The 10 Best Songs of the Week

The 10 Best Songs of the Week
Well, the summer has almost ended. With Labor Day just a few days away, it’s time to accept that the good and the bad of this past summer. The good? FKA twigs dropped a classic album and we have lists full of great new music. The bad? “Fancy” and “Anaconda” were more than likely the songs of the summer. As we head into September and attempt to escape from that horrifying truth, we’ll continue to search for the week’s best music as you battle the new semester’s classes, relationships, and calamitous work situations. Check out the best songs of the last week of summer and share your frustrations in the comment section below.

10. "Look Back" – Dot



Despite her editing chops, Team Supreme producer Dot’s “Look Back” comes in waves: sun-drenched vocal harmonies and warm synth-swells delineate a smooth ebb-and-flow motion. Evoking laidback, summery scenes, the track mingles nostalgia and optimism, where the sample’s request to “watch the bridges burn” feels more like being cut loose than a severance of ties (though I guess that’s the same thing). Suitable for partying, reminiscing, or smoking a joint, “Look Back” sums up why we adore the lovely Dot. - Justin Kwok


9. "One-eyed Sister" - Dawnbringer



Chris Black is the proverbial benighted godhead animating three of Chicago's finest metal acts, Superchrist, High Spirits, and Dawnbringer, and when he's not writing, recording or touring with any of these he plays drums for Pennsylvania power-metal madmen Pharaoh. No rest for the wicked, then. Black's latest offering from the rime-encrusted Midwestern metal forge is "One-eyed Sister", a loping behemoth resplendent with dueling axes and truly pristine production. On first listen, the track seems vaguely retro, something Iron Maiden or even Metallica would have done back in the day. But after listen 36 or so, the breadth, which is to say, the timelessness, of Black's vision descends on the listener like an albatross. This is music that could have been recorded in 1982 or 2002, or 1992. As for the vocals, they beautifully unfold in ballad form and carry a melody Captain Ahab could have harpooned to, a tale for nights by swinging lantern light. Fuck the "metal" moniker altogether; this is straight up heroic. - Daniel DeVaughn


8. “Flight or Fight (Remix)” [feat. Common & Chance the Rapper] - Lil Herb



I don’t know if Herb’s mother really gave him advice about girls fellating him, but I believe him. The hardest—and best—rapper currently residing in the Windy City enlisted a couple notable expats for the remix to his Brian Miller-produced Welcome to Fazoland cut. Common continues with his improbable third wind, following July’s exceptional Nobody’s Smiling with a smart, gritty turn, but it’s a certain Mr. Bennett who steals the show. Eschewing his James Blake-tinged experimentation, Chance drops sixteen about his very present father. “I’d rather be a real man than a real nigga, real talk.”Paul Thompson


7. “Pretend” (feat. A$AP Rocky) – Tinashe



To say Tinashe blew up over night would be a bit of an understatement. As of around this time last year, the only significant credit she had to her name was a guest spot on Ryan Hemsworth’s Guilt Trip. Fast forward to today and she has a summer anthem with Schoolboy Q in “2 On”, as well as three solid mixtapes of material. “Pretend”, the next single off her forthcoming album Aquarius, is a restrained, composed statement about regret, loneliness, and desire. Both Tinashe’s soft voice (somewhere between Sade and Aaliyah) and Rocky’s stumbling, muttered verse perfectly fit in portraying the roles of victimized girl and foreboding jerk, respectively. It’s a left turn from some of her previous bangers, but it’s entirely welcomed. – David Hammond


6. "Push Back" – Wen



This week, dubstep-pioneering label Tempa announced a forthcoming Allstars release (the first in four years), premiering the lead track, “Push Back” by Wen, to whet the appetite. Yet, “Push Back” drifts in more dreamy spaces than a lot of the label’s releases, waxing over guttural bass and punchy grime percussion with long lustrous synths—even sounding hopeful at the break. But make no mistake: this tune gets every bit as dark and heavy as other Tempa tracks, and you’ll want to be on some dim dancefloor when it’s pulled out. - Justin Kwok


5. “Ballin’” (feat. Juicy J & Kevin Gates) - Starlito



Funny, isn’t it? For the dead period in the middle of the last decade, the South was the strawman for purists and casual fans alike. Hip Hop was Dead and Dying and Dumb and Dancing, and that wasn’t cutting it. Now, a few years later, the landscape has shifted. Los Angeles, once dead to the world save a Guerilla Black here and there, is once again a national power. (New York is still mining DatPiff for ‘saviors’, but that’s another story.) The South, however, is now home to some of the most head-down, bars-up lyricists in the industry. On “Ballin’”, rappers’ rapper Starlito joins forces with Kevin Gates, thereby joining two of the most vicious wordsmiths breathing. Along with the Juicy one himself, “Ballin’” is the most cooking ode you’ll ever hear to cars that cost eighty bricks. – Paul Thompson


