The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

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.

Here are the five best songs of the week. All of these musicians have dated Moby.

5. Just Mustard – “October”

Just Mustard’s new song is a whirring of industrial noise, a ghost in the machine that just can’t get out. It’s intoxicating and hauntingly meditative, built around an obsessively cool sound, the kind that a band would understandably want to focus in on, which is why the experimental Irish rock group devote basically all of “October” to that sound. It’s a completely overwhelming feeling, broken apart only by Katie Ball’s whispering vocals, which sound like no match for the chaos that surrounds them. –James

4. Lana Del Rey – “Doin’ Time” (Sublime Cover)

Is Lana Del Rey well-qualified to represent the LBC? Probably not! She’s from Lake Placid, which is about as far as you can get from Long Beach while still remaining in the continental United States. And her decision to cover a 23-year-old Sublime deep cut is a puzzling one, especially since she doesn’t change even the self-referential lyrics (“Bradley’s on the microphone”) or the problematic ones (“I’d like to hold her head underwater”).

And yet “Doin’ Time” is still somehow a perfect Lana Del Rey song. Even in its original Sublime incarnation, it was a torch song, silky and weightless and full of dread. Lana Del Rey, arguably the finest singer of torch songs operating today, is well-conversant in the feelings of pretty self-destruction and romantic masochism that Sublime showcased in the original. She sings the hell out of it, levitating over dubby bass-burbles and tingling plinks. And in giving the song the serious reading it deserves, she makes a compelling case for what millions of people already knew: Sublime, in all their sketchy squalor, were something special. Something sublime, even. –Tom

3. Bill Callahan – “Writing”

“It sure feels good to be writing again/ Clear water flows from my pen,” Bill Callahan sings on “Writing,” one of six new songs he released this week to promote his forthcoming album Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest, his first since 2013’s Dream River. Over a wandering guitar melody, Callahan outlines his creative process, which is both arduous and mystical. When inspiration fails to strike, he wonders: “Where have all the good songs gone?” When it does, it feels as if the music descends from the forces of nature: “Yeah, music came down from the mountain/ And she danced with all the men.” Regardless of where he finds his muse, it sure feels good to be listening to Callahan again. –Gabriela

2. Mannequin Pussy – “Who You Are”

One of the many reasons Mannequin Pussy’s Patience ranks among the year’s best albums is Marisa Dabice using her pen to slice straight to the heart. On the breakup rager “Drunk II,” it was painfully vulnerable confessions like, “And everyone says to me, ‘Missy, you’re so strong’/ But what if I don’t wanna be?” and the instant-classic drunk-dial “I still love you, you stupid fuck!” With “Who You Are” — a pop-punk power ballad with proggy inclinations that covers a lot of ground in two and a half minutes — she applies those skills to affirmation.

Beyond its subtle nod to learned behavior, there’s nothing complicated about a line like, “Oh, who taught you to hate the way you are?/ If I were you there’s not a thing I would restart/ I love who you are.” That’s what’s so great about it — Dabice dispenses with the bullshit and says what she means. But she’s still capable of being poetic when she wants to be, as we witness when the song kicks into high gear. “I felt the earth move in your eyes,” she sings, before returning to telling it straight: “I get excited by your side.” –Chris

1. Purple Mountains – “All My Happiness Is Gone”

It’s been over 10 years since we last heard from David Berman, the poet and creative force behind indie-rock greats Silver Jews. And if “All My Happiness Is Gone,” the debut single from his new project Purple Mountains, is to be believed, it’s been a rough ten years. Its music video opens with wordless pain, two minutes of guitar noodling and mournful humming, before the song’s bright strums and a bouncy Mellotron enter like a break in the clouds. But then come the words: “Friends are warmer than gold when you’re old/ And keeping them is harder than you might suppose/ Lately, I tend to make strangers wherever I go/ Some of them were once people I was happy to know.”

Silver Jews songs always had melancholy in their veins, but this might be the most nakedly sad Berman’s songwriting has ever been. “Mounting mileage on the dash/ Double darkness falling fast,” he sings in his weathered, world-weary drawl. “I keep stressing, pressing on/ Way deep down at some substratum/ Feels like something really wrong has happened/ And I confess I’m barely hanging on.” And that’s before you even get to the chorus, which pairs the sweet melody of Modern English’s “I Melt With You” with the heartbreaking lament of the title: All his happiness is gone. But after a decade, Berman’s still here, still making great music. That’s something worth being happy about.–Peter