Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/11)


    Lately we’ve been pondering the topic of musical discovery and how it’s morphed and developed over time. Twenty years ago, a weekly feature like this one was something you’d have to read in a music magazine, hear on the radio, or gather via word of mouth. But times change and the music industry adapts, and now delivery is instantaneous and even spontaneous, with straight-to-the-net releases being the current flavor for both indie and mainstream artists. One such artist was producer Boots, who found instant fame when the surprise Beyoncé album dropped and thousands heard his beats. He makes an appearance on this week’s countdown with some of his own work and is joined by nine other artists who took to the web to share their new songs. No matter if you’re a veteran metal band like Crowbar or an upstart emcee like Lil Herb, the streamable track is the status quo, the ticket to exposure, the modern means of delivery. The overabundance might be daunting and there are flaws in the system, but now everyone — from the famous to the unknown — has a chance to be heard. And even in a diluted wave of mp3s and SoundCloud streams, the great songs will always stand out.

    10. SevnthWonder – “Hear U Callin”


    Some considered Timbaland a well-known leader of “future R&B,” as evidenced by the new millennium chic of Aaliyah and how he helped Justin Timberlake bring “Sexyback”. SevnthWonder, a tiger-masked DJ from Boston, challenges his title via “Hear U Callin”. His adrenaline-infused remix of the R. Kelly jam “Hear Your Body Callin'” drips with good feelings and should get blasted over club speakers endlessly. Even though Kels’ deep croon is twisted to sound more feminine, the passionate desire for love is driven into the dance floor. –Sam Willett


    09. Pharmakon – “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (Nancy Sinatra cover)


    Last year’s Abandon was a serious statement of power from Pharmakon (aka Margaret Chardiet), a noise album that carried with it the scent of a grim fire. But the ashes that it left behind begged the question: What next? If you had a cover of Nancy Sinatra, you’re the grand prize winner. And while this is a decidedly Pharmakon version of the song propelled by both Cher and Frank’s daughter (smacks of power electronics punctuating the repetitions of the title), the sparse accompaniment leaves Chardiet’s vocals out in the open, revealing a haunting smoke where Abandon buried her howls in grit. When David Lynch gets around to directing his next film, this version of Pharmakon would be an excellent fit. This one comes off of Sacred Bones’ Record Store Day compilation, Todo Muere Vol. 4–Adam Kivel

    08. Denitia and Sene – “Divided”

    denitia and sene 2014 press photo 1a Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/11)Brooklyn’s Denitia and Sene are a male-female pop duo who’ve already mastered their sleek sound, but they’ve never been as unshakably catchy as they are on the woozy, stop-and-start electro-soul of “Divide”, produced by Drake and Earl Sweatshirt collaborators Christian Rich. The song, which will be released as a 7” on Record Store Day, is plagued by romantic regret (“Tell me what I should have said,” wonders Denitia Odigie), but once they stretch out, never before have these two sounded so ready for their close-up. —Michael Madden

    07. tUne-yArds – “Wait for a Minute”

    tuneyardsnewphoto Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/11)

    So far, the new album from tUne-yArds, Nikki Nack, has produced rewarding surprises, and “Wait for a Minute” doesn’t fall short. With contributions from producer Malay, who has assisted juggernauts like Frank Ocean, the track is wrapped in synth steps, drum samples, and vocal manipulation that emphasizes the R&B effort in her discography. The falsetto behind the chorus encourages this transformation, Merrill Garbus turning into a soul artist, especially with lyrics like “Why do I spend all of my day looking for any way to waste away?” Garbus is rediscovering herself more and more with each reveal. Nikki Nack is due May 6th via 4AD. —Sam Willett

    06. dd elle – “Love Me Only”

