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.
Half of Stereogum is going to Governors Ball this weekend, which means half of Stereogum is going to hear “Love It If We Made It” live for our first time. It’s a big deal. The five best songs of the week are below.
What a sad snapshot “One Down” is. Jake Ewald has written the kind of somber indie-rock ballad that only comes from lived-in experience. Such wistful, twilit music belongs in an episode of Friday Night Lights, except the lonely existence Ewald describes is distinctly post-collegiate. Against a gorgeous, slow-building swell, the Slaughter Beach, Dog singer details a rudderless life from which substance abuse and nostalgia seem to be the only escapes. It’s a devastatingly beautiful portrait of going through the motions as youth recedes into the distance, grasping for something that resembles contentment but increasingly resigned to never finding it. Maybe you can relate? –Chris
It’s hard to navigate the folds of your brain when depressive thoughts are clogging the pathways. The first thing Mia Berrin does on Pom Pom Squad’s “Heavy Heavy” is wash her mind in the shower, trying to let her anxiety “drip down the drain.” Of course, it’s not that simple. Emptiness weighs her down and leaves little room for anything else. It consumes her. “These thoughts feel obvious because they play on repeat in my mind,” Berrin snarls as guitars tangle and close in on themselves. “And by the time they fall out of my mouth, I’ve told myself a hundred thousand times.” The song ends unresolved, fading in a cloud of reverb. –Julia
Although the title conjures up images of darkened hallways and dusty attics, “Claustro” is actually Burial at his danciest. The persistent haunted crackle in the air never lets you forget who you’re listening to, but the UK garage beat and earwormy R&B vocal sample — “I want you, I know you want me” — are perfectly calibrated to get the indoor kids moving. As the song continues, it keeps finding new layers and textures to explore, new moods to feel. And after a fakeout ending, it leads into the catchiest Eurodance hit that never existed. Every time Burial returns, it feels like a gift; songs like this are why. –Peter
At this point in 2019, the idea of political music is a dicey prospect. We’re all so exhausted by the constant, overbearing stupidity going on in this country, it doesn’t even feel that cathartic to have some great art trying to reckon with it. So when Lower Dens returned after several years away with a song called “Young Republicans,” it could’ve gone awry. But this has always been a strange, elusive band, and “Young Republicans” plays like a feint. If you didn’t know the title, Jana Hunter’s first reading of “We’re young republicans” would come as a slap in the face after a verse detailing outsiders, outcasts — which young Republicans may certainly feel like, but it would be hard to imagine Lower Dens earnestly sympathizing with that outlook. Like their best songs, “Young Republicans” surprises and twists, upending things as it goes along.
But perhaps most importantly: The biggest surprise is how much of a straight-up banger “Young Republicans” is. Lower Dens had already started to get ever so slightly poppier and more direct on Escape From Evil, but nothing they’ve done so far has had quite the sheen or hookiness of “Young Republicans.” It’s a beautiful synth-pop composition, with a chorus that’s recognizably Lower Dens while cresting further upwards than they would’ve let themselves in the past. It demands a singalong. They’ve made a disenchantment and dislocation anthem for 2019, and then they fucking named it “Young Republicans.” It’s perverse. And it sets the stage for another transfixing chapter in this band’s career. –Ryan
In 2005, Sleater-Kinney switched things up. After six albums of righteously homespun punk rock — all of them great — the band indulged some wanderlust. They struck out for a new producer, psych-rock overlord Dave Fridmann, and they made The Woods, a wild and furious monolith of noise and fury. The Woods announced itself with the squeal of feedback that opened up “The Fox” and with Corin Tucker’s already-enormous voice pushing itself into feral-wail territory. I remember listening to the first song and pausing the album, taking a silent walk around my block, just to process what was happening.
Sleater-Kinney broke up after The Woods. A decade later, they returned with No Cities To Love, a no-shit great reunion album that took their sound back to basics and brought them back together with longtime producer John Goodmanson. Now, once again, they’re switching things up, and announcing the new sound with a wail. This time, it’s a wordless, almost-gospel ululation, and it reminds me of Prince at the beginning of “7.”
That’s the first sound we hear of what Sleater-Kinney have done with new producer St. Vincent, a fascinating conversation. In some ways, “Hurry On Home” is classic Sleater-Kinney. It’s a work of sardonic feminism, with Carrie Brownstein using her glammy hiccup-gasp delivery to dig into the ways that the world treats women as mere sexualized bodies: “You know, I’m dress-downable / Uptownable / Hair-grabbable / Grand-slammable.” And later: “I’m unfuckable / Unlovable / Unlistenable / Unwatchable.” Brownstein and Tucker’s guitars snap right back into their old conversational patterns. Janet Weiss’ drums, once again, make a thunderous noise. But there’s a new synthy blockiness to the track, a tautness to their intensity. It’ll be fascinating to hear where that goes. It sure was last time. –Tom