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.
It’s a new year and… it sure feels a lot like the old one. While it was admittedly a bit more difficult to pay attention to music this week, thankfully we’re kicking off 2021 with a 5 Best that looks back a little further. The best songs of the past several weeks are below.
"Weird Carolina" is focused on Appalachia, but Camp Trash sound like just about everywhere else. Their stated influences include bands from New York to Kansas City to Southern California, they flex their Pacific Northwest bona fides with a vocal melody straight out of Built To Spill's early twee era, and they recorded the song in Florida, the state that gave us the Fest, Fueled By Ramen, and Further Seems Forever among other emo totems.
Not belonging in Appalachia is, in fact, the point: "I'm not going to Georgia or North Carolina," goes the climactic lyric. "The mountains don't know my name." It's a song about the longing that follows when a geographical gulf opens up between you and your loved ones, about toying with impulsively replanting yourself in unfamiliar territory just to be near them again. The delivery system for these feelings is a striking and ingratiating debut single, a massively catchy guitar anthem in which fist-pumping energy and heartrending sentimentality are symbiotic forces. —Chris
It's been nearly a year since anyone got to do any moshing, and yet there are still songs that send a little electrical current through your body and into your lizard brain. The opening of "Hemorrhage" — the martial thunder of the drums, the delightfully disgusting bassline, the jackhammer judder of the central guitar riff — works like a signal. Square your shoulders. Plant your feet wide. Keep your head up and stay alert. Someone might come plowing into you. An errant windmilling fist might fly up in your direction. Someone might launch their body through the air and onto your head. A piece of recorded music cannot hope to replicate the sense of danger and exhilaration and community that you find at the best DIY show. But this, the guttural nut-stomper from Richmond thrashers Enforced, comes awfully close. —Tom
Rory Allen Philip Ferreira, the artist formerly known as Milo, often comes across more like a beat poet than a rapper. And on his new album bob’s son: R.A.P. Ferreira in the garden level cafe of the scallops hotel, he pays tribute to actual beat poet Bob Kaufman. As you might expect from a album-length ode to a guy like that, bob's son is a heady listen that ventures further afield into free-wheeling spoken-word territory. But "redguard snipers," featuring SB The Moor, is one of the record's most recognizable rap songs and also one of its best.
Ferreira produced the entire project himself under his Scallops Hotel alias, and the warm, crackling loops on "redguard snipers" provide a perfect playground for his word-drunk exploration. "New slurs, new verbs, new curves, new nouns, new sounds, new pounds, new rounds, new hounds, you frown," Ferreira and SB The Moor rap in the chorus, reveling in the possibility of language. Midway through the song, the beat collapses in on itself and Ferreira starts anew, rapping in a plodding cadence over spacey, atmospheric tingles: "It's chaos/ And that's the power of creation." It's chaos, and it's the power of creation, and it's wondrous. —Peter
In the videos accompanying each of the new Weather Station singles, Tamara Lindeman wears a jacket covered in shattered mirror fragments. It's an appropriate new look for a new sound, one in which the Weather Station's songs flicker and morph depending on how you look at them, depending on how the light strikes them. Some of these Ignorance songs sound haunting, some sound like elusive sighs, some sound like a lot of things at once. "Atlantic" is in the latter category.
"Atlantic" comes from conflicting emotions: Standing on a cliff over an ocean, in awe of nature's power, yet feeling dread creeping up. Because that natural beauty is in danger of being snuffed out, or because the constant parade of headlines making you feel as if these small moments of wonder are all that much weaker and quieter in the face of a world that constantly seems like it's just a bit closer to completely tearing itself apart. Musically, too, "Atlantic" plays in grey areas. It rushes along, Lindeman's vocals as alluring as ever. But then — depending how the light hits it — that can start to feel like a siren song, the loose cries of saxophone and guitar lacerating the outer edges of the track and suggesting something more destructive. In the end there's no real definition or conclusion, but there is another new Weather Station song, unfolding entirely in the mist of her new world. —Ryan
One of the few good pieces of news to come out of 2020 is that Darkside are back. Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington's collaborative project released one great album back in 2013 and it seemed like they were done after that. But they quietly started working together a couple years ago, and they have a new album in the can.
"Liberty Bell" is the first we're hearing of it, and it's quite intoxicating. Harrington takes center frame here, his guitar technics shapeshifting around Jaar's syrupy spoken word vocals. There's a gorgeous, shadowy tension to the track, a kind of celestial swagger that only these two can pull off so well. It'll be exciting to see how this fits into a larger whole on their forthcoming Spiral, but on its own it's a more than welcome return for the band. —James