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.
It’s a big week over here, as we are asking you to weigh in on the Song Of The Summer. You still have until Wednesday, and if you need some guidance, The Office’s Creed Bratton is here to help. The five best songs of the week are below.
“Thought Vs. Everybody” is just one long verse, three minutes of straight rapping. Black Thought barely even stops to breathe. There’s no hook. The bars are the hook. It’s yet another master class in technical precision and virtuosic skill from a guy whose entire damn oeuvre pretty much counts as one extended master class in technical precision and virtuosic skill. If it’s Thought versus everybody, the smart money’s on Thought. –Peter
Close your eyes and listen to Mary Lattimore and see what pops into your head. Her songs are endlessly evocative, conjuring up distant shadowy figures and misty expanses. They’re refreshing and eerie, tugging at the unconscious while refusing to be ignored. For her latest album, Silver Ladders, she traveled to Slowdive guitarist Neil Halstead’s studio in Cornwall and recorded it with him. As “Sometimes He’s In My Dreams” moves, it turns into a post-rock shimmer like something Explosions In The Sky would build to after nine minutes, but Lattimore puts all of the emotional catharsis out front. The song is mysterious and lovely and a little intangible — in how it all comes together and how it manages to be so wildly effective. –James
When My Morning Jacket suddenly announced The Waterfall II last week, they didn’t release a single. They just had a little teaser trailer, and a snippet of music. Though attentive fans may have already been familiar with “Magic Bullet,” “The First Time,” and live performances of “Welcome Home,” the album was mostly a mystery — a whole new companion that the band would present in full in a livestream. But in that teaser, they chose their snapshot well — a bit of spiraling guitar pulling you back in.
That was from “Feel You,” a standout from The Waterfall II in many ways. “Feel You” is both the pinnacle of The Waterfall II’s altogether mellower aesthetic, and the song that feels like an instant-classic MMJ track that could’ve come from almost any of their albums through the years. The whole song is an immersive, warm haze, Jim James cooing about reaching out just trying to feel a partner — but you don’t really know if this is supposed to be some early-days yearning or the impending loss at the collapse of a relationship.
A lot of The Waterfall II exists in that place, somewhere between longing for the beginning of things and trying to make peace with the end of things. And when James and Carl Broemel start that guitar part, wrapping notes around each other in that quintessential MMJ fashion, it exists in that middle space too — the dizzying tumble of early love, the unraveling when love becomes damaged. But, really, it’s just MMJ doing what they do best, taking unknowable moments and emotions not easily communicated through words, then wringing the sublime out of them. –Ryan
Here, we have two radically different flavors of apocalypse that taste great together. Full Of Hell are grindcore experimentalists — guttural scrape-roar madmen driven to make their chosen subgenre, already one of the harshest things out there, even harsher. HEALTH are astral post-punks whose shiny, tingly dance-rock futurism sounds like neon towers crumbling in on themselves. HEALTH and Full Of Hell don’t make any sense together, and yet they make perfect sense together.
The interlocking pieces of “Full Of HEALTH” fit together almost disturbingly well — demonic growls giving way to heavenly reverbed-out tenors, distorto-guitar hell-belches transitioning right into glacially ghostly synth-tones. The two bands click into a forceful groove together, with the noise and the beauty finding common purpose in a colossal industrial trudge-stomp. It’s a merciless record, but the cruelest thing about it might be that it’s over in two minutes and change. Give us a whole damn album of this! –Tom
1. illuminati hotties – “will i get cancelled if i write a song called, ‘if you were a man you’d be so cancelled'”
“Let’s smash to a podcast!” instantly enters the pantheon of iconic opening lines, though such an unpleasant suggestion might actually merit the shunning Sarah Tudzin apparently fears. Whether having sex or doing literally any other thing, why listen to some idiots endlessly blabbing when you could be blaring the smart, funny, brilliantly concise Free I.H. on repeat?
Illuminati Hotties’ new stopgap “mixtape” begins with a bang, and not just because of that lyric. The ingeniously titled “will i get cancelled if i write a song called, ‘if you were a man you’d be so cancelled'” is pure rhythmic and melodic chaos, lurching and discordant yet also somehow propulsive and catchy as hell. Such an explosive tangle of sound is appropriate for a song about the kind of interpersonal drama that’s impossible to parse without getting tied up in knots. Tudzin paints herself as the pariah having a meltdown while her ex maintains composure, but when you channel your frustration into a scorched-earth diss track of this magnitude, well, who’s the “real inventive iconoclast” now? –Chris