Top Songs of the Week (6/26)

This week brought surprises from Janet Jackson, Babe Simpson, and more


    In a world where whole albums get dropped in a moment’s notice, single tracks rarely feel as surprising as they used to. But then you’ll get the first new single from a legend in six years, and you have to pick your jaw up off the floor. Other times you’ll be surprised by the absolute joy of the first song you’ve heard by a new artist. This week’s list has both types of surprise, including new tracks from the one and only Janet Jackson and the up-and-coming Babe Simpson.

    10. Flying Saucer Attack – “Instrumental 4”


    “Instrumental 4” was probably made with a guitar, but it could have easily been put together with a set of synths or the fog horn of a cruise liner. That’s not a dig; the latest cut from Flying Saucer Attack’s comeback album, Instrumentals 2015, shifts in and out of focus, its drone centered on a single note. David Pearce substitutes textural progression for melodic progression, though toward the end of the track you can hear him pick out a few distinct notes on the fretboard as the feedback ebbs away. More than composing music, he seems to be trying to emulate what the ocean does all on its own. —Sasha Geffen

    09. Little Simz – “Lane Switch”

    Little Simz

    Some performers might choose a video diary or social stream to update fans on new adventures; London’s Little Simz prefers to drop the random loosie. On the RASCAL-produced “Lane Switch”, she takes a truly raw approach. In contrast to the manipulated, overproduced vocals of many hip-hop contemporaries, Simz confidently showcases her natural flow and tone. The occasional flaw, then, only develops an intimacy between listeners and the burgeoning artist, her lyricism often placed above the mix and arriving like a familiar whisper. After focused and versatile work like this, anticipate some more heat from Simz shortly. –Derek Staples

    08. The Game feat. Drake – “100”

    The Game Drake 100

    The story has been told countless times before: With fame and money comes a swarm of unanticipated problems. Coming from Compton and growing up in and out of foster care, few understand the struggle quite like The Game. “100”, off his long-awaited The Documentary 2, is about keeping it real on the rise — and the fall. While The Game reminisces about the beefs that have continued to plague LA hip-hop, Drake turns the mirror on himself: “I would have so many friends if I didn’t have money, respect, and accomplishments/ I would have so many friends if I held back the truth and I just gave out compliments.” No matter one’s background, the grind will take its toll on family, friends, and profession. Amid this grind, one must find a place of serenity, and the production here offers a few moments to take a breath. –Derek Staples

    07. Low – “No Comprende”


    Low’s music captures the slow, dramatic, important feeling of individual everyday moments. “No Compendre”, the first sample of the band’s upcoming Ones and Sixes, begins with a dark march and vocalist/guitarist Alan Sparhawk unraveling a moment of frustrated confusion, the weight of that problem sinking into its own center with each extra clause. “No, you didn’t understand me/ I didn’t say it was a problem,” he begins, the quicksand of plodding bass rising closer to his neck with each second. Ones and Sixes drops September 11th via Sub Pop. –Adam Kivel

    06. Tink – “I Like”


    Tink’s done plenty of work with her mentor Timbaland lately, but for her latest song, she brings Chicago producer C-Sick into the mix. The change in setting suits her. “I Like” takes a lighter touch than most of the rapper and singer’s recent offerings, as C-Sick pairs a winding piano line with jittery trap drums. Tink’s nimble vocals articulate all the affection and anxiety that comes with new love. There are the good signs (“Netflix on, still your eyes are glued to mine”) and the worries (“Are you here to set me up, get me high/ Turn around and just leave my life?”). Tink hits the whole emotional range with intimacy and subtlety. Now that she’s earned her status as an inimitable badass, it’s nice to see her soft side. –Sasha Geffen

    05. Babe Simpson – “Martians”


    If you thought an artist belonging to a collective called Barf Troop might be a little quirky, Virginia rapper Babe Simpson’s Micachu and the Shapes-sampling “Martians” makes it pretty clear. Produced by The Internet’s Matt Martians (formerly of Odd Future) and clocking in at under a minute and a half, it brings to mind something like Earl Sweatshirt’s “Dat Ass”: a wordy, dizzying glimpse worth a double take. Between Simpson’s spastic delivery and unpredictable culture references (including an interpolation of Kanye West’s “Hey Mama”), it’s a burst of zany, sugary fun. “Barf Troop been winnin’ since the umbilical,” she closes, and her confidence in her path is undeniable even if “Martians” is the first song of theirs you’ve heard. –Michael Madden

    04. Future – “News or Somthn”

    Future // Photo by Ben Kaye

    Future // Photo by Ben Kaye

    Whether it’s a chanted chorus or a self-questioning lyric slipped into an otherwise hedonistic verse, Future employs his signature songwriting tics swiftly and exactingly. This is why the more sprawling “News or Somthn” is an anomaly in the Atlantan’s catalog, albeit a welcome one. The chorus doesn’t initially present itself as such, and Nard & B’s beat is a fluffy synth shimmer extended by a curling guitar solo — attributes that make this a slow burner. Out of the smoke emerges Future’s nuanced lyricism, themes of which include his paranoia about the safety of those he loves (“Know a few real ones ain’t gonna see they next birthday”). Sonically, this is a smooth ride, but there will always be speed bumps for an artist who can only partially escape his stressors. No word on where “News or Somthn” will land, but be on the lookout for Future’s upcoming Ape Shit and Dirty Sprite 2 mixtapes. –Michael Madden

    03. Sons of Huns – “Osiris Slain”

    sons of huns

    While the average metal fan is familiar with the genre’s fascination with Norse mythology, the Egyptian tradition is equally fertile ground — particularly if you’re going to be going the hot and fast metal route, matching the desert heat as opposed to the heavy Norwegian winter. The riff-tastic Sons of Huns understand the potential of the asps and ibises, as seen on the headbang-friendly “Osiris Slain”. “See Osiris slain, then rise from the dead/ To watch the world end,” guitarist/vocalist Pete Hughes barks near the song’s conclusion, the song settling into a syncopated groove after spinning through multiple solo breaks and quick-stop changes. “Osiris Slain” and the rest of Sons of Huns’ While Sleeping Stay Awake will hit shelves July 21st via RidingEasy Records. –Adam Kivel

    02. Veruca Salt – “Empty Bottle”

    Veruca Salt reunite original lineup new album

    As much as ‘90s alt rockers were beloved for their snarled choruses and crushing power chords, many of the best bands of the decade also knew their way around a lengthy, twisty song structure. Enter Veruca Salt’s “Empty Bottle”, a six-minute unfurling of contemplative quiet and raging distortion that ends up in a more contented place than where it started. Nina Gordon and Louise Post’s vocals are front and center much of the time, but the instrumentation is just as notable for its mesmerizing pacing and seamless shifts. Four songs have emerged from Ghost Notes, the original Veruca Salt lineup’s first album together since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You, and this is the most impressive of the bunch. Look for the rest of the album to drop July 10th via El Camino. –Michael Madden