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.
Gillian Carter - "The Pain Of Being Awake"
It’s called “The Pain Of Being Awake,” not “The Pain Of Waking Up,” but that instant violent chaos nails the feeling of being jarred from slumber when you’re absolutely not ready. You might change your attitude by the time the new Gillian Carter song is over. Within those two and a half minutes, the veteran Florida screamo trio funnels all that abrasive kinetic power into several blisteringly intense mini-movements, turning the same basic guitar riff into the foundation for both uptempo carnage and a gnarly half-time sludgefest. In the grand screamo tradition, you mostly can’t make out what Logan Rivera is yelling about, but you’ll almost certainly feel it — the sort of barely contained anger and distress that, in the hands of this genre’s best bands, leads to slackjawed holy shit smiles. —Chris
Martha - "Baby, Does Your Heart Sink" (Feat. The Futureheads' Ross Millard)
It’s easy to take Martha for granted. The twee British power-pop greats haven’t switched up their formula much in their decade making music, but they consistently hit and hit hard. New single “Baby, Does Your Heart Sink?” has all the hallmarks of a great Martha song: an infectious chorus, jangly driving guitars, a sense of lightness that offsets some dark feelings. The band described the track as “your classic break-up song, but one designed to be played at the disco at the end of the world,” and its hook soars in spite of all its worrying: “Baby, does your heart sink when I call? I know it does.” —James
Megan Thee Stallion - "Her"
How mad is Azealia Banks right now? “Mad” seems to be Azealia Banks’ default setting, but one must imagine that the madness has been cranked up in recent months, as half of the biggest stars in pop have been jumping on the retro-hip-house wave that Banks was pushing a decade ago. With her “Her” video, Megan Thee Stallion has dug deeper into that Banks bag, even copping the high-contrast black-and-white style that Azealia Banks copped from, what, the “Vogue” video and early-’90s Calvin Klein perfume ads? In the context of Megan’s Traumazine album, “Her” is one banger among many. But there’s a unique thrill in hearing Megan riding that burbling deep-house beat with such authority — doing all the great Azealia Banks things without a single sketchy-ass Trump tweet in there to complicate matters. —Tom
PONY - "Peach"
“What’s more vulnerable than a peach?” asks PONY (Sam Bielanski) as a way to intro her latest grunge-pop banger. She makes a great point — those juicy suckers bruise SO easily, it’s almost not worth buying any. Over the course of her latest single, Bielanski likens the fuzzy fruit to human sensitivity and how it, too, is highly susceptible to the wrong kind of treatment. Meanwhile, such profound subject matter is overlaid with tight, gritty guitar, hard-hitting percussion, and Bielanski’s bubbly vocals. I don’t know much about baking, but it sounds to me like PONY’s made a perfect jam out of “Peach.” —Rachel
Skullcrusher - "They Quiet The Room" & "Quiet The Room"
I’ve had just about enough ethereal indie singer-songwriter fare for the next decade or so — or at least that’s how I thought I felt before this new Skullcrusher album snuck up on me. Helen Ballentine released both versions of the title track from Quiet The Room this week, and either one could conceivably occupy this top spot on the countdown. And since they’re essentially two versions of the same song, they both do occupy the top spot.
“They Quiet The Room,” the album opener, is a soft acoustic hymn that goes full Sigur Rós at the end, dissolving into spectral symphonic splendor. “Quiet The Room,” the penultimate track, summons a similar sparse beauty via piano that feels like it’s bathed in celestial light. “Where do you want to be?” Ballentine sings on both songs. “Someplace you cannot see.” As the music wears on, she continues, “I know you had more to say/ Did you feel afraid to tell me?” It’s a stirring less-is-more situation and a neat meta trick, given the subject matter: just enough lyrics to dredge up deep emotions in you, but so few that your own experience comes spilling out to fill in the gaps. “The words still sit on your tongue,” she sings in the end. “They quiet the room.” It’s easy to imagine these recordings leaving listeners stunned and wordless too. —Chris