The 5 Best Songs Of The Week

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.)


Hotline TNT - "Protocol"

Everything about “Protocol” is totally ’90s, all the way down to Fiona Kane’s black-and-white music video. But in 2023, that just means Hotline TNT are riding the zeitgeist. On “Protocol,” the band’s retro approach to shoegaze doesn’t do much to push the genre forward, matching squealing, droning Loveless guitars with Britpop-era melody and jangle. But as the song builds slowly and surely from pensive strums to crushing drums and distortion, it makes a case for this band as one of the best of this moment’s revivalists. —Chris


Open City - "Return Your Stolen Property Is Theft"

“No ethical consumption under capitalism.” That’s the catchphrase, right? That’s what we’re supposed to tell ourselves. We were all born into a deeply fucked society where nothing is fair, and we have to function within that society. Even if the money that we blow in the Taco Bell drive-thru goes to fund more unspeakable evil, that’s not really our fault, right? So why does it still feel wrong? That’s the question at the heart of this song, the first single from Philly punks Open City’s six-years-later sophomore album.

Collectively, the members of Open City have played in untold numbers of great punk and hardcore bands, and they put their expertise to work by banging out a guttural noise-rock ripper with smart, subtle things going on in the background — a hypnotic ringing guitar line darting in and out, a bass tone so dirty that it makes birds fall out of the air. It all works to bolster singer Rachel Rubino’s earnest case that we share the responsibility for all the wrongness in the world: “It’s all so complicated! Born with the guilt of generations hated! We’re all to blame for taking what we never had the right to claim!” It’s enough to make you reconsider that drive-thru next time. —Tom


Lydia Loveless - "Runaway"

Never underestimate the power of a deadline. To write her gut-punching breakup song “Runaway,” a couch-crashing Lydia Loveless apparently had to be “sen[t] out” and [told] not to come back until I had something” by a friend who told Loveless to “write my way through heartache.” Write it out, or find another crash-couch — that’s a good friend! Loveless was up to the task, and then some. Opening with gentle keys, “Runaway” moves into a country-adjacent, mid-tempo piano-rock ballad that is periodically punctuated by Stevie Nicks-sounding howls of “I’m trying to be brave… I’d just like to run away.” It’s a universal desire — wanting to hit “eject” on daily life when a relationship goes bust. Loveless’ raw vocal and poignant mixture of piano, percussion, and twang will absolutely resonate with anyone who’s been where she’s been. —Rachel


Mitski - "Bug Like An Angel"

Mitski always sounds so calm, so matter-of-fact, even when she’s singing about some of the darkest depths of human experience. Sometimes, that’s how it goes. You’re stuck deep in a hole, with no visible way out, and your brain informs you of the details of your situation with the cold detachment of a TV news reporter. On “Bug Like An Angel,” that situation is the dependence of alcohol, the thing that can make us feel less alone even as it magnifies our loneliness in the cold light of day. Here, Mitski notices that the smushed insect on the bottom of her glass looks a bit like an angel, and she remains steely as she explores the religious implications that bloom in front of her.

It’s so stark and so beautiful in the beginning. Mitski’s voice, deadpan and emotionless, and an acoustic guitar. As she considers the implications of life as a drinker, a gospel-ish choir comes in behind her, echoing words back without ever providing the answers. Her diction is so clear: “Sometimes, a drink feels like family.” “Did you go and make promises you can’t keep? Well, when you break them, they break you right back. Amateur mistake, you can take it from me.” “I try to remember, the wrath of the devil was also given him by God.”

In the video, aging woman performs a drunk-lean interpretive dance while a robed choir sings. Mitski simply stands off to the side, strumming her guitar and calling no attention to herself, until the camera slowly zooms in on her. When she makes eye contact with the camera, I get chills. —Tom


Ruth Garbus - "Mono No Aware"

Ruth Garbus recorded their new album live in front of a small audience, done that way “because the songs were losing steam after being sat upon during lockdown for so many months.” It’s easy to imagine how a song like “Mono No Aware,” which opens the album, could die on the vine, become a victim of overthinking. It’s a stream of overthinking, puzzled-out insights about art and life and **gestures** what it all means.

Garbus opts for an unerringly tantalizing guitar line throughout as the thoughts spiral. The result is wistful, inquisitive: “I don’t know what life is, don’t know what art is for/ But I can understand singing the blues,” they sing. “‘Cause mellow music makes me feel better/ It changes everything except my mood.” By questioning the purpose of the song, they immediately justify it — a meditative state that feels enveloping, all the way through to the harmonized “mono no aware” refrain at the end. The song is intellectually tangled, but it has a clarity of vision which is profound. —James

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