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.)
Gladie - "Chaos Reigns"
You know the fox. Even if you’ve never seen Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, and I never have, then you know the meme — the dying woodland creature looking up at Willem Dafoe and declaring, in an almost cartoonishly deep and ominous voice, “Chaos reigns.” The fox is right! Uncertainty is the only certainty! Nobody knows anything! Entropy will come along and fuck your life up when you least expect it! What you do with that is up to you. On “Chaos Reigns,” Philly indie-poppers Gladie turn that uncertainty into an anthem. Guitars fizz and fuzz euphorically while Augusta Koch faces the unknown: “Fear is nipping at our heels again! Do we run away from it or greet it as a friend?” Dude, I don’t know. Ask the fox. —Tom
Hotline TNT - "I Thought You'd Change"
Hotline TNT make swoony, melodic fuzz-pop, but they came up through the hardcore punk underground, playing basements and generator bridge shows. Now that they’ve got an album coming out on Jack White’s Third Man label, Hotline TNT could’ve jumped into bigger studios and made the kinds of songs that soundtrack Netflix shows and Nissan ads. Instead, they’ve kept all their fuzzy immediacy intact, making a dizzy heartbreak anthem that sounds like it’s burying itself in a pile of pillows. The smeary lo-fi recording doesn’t smother Will Anderson’s hooks; it enhances them, making them softer and more welcoming. On “I Thought You’d Change,” Anderson sings about heartbreak like an actual person, in words that people actually use: “Text when you’re outside/ Don’t apologize if you’re all right.” It’s sad and triumphant all at once. —Tom
Faith Healer - "The Game"
Jessica Jalbert and Rene Wilson have spent years quietly building up a stellar catalog as Faith Healer. It would be easy to hear “The Game,” the latest single from their upcoming The Hand That Fits The Glove, as an admission of defeat in a merciless music industry. “I’m so tired of playing the game,” Jalbert repeats, sounding calm but tapped out. In truth, it’s about more general exhaustion with the business of being human: “a meditation on the necessity and trials of interacting with other people in life,” about “trudging along, untangling some knots and tying others but ultimately always being bound to something.” The soundtrack for those feelings is fittingly woozy, like the edges of reality blurring, but also warm, tender, and ultimately panoramic — the sound of a band that’s tired but also inspired. —Chris
Slaughter Beach, Dog - "Engine"
I love it when a band really goes for it. That phrase can mean different things for different bands. Jake Ewald has been writing beautifully thoughtful indie folk-rock as Slaughter Beach, Dog for years now, and before that he was making anthemic basement emo with Modern Baseball. But as far as I know he’s never attempted a song as sprawling and ambitious as the nine-minute “Engine.” Ewald’s done long songs before — namely 2019’s hypnotic “Black Oak” — but it’s not just the runtime that makes “Engine” feel so momentous. The track is not particularly catchy or bombastic, either. But it casts its spell instantly and carries you along in its current to the end.
“When they stole that van/ From in front of my house/ There was a part of me tied to engine/ Maybe I was the engine,” Ewald begins. “Dragging those boys through the desert/ Tumbleweeds in my hubcaps/ Tambourine shoved in the driveshaft/ Good chords locked in the glovebox.” He sings the words in that drowsy, sentimental Jeff Tweedy way, setting the stage for an impressionistic look at this life that he’s chosen: the life of a touring musician. In a typically insightful statement accompanying the song, Ewald explained that he’s always assumed a pivot to some more “normal” profession was just around the corner but has recently realized that he’s in this for life. “Engine” romanticizes it all without omitting the pains and mundanities of his daily existence. It’s not exactly a stable job, but there’s a steadiness to the night-in, night-out routine of life on the road. The music here mirrors that consistency, subtly accumulating beauty as it rolls forward, lost in the dream and maybe living it too. —Chris
Sprints - "Up And Comer"
It used to be socially acceptable to outwardly place female performers in a second-tier class. Plenty of people still do this, of course. They just phrase things a little differently. Instead of “she’s good for a girl,” it’s “she’s good for an up and comer,” which informs the title of Sprints’ sneering new track. “I wear a smile like it’s a runner/ Your despise like a badge of honor/ They say she’s good for an up and comer,” lead singer Karla Chubb eyerolls. As the song intensifies, guitar riffs and drum fills fly. Meanwhile, Chubb’s vocal is reminiscent of Karen O’s shriek and Brody Dalle’s guttural growl. By taking its titular (read: sexist and insulting) phrase back, Sprints achieve maximum catharsis. —Rachel