And on first listen, “Meteorological” is disorienting, overflowing with vibrant ideas ping-ponging off each other. But there’s still that classic DFA-style propulsion at play here, an unrelenting current. The breakdowns and stutters of older Guerilla Toss were dizzying, but “Meteorological” works on your perception in a different way. “I want to be natural/ Meteorological,” Carlson sings; “Meteorological” itself just wants to go higher, and to take you with it. –Ryan
Ovlov make hearty indie rock, the kind of stuff you can put on any day of the week, at any time in your life, and feel comforted by. Steve Hartlett has a no-frills approach to songwriting, and his voice is caked in layers of fuzz and distortion more often than not. The melodies he writes are earworms, whether or not you really know what he’s singing about. “Baby Alligator” tries to make sense of an anxious tumult of emotions and the repeating line that sums it all up is: “Like leaning on quicksand.” There are days that are bad and there are days that are worse; Ovlov’s here to get you through them. –Gabriela
There are certain clichés that hold true: When we think about a young artist’s first output, we so often think of rawness, of emotions seething at the surface without the kind of distance or guardedness that can arise in artists who have become too familiar with their craft over many years. The music of youth, that’s supposed to be the music of conflagrations — of possibility, of early wounds, of wide-eyed wonder, of trepidation at stepping out into the world, all of it burning up around the edges of a composition, consuming or igniting.
Even though Sarah Beth Tomberlin wrote much of At Weddings in her late teens, that is not what her music sounds like. There is a wizened, eternal quality to her voice and arrangements, the sound of a person world-weary beyond her years. The first image “I’m Not Scared” conjures is not the roaring fires, the violent transitions it looks back upon. Instead, it’s the image of embers drifting to the ground at nightfall, with the same gentle inevitability of Tomberlin’s quiet piano cascades. But there’s also resolve in the phrase “I’m Not Scared,” and so the song plays like a soundtrack into the aftermath, a person attempting to sift through the ashes and make sense of what’s transpired in hopes of locating some guidance for where it’s supposed to lead next. –Ryan
After a breakup, you’re forced to go through the awkward act of tallying up what is theirs and what is yours. Books and T-shirts and that blender you sort of bought together but you think you should get to keep … It’s a process! In Katie Crutchfield’s case, among this detritus are songs. She formed Great Thunder with Keith Spencer, who she was dating at the time and whose breakup inspired much of her last album, Out In The Storm. Throughout the two releases that Great Thunder put out, there were songs that Crutchfield felt could have new life under her own Waxahatchee name.
That act of reclamation is powerful in and of itself, and it adds some extra poignancy to a song like “Chapel Of Pines.” That pained refrain of “Will you go?” has been answered already, at least for the situation it was written during, but it’s an eternal sort of question — a haunting, nagging pull at the margins of any relationship. There’s a lot of stillness in “Chapel Of Pines,” a kind of perpetual waiting for the other shoe to drop that Crutchfield renders in silent reflection. Compared to past iterations of this song, this one feels unhurried, less rushing to the inevitable end and more basking in the passing of time, no matter where it goes. That sort of finesse comes only with age and perspective. –James
“Luchini AKA This Is It” is a late-90s hip-hop classic, and a whole lot of that classic status rests on its beat from then up-and-coming producer Ski Beatz. That beat, sampled from Dynasty’s 1980 cut “Adventures In The Land Of Music,” sounds like pure money — like champagne pouring into a glass — and Camp Lo used it to rap about all the signifiers of luxury and wealth.
The perpetually grinning Virginia R&B singer DRAM pays homage to that beat with the horns-and-piano vamp on “WWYD?,” but he flips it into something a little more contemplative. “You get a check in the mail to you for $100,000 what you finna do with it?” That’s the question that Big Baby DRAM posed to his followers on Twitter several months ago, and it’s the same question that he poses on “WWYD?” Would you save it? Blow it chains and watches? Use it to support your family?
DRAM, of course, has $100,000 to spare; the song is less a thought experiment than a meditation on the hangers-on that come with good fortune and, yes, a flex. But delivered by DRAM and his melodic howl, it’s a charming flex, less Jay-Z rapping about paintings and more disbelief at his own level of success: “Straight outta no cash, then boom, oh my/ Sunshine my forecast, brighten my sky.” May DRAM continue to brighten our sky for years to come. –Peter