Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/15)

Plenty to get passionate about in our latest set of new tunes


    Recently, the CoS staff got together and ranked the 100 best pop punk bands of all time. While there’s still some bickering around the office about placement (at least one of us is still smarting about Smoking Popes dropping into the low 50s), we took time out to put together a fresh list. While it certainly wasn’t all sweet and easy (there are still too many great songs released in a week to pick just 10), this one may have been just a little easier to rank. And who knows, we may wind up featuring some of these artists in a massive list down the road. Hopefully higher than 57.

    10. Pillow Person – “Go Ahead”

    pillow person go ahead

    Sarah Jones may be best known as a sometime member of Hot Chip, but she’s about to step out on her own in a big way. Her first single under the Pillow Person moniker, “Go Ahead”, features enough squelchy synths and clap-along polyrhythms to fill the dance floor, and her harmonized vocals will provide the heartbeat to keep it feeling majestic. Jones sounds a bit like Grimes vocally through the laid-back and grooving version. The “Go Ahead” single (with a B-side called “In My Game”) drops 8/19 via Moshi Moshi, but this song alone is worth speculating what a full Pillow Person album might sound like. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take long. —Adam Kivel


    09. Valley Queen – “My Man”

    At first, Valley Queen seems to be a moniker for Natalie Carol on single “My Man”, the frontwoman belting with cushioned tone at the heart of the band’s music. But that’s unfair to the rest of the group. Carol’s words find their place thanks to the slow, motivated rumble of the rhythm section and a careful guitar line, a hint of what’s to come with the single’s proper release, B-side included, on August 12th via Canvasclub. Don’t fault her for the lyrical content. It’s a topic many cover in music — realizing the dark truths and downsides of someone you love once you commit to the relationship — but Valley Queen punctuates with liberated acceptance and forward motion. “Show me how your lightning strikes/ Did it burn your eyes?/ I wanna see the scars,” she sings. It’s easy to compare Carol to Karen O or Grace Potter as she sings with a liquid drawl, elongating phrasing and punching up phrases so that they hit with the power and purity of a drunken stupor. If you’re looking for someone to save you from the murky depression of life, one listen to “My Man” will do the trick. —Nina Corcoran

    08. Mothers – “Easy As Possible”


    CoSigned Georgia act Mothers gained our attention from the first moment they shared a single. Once their debut album, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, dropped, it was impossible to ignore the quartet’s talent, particularly frontwoman Kristine Leschper. As they gear up to release a deluxe edition of that LP on July 29th, the band shared “Easy As Possible”, a scrapped track from those LP sessions that sees them at their most vulnerable. “They were just sort of these explorations that we were doing at home — they feel really intuitive and really special to me now,” Leschper told Interview about the bonus tracks. “Easy As Possible” makes that clear. It’s hushed and slow, moving at its own pace, as if to suggest there’s internal growth in each member of the band — and each listener. Mothers excel at fostering strength in the face of total fear, and, despite the name, “Easy As Possible” finds itself scraping together enough courage in the face of doubt to convince us all that sometimes, if you try, it’s possible after all.  —Nina Corcoran

    07. Nipsey Hussle ft. Overdoz – “Picture Me Rollin”

    nipsey hussle picture me rollin

    Nipsey Hussle has been kicking around for quite a while, so it surprised me quite a bit when I looked him up and found he’s only 30. A decade-plus in the game will make any rapper seem older than they are, I guess. But as yet another wave of Los Angeles rappers is on the rise, Hussle continues to do the thing, this time dropping a classic, smooth tune about tipping his chauffeur and trying to get over. “Try not to get swallowed by locusts/ Try to stay focused, kind of like Moses/ Like somebody chose us,” he tumbles, before Overdoz drops a hook as chill as an ice cube melting on a Southern California summer evening. Nipsey’s prepping the upcoming Victory Lap LP, due soon. –Adam Kivel


