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). We’ve kicked 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.

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05

Herman Wallace spent 41 years in solitary confinement after being convicted of killing a prison guard. Days after a Louisiana judge freed Wallace from prison and ruled that his conviction had been unconstitutional, Wallace died of cancer. While he was locked up, Wallace had a written correspondence with Jackie Sumell, an artist who asked Wallace to describe his “dream house” and who then built a scale model of that house as an art installation. That infuriating and inspiring story, about drawing joy and art from abject despair, is the inspiration for “(Herman’s) House,” the new song from the New Orleans punks Special Interest. The track is angry and passionate, but it’s joyous, too — driven by a giant honking house beat and a monster bassline and Alli Logout’s full-on wail. It’s a song for liberation, and it sounds liberating. —Tom

04

Taylor Swift recently said something to a whole bunch of NYU grads about “catch and release,” adding, “What I mean by that is, knowing what things to keep, and what things to release.” This notion of knowing when and what to let go is a vital part of growing up — whether you’re a world-famous musician or not — and it’s something Angel Olsen explores in gorgeous detail on her latest Big Time single. “Through The Fires” is first and foremost an elegant ballad, with old-Hollywood orchestral strings eventually giving way to a modified “Be My Baby” beat. Olsen’s mellifluous vocals trickle across the soundscape with wise words about freeing ghosts and “learn[ing] to release the dreams that had died.” Her personal resolution easily ladders up to the universal; looking toward the future never sounded so lovely. —Rachel

03

Naima Bock makes music that feels out of step with time, like it was unearthed from some long-lost ’70s folk album. “Toll,” the third single from the former Goat Girl member’s upcoming solo debut, is busy but sounds completely still — filled with fluttering guitars and wayward woodwinds and a stuttering violin, it builds subtly and gently into something warm and enveloping. “When it takes its toll/ And the world breaks down its walls/ It’ll be you who hurts the most,” Bock sings in her inviting lilt. “They say time will heal all/ But I felt the darkness first/ Knowing nothing will be left but mold.” It’s unhurried but magnetic, the kind of song that isn’t flashy but leaves a deep impact if you’ll let it. I guess you could say … it takes a toll. —James

02

There’s something exciting happening in these new Sudan Archives songs. The entire premise of this project was always intriguing: songs that perfected a unique vibe plus the occasional move towards something hookier and more direct. But now, Sudan is both experimenting with her sound and getting poppier at the same time. “Selfish Soul” is built on a bass rumble and that characteristically nimble violin, but it also features one of Sudan’s most percussive and insanely catchy melodies. Ever since I first heard “Selfish Soul,” it’s been impossible to get out of my head. Thematically, it’s a song about hair and beauty standards and finding a sense of acceptance and confidence for yourself. Fittingly, “Selfish Soul” finds Sudan Archives closing in on something that feels like the musical identity she was always heading towards. —Ryan

01

On “FEAR.,” one of the most powerful songs on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., the rap legend showed us how fear manifested at various moments in his life via a series of three autobiographical scenes. He sort of returns to that format on the staggering climax of Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, his messy 2xLP journey toward healing through therapy. But this time the stories overlap because all that mess tends to get tangled up inside of people and their families.

Despite three producers working on the track, “Mother I Sober” is an exceedingly quiet, stripped-down piano ballad, and Kendrick matches its somber tone by essentially whispering most of the song. It makes sense given the heavy subject matter in play: an unpacking of guilt, grief, and generational trauma in which Kendrick reckons with his own sex addiction alongside the physical and sexual abuses suffered by his mother. He artfully weaves the stories together, sprinkling in vivid details like the visions of his late grandmother that followed him throughout childhood, so that the emotional gut-punches keep coming at a steady clip.

There are so many parts of “Mother I Sober” that could make you cry. Kendrick surveying the damage he’s visited upon his partner by failing to conquer his vice? Yeesh. The various instances of Kendrick grappling with everything his mother has been through? Damn. Beth Gibbons dejectedly singing, “I wish I was somebody, anybody but myself”? Wow. For me, the tipping point into tingly devastation is the moment of absolution when Kendrick’s fiancée Whitney Alford, the album’s narrator, announces, “You did it. I’m proud of you. You broke a generational curse,” and their daughter tacks on a cheerful, “Thank you, Daddy.” Talk about big steps. —Chris

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