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.)
billy woods & Messiah Music - "Pollo Rico"
What’s it like to be billy woods? How does it feel to exist in that constant flow-state, where your brain simply won’t stop transforming poisonous realities into jaggedly beautiful word-puzzles? I bet it’s exhausting. I bet it’s hard to sleep.
The new woods album Church is his second of the year, and it might be as head-spinning as the first. “Pollo Rico” is a great example of what woods does so well. His voice barrels in over a misty, beautiful neck-snap beat from Baltimore producer Messiah Music. He sounds tough but contemplative, bruised but not beaten. His words cut. Tiny details and shards of imagery add up to make bigger pictures, and those bigger pictures are bleak: “Hospital vending machine, D2 is the Cheetos/ New Years Eve, I snuck in the Cliquot.” It’s a lot to digest, and by the time you start to wrap your mind around it, you might have a whole new billy woods album waiting for you. —Tom
Fleshwater - "Kiss The Ladder"
That first detuned guitar note is all Deftones, and you can hear echoes of Chino Moreno in Marisa Shirar’s gliding vocal. But the lead single from Fleshwater’s debut album pulls just as much from woozy classic shoegaze and eerily glamorous goth and surging straight-ahead punk rock. The band, featuring members of Vein.fm and produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, gets its damage done in under 90 seconds here; that’s more than enough time for “Kiss The Ladder” to make its presence felt and to make me wonder what other wonders We’re Not Here To Be Loved might have in store. —Chris
Open Mike Eagle - "Circuit City" (Feat. Video Dave & Still Rift)
I bet it feels good to get a brand-new Madlib beat and then to invite your friends to rap on it. It’s a hell of a Madlib beat, too, a sample that seems to be tumbling and melting all over itself. Open Mike Eagle’s friends go off, too; there’s a loose charm to Video Dave and Still Rift’s verses.
In certain circles, the mere existence of a song like this could be considered an opportunity to flex, a sign of real status. But even when he’s flexing, Open Mike Eagle doesn’t really flex. Instead, the new album Component System With The Auto Reverse is consumed with thoughts of all the time that OME has spent putting in work, all the career opportunities that he hasn’t gotten. Even in what could’ve come off as a triumphant moment, OME continues to marinate on the struggle: “I been punching this pavement since ’09/ Just seething, his fist bleeding the whole time.” It’s fascinating to hear someone working through his life and his career in his own music. And since OME is just so dang good at rapping, it sounds good, too. —Tom
Fever Ray - "What They Call Us"
“What They Call Us” opens with an apology: “First I’d like to say that I’m sorry/ I’ve done all the tricks that I can.” Maybe it’s a plea for forgiveness, in that Fever Ray’s first new track in five years largely picks off where their excellent 2017 album Plunge left off. Or even more so it sounds like it could have emerged from the Knife’s sprawling, messy final masterpiece Shaking The Habitual, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the track finds siblings Karin Dreijer and Olof Dreijer reuniting behind the boards once again. Dreijer isn’t one to retread past sounds, but they’re also not one to do anything without purpose.
The plodding, haunting dirge that is “What They Call Us” is accompanied by a music video in which Dreijer drudges through the monotony of office life. One might be tempted to make the connection between the song’s existence and the start of another Fever Ray album cycle, and Dreijer certainly invites that: “It’s a common misperception/ This is not a band,” they sing in one of the verses. “Ready for a dissection/ Now Mommy’s gotta work, see the land.” Whatever the case may be, it’s a thrill to have Fever Ray back in our lives again, intriguing and mystifying us in equal measure. —James
Ashley McBryde & Benjy Davis - "Gospel Night At The Strip Club"
“It’s a fictional town, but it’s also every small town you’ve ever been to,” Ashley McBryde has said about her new concept album, Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville. “We have this really cool livestock trailer full of really interesting characters.” In the vein of A Prairie Home Companion and even the Welcome To Night Vale podcast, McBryde gives us a guided tour of Lindeville, and on “Gospel Night At The Strip Club,” collaborator Benjy Davis helps narrate a vivid scene that juxtaposes a wearied pack of strip-club regulars — dancers, a bartender, and patrons — that together make up their own kind of congregation. “Hallelujah, hallelujah,” Davis chants over a steady acoustic strum, speak-singing, “Jesus loves the drunkards and the whores and the queers… Would you recognize him if he bought you a beer?” Kris Kristofferson, another fan of spoken-word country storytelling, would be proud. —Rachel