    06. Joey Bada$$ and Jim Jones – “Lost Ones”


    In an odd attempt to reach out to rap fans, the condom brand Magnum is releasing a three-track compilation entitled The Compound Gold Project. Last month saw the release of Dave East and BJ the Chicago Kid’s “Hold Me Down”, followed this week by “Lost Ones”, a somber ode to those who have passed. Joey Bada$$ and Jim Jones trade verses as Annalise Azadian comes with the hook. Coalescing dark and jarring electronics with lullaby synths, the song has the New York emcees waxing philosophic: “I swear still to this day man it cuts me so deep/ Every time I see a grave I get down on one knee.” The third part of the series will arrive later this summer with “Dinero” featuring Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss. –Alejandra Ramirez


    05. Katie Dey – “Only To Trip and Fall Down Again”

    katie dey

    Few can mix warped vocals and liquid percussion while maintaining a pop structure. Katie Dey just happens to be a pro at it. On “Only to Trip and Fall Down Again”, Dey splices up tempos and expected beats, introducing synths with subdued confidence that speaks to her talent not only as a songwriter, but as a producer. She’s able to combine the uncanny oddness of off-kilter eeriness with the overdose of a sugar high. “Only to Trip and Fall Down Again” in particular shows her growth in the past year as it evolves into a brilliant, subtle, cheerful look at the world. Dey sees the world through shattered, crystallized goggles, and this song previews what’s to come on the rest of Flood Network when it drops on August  12th. —Nina Corcoran

    04. Manuela – “Cracks in the Concrete”


    Last week saw the first lineup change in Franz Ferdinand’s 16-year history, as the band announced that guitarist Nick McCarthy would be leaving the band “to explore some of his other musical interests.” This week sees the release of those interests, a project with his wife, vocalist and songwriter Manuela Gernedel, called Manuela. The duo have now shared their first song, “Cracks in the Concrete”, a wistful track that doesn’t venture far off from Franz Ferdinand’s upbeat modus operandi. Filled with dance-y and sporadic guitar riffs and pop-redolent percussion, the song serves as a perfect debut. —Alejandra Ramirez

    03. Preoccupations – “Degraded”


    Last month, Preoccupations (fka Viet Cong) debuted “Anxiety”, a single from their forthcoming self-titled release through Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar on September 16. While “Anxiety” was brooding and ominous, the Calgary outfit have now shared their second single, “Degraded”. Rooted in post-punk earnestness, the song mixes wheelbarrow-pummeled percussion, heavy and moody bass lines, and Matt Flegel’s somber baritone, all combining for a sprawling epic. “Degraded” resembles Interpol and Joy Division vibes, which is definitively not a complaint. –Alejandra Ramirez

    02. Big Eyes – “Stake My Claim”

    Big Eyes Stake My Claim

    It’s been three years since we last featured Big Eyes in our Top Songs of the Week roundup, and it’s a thrill to have them back. “Nothing stays the same,” Kait Eldridge sneers, before offering her solution to the surrounding chaos: “Stake my claim!” Paired with a downcast guitar riff and brooding post-punk rhythm, this one shifts between low-boil brood and acidic burn, building to a fist-pumping climax. The Brooklyn-based band deliver a song that downright dares you to feel anything but furiously empowered. Big Eyes’ new album, Stake My Claim, hits shelves August 19th via Don Giovanni. –Adam Kivel


    01. LVL Up – “Pain”

    LVL UP - Return To Love _ Press Pic, credit to Shawn Brackbill (Web)

    The guitars get wild on the jangly new cut from New Yorkers LVL Up. Between the eerily familiar college rock throwback verses chugging along, the quartet let their guitars ring, burn, and swirl, embodying all the best aspects of the indie rock forefathers, from Built to Spill to Guided by Voices. At nearly six minutes long, the track has enough room to pack all those reference points in, yet it never sprawls out of control, charming and sweet at all turns, even in its lyrical melancholy. “I hope you’re cold, I hope you grow old, and never find love,” the hook sinks, repeating that last phrase as the guitars ratchet into distorted frostbite. Though perhaps not all is wrong — their upcoming Sub Pop debut is called Return to Love, after all. That record drops September 23rd. —Adam Kivel


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