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. (An expanded playlist of our new music picks is available to members on Spotify and Apple Music, updated throughout the week.)
Quicksand - "Giving The Past Away"
At this point, nobody is surprised when a beloved old band gets together and makes a solidly satisfying new record. That happens all the time. Still, it seems impossible that Quicksand can come back this hard. The ’90s post-hardcore greats — the type of group whose members all played in hugely important hardcore bands — have been back together for a while now, and they’ve already released two undeniable reunion albums. But “Giving The Past Away” seems to hit a whole other gear. It’s a soaring, swaggering rocker built on the kind of stomp-riff that makes you feel you’ve got skin made out of steel. After this song, it seems at least halfway possible that the best Quicksand album might not be their monster 1993 debut Slip. The best Quicksand album might be one that hasn’t come out yet. —Tom
Arctic Monkeys - "There’d Better Be A Mirrorball"
Arctic Monkeys are well into their suave, grown-ass era, but the opening track from new album The Car suggests the former teenage buzz band have only begun to tap into the potential of the louche and luxurious sound they explored on 2018’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball” splits the difference between Bond theme and brokenhearted lament, Alex Turner’s croon leading the way through exquisite lounge music and a soaring string arrangement. “So do you wanna walk me to the car? I’m sure to have a heavy heart,” he sings, easing into falsetto flourishes tempered by life’s troubling complications. “So can we please be absolutely sure/ That there’s a mirrorball for me?” I bet it sounds good on the dancefloor. —Chris
Dawn Richard & Spencer Zahn - "Sandstone"
Ever since leaving Bad Boy Records and Danity Kane well over a decade ago and embracing an indie-artist ethos, Dawn Richard has been producing remarkable, experimental music that shrugs off genre and proudly plays with pop, electronic, and progressive R&B. Her new partnership with producer/composer Spencer Zahn allows Richard to really stretch her legs in a way I’ve never heard her do before; the shimmering, diaphanous “Sandstone” sounds like something that could have been on Pure Moods, but, like, an underground Pure Moods you’d have to crate-dig to find. Meanwhile, Richard’s soaring vocal is reminiscent of Imogen Heap in Frou Frou. Between Zahn’s sprawling soundscape and Richard’s fondness for playing with form, I haven’t been this excited about an artist collab in a while. —Rachel
Plains - "Abilene"
Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield engage with old country tradition on I Walked With You A Ways, their upcoming collaborative album as Plains. Part of that tradition is songs with a firm sense of place, which their new single “Abilene” certainly has. Named after a small Texas city, the Williamson-penned song is pulled between the comforts of something familiar and the fear of something new. Williamson, who left Texas for Los Angeles a few years ago, sings with affection for the slower pace of country life but also the pained realization that you’ve outgrown a place you held dear. “I remember the air when I drove out of town/ Crying on the highway with the windows down,” she sings. “I’da stayed there forever, ’til death do us part/ Texas in my rearview, Plains in my heart.” —James
Knifeplay - "Promise"
To call Knifeplay a shoegaze band is to undersell the glorious sounds they conjure on “Promise.” The lead single from sophomore album Animal Drowning has dreamy vocals and hard-crashing distorted guitars, both slathered in effects, but it also has eerie slide guitar and squealing free-jazz saxophone and a fervent acoustic pulse. Quoting Tony Soprano — “You’re born into this shit/ You are what you are” — the song engages with a world that tends to snuff out people’s attempts to explore and experiment. By the time that climactic torrent of noise breaks out about three and a half minutes into the song, it’s clear this band is practicing what it preaches regarding cutting your own path, with stellar results. —Chris