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.
From Baby Yoda to “gonna tell my kids” and an ambassador talking about A$AP Rocky in impeachment hearings, this was a big week for memes. For example:
— David Miller (@DavidMiller0789) November 18, 2019
You know he's lying because no one has talked about Rocky since 2015 https://t.co/BjARb91jMq
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) November 20, 2019
Gonna tell my kids this was Eminem pic.twitter.com/XNeQtI52QY
— Dawson (@Dawson_Neece) November 22, 2019
And as always, there was plenty of new music as well. The five best songs of the week are below.
On the way to view a total solar eclipse, Braids singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston was gobsmacked by this remark from her best friend, Ashley Obscura: “We should take this opportunity to think about what eclipses us in our lives.” My own first reaction upon reading that sentence was to laugh it off as faux-profound, but the longer you dwell on it — figuring out what that question even means, and then what it means to you — the deeper it gets.
For what it’s worth, Obscura’s prompt also inspired one of the best Braids songs ever, a power ballad built from cascading pianos, off-kilter rhythms, and a rising surge of atmospheric strings. Atop the growing clamor, Standell-Preston lets it rip, channeling her inner Tori Amos as she cycles back through that initial question. By the time the drama reaches its peak, she sounds like a fiery star emerging from the shadows. –Chris
In the singles they’ve released over the last year and a half, Silverbacks have managed to toe a line between raw, visceral musicality and a sharp precision in writing and arrangement. “Sirens” might be the best example of their balance yet. There is a lot happening here. It’s unrelenting in pace, charging forward insistently but adopting a slightly more danceable groove than its predecessors. And yet above that constant propulsion, the song keeps flitting through these quick modulations — there are references to LCD Soundsystem (the narrator is begging James Murphy not to sue him) and a Sopranos box set, Strokes-esque riffs of the big chunky quality and the little nimble pinprick variety, several beat change-ups despite the way it seems to cruise along, a guitar solo with that liquefied metal gleam Silverbacks long ago perfected.
With all of that, “Sirens” should sound busy, cluttered. There’s a lot of information, more to discover each time you listen — what seems to be a straightforward enough song has all these little twists and surprises. Despite moving briskly through its four minutes, it almost feels like seven just because of how much is packed in there. And yet, there’s that grace and control Silverbacks exercise, the way they wrangle the potential chaos of their three-guitar attack into stacks of weaponized hooks. “Sirens” feels like a logical continuation of the aesthetic Silverbacks have already established, but suggests a leveling up on the horizon. Their music is getting more wiry and layered, but losing none of its punch or infectiousness in the process. –Ryan
Grimes naturally has a whole storyline for “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” that she’s outlined on social media; it involves angels fighting dragons. Still, when she sings, “Weigh me down, oh, love,” it’s hard not to imagine that she’s singing about stoner billionaire Elon Musk, the man currently attempting to sell you a truck that looks like the damn Christopher Nolan Batmobile. That is a steep hurdle for any song. “So Heavy” somehow clears it.
“So Heavy” works the way it works because there’s beauty in its churn and churn in its beauty. Grimes wrote and produced the track, building edifices of shimmering, swooning echo on top of a ribcage-rattling goth-rave bassline. She uses her voice as an unearthly sigh, treating it so that it blurs right into the twinkly synths sounds she piles on. There’s some Cocteau Twins in there, and some Deftones, too. There’s so much distracting noise around Grimes, the human being. That’s always been the case, and it’s only getting worse. But when a song like this comes on, all that noise melts away. –Tom
Who knew Soccer Mommy could do it like this? Sophie Allison has made some longer songs before, but none of them have the scope of “yellow is the color of her eyes,” which is seven whole minutes but hardly feels like it. Those tinny drums burst into a Coldplay-nodding moment which then transforms into a languid amber haze, guitars encircling and her band keeping a steady pace as they build to a classic rock-indebted outro, mangled guitars and taffy riffs settling down into a flickering glow. It’s a whole journey, but it’s one that takes place in just a few seconds of feeling the floor drop out from under you
The song is about what slips away from us when we’re following our own life paths and aren’t always there for other people in the way that we want to be. “Loving you isn’t enough/ You’ll still be deep in the ground when it’s done,” she sings. “I’ll know the day when it comes/ I’ll feel the cold as they put out my sun.” She treats the inevitability of death as a rot that’s eating her from the inside out. “This tiny lie I told myself is making me hollow/ I’ve been choking on truths that I couldn’t swallow,” goes the first verse, the lie of course being that there will always be more time. But for these seven minutes, Soccer Mommy commiserates with us over the end that unites us all. –James
Envy have been at this shit since before some Stereogum staffers (like, say, me) were born. For nearly three decades, they’ve combined crushing heaviness and soaring beauty, post-hardcore and post-rock and black metal and shoegaze all rolled up into one titanic monolith of sound — and it still sounds just as vital today as it did in 1992.
Their new song “A Step In The Morning Glow” feels more like “A Leap In The Morning Glow,” every second of its seven-minute runtime suffused with a monumental sense of grandeur and emotional catharsis. This is the kind of music that crashes over you like a tidal wave or towers above you like a mountain range, sublime in the truest philosophical sense of the word. Sometimes, the universe makes you feel small; sometimes, it’s six Japanese dudes conjuring magic out of their instruments. –Peter