The 10 Best Songs of the Week

The 10 Best Songs of the Week
Hunter Thompson once said, “Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel. I have always needed fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” In this day and age, we need and consume music at an astounding pace. Our goal with these lists is not only to satiate your desire for new music, but to provide the right music to accomplish this. Our selection of the 10 best songs of the week is sure to do just that.

10. “day 1” - Mura Masa

Known mainly for his exciting trap music experiments, Mura Masa’s newest track, “day 1” gives a snippet of his other American passions. A jazzy trip-hop affair, “day 1” seems to be pulled from some hazy Sunday afternoon, the kind where you sip on glasses of fine wine on well-manicured lawns. As evening draws near, a self-content sax wafts in atop breezy piano and absentminded bass, and the body cannot help but sway to its gentle motion. Digital interference and grainy hip-hop drums complete the beat, providing texture to the classy vibes from this talented young producer. - Justin Kwok

9. “Oh, My Darling, Don’t Cry” - Run the Jewels

On “Oh, My Darling, Don’t Cry”, the second single from the second Run the Jewels LP in as many years, El-P’s production sounds like what Def Jux would sound like if it existed in the year 3002. Which, I suppose, is how Def Jux always strove to sound. The new cut, though, is anything but routine; in fact, this very well might be the most focused, brain-rattling collaboration yet. By the time El and Killer Mike get to the third-act breakdown, the chaos irresistible. Run the Jewels has always been a meritocratic project, one that put skills above all else, and “Don’t Cry” is three-and-a-half minutes of chops, chops, chops. Mike is right: “Parents is livid again.” - Paul Thompson

8. “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” (Arthur Russell cover) - Jose Gonazalez

Since being exposed to Arthur Russell’s Love is Overtaking Me in the mid-aughts, I’ve spent countless hours deeply immersed and exploring the man’s extensive oeuvre. It’s a place I go when I want to truly feel, as Russell’s emotion is evident in every thing he put out, despite its cohesion or experimental quality. For me (and many others), Russell is a hallowed soul of independent music. Few other spirits loom over more contemporary artists. The soon-to-be-released Red Hot compilation will showcase some of the many musicians today who are colored by the departed’s genius. I’m still amazed that Russell not only tried so many things with his music, but how he nailed it time and again. Disco, folk, rock, lo-fi, ambient, new wave—he has at least one absolutely killer track of each style. “This is How We Walk on the Moon” comes from 1994’s posthumous Another Thought and is culled from the time period Russell was experimenting with outlandish sounds in the attempt to create the perfect dance number. Arthur’s song combines infectious drum machine beat with manipulated circuit scratches and a wandering trumpet part. It’s far from the most experimental track Russell produced, but it’s a fresh take on the tired NYC dance scene, both figuratively and literally. Russell succeeded in creating the quintessential song to bring the all night dancing to a quiet close, just as the lights outside were mimicking the club and going up. In his cover, Swedish crooner Jose Gonzalez deconstructs Russell’s flair, much like he did with The Knife’s “Heartbeats”, and excels in making a perky but somber pass at it, complete with his unmistakable fingerpicking flair. It’s a fresh cover, while still quite reverent to Russell’s unique composition. Gonzalez’s layered swaths of guitar over his syrupy, understated voice provides the just amount of homage while wholly avoiding a retread. If the other songs on the compilation are this good (and reverent), we are in for a fantastic honoring of one of the (largely) unsung greats. - Michael McDermit

7. “Comeback” - Pale.

Pale. is a Britain based duo, Alan and Lee, with an electro-jazz sensibility. It’s significantly more tranquil and passive than mainstream expectations. Even so, Pale.’s captivating nature has garnered a substantial following as fans equally adore the tracks released this past year and those on their latest EP, The Comeback. Though still masked somewhat by the band’s obscurity, The Comeback is already reigning in attention for Pale. The title track, “Comeback,” is serene, offering a sensual sound resounding in its musicality and lyrics. “I can’t live up to your highs and lows” opens a deep down beat that trickles through the soft snag of a snare. It creates a somnolent introduction with a heavy, disheartened mood. Pale.’s lead vocalist has a gentle, breathy voice. He sings, “I don’t need to know how you’re coming back or how you’re moving on,” though his tone does not convey the lyrics’ irritation. The mix of serenade with the dissolution of a relationship generates quality depth in the track. - Shelby Tatomir

