Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week (the eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight). This week’s countdown is below, and you can listen to a playlist of all our 5 Best Songs on Spotify.
The week in headlines: Rivers Cuomo Donated To Andrew Yang’s Campaign, Lemonade Is Finally Coming To Apple Music And Spotify Praise Be, Bob Dylan Yells At His Fans For Taking Pics At His Show And He Also Tripped On A Monitor, Frank Ocean Is My Dad And My God, and Justin Bieber Wants Laura Ingraham Fired, Which, Same. Dive into the five best songs of the week below.
To prep for the release of their upcoming LP, Failed Entertainment, OCHC curb-stompers Fury did a quick run of dates opening for the best hardcore band of all time: the NYHC youth-crew gods Gorilla Biscuits. (We can argue about that “best of all time” designation later; please come prepared.) Those shows must have been fucking sensational. Like GB, Fury play a style of hardcore that’s spare, raw, and unvarnished, but is built of uniformly gripping performances, via which the music takes truly unexpected turns into vast melodic expanses.
Also like GB, Fury’s fiery energy is harnessed in the service of uplift and inclusion rather than empty aggression: The title “Mono No Aware” is borrowed from a Japanese concept about embracing the beauty of impermanence. This is surely descended from Zen teachings, although it is presented as purely secular truth-beauty, in much the same way GB’s central values of positivity derived from the Krishna ahimsa beliefs espoused by forebears Cro-Mags and Youth Of Today.
I wasn’t there, so I can only imagine what it felt like to witness Fury sharing a stage with Gorilla Biscuits, and what I imagine is something magical, symmetrical, and maybe even perfect. I have been waiting forever for someone to take that torch and carry it. Truly, I’d abandoned all hope ages ago; by now, it’s long gone. So this is something new. Fury are a new hope, and Fury are carrying a new torch. But it was lit with those flames. They are running with that fire. –Michael
Family Not A Group, Hit-Boy’s new surprise album with SOB X RBE, doesn’t have anything on the level of his greatest hits — classics like “Niggas In Paris,” “Backseat Freestyle,” and “Sorry.” But its nine tracks breeze by before you know it, each one a gust of fresh air through car windows on the coastline. “Family Not A Group” is kind of an outlier, a shadowy slow-creep marked by an eerie twinkling melody. This being an SOB X RBE song, it also features synth bass with more bounce than the giant trampoline in my in-laws’ backyard. With the Bay Area crew doing their infectious tag-team routine on top, it feels like sonic evidence that summer’s just around the corner. –Chris
Ausencias means absences in Spanish, and fittingly, “Ausencias” is defined by its negative space. NOIA’s Gisela Fulla-Silvestre has a degree in film scoring and sound design from Berklee, and she approaches her music with an architectural eye, layering close-up crackles, distant rumbles, and synthetic burbles into a cavernous crystalline palace. “Do I want you/ Or do I want to be you?” she asks herself, filling up the empty space in between with her expressively cascading voice. She adds more elements — a thumping beat, more synth squiggles, the dusty warmth of a horn — only to subtract them again, leaving you to feel the same aching absence she does. –Peter
The songs that Kevin Abstract has been dropping over the last couple weeks have all been radically different from one another, which just goes to show how much the Brockhampton leader is at the top of his game right now. One of his latest, “Baby Boy,” is in a completely different mode than “Big Wheels,” the song that topped this list last week, except that his earnestness bleeds through to everything that he does.
“Baby Boy” puts that softer side front and center, languishing in it, creating a love song that sounds like it’s constantly expanding because it never runs out of love to give. “At this point you’re pretty much out of my mind/ But when I close my eyes I think about you everytime,” Ryan Beatty sings in the hook, with Kevin Abstract picking up all the impossible-to-ignore threads of that love in its verses: “Something is missing now, I need to find the right way to your house/ Head lights pointed at the dawn/ Stuck in the mosh pit, lost my crowd.” –James
Even consumed a year later, in Netflix-documentary form, Beyoncé’s headlining set at Coachella 2018 remains a stunning, overwhelming, moving achievement. Through sweat and vision, Beyoncé took decades of black cultural tradition and transformed them into festival spectacle. And with “Before I Let Go,” the end-credits song from her new Netflix movie Homecoming, she’s done something similar.
Frankie Beverly and Maze’s original “Before I Let Go,” from 1981, was never a huge hit, but it’s stuck around, becoming a staple of black picnics and weddings and block parties. It’s an easy, buoyant, joyous song about a relationship that you don’t want to end. Beverly’s voice floats above the bubbly ’80s funk with effortless grace, stretching notes out, and there’s something almost defiant in its silky smoothness. The song is a part of the same tradition as those college marching bands that inspired the Coachella set, and Beyoncé uses it the same way — as a foundation to build on.
Beyoncé’s cover opens with crowd noise, and with an ecstatic crowd singing along with the opening notes as the Maze original. And then it twists. Beyoncé co-produced the song with the currently-exploding Memphis rap beatmaker Tay Keith and with Derek Dixie, her own musical director. Those ecstatic college-drumline horns and drums return, but they’re mixed up with handclaps from New Orleans bounce and hi-hats from Atlanta trap. The riff from another ’80s-funk classic, Cameo’s “Candy,” floats through. And Beyoncé fires off her bazooka of a voice all over it, stretching the word “go” out just as Beverly once did. It’s an ecstatic victory lap, one that ends with Beyoncé allowing herself a quick ad-libbed rap: “I did the damn thing.” Yes. She did. –Tom