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.
You may have noticed a new name on the site this week. For the first time since our old parent company killed our intern program, we have an intern! Danielle Chelosky is an accomplished freelancer, having written for MTV News, The Fader, Billboard, and many other publications. You may have already read her feature on Fiddlehead, and in the coming weeks you’ll see a lot more from Danielle around here. Welcome to Danielle! The five best songs of the week are below.
We are not used to a vulnerable Iceage, no matter the iteration of the band from across the last 10 years. From post-punk squalls to an apocalyptic take on classic rock, Iceage have always been brooding, alluring, swaggering, masters of a certain kind of too-cool detachment somehow mingled with high drama. They have a bit of that old school rock spirit, where half the point is that they aren’t quite human. That’s what made the video accompanying “Shelter Song” so striking — suddenly, Iceage were offering a quiet, intimate portrait of their lives at home. Across their first four albums, Iceage traversed a wasteland, and that was before the suffering we’ve all witnessed in the last year. A video like that was a gesture of connection, and it was a resounding one.
Of course, it helps that “Shelter Song” is a resounding song, too. Though Iceage have teamed with former Spacemen 3 member Sonic Boom on Seek Shelter, the album’s opener sounds a bit more like that other Spacemen 3 guy. At first “Shelter Song” plays like an extension of Beyondless‘ arid textures, but then the band take a page out of Spiritualized’s desperately-seeking-salvation gospel affectations, and come up with one of the most powerful choruses of their career. Backed by the Lisboa Gospel Collective, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt takes Iceage to a place we haven’t quite heard them venture before. More darkness undoubtedly lies in wait across Seek Shelter, but in its opening moments the band actually graze up against transcendence in its truest form. —Ryan
I get the sense that public enthusiasm for Brockhampton waned over the course of the group’s last couple albums. But after hearing “Buzzcut” it’s hard to feel anything but wild anticipation for the newly announced ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE. Over booming 808s, Kevin Abstract gets ferociously personal: “Truth prevails, this is real, miss my brother/ I love my mother, drove all the way to Cali’ just to check up on me/ Made her go home, felt the virus/ Web of life is my weave, false dreams stripped by silence.” Danny Brown matches his intensity, whether scoffing at incels who think they’re alphas or wrapping the late Beatles catalog into some wisdom about street cred. Then they unleash the whole group on you, an onslaught of sounds and concepts that climaxes with a question as huge as “What is god to you n****s?!” It’s exhilarating on impact, even more so when you listen back to figure out what you missed the first time. —Chris
Ever since the Alchemist and Mobb Deep first found each other more than 20 years ago, there’s been a particular type of voice that tends to sound best over Alchemist beats: a hardnosed grumble, talking specific bleak shit about specific street shit. Alchemist comes from Beverly Hills, and most of his best collaborators lately have been Midwesterners, but that’s a fundamentally East Coast sound. Elucid and billy woods, the two members of Armand Hammer, are New Yorkers who make New York rap music, but they tend to make their shit so abstract and blurry and convulsive that it comes off as a mutant grandchild of five-boroughs boom-bap. Somehow, though, Armand Hammer and the Alchemist have found each other. Somehow, they make sense together.
“Black Sunlight” is genuinely ornate and pretty music, all layered samples and hazy refracted coos from New York singer KAYANA. But all that prettiness doesn’t stop billy woods and Elucid from locking into the prismatic ugliness that they chronicle with such poetic force. On “Black Sunlight,” there’s a billy woods passage that might leave your head spinning: “Iridescent blackness/ Is this performative or praxis/ Are we talkin’ ’bout practice?/ Rock the kufi backwards/ Magic negro Wesley Snipes taxes/ Dark inside the Ibex with two ratchets/ African accents, American names like Dave and Patrick.” Armand Hammer give you the shards. You put them together. —Tom
Mannequin Pussy’s first material since their sweeping 2019 record Patience shines with the same emotional intensity their music has been praised for so many times before. After a soaring, refreshing intro riff that resembles Chastity Belt or Snail Mail, vocalist/guitarist Marisa Dabice — or as fans lovingly call her, Missy — whispers, “I’m in control/ That’s what I tell myself when all the walls around me close in.” The lyrics, as always, are a candid glimpse into Dabice’s mind, capturing the complexity of human nature, agency, and power dynamics.
“Control” picks up swiftly, the rhythm accelerating as Dabice sings, “I’ve come undone.” The soft exterior unravels and the instruments build to show the colorful whirlwind of mid-tempo punk that’s at the core of the band. From there, Dabice is alternating between yelling, growling, and crooning, absolutely embodying the dynamic, unpredictable way that frustration and catharsis can feel. —Danielle
Chemtrails Over The Country Club is a mixed bag but its opening track is Lana Del Rey at her best. The strained whisper-wail that Del Rey adopts on “White Dress” is beguiling and a little unnerving. But it really works, and its oddity is in service of the song’s narrative.
“White Dress” takes place in the early days of the Lana Del Rey mythology, when she still went by Lizzy Grant and was waitressing tables and dreaming about becoming a star. Her voice scrunches up at the memory of how much she used to crave attention and at how worse off she might be for finally receiving it. The words all blur together, creating a sound that’s both desperate and queasy. “Down at the men-in-music-business-conference/ Down in Orlando, I was only 19,” Del Rey squeaks out. “I only mention it because it was such a scene/ And I felt seen.”
If producer Jack Antonoff is to be believed, what exists on the album was done live in one take while they were still figuring out exactly what they wanted the track to be at Jim Henson’s recording studio, watched over by Kermit. (Thanks, Kermit?) That they decided to keep the song as-is is a testament to the power of Del Rey’s vocal performance here. It’s a disorienting, delightfully weird mode that Del Rey should tap into more often. —James