    DD Elle

    Lo-fi production and R&B are known to produce addictive results, as with artists like Jai Paul and How to Dress Well. The mysterious dd elle (who may be producer, vocalist, or both) fits under the same heading, as on the danceable layers and sweet hooks loaded into “Love Me Only”. Even though the female singing here “feels so helpless [and] can’t get any rest,” the wishes for love are far from demanding. She would, rather, sweetly seduce, with the help of the funky, experimental conclusion. The song’s mysterious catchiness will keep your ears wanting more. Be sure to check out more of dd elle’s work via SoundCloud–Sam Willett

    05. The Fresh & Onlys – “Animal of One”


    The Fresh & Onlys continue to build the hype for their new album, House of Spirits (out June 10th via Mexican Summer). Latest cut “Animal of One” is more upbeat and active than the previously teased “Bells of Paonia”, but the mood remains that of a dreary, overcast day. Steeped in reverb, frontman Tim Cohen’s vocals mime The Cure’s Robert Smith, and the words contemplate the existential. “The purpose of living is all in your mind,” he sings, as pianos guide the song to a climax of tangling guitars. Listen at NPR–Jon Hadusek

    04. Crowbar – “Walk with Knowledge Wisely”


    It’s setting up to be a banner year for the NOLA metal scene, with new summer albums expected from Down, Eyehategod, and Crowbar. The latter’s “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” is the first we’ve heard of their forthcoming 10th studio LP, Symmetry in Black (out May 27th via eOne), and retains the punishing arrangements heard on 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand. While it’s not the hyper-emotional southern sludge of Crowbar’s early ’90s output, this is still top-shelf doom metal played with tact and aggression. The production also sounds much heavier compared to that of Wicked Hand. –Jon Hadusek

    03. Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Herb – “Chi-Raq”

    nicki lil herb chiraq

    A non-Chicagoan capitalizing on one of the city’s nicknames (Chiraq) is exactly the kind of thing Windy City rapper Lil Herb normally shakes his head at. But it is also true that 18-year-old young men don’t turn down the opportunity to work with Nicki Minaj. Here, Nicki sets a frenzied pace for the ever-hungry Herb to maintain, and he maximizes his first big feature for an artist who doesn’t share his hometown. “I got old Clips, bitch, I’m Baron Davis,” Herb raps, referencing his East Side shooters between a hook recycled from the first lines of “Kill Shit”, his breakthrough 2012 track with Lil Bibby. The beat, produced by Boi-1da, Vinylz, and Allen Ritter, is lunging and ominous, all serpentine keys and propulsive snares that direct these two forward like an airport ramp agent. —Michael Madden

    02. Boris – “Quicksilver”


    Japanese metal trio Boris are best known for their meditative, droning epics, but they’ve also shown a flare for punk-inspired speed and sleaze — a dichotomy that is apparent in their live sets, which kick off with those rowdier songs before drifting into blissful feedback. New single “Quicksilver”, from forthcoming LP Noise (out June 17th via Sargent House), falls somewhere in between. Recalling J-hardcore heroes GISM and Death Side, Boris burst into full-on D-beat hardcore with screamed vocals and speed metal riffage. They’ve never sounded so unrestrained, so loose. But in a patented Boris move, this momentum curdles into a brooding coda that fades into the next track. They’ve mastered these transitions over the years. –Jon Hadusek

    01. Boots – “My Heart Is a Stone Today (Unharmed)”

    Boots1As was the case with Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” a couple of weeks back, “My Heart Is a Stone Today (Unharmed)” is a performance you don’t just listen to. From the cavernous opening piano chords onward, the latest from once-anonymous Beyoncé producer Boots (aka Jordy Asher, formerly of Blonds) grabs you by the collar and doesn’t loosen its hold. The song bubbles its way into the spring-loaded, Passion Pit-style midsection and eventually switches up once more for a sedative acoustic guitar outro. Nothing here is reserved or understated; instead, it’s the sound of an enigmatic mind inching a little closer to the spotlight. With any luck, he’ll keep moving in this direction. —Michael Madden

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