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.
This week, the long ballad of Woodstock 50 finally came to a close. What a saga! Maybe it’s a cosmic sign that we should instead look to the future, and this week helped with that thanks to a couple of exciting album announcements. You’ll find songs from those, and the rest of the week’s best new music, below.
The music that Benjamin John Power makes, first as one half of Fuck Buttons and now as Blanck Mass, has always straddled the line between punishment and euphoria. And “Love Is A Parasite,” the latest song from his upcoming album Animated Violence Mild, is both a banger and a crusher, a tumultuous, experimental pop song that culminates in strangulated black metal screams. It’s basically big-tent festival EDM for metalheads, marrying that familiar dopamine-rush of glistening synths with a roaring torrent of digital noise, smashing the two together like particles in the Large Hadron Collider and aiming the resulting explosion of energy straight at the dancefloor. –Peter
In the wake of his success with the Shaft soundtrack, Isaac Hayes released Black Moses, an album audacious both for its name and its 93-minute runtime. Hayes, who initially bristled at the sacrilegious nickname, came to embrace it as a symbol of black pride, “of power and strength and sexuality and virility.” In other words, he set aside his concerns and embraced the mantra that drive Channel Tres and JPEGMAFIA’s new song: “It ain’t about me.”
Channel has borrowed the Black Moses name for his new EP, and on the title track he and Peggy bring Hayes levels of charisma to a low-slung beat fit for cruising the streets of Los Angeles. Nick Sylvester’s production booms and percolates with the same casual swagger his Godmode signee brings to the mic. Describing the hard work he puts in to care for his own, Channel sounds supernaturally relaxed: “I used to ask for change in the streets/ Now I’m changing the streets.” Even the typically fired-up JPEGMAFIA comes off relatively chill, or at least as chill as one can when promising to “pistol whip a nigga dressed like I caught the bouquet.” These guys are so smooth they could make parting the Red Sea seem like nothing. –Chris
Last year, Brockhampton made their major-label debut with Iridescence, an album that exploded with ideas — melodic, lyrical, rhythmic. Every song sounded like at least four different songs all crammed together. It was beautiful. But Brockhampton don’t have to be complicated. When they first popped up on our radar, it was enough that they were a fired-up, giddy, anarchic, talented teenage rap collective. And on “I Been Born Again,” their first new song in nearly a year, they recapture that old magic again.
It’s a simple song, with a big, bright, loping beat and six different rappers lined up to talk their shit. Brockhampton will always be complex; it’s baked in. But they’re often at their most exhilarating when they’re keeping things straightforward. Kevin Abstract is here to reassure us that nothing has really changed, no matter how many festivals he and his friends rock: “Mama in the South still, gold all in my mouth still, rapping about dick still, and I lease a house still.” –Tom
It’s a bold move to realize the new song you’re working on bears a resemblance to something as iconic as Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” and, then, to lean into it rather than rework it. Haim have since partially positioned “Summer Girl” as a tribute to Reed. (As it turns out, the song is really a tribute to Danielle Haim’s partner Ariel Rechtshaid, a song she wrote for him as he fought cancer, to lift his spirits; the layers of tribute wind up giving the track a casual poignance.) But Haim are also of a generation of pop artists who arrived at their sound by seamlessly collapsing disparate pieces of the past.
You will hear the ’70s in “Summer Girl,” but you will hear other decades, too. Danielle’s breathy vocals recall ’90s coffeehouse pop (lest you forget Haim have taken to covering Paula Cole recently), and the Rostam Batmanglij-penned sax part is instantly memorable in part because it sounds like it could exist in a lineage of old-school rap samples. (“Check The Rhime” has a bit of it, but there are probably better examples.) Mostly, with all that swirling together, it just sounds like today. It’s an exciting sound for Haim, a little more restrained and impressionistic than the bangers of their past — breezy yet nocturnal and humid, a sneakily infectious pop song worthy of its name. –Ryan
Each Angel Olsen album has, conceptually, been bigger than the last. We’re a long ways out from the glowering folk music she was making at the start of this decade, and “All Mirrors” is one of her most ambitious statements yet. It’s gothically morose, sweeping and intense yet also the most straightforward that Olsen has ever been. Its central refrain is economical but gutting: “Losing beauty/ At least at times it knew me.” She’s in the middle of the age-old search and failure for a way to stop time, to capture a single moment in a bubble and keep in there forever.
Her mournful wail has her sounding like a tragic Aphrodite; the accompanying music video mixes Greek fatalism with old-school country glamor. Olsen has said that her new album is about projections: “I guess I just want to know that what I’m seeing is what I’m seeing and not what I’m looking for,” she wrote, and “All Mirrors” feels like the first steps on that journey, about the basest feeling of looking in the mirror and realizing how much time has passed and how little you have left to go. –James