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.)
Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this installment of The 5 Best Songs Of The Week includes songs from the past two weeks.
The Jesus And Mary Chain - "jamcod"
There’s a pervasive idea that every Jesus And Mary Chain song sounds the same. This is false. During their initial run in the ’80s and ’90s, the Mary Chain went from shrieking feedback-pop to half-electronic proto-shoegaze smears to wistful country-rock. But every JAMC song does have the same vibe — a throbbing, laconic whisper-moan menace that’s lost none of its cool. Seven years after their first reunion album, JAMC have tapped right back into the style that nobody else has ever fully mastered. Certain things about “jamcod” are new — the self-referentiality, the turning-signal beeps — but the track still swirls and purrs and growls like the Automatic era never ended. —Tom
Johanna Warren - "Lunar Landing"
Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Johanna Warren can conjure the most beautiful ballad you’ve ever heard. “Lunar Landing” is a breathtaking moment from The Rockfield Sessions, Vol. 1, on which Warren recorded songs from her catalog without edits or additional production in order to capture the intimacy of her live performances. “I will wed the waves/ I will seduce the wind/ I’ll shed my liar’s skin,” Warren lulls in a wavering soprano. It sounds at once raw and perfect, the words falling out of her mouth like poems: “And my purple veins/ Run parallel to the truth.” Warren described the album as a “stylish funeral” she is throwing for herself, and it feels as heavy and bittersweet as one. —Danielle
MGMT - "Bubblegum Dog"
“We all saw the video for ‘Bubblegum Dog’ as an opportunity to combine the charming, DIY, surreal, cardboard craft aesthetic of shows like Yo Gabba Gabba and The Mighty Boosh with these ultra-serious grunge videos we grew up watching on MTV – all that heavy, brooding angst smashed up against absurd childlike fun.” Yeah, cool, but have you heard the song? Though echoing that grunge moment in ways, mostly “Bubblegum Dog” brings a glammy, Spacehog-esque touch to Abbey Road-era Beatles pageantry. The hooks are subtle but unshakable, the lead guitar theatrics phenomenal, the arrangement pleasingly zonked. Love is a very strong word, but I think I love it? —Chris
Björk & Rosalía - "Oral"
Some of the appeal is the sheer momentousness of the combination — two generations of elite pop weirdos coming together to sing about brand-new crushes and to do their part against Icelandic factory fish farming. Some of it is the novelty of Björk, who’s been so focused on free-floating abstract expressionism in recent years — singing a song with a legible hook and a memorable melody for the first time in what feels like forever. (Notably, the song isn’t new. It’s an unreleased track that Björk first recorded around the Y2K era, remixed and reworked by Rosalía and her collaborators.) But even without its history or its novelty, “Oral” still pulses charmingly, as these two iconic voices circle one another, murmuring back and forth, sailing over swirling strings and reggaeton drums. —Tom
Car Colors - "Old Death"
It seemed like the day might never come, but here it is: Charles Bissell’s first new music in 20 years. There’s a whole lot going on with “Old Death,” enough to make up for the two decades away. It’s a zoom through time, childhood and the recent past and the slightly less recent past knocking up against each other in lyrics that are alternatingly conversational and profound. Bissell’s wordy soup is couched in a scritchy scratchy guitar that breaks into a clattering kitchen-sink lick and bursts into something that almost sounds like an anthem, but Bissell is restrained by his literary flair from ever launching into something so simple as a chorus.
Instead, there are tantalizing ideas throughout, blisteringly compact but thrilling moments that make you want to leave it on repeat forever to see what else you can uncover. Like when he locks into the repeated “no”s and “oh”s halfway through, or the magnificent scene-setting of “This hitch/ This life/ I met Juan at Metrodome/ He and I kissed/ That night under the Perseids.” The accumulation of details adds up to one hell of a track about life, death, and what comes after. “This song’s worked in denial/ That our young won’t soon toss the first trowel over us,” Bissell sings at one point, and what is a song or a piece of art if not a defiance of death, a way for whatever small part of the artist that lives within it to continue on beyond the mere confines of a human existence? —James