4. “Hey QT” – QT



QT, comprised of SOPHIE and A.G. Cook, have a canny way of creating love-soaked pop hits that, no matter how pure the sentiment is, are entirely unsettling. In “Hey QT”, the singer croons “I feel your hands on my body every time you think of me, boy” and it just feels so unnerving and uncomfortable. The uneasiness associated with their music may have something to do with their futuristic shtick. The duo claimed the singer, QT, who heads their collaborative project is “a sparkling future pop sensation.” And while what we hear from them isn’t something drastically new, the manner that their music is composed is something we’re not familiar with. SOPHIE and A.G. Cook have worked up a formula to push pop’s most saccharine instincts to the fullest extent until the final product forms into something unsettling. “Hey QT” certainly sounds like the perfect pop song, but does it feel like it? – David Hammond


3. “The Parade” – Kevin Morby



Kevin Morby is a busy busy man, being simultaneously involved with bands Woods and the Babies and all the touring that goes along with them. But the music me makes manages to feel the exact opposite of his hectic life. "Parade," the slow jammer of a single from his upcoming solo record Still Life, is a five and a half minute twist through sparse and ornate arrangements anchored by Morby's determined and honest vocal delivery. The song starts out on a light start, with subtle guitar plunks and piano accents ushering in the lulled vibes. Soft rock bliss escalates as Morby's Lou Reed-esque deadpan croons raise the volume of this sweet elegy (which was written about Reed himself). Though the piano-driven and horn-accented number remains slow throughout, there's this special undercurrent of intensity that echoes the heartfelt pangs of remembrance. Right when it's starting to end, it cuts to background cafe noises in a live-sounding exitlude. This woozy tribute is simply gorgeous and fitting. – Hailey Simpson

Kevin Morby’s phantasmagoric single “The Parade” begins with Morby well wishing the listener (that she may find out who she is, find what is lost, etc.) before transitioning to the macabre. By the time he imagines his final words, it is clear that this is Morby’s “Wish You Were Here” sung to himself as he attains the gait, timbre, and key of Brian Waters. His final words? “Put my body on display in the parade.” At first, it feels archetypal. What parade? Apparently, though, it’s something like the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade, a holiday celebrating (some have said fetishizing) death. I imagine the crowd watching Morby’s corpus (“[his] feet / they cannot touch the ground”), all wearing calaveras makeup. It’s something like the final reprisal scene in Big Fish, Edward Bloom’s body being carried to the river. The audience for Morby’s funeral-cum-parade includes all his friends, glory, and a woman named Hannah. This final instance of specificity grounds Morby’s reverie as a female vocalist rises to the surface of the Leonard Cohen-like choral arrangements, reminiscent of a haunting Karen Black in Cass McCombs’s “Dreams Come True Girl.” The pristine production, replete with saxophone and tinkling piano, contrasts with the live bar and grill coda, a forty-five second discursion with a Dylanesque Morby singing a different song in the same key as mugs clink and silverware is fumbled in the background, effectively replacing the sentimental swoon that preceded it, making the listener a hitherto privileged voyeur of Morby’s peacemaking with mortality. Kevin Morby (also of Woods and The Babies) will release his second solo album, Still Life, featuring "The Parade" mid-October on Woodsist Records. – Lawrence Lenhart


2. “king cookie faced (for her)” - Busdriver



The release date for Perfect Hair (September 8th) creeps closer; Busdriver pulls back the curtain just enough to see his toes. “king cookie faced (for her)” is as delicate as Driver gets on the LP. But it’s not restraint—the track is honest and expressive, just whispered. The central question (“Can you tell it’s me?”) is as rhetorical as one can get; the Los Angeles-bred emcee continues to be one of the most distinctive rappers working. “cookie faced” is a welcome respite, a more melodic take than aggressive single “Ego Death” or the percussive, dizzying rapping for which Busdriver has become renowned. – Paul Thompson


1. “Ring the Bell – Working Title: Depression No. 42” – Songs: Ohia



For the most tortured of artists, an early death provides the only relief that can exist—some souls are just chained to this world and can only find respite when the chains are broken. Jason Molina’s chronic alcoholism made sense after listening to really anything Songs: Ohia put out, as the singer let it be known that the world made him fundamentally bummed, and depression was a constant force in his life. His music flayed the wounds he tried to close with the bottle. Molina’s work has always been revered, but after his death, there seemed to be a surge in the awareness that he was a brilliant songwriter. 2014 has seen reissues of his Magnolia Electric Co. masterpiece, as well as the release of a tribute compilation Farewell Transmission. This track comes from the Secretly Canadian reissue of Didn’t It Rain, out later this year. The song is a demo of what would become Ring the Bell, and here showcases a solitary Molina whimpering his very best. The songwriter’s aim is always for the viscera and the true pain of ten thousand drinks meant to shut the world out is never more evident than in this peeled back version of a great song. – Michael McDermit



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