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.
Now that everyone’s been back at work for a bit, it feels like the year’s actually getting started: A lot of songs came out this week. The five best of them are below.
After a suddenly ascendant 2018, Westerman went quiet for much of 2019 — no new original releases, a stray cover here or a stray remix there. That makes his return with “Blue Comanche” all the more glorious. It’s the first song we’ve heard from whatever new era Westerman is about to introduce, and it’s a stunning introduction.
Much of the elements at play in “Blue Comanche” are recognizable within Westerman’s style. His voice weaves through melodies built out of unexpected shapes. Clean guitars flicker, then warp. There’s a handful of synth sounds that are transfixing, all coalescing into the crystalline atmosphere Westerman works so well in. But perhaps most importantly, it slowly and sneakily reveals itself to be one of the most gorgeous and most infectious songs Westerman has released so far. A song about losing nature, and the past, to technology, “Blue Comanche” fittingly feels like something out of time. Like much of Westerman’s work, it’s something beautiful and mysterious, a calming voice calling out to you from the ether. –Ryan
“Speed Kills,” the title track from London rockers Chubby And The Gang’s debut album, is deliriously vibrant. There’s a reason why it topped our first-ever monthly hardcore roundup, but there’s a whole lot more going on here than just hardcore. The song is a sloppy drunk goof, an intensely fast stumbling ripper that has fun with itself as it rocks out. The way it drops out and picks back up again, how it ends with an agonized apology to mum for going too hard — it’s super British, and it’s bound to put a smile on your face. –James
Between the three of them, Thundercat, Steve Lacy, and Steve Arrington have been involved in a hell of a lot of great music over the course of multiple decades. And on “Black Qualls,” the bass wizard, Internet guitarist, and former Slave drummer come together as equals to bring the funk — or maybe the P-Funk? Arrington’s wizened rasp contrasts nicely with Stephen Bruner’s dazed falsetto, and there’s a loose, exploratory quality to the song’s polymorphous groove, three immense talents jamming out and pushing each other out into space as they take turns riffing on their experiences as black men in America. Turns out three Steves is even better than one. –Peter
I’ve been in love with 1975 for ages, and their charm hasn’t worn off yet. The Manchester boys continue to explore every corner of their muse with the singles from this spring’s Notes On A Conditional Form — the blistering rocker “People,” the drizzly garage-pop ballad “Frail State Of Mind” — and on “Me & You Together Song,” they return to the glimmering glory of their earliest hits.
Further down the timeline, Matty Healy’s fascination has aged beyond the thrills of youth (“Girls,” “Sex,” “Chocolate”) to the joys of longterm monogamy. Yet behind his visions of starting a family with his lover — “You would cook, I’d do the nappies” is a lyric only Healy could pull off — the group’s pristine pop-rock has not lost any of the vibrancy of their youth. Call it a happy ending if you want, but I think the story needs more pages. –Chris
It wasn’t respected at the time, and it’s not really respected now either, but the sound of late-’90s crossover adult-contempo alt-rock had its own sort of quiet power. Random-ass hits — Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight,” Shawn Mullins’ “Lullaby,” pretty much the whole first Third Eye Blind album — have wormed their way into Rite-Aid playlists and never quite left. It would’ve been crazy to predict a revival for that sound, but that’s really what we get on “circle the drain,” the latest single from one of the most celebrated DIY songwriters to come along in recent years.
Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison was born in May of 1997, right around the time this sound was taking over modern-rock radio airwaves. I would bet money that she has no idea who Eagle Eye Cherry is. And yet in the soft, warm, comforting strum of “circle the drain,” she’s captured something almost subliminal: the soft shuffle of the almost-breakbeat, the processed hum of the clean guitar tone, the conversational grace and easy melody and confidence that it takes to write something on the level of Semisonic’s “Closing Time.”
As with so many of those songs, Allison has taken something as sad and squalid as depression and made it sound almost relaxing: “Split open watching my heart go round and round/ Round and round/ Circle the drain/ I’m going down.” She means it, and yet she gives off the sense that she’ll make it through this. Everything’s gonna be all right. Rockabye. –Tom