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.
Yet another fun and totally normal week in America has come to a close. The five best songs of the week are below.
Silverbacks are the latest in the lineage of exciting new post-punk bands coming out of Dublin. But “Drool” is something slightly different than we’ve heard from them before, less hurtling breakneck energy and more depressive indie-rock reflection. The simultaneous slackness and precision of its mechanistic drumbeat and interlocking pinprick riffs is more Pinback than Parquet Courts, Kilian O’Kelly’s detached vocals painting a picture of a man just trying to get by in less than ideal circumstances. “Can’t you see/ It does exactly what it says on the box,” he sings, but Silverbacks continue to surprise and delight even as they look to the past for inspiration. –Peter
Maria Lindén wrote “Death Engine,” the first new I Break Horses song in six years, about a friend’s suicide attempt. It is as dark and heavy and warm and hopeful as the subject matter demands, a trembling reassurance of love on the other side of a tragedy averted. Lindén’s gentle narration sometimes flares up into Björk-worthy melodic outbursts, as if she’s being thrown off balance by uncontrollable jolts of emotion. Like the Drive soundtrack snapped out of its noir fantasy world and into the realm of real-life struggle, the arrangement pairs ever-ascending neon synths with a building swarm of noise, growing louder and more intense until it finally disintegrates into gothic organ and withering symphonic strings. If only overwhelming pain always wrought such staggering beauty. –Chris
If you caught Pottery live at any point in the last year, you know they had already become quite a different band than the one glimpsed on their 2019 debut EP No. 1. Approximating some middle ground between Devo and Talking Heads, Pottery were growing into a weirdo art-rock band reliant on frantically clipped guitar grooves and propulsive arrangements. Their shows were quirky dance parties, with lots of catchy melodies blared out in all-hands-on-deck vocal chants.
“Texas Drums” is the first preview of what happened when that iteration of Pottery made it into the studio, and it manages to capture the sweaty, unrelenting energy the band wields onstage. There is a lot going on here, all kinds of guitar blurts and vocal ad-libs and bonus percussion instruments. But it all works towards this bug-eyed intensity, a song that rushes out the gate and never lets up even as it crash lands into its extended Part 2 coda, a melted psychedelic comedown. A lot of young guitar bands are coming up in some kind of mold you could put under the broad umbrella of “post-punk.” But nobody’s playing with those tropes with the sort of joyful abandon that Pottery are. –Ryan
Kamaiyah came onto the scene striving to be rich. Things haven’t exactly worked out in Kamaiyah’s favor. She had a hard time of it the major-label rap system — and seemingly a hard time of it in life, too, if her 2017 mixtape is any indication. So it’s no wonder that she’s turned to a darker strain of getting paid: the giddy revenge song.
“Set It Up” has a bouncy beat from Kenny Produced It (no relation to Kenny Beats) and a verse from Trina that includes the line “I’ll piss in your mouth, you lil fuckboi.” Kamaiyah spends her time shit-talking and making threats. “Run up all his cards, run up all his credit/ I’ma spend a rack for every bitch that he been textin’,” she dexterously raps in the chorus. “You ain’t finna have me sittin around stressin’/ Bitch, who the fuck you disrespecting?” It’s not so pure as wondering how it feels to be rich, but the world doesn’t often let you get to be pure. Might as well have fun scamming. –James
Sharon Van Etten moved away from New York, what, a couple of months ago? And she’s already making artfully expressionistic black-and-white videos where she wears floppy hats and stares and desert horizons. She did not take long to acclimate to LA.
Just a year ago, Van Etten shook off all vestiges of stereotypical singer-songwriter fare to release Remind Me Tomorrow, a dank and scuzzy electronic rock record. What’s so marvelous about her new single “Beaten Down” is how she’s managed to keep those sharp, hard textures while turning them toward something more languid and expansive. “Beaten Down” is a song of support and encouragement, and Van Etten delivers it over a miles-deep bass groove, layering her own voice up symphonically and soaring high on the chorus. It sounds like space opening up. It’s the sound of somebody who can breathe. –Tom