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.
5 Best is taking next week off for the holiday — hope you all have a good Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you back here in December for end-of-year season. In the meantime, the five best songs of the week are below.
“No such thing as writer’s block when the rent due,” Your Old Droog announces near the top of “Meteor Man.” If this song was penned under duress, it’s proof that these guys work wonders on a deadline. Over an apocalyptic beat that slathers noisy drones over heaving low end, Droog joins forces with Lil Ugly Mane to deliver some of the hardest bars of 2021. Droog on perseverance and innovation: “Been that dude since Gwen Stefani was a Hindu/ Be the dudes who never did the shit saying what you can’t do.” Lil Ugly Man on diplomacy: “Politicians, cut ’em ‘cross the throat, not a bad decision/ Shove my middle finger in the fuckin’ stab incision.” And here’s billy woods on humility: “I see their eyes when the plot twist/ Surprised to find out they’re not the protagonist, it’s a trip/ Little guy built his house out of bricks, but the wolves caught him outside/ Life come at you quick.” —Chris
Sweeping Promises showed plenty of promise on last year’s debut album Hunger For A Way Out, and “Pain Without A Touch,” their first song since, is a perfect reintroduction to the twitchy post-punk band’s abundant charm. The track hits the ground running, its needling guitar and hurtling bassline eventually joined by lo-fi synth whines, and you can practically hear frontwoman Lira Mondal strutting across the stage as she wails and yelps: “I need to get it/ I need to get it/ I need to hustle till I get it.” Their music is right in that post-punk/new wave sweet spot, urgently kinetic and hooky with a bracing lo-fi edge. Forget the promise — these guys are ready to deliver. —Peter
Long before it got a proper release, “Life Of The Party” had a long and loud history, and that history played into the way the world received it. Kanye West and André 3000 recorded the song for West’s Donda, but it was initially left off of the album because André didn’t want his verses bleeped and West didn’t want any cursing on the record. But then Drake, who catches a subliminal on one of West’s verses, leaked the song anyway, and the song appeared on the Donda stem player. The song itself has 18 credited songwriters — including Pusha T, former Clipse guest-verse scene-stealer Ab-Liva, and former Diddy-video comic relief Fonzworth Bentley — which just makes the whole thing more complicated. But now that “Life Of The Party” gets to exist out in the world — in a non-bleeped version, even — it’s easier to receive it as what it is. It’s a lovely piece of music.
“Life Of The Party” works better than almost anything on the proper version of Donda. Kanye West deserves some credit for that. His verses are fairly locked-in, and even if West is still prone to rant about his neighbor Drake or whatever, he still gets some lines off: “The paparazzi never really got what my angle is/ They treat my married life like some type of entanglement.” If West had the idea to end the song with a throat-lump sample of DMX on an amusement-park ride with his daughter, he deserves credit for that, too. But the life of “Life Of The Party” is André’s long, discursive, meditative verse. He’s full of stories and asides — sex with a teenage tutor, itchy blades of grass against his back, questions about his parents’ marital decisions. But it’s really just one hugely important rapper bonding with another, finding common ground in total emptiness after the loss of their mothers. It’s enough to remind you to call yours. —Tom
My colleague Chris DeVille recently said of Horsegirl: “They continue to capture the sensation of falling in love with indie rock in real time.” Hard to top that! Because he’s absolutely right. The Chicago teens ensnare — and put their own spin on — a universally beloved lo-fi aesthetic that first bubbled up in college-rock circles decades before they were born. (Think: Flying Nun Records and my personal faves, NJ’s the Feelies.) On the fuzzed-out jam “Billy,” Horsegirl layer feedback-frayed guitar on washed-out vocals and wall-of-sound cymbals. At its apex, “Billy” moves fast and faster until you want to do what the band’s doing in their music video: hold a chaotic dance party in someone’s kitchen where someone winds up sitting atop the fridge. That’s a great way to stay warm in Chicago winter. —Rachel
We’ve already heard a good amount of songs from Big Thief’s forthcoming, incredibly titled double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You. Given this is an exploratory band stretching out over 20 songs, it seems there will be a lot of different vibes so far, but in general there’s a rougher-hewn, bleary quality to many of the new Big Thief songs. That’s especially true of “Time Escaping,” the latest and one of the best songs we’ve heard from the album thus far.
The song is a testament to how well this band plays together, riding along a mangled bed of instruments that, initially, sound like they’re all fighting against each other before cohering into a jagged current. As Adrianne Lenker sings of time escaping, the music around her mimics the past and memories in competing definitions: guitars sputtering and abrupt and fragmented, the broken shards to the floating melodies that suggest a more dreamlike journey through lost times. At this point, it’s almost expected that the particular chemistry in this quartet often leaves us with songs that feel like conjurings. And just as often, that allows them to tap into grey area emotions or the ineffable qualities of human experience. With “Time Escaping,” they’ve done it once more. —Ryan