The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

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.

Welcome to the final 5 Best of 2021. We’ll see you back here in 2022. Until then, happy holidays and here are the five best songs of the week.

05

New Jersey basement-punk warriors Gel are so reliably fast and grimy and nasty that a song as short and bruising as “Mental Static” almost qualifies as polished and accessible. Make no mistake: “Mental Static” is still, more or less, two minutes of reverb-drenched screams and speeding-into-battle riffage. But the hooks on “Mental Static,” whether it be the searing guitar leads or the moment when it switches into sprinting overdrive, land even harder than usual. Gel are still a relatively new band, and they haven’t yet made a full-length. But if they can string together 10 songs as hard as “Mental Static,” they could have an all-timer on their hands. —Tom

04

There’s a lot of cool kids’ TV out there right now, and it makes sense that the producers of said programming would tap their favorite indie songwriters to write some original music. (I don’t have kids, but I imagine that any music parents and their offspring can comfortably listen to together is net positive for all involved.) Waxahatchee’s cheery new track “Tomorrow,” written for the Apple TV+ animated series El Deafo, is definitely one of those songs. Over chiming keys and a snappy rhythm, Katie Crutchfield offers inspirational (but not trite) words about forging one’s own path. Towards the end, we even get some “Baba O’Riley” “dun-dun-dunnn” vibes — minus the wasted teens, of course. —Rachel

03

In “Lost Meaning,” the opening track from Cloakroom’s new “space western” Dissolution Wave, “Our humble songsmith is singing to the Spire and the Ward of Song, the great filter, the barometer of creative thought in this universe,” Doyle Martin explains. “With any luck, they’ll be acknowledged and their voice won’t get lost in the discordance of meaningless creativity for the wrong reasons.” Sounds deep. Know what else sounds deep? Those tones! That groove! “Lost Meaning” is monolithically heavy and impossibly beautiful and oceanically vast — and when that moaning lead guitar motif enters the frame about two and a half minutes in, the song ascends through new dimensions of awesomeness and out into the great beyond. Message received: Dissolution Wave is gonna slay. —Chris

02

Earl Sweatshirt has made plenty of dark, difficult music, and so have Armand Hammer. But even though Earl’s new album is called SICK!, “Tabula Rasa,” his latest collaboration with the duo of Elucid and billy woods, isn’t exactly that. It’s dense and introspective, sure. But there’s a jazzy chillness to the beat from producers Theravada and Rob Chambers, all twinkling keys and plinking hi-hats and fractured soul samples looped into abstraction, that contrasts with all three rappers’ deliberate flow. “You only trash if you trash,” Earl raps. “I keep it simple and dynamic.” —Peter

01

How do you follow up releasing one of the most acclaimed breakthrough albums in recent memory and then releasing a second excellent album that same year? Big Thief have always been a prolific and exploratory band, and now they’re spreading out across a double album called Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe You, one that so far promises to find them trying out all kinds of aesthetics at once. Each new pair of singles ahead of the album has tried something a little different, and that’s no different for “Spud Infinity.”

“Spud Infinity” was debuted onstage a few years ago and has long since become a fan favorite. The studio version takes it in a slightly more country-fried direction. The band is perhaps also indulging their playful side; everything from the name on down to the “knish” line registers as a bit more tongue-in-cheek above those rustic sproings. It’s a casual, rambling sound that suits Big Thief. Each time Adrianne Lenker stretches out the “What’s it going to take?” line in the chorus, it’s just as poignant as anything else she’s sang. And, accordingly, the finished recording of “Spud Infinity” quickly feels like another pivotal entry in Big Thief’s continually impressive catalog. —Ryan

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