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.

As far as music is concerned, this week ended with a bang in the form of a guest-heavy Chance The Rapper album entering the world. But, there were a lot of other songs released before that happened, too. The five best of them are below.

5. DUMP HIM – “Dykes To Watch Out For”

Once upon a time, “Dykes To Watch Out For” was a comic strip by Alison Bechdel, perhaps best known as the inventor of the Bechdel Test. In 2019, it’s the debut album by Northampton punks DUMP HIM. Its title track is a statement of purpose Trojan-horsed into a bracingly urgent pop song, as melodic as it is searingly intense. The song’s message is one of solidarity and inclusion, a call for queer communities to set aside their infighting: “I refuse to fucking recreate/ Dichotomies of real and fake/ What got us here in the first place!” It’s punk as many of us conceive of it — radical and raw and exhilarating — and as the title suggests, it confirms DUMP HIM really are worth keeping an eye on. –Chris

4. Marika Hackman – “All Night”

Perspective can shift a lot. What might seem lecherous and off-putting coming out one mouth can feel alluring and desirous from another. With “All Night,” Marika Hackman has crafted a lusty song whose soft padded drums and spindly guitars make what, frankly, boils down to a one night stand fuck session sound sensuous and calming, a necessary release. “Remember that day when we’d never met/ And you begged me to ruin your life,” she sings in its opening lines. “We didn’t even speak/ You just took my hand and held it between your thighs.” Hackman’s upcoming new album, Any Human Friend, is fixated on how who’s delivering a message can change its reception — the cockiness of “The One,” the debasing uncertainty of “I’m Not Where You Are — and “All Night” is another twist in an unexpected direction, a horned-up song that cherishes a disposable passion. –James

3. Denzel Curry – “Shawshank” (Feat. Tate Kobang)

When EA recruited Denzel Curry for the Madden NFL 20 soundtrack, I’m guessing they asked for a revved-up version of “Speedboat,” the thoughtful banger from his latest album ZUU. Swap the introspection with shameless flexes, the gothic piano with satellite beeps, and you’ve got “Shawshank.” But despite their complementary cadences, the songs are completely different. “Speedboat” is a darker, solitary endeavor. “Shawshank” sounds like it should be chanted en masse. It makes sense that it was chosen to recreate football stadium energy for a video game loading screen.

Football never really clicked for me. Too many rules, too competitive. But every year, I tune in for the spectacle. I love the excitement and experience around a big game, and that’s what “Shawshank” feels like. It’s the kind of hard-hitting track that’ll have me convinced that I’m a fan come kickoff, stirring an imaginary pot and shouting, “COOK IT UP! GOURMET!” –Julia

2. Black Country, New Road – “Sunglasses”

As you have probably noticed by now, there’s a rising wave of exciting young guitar bands coming out of the UK and Ireland, all intense and slightly punk-indebted, all hard to pin down as they bend rock history to their will. And along the way you may have also noticed Dan Carey’s name popping up again and again. As producer, he’s worked with ascendant acts like Fontaines D.C. and shepherded the enigmatic Black Midi into the wider world. As a label man with Speedy Wunderground, he’s released new music from other buzzy UK bands like Squid (who appeared on this list last week) and now Black Country, New Road.

“Welcome to the best new six-part Danish crime drama,” Isaac Wood sings at the beginning of “Sunglasses” — only the second track the young seven-piece have unveiled thus far. I’m not sure about the Danish crime drama bit, but the song that follows indeed transforms several times over its nine minute runtime. A post-rock reverie of an intro, horns soaring then squalling, then a viciously swaggering outburst that intensifies and intensifies, still punctuated by the band’s liberal use of saxophone.

It’s a wild ride, the music equal parts addicting and unnerving while Wood paints little vignettes of privileged upper middle class British life. He grows wild-eyed the further the song unspools — “I am invincible in these sunglasses,” he proclaims in a tone that sounds as if the narrator really, really needs to convince himself that the statement is true. It all climaxes with spastic sax blasts and Wood roaring “I’m more than adequate!” Whatever comes next from Black Country, New Road, they’ve at least proven that part already. –Ryan

1. Caroline Polachek – “Ocean Of Tears”

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Caroline Polachek says fuck that. With “Ocean Of Tears,” the former Chairlift singer has crafted a thumping lament to the heartache wrought by distance: “Oh, my god, I wanna know what it feels like/ To pull you close and tangle up with you real tight/ The only thing that’s separating you and me tonight/ Ah! — is an ocean of tears.”

Co-produced with typical forward-thinking finesse by PC Music’s Danny L Harle and A. G. Cook, “Ocean Of Tears” is a potent avant-R&B banger. But it’s also a playground for Polachek’s vocal acrobatics — the way her poised, almost robotic soprano lifts itself up as she sings the song’s title, the way it trails off into a wordless wail of emotion over Eartheater’s crunching guitar at the end of the chorus. It’s powerful enough to cross an ocean. –Peter