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.)
The Alchemist - "RIP Tracy" (Feat. Earl Sweatshirt & billy woods)
The Alchemist has been on an unbelievable streak in recent years. The new Flying High EP is the victory lap. Al called in a bunch of the hottest names in blearily wordy underground rap to talk their shit over his beats, none more momentous than “RIP Tracy,” which aligns two of the scene’s most beloved stars over lurching, woozy production that sounds like the brightest, hottest, most oppressive summer sun.
First to make his way through the mirage-like molasses creep is Earl Sweatshirt, sounding ever more like a wise elder. “Ghostface Killah crib was overcrowded, I know the feelin’,” he raps, referencing the Supreme Clientele track that gave this song its name. “‘Cept now it’s a house of mirrors I’ve broken into/ The whole reveal on some Jordan Peele shit/ Whole t’ it was me, I’m the only villain, shorty.” Later we hear from billy woods, his poetry piercingly vulnerable as usual: “All that sound and fury, it read like pantomime/ What do I know though? I’m just a regular guy/ Put designer jeans on, one leg at a time/ You’d be surprised like bruises on her inner thighs/ If you knew your muse’s inner lives.” What’s the depressed and self-reflective equivalent of “That’s the anthem, put your damn hands up”? —Chris DeVille
ANOHNI And The Johnsons - "Why Am I Alive Now?"
ANOHNI is eager to tackle the big questions with her music, and perhaps there’s no question bigger than the one that grounds “Why Am I Alive Now?” She laments being born and having to survive in this time, which feels uniquely hellish, and her reflections are poetic and tender. ANOHNI sings about the “aching color of our world,” observes the “birds and insects looking for a place to hide.” The music, however, is soft and skittering, uplifting and almost hopeful: a gorgeous, loping melody that feels at odds with the song’s message. That’s until you take into account ANOHNI’s intentions for her music, and this new album in particular: “I can sing of an awareness that makes others feel less alone, people for whom the frank articulation of these frightening times is not a source of discomfort but a cause for identification and relief.” Though it might feel pointless and frustrating, at least for right now we’re all alive together. —James
Say Sue Me - "Mind Is Light"
The South Korean indie rock band Say Sue Me has been around for nearly a decade, and in that time they’ve done a little bit of everything, making songs that are dreamy and scrappy and sometimes bracing. “Mind Is Light,” their latest dispatch, is a marvel of tone, guitars layered on top of each other in a soft, satisfying fuzz. It takes nearly two minutes for one of those guitars to single themselves out of the hum, and then it’s off to the clouds. In a barely distinguishable murmur, vocalist Sumi Choi sings about alleviating stress by walking around outside, as good as an escape as one can get, even if the rejuvenating effects are temporary: “I’m trying to have a good time/ Now my body and mind are light/ Even if it’s not true, I don’t mind.” —James
Charli XCX - "Speed Drive"
“Ah-ah, Barbie, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind!” Charli XCX exclaims. “Jump into the driver’s seat and put it into speed drive!” By the time that chorus hits, “Speed Drive” is already cruising along at an urgent tempo, spurred ahead by a mechanized keyboard melody, crisply slapping programmed drums, and synths that sound like engines revving up. The song is soundtrack fodder, a chance to toy around with IP on Mattel’s dime, yet Charli and producer EASYFUN elevate would could have been hollow plastic into a sugar-rush euphoria that feels like a best-case scenario for a project like this. It’s not the first time Charli has reinvented an old familiar hit in a radically new context, but it might be the best. —Chris
Olivia Rodrigo - "Vampire"
A breakout song like “Drivers License” and a debut album like SOUR were always going to be tough to top. But Olivia Rodrigo has a gift. “Vampire” brings the drama found in “Drivers License” but demonstrates growth in all respects: melodically, lyrically, vocally. Opening with solemn piano, “Vampire” picks up after the first verse with a thumping beat that makes it sound like Rodrigo is running to escape the titular “blood sucker.” Constantly leveling up octaves and seamlessly moving between sing-speaking to full-on belting, Rodrigo sells us on her burnout without ever actually losing her breath. In terms of the song’s self-flagellating lyrics, I’m 100% in the “this is about Taylor Swift” camp, do not @ me. (“You only come out at night”?? “The way you sold me for parts”?? C’mon.) —Rachel