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Top Songs of the Week (5/22)

This week officially kicks off the Song of the Summer debate.

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    It’s still May and the “song of the summer” conversation is already starting to get kicked around. But with tracks as strong as these, it’s kind of hard to keep that argument out of your brain. The stone-cold grooves of Jamie xx, paired with vocal contortions from Young Thug and Popcaan, make their case, but so does the Springsteen-ian new single from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer. There will be plenty more contenders in the weeks to come, but this week, have fun arguing which of these should sit at the top of the ranks.

    10. Briana Marela – “Surrender”

    Jagjaguwar Briana Marela album

    “Surrender” was born from the stray parts of two other songs. After Briana Marela flew out to Iceland to record her Jagjaguwar debut, she found herself sitting with two songs based around vocal loops that she didn’t know what to do with. Rather than discard the sketches, she fused them together, and the result is the first single from that album, a gorgeous heave of rhythm and voice. Marela’s atomized voice flits through the track’s atmosphere as her loops coalesce into a smooth drone. Her lyrics shudder from behind curtains of effects and drums and wordless harmonies until suddenly, they’re startlingly clear: “I’ll give you all I’ve got.” Marela’s All Around Us is out August 21st via Jagjaguwar. –Sasha Geffen

    9. TEPR – “Never Be the Same”

    TEPR

    Formerly one-third of France’s Yelle, Tanguy Destable, aka TEPR, still pushes his electro through an adventurous pop filter. While “Never Be the Same”, from his forthcoming Hypnotease EP, is built atop careful melodies and bright synth builds, Destable balances that softness with a demented bass line and his disorienting vocal delivery. Across this five-minute production, Destable manages to go tropical without losing the grit of the underground — certainly no easy task for his pop-centric contemporaries. Grab the EP May 25th via Partyfine. –Derek Staples

    8. The O’Mys feat. Mick Jenkins and Jayln – “Peace of Mind”

    The Omys Peace of Mind

    The O’My’s are a humble Chicago soul group led by the powerful, peculiar voice of Maceo Haymes, and their latest song, “Peace of Mind”, will strike you somewhere in your spirit if you let it in. “I wake up every morning wondering why/ To myself, I’m always telling half lies,” Haymes sings, evoking a deep sense of woe over melancholy instrumentation. Soon enough, the brainy but smooth Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins and the equally thoughtful JayIn join to capture the moral landscape of their own surroundings. (Jenkins also squeezes in a generous number of golf references.) It’s a song that deals in the fragility of the human psyche, favoring poignant gestures of sensitivity over bold-faced outpourings of emotion. –Michael Madden

    7. Class Actress – “More Than You”

    Class Actress 2015 new music

    By now, the industrial snare hit of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” has become its own code word. Elizabeth Harper, aka Class Actress, pulls it into her lexicon on “More Than You”, which could easily have been an uncomplicated pop song about love. Her vocals are light and earnest as she traces her buoyant hook, calling after an object of desire that’s just out of her reach. And then there’s that beat, placed high enough in the mix that it draws Trent Reznor’s snarl (and the lyric it pronounces) into the very edge of your peripheral hearing. “Not enough hours in the night,” whispers Harper, as if we were still innocent enough to ask, “For what?” –Sasha Geffen

    6. Nebraska – “Stand Your Ground”

    Nebraska Mister Saturday Nighr

    “Stand Your Ground”, by the UK producer known as Nebraska, burns slow. Its most striking motion is that of its bass line, which loops ceaselessly and never resolves itself. It leaves you hanging on an off note, wondering if the skew of the beat will ever right itself. It doesn’t. Nebraska, aka Ali Gibbs, works in tight, concentric circles, never letting the motion of the piece overwhelm its details. There’s a wry humor to the way “Stand Your Ground” unwinds over nearly seven minutes; unlike a lot of house, the track seems less interested in power than in style. You get the sense that Gibbs is lurking somewhere behind all the moving parts, grinning. “Stand Your Ground” is the title track to Nebraska’s first new release since 2011, a four-song EP out now through Mister Saturday Night Records. –Sasha Geffen

    5. Nots – “Virgin Mary”

    Nots

    Memphis is a sweaty, dusty, rough-around-the-edges destination, and Nots exemplify similar qualities across their infectious garage rock endeavors. Their newest offering, “Virgin Mary”, commences with a rudimentary exchange between guitar and percussion, but that rolling low-end quickly gets crowded out by distorted guitar riffs, incendiary vocals, and a wall of intended chaos. Yep, this all-female four-piece definitely gets as much out of each instrument as possible. The band’s new 7-inch, “Virgin Mary” b/w “Shelf Life”, will arrive June 23rd via Goner. Better yet, experience all this noise live by joining Nots on their ongoing US tour. –Derek Staples

    4. Mourn – “Gertrudis, Get Through This!”

    Mourn-band

    Don’t be fooled by the cutesy title. “Gertrudis, Get Through This!”, the opener from the new three-song 7-inch by Barcelona punk teens Mourn, is an impressive, increasingly shouty unloading of energy. With throbbing but precise guitar figures, it hovers steadily for the course of its two and a half minutes, with Jazz Rodriguez Bueno and Carla Pérez Vas maintaining the careful pacing by delivering some of the lyrics one word at a time. It’s an effortlessly melodic ride, and while it’s not the most aggressive thing this band has done, it’s a display of the soft touch that makes their bursts of noise — as heard on their self-titled debut album — more meaningful. Grab a digital copy of the “Gertrudis” 7-inch now via Captured Tracks, and look for it to be released on vinyl soon. –Michael Madden

    3. J Fernandez – “Between the Channels”

    j fernandez

    On “Between the Channels”, Chicago-based songwriter J Fernandez takes on late ’60s psychedelic pop the way many a musician with an acoustic guitar and some vintage equipment in their apartment would. The vocals are appropriately dreamy, the lyrics appropriately charming and self-deprecating (“I have no use for competition/ I lose a game as well as anyone”), the song appropriately sprawling. But throw in some analog tape loops and a near-krautrock groove, and Fernandez has a new tweak on the formula. “Between the Channels” and the rest of his debut LP, Many Levels of Laughter, will hit shelves June 9th via Joyful Noise. –Adam Kivel

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