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.

It’s official: We’ve now entered indie’s mega February. There are some heavy-hitter releases today, and many more to come this month. In the meantime, there were also a lot of great songs that dropped this week. Here are the five best of them.

05

On his 2016 album Potential, the Range’s James Hinton scoured the depths of YouTube, building electronic tracks around samples from hopeful singers and rappers. He’s still partaking in that sort of digital crate-digging on “Bicameral,” his first new single in six years. This time it’s with a song by Eritrean singer Bemnet Tekleyohannes, who has a minimal online presence. The songs on Potential often sounded motivated but defeated, but with “Bicameral” he’s created a song that simply soars. He morphs the lyrical impact of Tekleyohannes’ original, from “when you lighten” to “when you lied to me,” which creates some darker conflict but the main takeaway is still one of hope, and the whole track surges with possibility. —James

04

Alchemist beats just hit different, and Benny The Butcher and J. Cole hit back just as hard. “This ain’t my story ’bout rags to riches, more ’bout how I mastered physics,” Benny raps, tempering his braggadocio with some real pathos: “The streets did so much shit to me, I can never live civilly/ I can never leave the scene without checkin’ my mirrors visually.” J. Cole, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to let loose with his guest verse — attacking the beat, talking pure shit, and toeing the line of ridiculousness with bars like “I’m prolly gon’ go to hell if Jesus ask for a feature” and “Eureka, Einstein on the brink of the theory of relativity/ Really, no MC equal, feel me?” He claims to be the best rapper alive, but … the Butcher coming, y’all. —Peter

03

While promoting Home Video, Lucy Dacus mentioned that she’d ultimately cut a song that was “just about kissing girls.” It’s easy to see how the lighthearted “Kissing Lessons” fits into the greater framework of Home Video, as it is her most explicitly queer album, with songs like “Triple Dog Dare” telling coming-of-age stories about Dacus realizing her sexuality. But “Kissing Lessons” takes the discussion to new depths, using she/her pronouns and all, as Dacus recalls a grade-school crush on a slightly older girl named Rachel with whom she used to practice kissing boys. Eventually, Rachel’s family moves away, but Dacus “still wear[s] a letter R charm on my bracelet / And wonder[s] if she thinks of me as her first kiss.” Dacus has always been a poignant storyteller, but it’s wonderful to hear about her life with such vivid language. —Rachel

02

“No one knows what to think, who to believe, or how to approach life right now. No matter how smart you are, it’s hard not to feel blind.” That’s how jazz wizard Kamasi Washington describes the feelings built into “The Garden Path.” He’s right, of course. There’s chaos in “The Garden Path” — drums rushing, horns exploding, choral voices chanting about bright minds with dark eyes speaking loud words and telling sweet lies. But Kamasi Washington doesn’t sound blind. Instead, Washington and his longtime bandmates find euphoria in all that confusion, building a triumphant tower of astral noise. You can’t feel too defeated when a song like this is on. —Tom

01

Sometimes a band has what they do figured out so well that they can reemerge with something this likable, something that feels like an old friend emphatically grabbing you and pulling you into a warm embrace. Basically, it’s a balance of “It’s great to have them back” and “Holy shit they’re still so good.” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s whole thing is being an unwavering, well-oiled hook machine. They know what they do well, we know what they do well, and thus far they’ve stuck to that core formula and haven’t missed.

That was true when “Cars In Space” kicked off the Sideways To New Italy rollout, and it’s true as “The Way It Shatters” introduces us to Endless Rooms. RBCF are not reinventing their wheel here. (Though the exact nature of that big guitar lead feels like a new color from them.) Mostly, this band doesn’t need to do that. “The Way It Shatters” is the exact kind of comeback you want from these guys: the driving beat, the three-guitar interplay, a big anthemic intro followed by melancholically catchy verses followed by Joe White launching back into big anthemic mode for the chorus. Like other RBCF songs, “The Way It Shatters” actually couches some pretty serious meditations in music that could fool you into just hearing it as a pleasant, breezy pop song. But on that musical level, it is a pure joy, RBCF blasting back out into the world with what they do best. It’s great to have them back, and holy shit they’re still so good. —Ryan

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