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. You can hear this week’s picks below and on Stereogum’s Favorite New Music Spotify playlist, which is updated weekly.
Shannen Moser - "Paint By Number"
I tend to think our collective language around self-care and gratitude can skew overly packaged most of the time, like a Home Goods mug bearing some wine-related slogan. So it’s nice to hear Shannen Moser finding a unique, actually organic way to say “chill out and touch grass” on the contemplative and oh-so delicate “Paint By Number.” The Philly songwriter’s lead single to the forthcoming The Sun Still Seems To Move sounds like a late-summer sunset, with soft, cinematic strings, earnest piano chords, acoustic picking, and clarinet strains. Overtop, Moser serenely narrates, “So you’re lying down, getting comfortable/ The sky opens up and says your name/ A series of quiet moments like a paint-by-number dream.” According to a statement, Moser wanted “Paint By Number” to be a show of thanks to their friends and family, and a chance to “lean into the stillness.” Even if you’re juggling too many things at once (and who isn’t?), “Paint By Number” will hopefully help you to stop and feel calm for a minute. —Rachel
JID - "Dance Now" (Feat. Kenny Mason)
On one hand, Aviad and Christo laced these guys with the kind of pop-trap heat that feels like a cheat code. On the other hand, few rappers could attack this beat with the artful ferocity JID and Kenny Mason brought to it. Whether flexing with surgical precision or Tokyo-drifting into a melodious chorus, the young Atlanta stars turn “Dance Now” into their playground, and as listeners we get to share in the fun. Oh, what a handsome gift JID’s new The Forever Story is shaping up to be. —Chris
High Vis - "Trauma Bonds"
If you’ve ever done research into domestic violence or child abuse, the term “trauma bonding” comes up a lot. It’s a certain feeling of attachment to someone who’d actively destroying your life — those self-destructive and hard-to-shake feelings of comfort and love for an abuser. That’s not exactly what “Trauma Bonds,” the latest track from the hugely exciting British post-punk band High Vis, is about. Instead, singer Graham Sayle wrote “Trauma Bonds” after a friend’s suicide, and the song digs into the idea that “toxic coping mechanisms” — his words — can exist at the root of certain friendships.
“Trauma Bonds” is a hard song in every sense. It’s all about interrogating yourself, admitting that you and your crew are “just slaves to fear”: “Buried too many young/ It’s a short life/ Tears on my Gore-Tex/ We’re defective and numb.” But the song doesn’t sound defective or numb. Instead, it’s majestic, driven, anthemic. Sayle doesn’t sing so much as declaim, but his voice rises and soars over the kind of searing post-hardcore churn that Quicksand invented decades ago. It still works. Some of us might be defective and numb, but we can still feel this. —Tom
Alvvays - "Easy On Your Own?"
The best Alvvays songs have a way of sounding urgent and relaxing at the same time, and “Easy On Your Own?” is certainly among their very best. The Canadian band makes the surging, teetering hooks that feel easy, but this is a deceptively complex song — one that’s all compressed energy and then quivery, swirling romanticism. I love the way Molly Rankin stretches the words out in the chorus, a capacious yell that channels frustration into a sugary rush. As she wonders what it’s like to fly solo, she delivers some career-high lines about feeling burnt-out and disaffected: “I dropped out/ College education’s a dull knife/ If you don’t believe in the lettered life/ Then maybe this is our only try.” She sings about “crawling in monochromatic hallways,” asks if we’ve ever heard violins in our mind. I don’t even know what all that means, but when she sings it I feel it. I want to screech it out at the top of my lungs. —James
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Burning"
Both of these new Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs have been epic in their own ways. There is a sense in which they both echo back to past glories: Whereas “Spitting Off The Edge Of The World” was the sound of the “Maps” band channeling their power-ballad bona fides, “Burning” reminds us how smoothly their glam-trash garage rock morphed into clubby synthpop on It’s Blitz! classics like “Heads Will Roll.” Yet neither song is stale or formulaic; this is the sound of a rejuvenated and powerful band finding fresh ways to play to their strengths. In the case of “Burning,” that means Karen O rasping and wailing over darting disco strings and whispering over house-inflected piano chords. The results are so stirring that not even a faint lyrical resemblance to “My Humps” can derail this train. —Chris