Top 10 Songs of the Week (10/30)


    Earlier this week, Maynard James Keenan essentially told the Phoenix New Times he was sick of Tool and the band’s fans. Now, we all know dude’s totally mischievous and I would wager there was more than a little deadpan impishness to that statement. That said, the artists jumping into our list of the week’s best new songs aren’t pretending to play hard-to-get, instead delivering a 10-pack of totally intense, heartfelt tracks. So, if you’re looking for something without that sheen of irony, click through and enjoy!

    10. Fotomachine – “Black Punk”


    Brixton’s Fotomachine (formerly PhOtOmachine) has repeatedly re-envisioned the sounds of the UK underground. Normally dabbling in soul-infused house as the force behind Technicolour Records, Fotomachine makes a shift and builds “Black Punk” atop the “Amen Break” of drum ‘n’ bass lore. Hushed with shoegazing ambiance, the lo-fi approach leads to a far more textured experience than those offered from standard junglist cuts. Though distant from typical punk rock sounds, the stand-alone single still embodies the retaliatory ethos of the genre. As grime and garage rise into the pop realms, Fotomachine is piecing together a new sound for the subterranean masses to explore. –Derek Staples

    09. Eleanor Friedberger – “He Didn’t Mention His Mother”


    As a member of The Fiery FurnacesEleanor Friedberger would sing about blueberry boats, little thatched huts, and Vietnamese Telephone Ministry — though always imbuing the songs’ characters with a startling sense of rounded humanity. On her solo albums, her songs cut even deeper to the bone, digging through emotions and stories that sound less fantastical in their details, far closer to home. Such is the case with the evocative new track “He Didn’t Mention His Mother”, in which Friedberger’s golden-toned guitar rings autumnally under her rich vocals. “Today I’m frozen, but tomorrow I’ll write about you,” she shrugs, seemingly unable to process a loss and instead going through a list of domestic artifacts and dull tasks in the meantime. This and the rest of her latest solo LP, New View, will be available January 22nd through Frenchkiss Records. –Adam Kivel

    08. Adele – “Hello”

    Adele Hello

    The moment Adele’s comeback single, “Hello”, hit the internet, it began to draw comparisons to hits both new and old. Although the phone-related links to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” are somewhat chuckle-worthy, it’s the song’s echoes of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” that resonate more. Like Richie’s classic, Adele’s “Hello” is an expression of full-bodied longing, but there’s little hope to be found here. As on the titanic “Someone Like You”, she breaks our hearts with a beautifully mature sense of resignation. In five measured, piano-led minutes, the British pop star traverses the wobbly line from tentativeness to knowing self-effacement and finally, an acknowledgment of separation. Hello indeed, Adele. You’ve been missed. –Karen Gwee

    07. CTM – “Cézanne”

    CTM Cezanne

    Cæcilie Trier is known for working with Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, the lead singer of Iceage, on his solo project Marching Church, but the compositions she spins on her own sound worlds away from the Danish band’s lean and smirking post-punk. As CTM, Trier works in a more abstract, literary mode; her forthcoming record Suite for a Young Girl, due out in January, peeks inside the world Vladimir Nabokov explored in his famous novel Lolita. “Cézanne” doesn’t adopt a strict narrative, though; its layered piano snippets and vocal loops serve more to build a claustrophobic atmosphere, mounting tension and then refusing to resolve it. The vocal work takes on a fascinating timbre; Trier crafts a voice that’s both a boom and a whimper at the same time, like a child scaring herself in the dark, like a fractured mind chasing itself around its skull. –Sasha Geffen

    06. Blood Orange – “Sandra’s Smile”


    We know music has great potential to save lives, but when it comes down to a life-or-death situation, a song can’t stop a bullet, especially a bullet that carries out unflinching, systematic predation. Nevertheless, musicians haven’t stopped reacting in their own ways to the epidemic of police brutality against black people in America. Some have crafted protest songs and others force listeners to face facts. As Blood Orange, Dev Hynes has chosen to memorialize the murdered Sandra Bland with the somber, jazz-tinged “Sandra’s Smile”. Hynes’ exhaustion in the choruses doesn’t stop him from ruminating on forgiveness and “the role of the black mother in society” on the second verse. Ultimately, “Sandra’s Smile” leaves us with more questions than answers. –Karen Gwee

    05. In the Whale – “Neighbor”


    Yay for apathy! For many, it’s the most pivotal element of surviving the more asinine patches of everyday living. During “Neighbor”, In the Whale frontman Nate Valdez amplifies that snarky internal monologue that arises when perusing one’s Facebook feed: “I don’t care about your president … I don’t care about your diet pills/ I don’t care about your designer knives/ Every day is exactly the same!” Produced by experimental punks No Age, In the Whale’s latest certainly doesn’t give two shits about waking the neighbors. “Neighbor” is available now as part of In The Whale’s recently released maxi-single via Red Bull Sound Select. Turn this to 11 and let the riffs draw out all that incessant nonsense. –Derek Staples

    04. Freddie Gibbs – “Fuckin’ Up the Count”


    On the first single from his newly announced LP, Shadow of a Doubt, out November 20th, Freddie Gibbs sets another trap drama in motion. Continuing seamlessly from 2014’s Madlib-assisted Piñata, Gibbs stretches his elastic, percussive flow as he packs the dangers and triumphs of selling drugs and raking in cash into a hefty five-minute window. “Teacher tell me go get a job/ I said ‘Where the scale at?’” he goes. “Trying to make a million before they take me out/ And never fuckin’ up the count.” Gibbs lets the track’s production simmer beneath him, barely augmenting the clack and yawn of his own voice. He’s a rapper who barely needs a beat to keep the stakes high, and “Fuckin’ Up the Count” is just the latest episode in his winning streak. –Sasha Geffen

    03. Grimes – “Flesh Without Blood”


    Claire Boucher pulled back the veil on Grimes with “Flesh Without Blood”, her first official single since last year’s polarizing “Go”. The first cut from Art Angels lets us hear just about every word she’s singing, which feels like a left turn to anyone who’s spent hours immersed in the smoky bliss of her 2012 breakthrough record, Visions. But Grimes is still Grimes, and even though her latest rides a wiry pop punk bass line instead of a meaty synth arpeggio, Boucher populates the track with vocal track upon vocal track. The most arresting part of the hook comes in a tossed-off one-liner: “Uncontrollable!” she sings at the high end of her range, spiking every syllable as the characters she plays in the video run wild and self-destruct. This is “Grimes gone pop” only for those who never heard the pop in her music in the first place; for the rest of us, it’s just Grimes having some well-earned fun. –Sasha Geffen