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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/4)

on March 04, 2016, 11:00am
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Foo Fighters are on hiatus, but Kendrick is back — so goes the music world. Just when you think you’ve hit a new low, some amazing surprise pops up to bring some light back into the world. So, if you’re feeling bummed about Dave and the Foos kicking back for a bit, revel in some of these new jams and get your mind off of your troubles.

10. TOKiMONSTA feat. Jonny Pierce – “Giving Up”

tokimonsta Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/4)

“Mini” only in track length, TOKiMONSTA’s Fovere (available now via Young Art Records) is a star-studded expansion of the LA beatsmith’s production palette. After premiering the Anderson .Paak-featuring “Put It Down” in November, TOKiMONSTA has followed it up with the unexpectedly celestial “Giving Up”.  Enlisting the vocals chops of Jonny Pierce and the low-end pulse of funk maestro Erick “Jesus” Coomes of Lettuce, TOKiMONSTA has crafted a slightly melancholy take on dream pop. Pierce takes the lead on this cut, TOKiMONSTA showcasing just a small taste of lighthearted, effervescent club culture about a minute in. –Derek Staples

09. Alyeska – “EverGlow'”

Alyeska

Fun fact of the day! Alyeska is apparently an archaic Aleut spelling of the word Alaska, which itself translates to “great land.” Alyeska also happens to be the name chosen by LA-based musician Alaska Reid for her retro-leaning indie rock outfit. Together with Ben Spear and Enzo Scardapane, Reid digs up some classic ’90s alt rock sounds, her powerful vocals leading the way. “EverGlow” has been a highlight in live performances for a little while, but it’s no wonder Reid and co. recorded the tune properly, presumably in time for Alyeska’s upcoming debut album, which is expected sometime this summer. –Adam Kivel

08. Leapling – “Alabaster Snow”

Leapling Suspended Animation

Brooklyn trio Leapling jumps the farthest distance by making the shortest shifts mid-song. Single “Alabaster Snow” does an exemplary job at flaunting that. While frontman Dan Arnes sings about feigned optimism, the guitar makes its way through a series of subtle chord changes that give the illusion of a drastic emotional shift. With brief backing vocals and the occasional bass slide, the whole thing finds comfort in repetition — particularly thanks to the song’s jazz-styled drumming. There’s more to follow when the rest of the LP, Suspended Animation, drops June 10th via Exploding in Sound. –Nina Corcoran

07. Andrew Bird feat. Fiona Apple – “Left Hand Kisses”

andrew bird fiona apple left handed kisses song stream Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/4)

Written on a long, whiskey-fueled night, “Left Handed Kisses”, the newest single off Andrew Bird’s Are You Serious (due out April 1st), traces the charm and vulnerability of love. In fact, it’s one of the few times we’ve heard Bird sing about the heart this directly. “I can’t write simple love songs,” he says in the song’s press release. “People are complex.” Lucky for him, he snagged one of the most complex ladies out there to join him: Fiona Apple. The two do a country barn-like vocal dance throughout the song’s unconventional structure, complete with church bells and sorrowful violin, before ending the whole thing on a minor note — a coy way to leave this love letter unresolved. –Nina Corcoran

06. Johanna Warren feat. STONEHOLDER – “Great Lake”

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 5.31.16 PM

Tension permeates Johanna Warren’s latest song, “Great Lake”, which arrives with a haunting video that also produced STONEHOLDER, which Warren has called a “witches’ healing sound project.” The Portland-based singer-songwriter sings of gatekeepers and martyrs over hypnotic glockenspiel notes, low vocal melodies, and the sounds of women freely screaming, laughing, and crying. In a society where women, stereotyped as emotional messes, are still told they should be seen and not heard, these unabated vocalizations hold startling power. Communal feminine catharsis underlines Warren’s soothing voice and trancelike manner, creating an experience that sounds like both the painful process and the peaceful aftermath of a healing. —Karen Gwee

Great Lake - Johanna Warren ft. STONEHOLDER from samantha shay // source material on Vimeo.

05. The Kills – “Doing It to Death”

the kills

Although Alison Mosshart has been away recording with The Dead Weather and Jamie Hince has had to relearn his instrument after five (!) hand surgeries, “Doing It to Death” thankfully doesn’t sound like anyone else but The Kills. It’s a streamlined distillation of their signature sound: an intriguingly insistent backbeat, Mosshart’s husky, devil-may-care vocals, and a sweeping, distorted guitar riff courtesy of Hince. The Kills have shed the abrupt, unpredictable song structures of No Wow and Midnight Boom for a bluesy cool that alternative radio will love. “Doing It to Death” is the first single off their fourth album, Ash & Ice, due out June 3rd on Domino Records. –Karen Gwee

04. Sturgill Simpson – “Brace for Impact”

02-Sturgill-Simpson

With 2014’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Kentucky-bred Sturgill Simpson opened up the world of country music to thousands of unsuspecting listeners. Delivered at a pace more in tune with the outlaws that dominated the genre during the 1970s, the verses about tripping on mushrooms and DMT landed on ears previously adverse to the tunes of current country superstars. Simpson is transparent about the prevailing formula of country music; it just happens that he excels in working new motifs, influences, and sonic textures into that relatively rigid framework. For “Brace for Impact”, Simpson “reverse engineered” simple poetry, drafted while on the road, into that structure. While so much of country music has contorted into pop and roots rock, Simpson is expanding the market by bringing new life (exemplified best during the jam after the 4:45 mark on this track) to the sound of Willie Nelson and Hank Williams Jr. Grab the single later this year when A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth arrives on Atlantic Records. –Derek Staples


03. Suuns – “Paralyzer”

suuns paralyzer

With the announcement of their new album, Hold/Still, coming out on April 15th via Secretly Canadian, Montreal act Suuns return with what may very well be their most haunting sound yet. On “Paralyzer”, the group treads through musty electronics, psychedelic mind-tricks, and enigmatic drones that wash over you all at once. What begins sounding disorienting soon becomes comforting. Come the end, it’s hard to tell if singer-guitarist Ben Shemie’s sadistic tone and deadpan groan belong to an ex-serial killer or an artistic maniac, but the eerie vibe draws you in no matter which of the two you decide it falls under. –Nina Corcoran

02. iLoveMakonnen feat. Tunji Ige – “Don’t Do Too Much”

ilovemakonnen new album drink water 6 Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/4)

Nobody would accuse Atlanta’s iLoveMakonnen of doing too much lyrically — dude has some absolute gems, but mostly because he knows how to sell a hook. Pair him with fast-rising rhymer Tunji Ige, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Makonnen and Tunji rifle off repetitions of the song’s title over an icy trap beat, the two bursting at the seams with energy. If this is them not doing too much, one has to wonder what that might sound like. “Don’t Do Too Much” and the rest of Drink More Water 6 drops March 18th on Warner Bros. –Adam Kivel

01. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”

mitski Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/4)

Sometimes album titles give you an idea of what you’re getting into. The latest from indie rocker Mitski, Puberty 2, seems like it’s on that path, as evidenced by lead single “Your Best American Girl”. While the song is confident and powerful, Mitski Miyawaki lyrically addresses relationships, family, and insecurity. “Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me/ But I do/ I think I do,” she sings over appropriately burnished indie punk. Grab more of this emotional sublimity when Puberty 2 hits June 17th via Dead Oceans. –Adam Kivel

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