Top 10 Songs of the Week (9/25)

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This week saw the premiere of the new Muppets TV show, a hotly anticipated project among those of us in the CoS office. While we may not have necessarily loved the first episode of the new ABC series, it brought about the “Statler and Waldorf review music” bit, which made this week’s Top Songs review process a lot of fun. At least for us. The good news for you? Only the great songs are left after that, so you don’t need to sit through the iffy impressions and bad puns. Instead, just lock into the excellent grooves below and forget we ever mentioned it.

10. Yvette  – “Calm and Content”

Yvette Calm and Content

The repeating drone of “Calm and Content”, the latest from New York noise punks Yvette could very well be the sound of the devil’s landline ringing. The duo do some serious damage in just over two minutes, equal parts thump, smash, burn, and slice. Noah Kardos-Fein delivers mantra-like lines as Dale Eisinger builds layers of searing synth and percussion. This isn’t the most complex track of the week, but it’s seriously cathartic and sure to get your head boiling and your blood aching. Or blood boiling and head aching. Or both. This one’s anything but calm and content. Yvette’s new EP, Time Management, drops October 2nd on Godmode.  –Adam Kivel

09. Sports – “Get Bummed Out”

Sports Band

Like most of their post-Saddle Creek indie rock generation, Sports love guitars that sound tossed off from the back of a minivan and bass lines that could have been dug up from a dusty basement. But the Ohio foursome doesn’t lean on the trappings of their affable, approachable microgenre; their hooks are sharp and urgent, not lazy and loose, and definitely not slackadaisacally ironic. On the band’s latest single “Get Bummed Out”, singer Carmen Perry stretches her syllables over the chorus as she yearns for stability while facing down an uncertain future. “I can take care of myself/ I just wish sometimes that I didn’t have to,” she sings, and the relief she hungers for feels both within grasp and impossibly far away at the same time. –Sasha Geffen

08. Isaiah Rashad – “Nelly”

IsaiahRashad

Inspired by Southern rap history like his previous “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” and “Brad Jordan”, Isaiah Rashad‘s “Nelly” is a nonchalant, singsong whirl on the surface. But coming from a guy who invoked suicide multiple times on his 2014 Cilvia Demo, things can only get so relaxed. Here, the TDE rapper worries about being embraced as a musician, much like on Cilvia‘s “Heavenly Father” (“If I give my story to the world, I wonder if they’d book me for a show,” he stressed then). Named after the St. Louis rapper who found massive mainstream success in the early and mid 2000s, “Nelly” isn’t a diss track, just a tribute to the diversity that’s possible in hip-hop: “We can’t be no number one, but we can be the jam.” It’s something an artist as inventive as Rashad knows a thing or two about. –Michael Madden

07. Boots – “Bombs Away”

Boots-debut-album

“Bombs Away”, available November 13th via Capitol, is born from the dark electronics of mid-1990s trip-hop, which makes it difficult to comprehend that its creator, Jordan Asher, aka Boots, was also the force behind Beyonce’s self-titled 2014 album. Despite his moment in the public consciousness, Asher hasn’t restricted the jarring noise that punctuates his melancholy. His minor key endeavors intensified the brooding character of “Haunted” and “Drunk in Love”, and the anxiety only builds when paired with his distorted vocals. Not only does the track challenge pop music standards, it opens the path to talents like Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead. And that deserves to be celebrated — repeatedly. –Derek Staples

06. DJ Paypal – “Awakening”

DJ Paypal

Flying Lotus brought free jazz to an entirely new base, and DJ Paypal further explores the connections between West Coast beats and smoky backroom brasswind duels during his “Awakening”. Ripped from his Sold Out mini-album, available November 13th via Brainfeeder, the single is likely to turn thousands of worldwide twerkers into a new generation of flapper. With the horns punching at a footwork gait and intermittently straying into polyrhythms, keeping the pace is no easy task. Does any US label not associated with Flying Lotus have the reputation to release this track? If so, please let us know in the comments, because we promise to explore further.  –Derek Staples

05. Trapo – “Kill the Robots”

Trapo

Just last Friday, we made space in our list of the week’s best songs for “Phone Call” from Chicago’s Max Wonders. The assist on that track came from Madison’s Trapo, who returns to the countdown this week with his very own track. “We ain’t scared of no one, we just don’t rock with the robots,” he raps, looking sidelong at social networks and the people stuck to their phones, obsessing over “connectivity” rather than actually connecting. He’s out there partying and checking people out, but keep your eyes off your phone if you see him at the club — but wait, he ends the song explaining to the bartender he’s only 17. You wouldn’t guess that from the confident, assured style he displays on this gem. –Adam Kivel

04. Wet – “Weak”

Ben-Kaye-Wet-2

“You get me out of my mind/ You get me out of my dreams,” sings Kelly Zutrau on Wet’s latest single, and it sounds like that’d be something for her to complain about, some dream-crushing nobody she’d rather cast aside, but she loops it seamlessly into a plea for a lover to stay. “Weak” plays with weight and repetition in a way that Wet’s hinted at in the past but never quite realized until now. Its moving parts are simple — those late ‘90s R&B tones, those clean vocals, the words “don’t go” rephrased a dozen different ways — but when the gears click together, the song rolls on in to one of those open wounds you forgot you still had. –Sasha Geffen

03. Joanna Newsom – “Leaving the City”

Joanna Newsom

Next month, Joanna Newsom will return with Divers, her first album since 2010’s Have One on Me, and with “Leaving the City”, she once again crafts a melange of sounds that astounds in its intricacy. Electric guitar pierces the mix and heavy drums pound, but this is familiarly Newsom, an innovative singer and lyricist amid a backdrop of harp and otherworldly atmospherics. When the chorus hits, it’s a propulsive moment warning against complacency (put in equestrian terms): “The bridle bends in idle hands/ And slows your canter to a trot/ We mean to stop in increments/ But can’t commit, we post and sit in impotence.” With Divers due out October 23rd via Drag City, Newsom is galloping now, and it’s poetry in motion. —Michael Madden

02. Sia – “Alive”

sia alive new song stream Top 10 Songs of the Week (9/25)

Sia carved out a strange and wonderful pocket in 2014 with big chorus, big budget pop music with an eye for the deranged and dilapidated. The Australian powerhouse returned this week with a song written for Adele, rejected by Rihanna, and finally reclaimed for herself. Listening to “Alive” now, it’s hard to imagine anyone else’s voice navigating the cracks and swoops built into its melody. Sia steamrollers her notes with a rare vulnerability, letting herself choke up and stammer in places where other singers might glide. For someone who’s recently taken to hiding her face in public, Sia shows us so much of herself in the way she sings her own songs. –Sasha Geffen

01. MED, Blu, and Madlib feat. DOOM – “Knock Knock”

med blu madlib mf doom bad neighbor

The first time I attempted to see DOOM, he left Mos Def hanging during a cold winter day at the Congress Theater in Chicago while thousands of fans heckled a DOOMposter. All the ill will that started to build up those many years ago has been wiped clean with his recent collaborations. Following up his resurrection of DOOMSTARKS, the lyrical legend has now teamed up with former conspirator Madlib plus MED and Blu for the funky “Knock Knock”. The crew own up to the nostalgic vibe, the instrumental seemingly taped from the front of a 1970s sedan during drive time. As the title suggests, the track’s comedic verses follow the happenings of an expected visitor. Find “Knock Knock” on Madlib, Blu, and MED’s forthcoming Bad Neighbor full-length, out October 30th via Bang Ya Head. –Derek Staples

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