The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
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.
There are some seriously great albums out today: Ela Minus’ shadowy debut Acts Of Rebellion, clipping.’s horrifying and engulfing Visions Of Bodies Being Burned, open-hearted quarantine transmissions from Jeff Tweedy and Adrianne Lenker, Bruce Fucking Springsteen. What a time to be alive! The five best songs of the week are below.
Remember the Copacabana scene in Goodfellas? It’s an iconic scene. In one long unbroken tracking shot, protagonist Henry Hill takes his date past all of the schmucks waiting in line, into a side door, through the kitchen, and up to a table just for him right at the front of the club. It’s a breathlessly fun sequence, and it conveys all of the seductive power of the mob lifestyle in one effortless flex. “Kalamata Olives (C’est La Vie)” is basically the rap song equivalent of that scene.
The beat is frothy and luxurious and smooth as hell, and RU$H, Tha God Fahim, Jay Nice, and Quelle Chris use it to unleash one long chain of rich-person braggadocio: “Eating applewood sirloin steak at a 20-acre estate where they harvest the vines careful/ Having meetings at Italy at the winery/ Untouchable like DeNiro and Sean Connery.” “The FBI watching think I’m shopping bricks/ Resale value on my vinyl is about six figures.” “Eating on the ripest of grapes/ Feet up, lay back surrounded by agua/ Four floors en mi casa/ Four course meals, fat nigga shit, two courses of pasta.” And just like Henry Hill’s girlfriend, we all have front row seats. –Peter
Over the years, bands have found so many different ways to convey apocalyptic stakes via recorded sound. In just five minutes, the Toronto sextet Respire blur a good many of them together in astonishing fashion.
“Cicatrice” starts out with a guttural rapid-fire outburst that feels like screamo and grindcore and black metal crashing into each other at full speed, a genre trainwreck that coalesces into a gruesome choreography of sorts. The sonic violence piles up so intensely that when the ambitious Toronto band locks into a savage power-chord churn, you could almost call it nu-metal. Then the cacophony fades, the orchestral instruments come soaring to the forefront, and “Cicatrice” taps into an elegant post-rock grandeur. But such beauty can’t remain unvarnished for long in this band’s universe (or, if we’re being honest, in our own). Soon the hellish bombardment comes roaring back, threatening to swallow up the heavenly procession once and for all. The song remains locked in this epic struggle between light and darkness until the end, offering no resolution but plenty of exhilaration. –Chris
Every great Julien Baker song has a moment that just does you in, that pulls you into a swirling feeling-votex. On “Faith Healer,” it’s this: “Everything I love, I trade it in to feel it rush into my chest.” That’s when the drums and the keyboards come rushing in, when Baker’s echoing guitars double up on themselves, when the scope goes big.
Baker is singing about addiction, and about the constant temptation to slide back into it. She makes it sound like leaving a dark movie theater in the middle of the day, blinking in the merciless rays of sunlight: “Now I see everything in startling intensity.” Baker never offers a way out, and the new tools in her kit — the drums, the synths — don’t dull the impact. She just leaves you sitting with the terror and the beauty. She lets you feel it. –Tom
When I interviewed Ela Minus recently, she described “dominique” as one of the most personal songs on her debut album, Acts Of Rebellion. It’s basically just what it sounds like: Gabriela Jimeno, the woman behind Ela Minus, alone at home and keeping strange hours and living off coffee and liquor while recording her album. Of course, like other songs on Acts Of Rebellion, what was once specific to Jimeno’s life in another year now feels bizarrely relatable in 2020.
But at the same time, Jimeno took that solitude and made it into a bubbling, infectious song — out of anything on the album, you could imagine a sense of euphoria creeping in when you’d hear these synth gurgles bouncing off the walls of a tiny club. It’s one of many moments on Acts Of Rebellion where Jimeno takes something that could be bleak and twists it around: “dominique” is the prettiest song on the album, and it in turn shows the rest of us that beauty can be wrung even out of isolation. –Ryan
On her debut album, Miss Universe, Nilüfer Yanya tried on a bunch of different hats and looked good in all of them. But no song on it went as hard as her new one does. Yanya possesses a fresh confidence on “Crash,” no doubt due to the roaring success of her debut, and on it she piles up layers and layers of icy coolness. She builds a wall around her voice with gnarled and pulsating guitar lines, shutting herself off from your questions brick by brick. “If you ask me one more question, I’m about to crash,” she repeats. “Look around, there’s no competition, where the heavy drinkers at?” She’s had just about enough of your shit and she’s ready to let loose. –James