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.
Hello from Raleigh! Most of the Stereogum staff is down here for Hopscotch 2019, where we threw a day party yesterday. This might be biased, but it was great, as usual. Thanks for coming by if you were in town. In the meantime, we did manage to keep up with new music. The five best songs of the week are below.
For the last 50 years, Neil Young has turned to his Crazy Horse bandmates when he wants to make his loudest, most apocalyptic fuzz-bath feedback-fugue epics. But for this new song, Crazy Horse’s first in seven years, Young and his old friends ease back on the throttle, coming up with something quiet and ruminative.
Young and Crazy Horse are still deep in the psychedelic haze, imagining new love as a treacherous trip across the astral plane. (Maybe that’s just what it’s like when you fall head over heels for Elle Driver, the California Mountain Snake.) Young’s sensitive creak of a voice is perfect for this kind of internal bliss-float, and his guitars still find noise in melody and melody in noise. May we all sound this pretty when we’re 73 years old, floating across space and time. –Tom
Camila Cabello makes contemporary pop songs that sound like throwback hits. One of her latest singles, “Shameless,” could’ve bumped on the radio alongside Rihanna’s “Disturbia” in 2008. But that big, dark banger energy gets shot right into 2019 when the ’80s pop-rock guitar transitions into rumbling bass and Cabello’s breathy whisper escalates to a gravely wail. “Right now, I’m shameless,” she sings with a desperate force. “Screamin’ my lungs out for ya / Not afraid to face it.” In an Instagram livestream, she explained that she wanted the song to be “uninhibited, just fearless, unabashedly just being in love with someone, and being like, ‘Let’s fucking do this!'” And that’s exactly how it feels. –Julia
You never know what Injury Reserve are going to give you, except that it probably won’t sound like whatever came before it. In the case of “HPNGC,” that means a beat that is somehow both noisy and barely there, courtesy of in-house production wizard Parker Corey and the hardcore sludge mainstays Code Orange. And it means Ritchie With A T pulling his voice in bizarre directions, toggling between a dazed Auto-Tuned sing-song, aggressive whispers, and screwed bellows. You could be forgiven for thinking his verse comprises three different MCs.
As for Stepa T. Groggs and longtime Injury Reserve pal JPEGMAFIA, they’re mostly talking their usual shit in typically entertaining fashion. Peggy whips himself into hysterics before Stepa comes along to spit grimy bars like he’s standing on a street corner in NYC. All the while, the beat gets progressively more intense in the background without making a big show of it, so that “HPNGC” feels practically claustrophobic by the end. With a song this rich and twisted, you don’t even have to wait for the next Injury Reserve single to discover the next Injury Reserve surprise; you just have to circle back and press play again. –Chris
“I am like, begging for it, baby/ Makes you wanna party/ Wanna break up/ Baby, it’s violence.” Those are the first lines that Grimes sings on “Violence,” a toxic love song that reframes the environmental destruction that humans inflict on the planet as an abusive, co-dependent romantic relationship. “You feed off hurting me,” she sings in her breathy croon. “I like it like that.”
It’s twisted, yes, but it sounds good. A collaboration with electronic producer i_o, “Violence” refashions an unofficial Deadmau5 remix into a shimmering synthwave banger, and the satisfying dopamine rush of its thumping EDM immediacy implicates all of us in its violence. We like it like that too. “You wanna make me bad,” Grimes taunts. She’s right. –Peter
After Atrocity Exhibition, it was easy to imagine Danny Brown just going further and further out there. The best music on that album delved fully into the vein of his work that sounds like a warped, funhouse mirror version of rap. From there, it could only get more blown-out, more deconstructed.
As it turns out, the first preview of Brown’s new album uknowhatimsayin¿ moves in the opposite direction, approximating what a “traditional” rap song sounds like in his hands. There’s still a psychedelic current to the production of “Dirty Laundry” — courtesy of Q-Tip, who executive produced the album and who Brown credits as pushing him to almost “relearn” how to rap — but otherwise it’s one of the more straightforward tracks we’ve heard from Brown in a while. The beat snaps and pulses forward — ferociously, insistently, but also patiently.
Above it, Brown sits in that zany mid-level delivery of his — the comfort zone between his mad-eyed hyena overdrive and his husky-voiced, meditative alternative. He rattles off one-liners and shit-talk punchlines, showcasing the influence of stand-up comedy on his new music. But perhaps the most telling line is in the beginning, when he alludes to his 2010 debut The Hybrid. Since “Dirty Laundry” arrived yesterday, fans have already noted how it seems to echo Brown’s earlier days.
And in a way, perhaps this was the best possible move following Atrocity Exhibition. Instead of pushing the boundaries towards illegibility, Brown has brought it back down to earth for a while. After offering some of the most adventurous rap music of this decade, Brown’s going home, proving he can just tear it up over a more direct beat. He’s allowing us to imagine a Danny Brown album that’s just bangers front to back. And I don’t know how that sounds to you, but it sounds pretty damn good to me. –Ryan