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.
These are, obviously, stranger times than anyone was expecting just a couple weeks ago. It helps to have some new art to dig into during isolation, so we’ve already shared some of our favorite more under-the-radar albums that have recently come out or are about to, if you find something you love and want to/are able to support some lesser-known, underrated acts while Bandcamp’s waiving their revenue for the day. And, thankfully, people are still releasing new songs for the time being, too. The five best of the week are below.
Doubt lingers in every corner of “Lightning.” Tiffany Majette, the person behind Orion Sun, tries to make something concrete out of uncertainty. She wrote the song about losing her childhood home and becoming homeless — “Lightning struck the house that we used to live in” — a freak accident that turns a whole life on its head. Majette tries to give herself over to those forces of fate, but it’s not so easy. “What the fuck’s going on?” she asks at the end of the song, sounding defeated by the unpredictability of it all. That she can make a song that feels so preternaturally leveled is a testament to her talents, like making music is a glimmering bit of hope to hang onto in an unfair world. –James
Here’s Maria Lindén flirting: “My fever hits your promised land/ I’m a demon in your righteous land, baby.” And then she sings the word “baby” a bunch more times. She stacks synths on top of synths until it seems like there’s no room for any more synths, and then she piles on more synths. She anchors it all to a rushing krautrock pulse, the drums fading and then getting loud again at all the exact right moments. She lets everything glimmer and whoosh and sigh for nearly six minutes — long enough to reset your entire central nervous system. Even in a time when a line about her fever hitting our promised land might not resonate the way she meant it, you have no choice but to be smitten. It’s just all so fucking pretty. –Tom
One of the most appealing aspects of Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud is how loose and lived-in it sounds. In the case of “Can’t Do Much,” that feeling is based on objective truth: It’s the first song Katie Crutchfield wrote for the album, and she’s been playing it live for two years already. The subject matter, though, does not initially match the music’s easygoing sway.
The song is about worrying you’re falling too hard too fast, about struggling to fully settle into a new romance despite (or maybe because of) the intensity of your feelings for your partner. Yet “Can’t Do Much” is not some super-serious lament. Crutchfield calls it “a love song with a strong dose of reality,” and the description suits it well. The vibe is playful and casual, leading up to our protagonist’s eventual acceptance of happiness. “I love you ’til the day I die,” she eventually confides. “I guess it don’t matter why.” –Chris
“You’re not the only one with problems,” Ali Carter sneers on “One Good Day.” But it’s less of a dismissal than a wake-up call, a push for empathy and decency and a defiant fuck-you to cynicism. “We’re all fighting for one good day/ Just tell me something positive/ I don’t care if it’s cliche,” she continues. “We have to try anyway.”
Right now, everyone has problems. It’s hard to see the way forward, and Carter doesn’t offer any easy solutions. “You have to face yourself/ To become someone else/ Acknowledge what you’ve done/ Make amends one by one,” she sings. Soundtracked by Control Top’s fiery punk riffage, though, those problems sound solvable. –Peter
Last month, Mike Hadreas returned with “Describe,” the first single from his new Perfume Genius album Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. (That song also topped this list when it came out.) It seemed to set the stage for the album: Blurred, warped distortion, ghostly Americana echoes, Hadreas singing from a place so despondent that he was asking to have feelings described to him so he could remember what they were like. It was probably a given that a new Perfume Genius would have a whole array of moods and colors, but “On The Floor” is, nevertheless, quite a 180 from “Describe.”
First, there’s the music. Like “Describe” (and, for that matter, the standalone single “Eye In The Wall” before each), there’s never been a Perfume Genius song quite like this. “On The Floor” is squiggly, funky — not quite dance-y, but squirming with energy. And also contrary to the numb wash of “Describe,” “On The Floor” is about feelings that are not only present but quite overwhelming — the giddy highs and slight discomfort of crushes and fantasies. The music bubbles and flutters like the exact kind of butterflies Hadreas is singing about, the entirety of “On The Floor” becoming effervescent. It suggests that we’re about to get quite the spectrum of human conditions from Hadreas, an appropriate rollercoaster for an album called Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. –Ryan