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.)
Amen Dunes - "Purple Land"
“Purple Land” feels like alternate-dimension folk-rock. Damon McMahon wrote an artful story in bits, pieces, and conversational asides, then attached it to a simple, repeating chord progression. Yet the arrangement — assembled in sessions around the world with components like drum machines, Backwards Bass Guitar, and Shook Ones Clavinet — echoes and flickers as if built from extraterrestrial material.
McMahon’s lyrics are full of lines to be dissected and contemplated: “I’ll be long gone/ You’ll be living on the sun/ If you ain’t careful, you’re gonna forget it,” or “We used to hang out/ Why don’t we now?/ Like the Bible stories, I’ve been full of em.” So many ideas and experiences are threaded into those words. McMahon calls “Purple Land” a character portrait, “first of a child, then the narrator, and then of an empowered figure as they all navigate and find liberation from the disconnection and disenchantment of an uncertain world.” Deciphering it is part of the fun, but even without any kind of deep examination, the song’s slow-build might send you into moments of reflection on your own narrative arc. —Chris
Kacey Musgraves - "Deeper Well"
Last time around, Kacey Musgraves tried to do too much. 2021’s star-crossed was Musgraves’ attempt at a divorce album, a post-country pop breakthrough, and a Lemonade-style visual LP, and it fell short of expectations. “A Deeper Well,” the title track from her follow-up, feels like a reset in lots of different ways. Musically, it’s soft and spare and simple — a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, some jazzy rhythm-section work, a few ambient keyboard swells. Lyrically, it’s all about trying to move on from the things that aren’t working for you anymore, whether that means constant weed intake or the presence of people with “dark energy.” The filters on her voice are a little distracting, but the track is so pleasant and soothing that it overwhelms any and all qualms. “A Deeper Well” isn’t a grand statement, and that’s fine. It casts a spell just the same. —Tom
Claire Rousay - "head"
Ambient artist Claire Rousay just announced her new album sentiment. The artwork encapsulates the intimacy of her songs; the camera is focused on Rousay lying in bed, her nightstand beside her littered with crushed cans, a cigarette pack, a CD, and other paraphernalia. It feels almost voyeuristic to look at, like the lead single “head” can be difficult to listen to, as Rousay divulges vague details about intense feelings: “Spending half of my whole life giving you head/ Just in case you need to forgive me one day/ For something that I did.” Though it’s only one line, a lot is contained within it; it’s a heavy confession about feeling encumbered by a perpetual guilt, and instinctively using pleasure as a form of apology. Most of the words are sung in the first half of the song, while the last couple of minutes float aimlessly and enchantingly, before her voice returns in the final 20 seconds, anchoring it back to Earth. —Danielle
Erika de Casier - "Ice" (Feat. They Hate Change)
Erika de Casier was born in Portugal, but she’s been living in Copenhagen for most of her life. The experimental rap duo They Hate Change come from Tampa. Those two places have basically nothing in common, but warped, funky dance-pop is a universal language.
On “Ice,” de Casier and co-producer Natal Zaks build on future-shocked Y2K-era R&B, and she gets into a playfully slippery back-and-forth with They Hate Change. The track was presumably edited together, with different people recording in different places, but all three vocalists generate some real on-record chemistry, capturing that sticky moment when you’re not entirely sure if you’re in a relationship or not. The erratically silky groove could keep going forever, but it ends the way most of these conversations should — with de Casier simply saying, “Stop.” —Tom
Beth Gibbons - "Floating On A Moment"
Beth Gibbons has been thinking about death. She can see it coming: “Without control/ I’m heading toward a boundary/ That divides us.” With “Floating On A Moment,” her first solo track in nearly two decades, that voice, with its immaculate restraint, is carried by a swirl of kaleidoscopic guitars, a drumbeat that could be a death knell. The world must feel a lot different from when she formed Portishead in the early ’90s, or when she teamed up with Rustin Man for Out Of Season in the ’00s.
Gibbons has always sounded world-weary, but rarely has she sounded so resigned to the end, or at least the possibility of that fate. Her new song is an aching meditation on mortality: “I’m floating on a moment/ Don’t know how long/ No one knows/ No one can stay.” Life feels endless until we’re reminded, often painfully, that it does in fact end. It all sounds so haunting, and in some respects it is, but “Floating On A Moment” doesn’t sound haunted — it’s transcendent, accepting, especially as it builds to its conclusion, a choir of voices backing Gibbons’ own, reflecting: “All we have is here and now.” It’s powerfully understated in a way that a rare few, Gibbons among them, could manage. —James