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). Today’s edition kicks off a partnership with TIDAL, the global music streaming service that offers the highest sound quality and Fan-Centered Royalties. You’ll find our new Favorite New Music playlist updated weekly here on TIDAL.
TIDAL’s HiFi tiers offer over 80M+ songs and 350k+ videos in HD, an ad-free experience, and offline listening with unlimited skips. The HiFi Plus plan includes Innovative Audio Formats up to 9216 kbps (Master Quality audio, Dolby Atmos, Sony 360 Reality Audio, HiFi) and Fan-Centered Royalties where the artists you stream get paid based on your streaming habits.
“Unholy Affliction” is Soccer Mommy like we’ve never heard them before. The influence of Sometimes, Forever producer Oneohtrix Point Never is readily apparent here, as he trades in the band’s usual ’90s-indebted guitars for ’90s-indebted synths that sputter and slip around some impressively frenetic drumwork and pushes Sophie Allison’s often dark songwriting to even darker extremes. The result is unsettling, as Allison tries to unknot the complicated tangle of art and commerce. The unholy affliction in question is the compulsion to continue to make music despite the devilish machinations of the industry. “I’m tired of the money/ And all of the talking at me/ I’m barely a person/ Mechanically working,” Allison sings, turning her darkest fears into a sticky, nauseating hook in the process, one that’s oppressive and stifling and, for better and for worse, extremely compelling. —James
Over the years, hardcore and metal have pulled so much from each other that they sometimes feel like the same thing. These days, a whole lot of hardcore sounds closer to Pantera than it does to, say, Minor Threat. With their muscular melodies and blazing riffage, Richmond’s Mutually Assured Destruction have a serious groove-metal edge, and it only seems right that their fellow Virginian Randy Blythe would come in to scream with them. Blythe’s band Lamb Of God might be the biggest and best arena-level stompers currently working, and his larger-than-life growl clicks in beautifully with the baritone bellow of MAD leader Ace Stallings. “Spirit Liberation” rides hard before it even reaches the breakdown. But when those drums drop out and that riff kicks in, you might feel a sudden urge to shoulder-tackle a rhinoceros. Proceed with caution. —Tom
“Betelgeuse” is a stark and haunting ballad touching on subjects as heavy as abandonment, trauma, and exploding stars. Over ghostly guitar strums, the faint hum of feedback, and some gorgeous, ominous keyboard flickers, Maria BC conjures an atmosphere perfect for the character study they embark upon here. This is a song about loss, regret, and the sense that something dramatic ought to happen as an outgrowth of those feelings, rooted in the story of a father who left a family behind. It’s set to dark, vivid music mesmerizing enough to cast a shadow over your whole day. But its most affecting turn may be when Maria makes their point by contrast: “All the good people/ So nice in their loving/ All know what to believe/ Like it’s nothing, nothing.” —Chris
For a hot minute I thought I was hearing Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” in the opening chords to the Smile’s vexing acoustic cut “Free In The Knowledge.” Fortunately for everybody involved, that feeling went away as quickly as it appeared. Much has been made of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner’s more rock-not-rock record — probably because of how long it’s been in the works, between the initial announcement last year and the slow-drip single releases. “Free In The Knowledge” is a standout among the crop of already shared material from A Light For Attracting Attention, if only for the reason that it is the most elegant of the bunch, with strained, cinematic strings, pensive acoustic chords, and a plodding beat that shuffles in about halfway. Taken together, “Free In The Knowledge” is one of those songs you can appreciate on a technical, production-minded level, and even more so for how it incites a growing unease with every passing second. —Rachel
High Vis were born out of hardcore, and they still play with a fervor and intensity that suggests their background. But at the same time, their new song “Talk For Hours” hints at Madchester, Creation Records, and a more snarling form of Britpop. It’s hard and catchy and bleary and oddly pretty. And in a sense, that’s all the perfect setup for a track like “Talk For Hours.” Frontman Graham Sayle described it as a “sobering reflection on endless conversations without resolution.” It emerges from the kinds of nights spent with friends, trying to laugh and argue and puzzle through life until the early hours of the next day. But the way Sayle frames it, he’s looking back at wilder, listless days of youth, the same way High Vis echoes their past while taking those concerns into an older, more reflective chapter. It’s a song that can carry you back to all those long drifting nights of your own — and a song that will get stuck in your head not for hours, but for days on end. —Ryan