Top 10 Songs of the Week (5/23)


    Carving out an identity is a daunting crisis for any artist, especially in today’s overcrowded musical landscape. Strand of Oaks’ Timothy Showalter harps on such topics on his song “Shut In”, which highlights this week’s countdown full of strangely individualistic tunes. Listen to how each of these artists twist and bend genres into independent creations: the heavy but not necessarily metal stylings of The Atlas Moth, the always polarizing eloquence of Morrissey, Godflesh’s ripping industrial aggression … It’s that originality that catches our ear and fulfills our desire to hear something new and exciting. We hope it does the same for you.

    10. Morrissey – “Istanbul”

    morrissey world peace is none of your business

    Following the staunch, politicized “World Peace Is None of Your Business”Morrisseys “Istanbul” is a more personal, more guitar-driven song. Here’s the story, or something like it: Long ago, the Englishman, who turned 55 yesterday, fathered a son he was either too young or too irresponsible to care for. Now he wants to make up for lost time: “Istanbul, give me back my brown-eyed son.” Despite the feeling of urgent emptiness, he’s in his element here. World Peace Is None of Your Business, Morrissey’s 10th solo album, is out July 15th. –Michael Madden

    09. The Orwells – “Gotta Get Down”

    Lykke Li - I Never Learn

    Based on what we’ve seen from the Illinois rockers, The Orwells can’t get enough of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. They have had their ups and downs, but it’s all a part of the learning curve. Their new single, “Gotta Get Down”, finds the band just a bit bummed. “I wanna get stupid/ I gotta get lit/ I wanna have faith in/ Something I don’t get,” Mario Cuomo croons, backed by huge guitars and gnarly feedback. Take a listen over at their Disgraceland Drive-In website, complete with some ’90s-tastic GIFs. Their major label debut, Disgraceland, is due June 3rd via Canvasback/Atlantic. –Sam Willett

    08. Tree – “Look at Me”


    Tree, the bullfrog-voiced rapper/singer/producer out of Chicago, has at least two unique things going for him: that tone, of course, and also the self-termed “soultrap” sound giving his catalog an indie sensibility and modern appeal in equal measure. “Look at Me”, meanwhile, isn’t particularly idiosyncratic, but it works. “Look at me, I’m on a grind,” goes the silky chorus, and Tree’s hunger is apparent even though the breezy, self-produced song narrowly tops two and a half minutes. He’s currently touring Europe. –Michael Madden

    07. Sondre Lerche – “Bad Law”


    On “Bad Law”, the laughing-it-off opener from his upcoming Please, Norweigan singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche asks, “When crimes are passionate, can love be separate?” It could be a line off the new Black Keys album; like Dan Auerbach, Lerche just went through an artistically useful divorce. The song, then, moves with the unpredictable pace of doomed love, transitioning from a wiggly indie pop intro to a height of battering post-punk guitar. Please, Lerche’s seventh album, is slated for release this fall via Mona. –Michael Madden

    06. Godflesh – “Ringer”


    British industrial band Godflesh ended their 13-year hiatus emphatically this week, dropping the colossal “Ringer” and announcing both an EP (Decline & Fall, out June 2nd) and a full-length (A World Lit Only By Fire is set for release in the fall). Safe to say, the Brits have lost none of their edge, as the single is six minutes of bludgeoning groove metal riffs and dissonance. The extremity of their music is a bitter, acquired taste, and although Godflesh might not be for everyone, they sound like nobody else. This is audio for the cold, machine-like world, and it’s only appropriate that the band re-emerge as that world grows even colder and more mechanized. Jon Hadusek

    05. Ben Khan – “Youth”

    Whereas Ben Khans first impressions on R&B were glitchy and catchy, his next steps bring some mature results. With “Youth”, he has crafted a formula that buries ignorance and tainted memories beneath handfuls of feel-good. The track echoes M83 with screaming synth and atmospheric funk, gradually picking up the speed with an array of pumped-up samples and melodic humming. There’s never a dull moment on this track. Khan should keep us dancing for a while, thanks to the recent release of his 1992 EP, which is about to get a limited vinyl reissue via Blessed Vice. –Sam Willett

    04. Saba feat. Eryn Allen Kane – “Burnout”


    The new track from Saba, “Burnout”, stems from fears of falling short of one’s commitments, but the Chicago MC manages to find optimism, hoping to “rap with the Beatles” and break the limits of being “a digit” in the system. The track’s passionate and catchy hook, supplied by Eryn Allen Kane, reinforces that dream, while the guitar and piano textures comfortably echo Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap. Take his advice to “wake up every day feeling good” and keep an ear out for his upcoming mixtape, comfortZone, on July 15th. –Sam Willett

    03. The Atlas Moth – “City of Light”


    “City of Light” drifts, almost pleasantly, while maintaining a crushing pulse of sludge guitars and massive downbeats. Chicago psych-metal band The Atlas Moth have a singular talent of pouring a hazy heaviness on the listener, one which encourages meditation over headbanging and rarely relents. Vocalist/guitarist Stavros Giannopoulos adds a deep, Peter Steele-style croon that aligns with the band’s ominous atmospherics. The Old Believer drops June 10th via Profound Lore. Jon Hadusek

    02. Jungle – “Time”

    Jungle - Jungle album

    “Time”, the latest song from Jungle, has a shadowy sound corresponding to the London act’s underlying mystery. Still, it’s very confident, strutting on thickened rhythms and falsetto vocals that evoke The Bee Gees. (I swear, everyone wants to be a Gibb brother these days.) It’s also endlessly catchy, the clearer lyrics memorable even if the production drowns out many of them. While Jungle has only released a handful of songs to date, their buzz is growing stronger by the minute. They seem prepared to seize their moment like Chvrches and HAIM did last year. Their self-titled debut is out July 14th/15th via XL. –Michael Madden

    01. Strand of Oaks – “Shut In”

    Strand of Oaks

    From Angel Olsen and to The War on Drugs and Sharon Van Etten, it’s been a damn good year for ambling folk rock. Add Timothy Showalter, aka Strand of Oaks, to that list. His latest cut, “Shut In”, taps into a similar slice-of-life melancholy as the aforementioned artists, as Showalter emotes about finding his artistic identity among the musical past and overcrowded present. “Everything good had been made,” he sings with a worn, gravely voice. “So I just get loaded, never leave my house/ It’s taking way too long to figure this out.” The track builds to a simple yet satisfying guitar solo and an unexpected piano coda — confident closing moments that, in their own meta way, reconcile the very conflict Showalter is singing about. Jon Hadusek


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