6. “Sun” - CYPHR

CYPHR makes a return to this list with a tune also from his forthcoming Ekleipsis EP. “Sun” (featured on FACT Magazine) again contrasts delicate melodies with staggering percussive blows, but swaps out the sinister commotion in “Ekleipsis” for something lighter and more sincere. The track works in slow-motion, drifting through melancholic realms with a sense of wonderment—following the path illuminated by radiant arpeggios and streaming synth-chords. Described by FACT as “the yin to the already-revealed title track’s yang,” “Sun” is another masterful production from the crew at Her Records, whose proficiency with sound continues to astound. - Justin Kwok

5. “Snapped” (feat. 2 Chainz) - Cam’ron

Cam’ron is like salted meat on imperial ships or the honey those scientists found in the pyramids—his shelf life is infinite. That’s not to say his catalog has been bulletproof: His records, including and especially 2009’s Crime Pays, have been at times bloated and inconsistent. But he will always be vital, always existing in a universe that only intersects with ours when we run into him in a dark alley behind The Hit Factory. On “Snapped”, the latest single from his First of the Month series, the deeper timbre in Mr. Giles’ voice is the only thing that has shifted. Who else keeps the deuce-deuce after a game of “duck-duck-goose-goose”? The Artist Formerly Known as Tity Boi drops by for a surprisingly po-faced guest spot. - Paul Thompson

4. "Had Ten Dollaz" - Cherry Glazerr

The wry simplicity of Cherry Glazerr's songwriting always transcends the sum of its parts. Its new single, "Had Ten Dollaz," reworks the same kooky-jaunty chord progressions from their standout debut LP into something much more focused than CG’s earlier work. The contrast between the sparse verse arrangements and the wall of sound chorus is heightened by this fuller sound. In fact, the chorus attains an almost grungy sensibility with sludgy guitar work and Clementine Creevy's soaring vocals proclaiming, "I want you to notice my ways." It's no surprise that this driving number— with its ebbs and flows—appeared on the runway. It was written specifically for Saint Laurent's Fall 2014 show. - Hailey Simpson

3. “objectifying rabbits” (feat. Open Mike Eagle) - milo

The axiom says it’s better to give than to receive. On “objectifying rabbits”, the centerpiece from milo’s a toothpaste suburb, the young Chicagoan lays out his best advice, one aside at a time: “Gain muscle mass by bench-pressing hedonists/Write the good raps at the apex of your sleepiness.” Above all else, the song is an exercise in tone. milo never falls victim to the soapbox, instead using the second person to obscure what is, in essence, a starkly personal song. Spirit guide Open Mike Eagle has a show-stopping turn wherein he recalls “playing hide-and-seek with dinosaurs” and slipping grit into his bloodlines—all in falsetto. - Paul Thompson

2. “toto” (XXYYXX remix) - SALES

Originally appearing on the SALES EP, “toto” is an ethereal song featuring Lauren Morgan’s too-perfect-for-this-world vocals and subwoofed amplified acoustic guitar. Morgan, who could pass for child, girl, or alien at any particular moment in the original, is definitively extraterrestrial in the XXYYXX remix of “toto.” Applying deep vocal effects on Morgan’s precarious vocal glides, XXYYXX extracts and loops the most anomalous and phantasmagoric of the lyrics: “and you never get close / and never see it all / until you close your eyes.” From the sound of it, Orlando natives SALES and XXYYXX would have you think their hometown is the next Roswell. With electropop soundscapes reminiscent of Radiohead’s Kid A, but the acoustic calm of The Range’s Nonfiction, “toto” features a flock of birds, a bass detuning so loose you could fit your forearm between the string and fret board, two plucked notes ambulating over a skidding theremin, synth flourishes and a synth drum kit that percolates to robotic glitch. - Lawrence Lenhart

1. "Coronus, The Terminator" - Flying Lotus

Coming quick on the heels of two previously released tracks, FlyLo continues the slow-reveal of his forthcoming LP You're Dead! with another corner of the golden ticket dramatically labeled "Coronus, The Terminator." The buzz surrounding this one comes at a slightly lower frequency, probably due to the (apparent) lack of any guest-spot on the record, and that's not surprising considering the heavy-hitters we've seen show up so far for this innerspace affair, one Herbie Hancock and Kendrick Lamar. That said, I have a sneaking suspicision that Niki Randa's back and interlaced in the choral weave undulating across the landscape FlyLo composes here in tones reminiscent of 2012's Until the Quiet Comes, blues and royal purple. This is the first real glimpse we've gotten of the man and his music alone, basking in the aesthetic he's nurtured and grown for years now. The production is clean, expansive, oxygenated, a welcome change to an atmosphere that sometimes became basement dank on the DJ's last full-length, and hints at a certain transcendence not achieved since Cosmogramma. Will the Emperor enter in fresh new clothes? Difficult to tell as yet. One thing is clear, he ain't dead. - Daniel DeVaughn

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