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.)
Screaming Females - "Brass Bell"
What a way to make a comeback. I guess it hasn’t been that long since Screaming Females’ last album, 2018’s All At Once — but “Brass Bell” feels like a comeback single nonetheless. It announces itself with a murmuring synth that breaks into a billowing cloud. Marissa Paternoster’s voice echoes off the walls as they’re closing in on her: “I’m living in a brass bell, it’s too loud, it’s too loud!” she repeats, riffs slinging all over the place as the song fractures under its own weight. It’s an impressive outing that serves to remind us that one of the best rock bands in the world is back in business. —James
Wednesday - "Chosen To Deserve"
There’s always been some country in Wednesday’s dense guitar churn, shining through in Karly Hartzman’s drawl and Xandy Chelmis’ pedal steel and the occasional MJ Lenderman lick. On “Chosen To Deserve,” the new single from their Dead Oceans debut Rat Saw God, the Asheville band plows further into twang than ever. From the beginning, we’re bombarded with rolling riffs, immensely hooky chord changes, and Chelmis at his weeping, wailing best — a vibrant roots-rock explosion to introduce a song with only the faintest flickers of hope.
Hartzman’s signature touch as a lyricist is imagery culled from coming of age in a decaying but still beloved South: ripped screen doors, a burned-down Dairy Queen, holdin’ a crossbow in a family photo. Channeling Drive-By Truckers’ “Let There Be Rock,” Patterson Hood’s travelogue of teenage debauchery and arena-rock salvation, here Hartzman assembles a grand parade of such scenes — a greatest hits of her worst behavior, addressed to a lover, “just so you know what you’ve been chosen to deserve.” There’s typical mischief along the lines of “I was out late, sneakin’ into the neighborhood pool/ Then I woke up early and taught at the Sunday school,” but also the least glamorous kinds of teenage drinking, drug, and sex. The story culminates in boredom, emptiness, and longing, yet the song itself could hardly be richer or warmer. —Chris
Yaeji - "For Granted"
Yaeji has been responsible for some bangers over the years, but I’m not sure that anything she’s made approaches the lucidity of “For Granted,” the lead single from her decade-in-the-making debut album. Ostensibly, it’s a song about the gratitude she feels for being able to make music into something sustainable: “Am I saying thank you? Am I enjoying it too? Am I taking it for granted?” But it’s filled with pops and fizzles and quivers that poke at an anxiety over whether she’s really doing enough to justify her place in the contemporary electronic landscape. A song as confident as “For Granted” is proof that she has. —James
MSPAINT & Militarie Gun - "Delete It"
Miltarie Gun’s Ian Shelton has one of the greatest signature ad-libs since Young Jeezy’s rolling, guttural “yyyyyaaaaaah!” For Shelton, it’s a quick, percussive double-grunt: “Ooh! Ooh!” He sounds like a gorilla learning to beatbox. It’s great. On MSPAINT’s “Delete It,” that double-grunt announces Shelton’s arrival, and it also does the crucial work of grounding the track, making it more tangible and familiar. Shelton, who co-produced the forthcoming Post-American, and MSPAINT singer Deedee both deliver their lines in throaty barks. They’re classic hardcore frontmen. But the other elements on “Delete It,” the gurgling keyboards and all-elbows riffage and shakers, are genuine freak shit — oblique, inexplicable choices that fly in the face of any known convention, hardcore or otherwise. On “Delete It,” Deedee and Shelton both scream about wanting to feel more alive, and they do it in the context of a song that truly does feel free and unencumbered and alive. —Tom
boygenius - "$20"
You could argue that all three of the new boygenius songs should be on this list, and you would probably be right. The return of boygenius is a glorious event. Overnight, the three-headed supergroup increased its catalog by 50%. One day, there were six boygenius songs in the world. The next, there were nine. All nine are great. That’s a cause for celebration. But if you have to pick one, “$20” is probably the one.
The three members of boygenius work closely together, but every song has to start somewhere, and it’s pretty clear that “$20” started as a Julien Baker song. The hallmarks are all there: the desperation, the self-destruction, the grand and climactic build-ups. The opening line is pure Baker: “It’s a bad idea, and I’m all about it.” So is the imagery — the Chevy on cinderblocks in the front yard, the T-Bird graveyard where we play with fire, the request for 20 dollars that starts out polite and quickly becomes something else. But there’s something new here, too. There’s joy. Julien Baker can bang out a dirge like nobody else, but “20$” is an epic-scale fists-up rocker, and when the voices of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus well up behind her, she sounds like a freight train.
I have loved so many Julien Baker songs over the years. But “$20” is the first time that I’ve wanted to spontaneously high-five a stranger while hearing Julien Baker sing. —Tom