Top 10 Songs of the Week (8/22)

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You can usually rely on this countdown for an ample portion of ear candy — music that’s both artfully rendered and suitable for a number of your nearest radio stations. But besides the Charli XCX track (or, then again, maybe not), this is a harder-hitting, more adventurous list than usual. Whether you want to start with a punk onslaught, an alt rap KO, or an eerie dose of “doom soul,” the next song probably won’t sound much like the last. In another overwhelmingly gloomy week on the national news, such surprises are particularly welcome.

10. Electric Wizard – “SadioWitch”

Electric Wizard Time To Die

Between Sleep’s reunion, the remarkable new Pallbearer LP, and the return of Electric Wizard, it’s been a historic month for modern doom metal. The latter’s new single, “SadioWitch”, is a concise exercise in heaviness, spanning only four minutes (a blur compared to their Dopethrone days) without skimping on the riffage. Electric Wizard have patented a guitar tone that’s more percussive than melodic — the strings ostensibly downtuned as far as they’ll go without popping off the headstock — with these deep notes treated in sludgy, droning pedal effects. As one of the more streamlined and economic songs they’ve ever written, “SadioWitch” should satisfy both longtime Electric Wizard fans and those who’ve previously shied away from the band’s more adventurous arrangements. The band’s Time to Die is due September 29th via Spinefarm. –Jon Hadusek

9. Interpol – “Ancient Ways”

Interpol El Pintor

The forthcoming album from InterpolEl Pintor, promises to showcase a “reinvigorated” band. Judging by the latest singles, that’s exactly what we’re going to get on September 9th when the band releases the effort via Matador Records. “Ancient Ways” continues to highlight signs of life in a band previously stuck in alt rock territory. Here, the guitars take a huge, almost shoegaze-like quality as they almost drown Paul Banks’ monotone but still enthralling vocals. While it’s not as danceable as “All the Rage Back Home”, the song is both relentless and satisfying. –Josh Terry

8. Death from Above 1979 – “Government Trash”

Death-From-Above-1979 (1)

It’s incendiary, brash, distorted, and the swift kick in the ass that rock music needs in 2014. Leaving the dance beats for the MSTRKRFT side project, the second single from the duo’s forthcoming The Physical World LP is a stripped-down affair in the same vein as late-’90s Local H. And with a message as powerful as its bass line, DFA are primed to mobilize a feverish fanbase with their sophomore full-length, out September 9th via Last Gang Records. –Derek Staples

7. Cold Specks – “A Formal Invitation”

ColdSpecks_CreditSteveGullick_sm

“A Formal Invitation” doesn’t feature Michael Gira like other songs on Al Spx’s sophomore album as Cold Specks, Neuroplasticity, but it maintains a Swans-esque spirit throughout, be it in the creaky-floor tiptoeing of the verses or the ghoulish surge of the refrain. It’s a deeply strange song, and yet it works in such a cathartic, familiarly gratifying way. “I’ll smother you in silence until you choke on dead air,” Spx sings before slipping into the shadows again. It’s easily the most memorable closing line we heard this week. Neuroplasticity is out August 26th via Mute. –Michael Madden

6. Hiss Golden Messenger – “Mahogany Dread”

hgm latenessofdancers 001 Top 10 Songs of the Week (8/22)

With Lateness of Dancers (out September 9th), the new album from Hiss Golden Messenger, MC Taylor and collaborator Scott Hirsch are attempting to recreate the Americana magic that was their last full-length, Haw. After sharing the ready-for-the-weekend anthem “Saturday’s Song”, Taylor returns with “Mahogany Dread”, a crisp, twangy track featuring warm acoustic guitars and Garth Hudson-like organ fills. Now signed to Merge, Taylor and Hirsch may finally get the audience they deserve. –Josh Terry

5. King Tuff – “Black Moon Spell”

King Tuff Band Photo

Kyle Thomas’ passion for rock ‘n’ roll in the digital age borders on being cutesy, but there’s still a thorny tenacity in his best songs as King Tuff. The latest example is the title track and opener off his upcoming Black Moon Spell, out September 23rd on Sub Pop. The song starts with a blissfully cranked-up riff that you just know will return as a vocal line, too — it’s that vital. The few lyrics that are here more or less sound like gibberish (“In a black moon spell, baby, you’ll be dreamin’,” a typically nasally Thomas sings again and again), keeping a lighthearted feel that makes The Black Keys’ Turn Blue, strong as it may be, sound academic by comparison. –Michael Madden

4. Future – “Monster”

Future

Coincidence that Future’s new verbal sexcapades arrive just days after his split with Ciara? Casting himself in the role of vengeful sex god, Future tears his way through green room threesomes and blurry Internationale one-offs during “Monster”. Fueling this rampage is the codeine-addled instrumental melancholy courtesy of producers Metro Boomin and Southside. –Derek Staples

3. TOPS – “Outside”

Tops - 2014 Arbutus

Surprisingly, Canadian four-piece TOPS are signed to Arbutus Records, home to acts like Grimes and Doldrums. While each act explores the weirder sides of pop music, TOPS is decidedly more nostalgic, looking through a sepia-toned lens at ‘80s-inspired synth heavy romanticism. Their latest single, “Outside”, washes the sound in cloudy keyboards and a bass line straight out of “Take My Breath Away”. It’s a dreamy and soothing take on well-trodden musical territory, and frontwoman Jane Penny’s alluring voice makes it fresh and worthwhile. “Outside and the rest of their upcoming Picture You Staring is due September 2nd. –Josh Terry

2. Charli XCX – “Break the Rules”

Charli-XCX_credit-Bella-Howard

Charli XCX is finally out to seize stardom on her own. After smash hit collaborations with Iggy Azalea and Icona Pop (“Fancy” and “I Love It”, respectively), the 22-year-old is releasing her sophomore album, Sucker, on October 21st via Atlantic. While those aforementioned songs credited Charli in a featuring role, Sucker lead single “Break the Rules” is all her — a driving dance track fit for clubs and pop radio rotation. A strong, bass-y percussion track carries the verses before dropping out for the chorus: “I don’t want to go to school/ I just want to break the rules.” A surefire anthem and the first great pop song of the fall, “Break the Rules” has the potential to be as huge as “Fancy” and a breakout solo effort for Charli XCX. –Jon Hadusek

1. Run the Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Pt. 1”

Run The Jewels // Photo by Joshua Mellin

Run The Jewels // Photo by Joshua Mellin

In essence, Run the Jewels is such an exciting rap project because here we have two grown-ass men making music as energetic as that of kids half their age. With Killer Mike and El-P, there’s no image to uphold, no trends to navigate: The explosive beats and the fury of their baton exchanges are relevant enough. Mike made a refreshingly pleasant appearance on CNN earlier this week to talk about Ferguson and police militarization — watch it, if you haven’t — but this is a track built from rapping-about-rapping flurries, not policital outrage. “Smartass fight-rap” sounds like a worthy descriptor for it, but there’s also Mike’s term: “murder mayhem melodic music.” RTJ2 is out October 28th on Mass Appeal. –Michael Madden

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