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 was marked out as a huge one for new album releases even before Chromatics and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds descended upon us on short notice. Further exciting records are on the way in the coming weeks. Thus, since last Friday we’ve been granted an incredible amount of new music to process, and not just from the big names. Here are five examples.
“She’s beautiful, she’s got viking hair, she’s a … tragic heroine, I’m in love,” Florence Shaw incants on Dry Cleaning’s latest track, a placid seasick sway that goes down like an apparition. The object of Shaw’s fancy is a hazy figure in the distance, more an abstract concept than an actual flesh and blood person, a canvas on which to project unruly and untamed desires. “Stick up for me/ Do what you’re told, but sometimes tell me what to do as well,” she sings in a stumble. “Just want to sexually experiment in a safe pair of hands/ Don’t judge me, just hold still.” She wails a coo in between every few lines, like trying to wake up from a dream that suddenly gets too real. –James
Thyla are a rock band. Thyla are a pop band. Thyla are a grunge band. Thyla are a shoegaze band. Thyla love humongous choruses and gigantic guitar riffs and the 1990s. Thyla do not love being belittled or betrayed, if the lyrics from “Two Sense” are anything to go by, but then again who does? Thyla are too late for the MTV Buzz Bin and too early for whatever platform emerges someday to foist soaring melodic UK guitar bands to stateside stardom like Matt Pinfield once did. Thyla are right on time to clobber you with their latest single. Thyla have never sounded better than they do when they rip into this song’s grand finale shouting, “It’s taken me time to process what I’m wanting!” Thyla seem to have used that time very effectively. –Chris
Once upon a time, the notion of a Danny Brown and Run The Jewels collab would’ve conjured some pretty mutated images of what rap music could be. You could imagine an unhinged Brown verse on a cut from the insurgent, head-crushing RTJ2, or El-P and Killer Mike getting weird on the most twisted Atrocity Exhibition track. When they did team up on RTJ3’s “Hey Kids (Bumaye),” they almost got there — Brown fit right in with the album’s blearier version of RTJ’s established aesthetic.
Given the relative directness of Brown’s recent singles, it was easy to wonder what form “3 Tearz” could take. With a beat courtesy of JPEGMAFIA (sampling Yoko Ono), the team-up has an extra layer of weirdo rap pedigree. But that’s not how “3 Tearz” works. It’s a relatively straightforward song, three rappers who know what they do well, laidback yet also locked in throughout, casually tapping into their powers. Like uknowhatimsayin¿ in general, it’s the sound of outsiders of sorts, settling into a different groove — and in this instance, it’s a simple joy to hear these three guys get together to just trade punchlines and shoot the shit. –Ryan
Big Thief are all about connection — with each other, with their audience, with the world, with some collective unconscious that connects all of us like the roots of one big tree. That’s always been true. But you can hear it more plainly than ever on Two Hands, the raw, visceral rock cousin to the celestial folk of U.F.O.F., perhaps never more than on “Forgotten Eyes.”
“Forgotten eyes are the ones which we lose/ Forgotten hands are the ones which we choose/ To let go of, but it is no less a bruise/ On the collective arm keeping us high and gone,” Adrianne Lenker sings, every catch in her voice conveying the sincerity of her emotion. “The wound has no direction/ Everybody needs a home and deserves protection.” She advocates for empathy not because the downtrodden need it but because we all do. –Peter
Chromatics released their new album Closer To Grey all at once, with no advance singles, so it’s up to us, as a people, to pick a favorite song. And the album is such a varied, transporting piece of vibe-curation that we could’ve easily picked any song as the best. (We had plenty of internal staff discussion about it.) But at least early on, “Whispers In The Hall,” a hellacious piece of drum-machine thud and horror-soundtrack tingle, is one hell of a strong contender.
People have rapped over Chromatics samples before — Schoolboy Q on “Man Of The Year,” Puff Daddy on “Harlem.” But thanks to the stupendous bass-booms on “Whispers In The Hall,” it feels like only a matter of time before one of the Travis Scotts of the world weaponizes it, transforming it into a strip-club neutron bomb. In the meantime, it’s an eerie throb that builds into a heady noise mind-warper.
At least on paper, it’s also a song of encouragement, with Ruth Radelet’s icy voice warning of the pitfalls in the world (“Little girl, the world just wants to break you / They’ve come to know that look inside your eyes”) while still reassuring you that “love is there to catch you if you fall.” It’s complicated, it’s dark, it’s beautiful, it’s eerie, and it slaps. It is an ideal Chromatics song. –Tom