Top Songs of the Week (5/29)

Throwback tones and forward-looking chaos compete for the week's best tracks


    This week’s selections gave us several throwback tones to enjoy. It makes sense given the spirits following Memorial Day sentiments. Be it a weepy classic rock guitar vibe beneath the fire of Mick Jenkins, the continued evolution of UK garage from Disclosure, noise-pop sweetness courtesy of Oberhofer, or Sarah Neufeld bringing fresh ears to the violin, these artists find new life in familiar sounds. But don’t get too comfortable in the acoustic bliss of Chris Weisman; there is definitely some chaos promised by the likes of Son Lux and Ecstatic Vision, too.

    10. Oberhofer – “Memory Remains”


    Brad Oberhofer is back, and he’ll release his second album under his surname this August. Chronovision, the follow-up to 2012’s Time Capsules II, arrives August 21st through Glassnote Records. Our first taste of the album comes in the form of “Memory Remains”, a glam rock ballad that sees Oberhofer reassuming his role as a reliably charismatic frontman. He hits somewhere between David Bowie and Robert Smith in this take, which also draws blood from early aughts post-punk like the Killers and Hot Hot Heat. It’s an unabashedly campy swinger — Oberhofer doesn’t let his retrospective vision sap any of the color from his glitter-coated sources. –Sasha Geffen

    9. Girlpool – “Cherry Picking”

    Girlpool - BTWWB - Press pic by Alice Baxley
    Photo by Alice Baxley

    Philly-via-Los Angeles duo Girlpool — comprising just Cleo Tucker’s and Harmony Tividad’s voices, Tucker’s guitar, and Tividad’s bass — make rock music that’s minimal only in terms of the actual number of parts. Their power comes from the life-affirming unity of the two young women at the center. “Cherry Picking”, a standout from their upcoming debut album, Before the World Was Big, is less startlingly raw than other Girlpool songs we’ve heard, with the pair’s vocal delivery entering with a relative calm. There’s serious tension eventually, though: “Yes, I am picking cherries/ I have a hard time staying clean,” they sing. Before the World Was Big is out June 2nd via Wichita Recordings. –Michael Madden

    8. Ecstatic Vision – “Astral Plane”


    You might want to grab yourself a snack before partaking in this 12-minute epic courtesy of Philadelphia trio Ecstatic Vision. Set to appear on their June 30th full-length release Sonic Praise via Relapse, “Astral Plane” listens like a three-track experimental psych metal endeavor that has congealed into some beautiful atrocity. Commencing with a continuously building primal drum pattern and dueling guitar melodies, “Astral Plane” screams in excitement as it transforms into a Southern rock hybrid before twisting its way through the rasping delivery of guitarist/singer Doug Sabolic. More than the length itself, it’s surprising how three men can somehow also layer in a series of horns. And even after 11 minutes and 48 seconds, you’re left wanting more of that hissing riff and churning bass guitar. –Derek Staples

    7. Sarah Neufeld – “We’ve Got A Lot”


    Sarah Neufeld just released a joint LP with bass sax virtuoso Colin Stetson, but she’s got more of her own music ready to see the light. This week, she offers up “We’ve Got A Lot”, which allegedly was written somewhere in the woods. Neufeld brings on Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara to lend some percussive weight to her voice and violin composition, which sways back and forth between tense, gnarled chords. Hans Bernhard textures the bottom end of the song with a light touch on the bass guitar, while Stetson reappears for a few choice notes on his beluga whale of an instrument. –Sasha Geffen

    6. Chris Weisman – “Nothing More But You”


    Vermont’s Chris Weisman seems to have an endless supply of strange, small pop songs hidden in his vaults. In February, the prolific outsider artist put out his first full-length of the year, The Holy Life That’s Coming, followed by the previously unreleased CD Living With Poison. Now he’s returned with a third batch, a 13-song LP called Chaos Isn’t Single released via Hidden Temple Tapes. That album’s single “Nothing More But You” is both a subtle love song and a great example of Weisman’s peculiar lyricism. He sings like he’s rattling syllables off the top of his head, but then the chorus goes, “I believe in nothing more but you.” Not “nothing else,” which would be the obvious choice, but “nothing more,” as if there could be nothing greater or more worth believing in than that “you” he’s singing to. –Sasha Geffen

    5. Mick Jenkins – “P’s & Q’s”

    Mick Jenkins

    Chicago’s Mick Jenkins has built a substantial buzz on his complex, literary style of rapping. “P’s and Q’s”, then, is his way of stunting, as Mick looks to start every word he can with one of those two letters. You can call it self-indulgent; he knows most rappers wouldn’t want to play this game, if they could even win at it. But what’s impressive is that he never actually sounds limited here, coming up with incisive phrases while still playing by the rules (“Quantum leaps ahead of my peers”; “I pack it full of quotes”). Be on the lookout for Mick’s Wave[s] EP, out sometime soon. –Michael Madden