Top 10 Songs of the Week (1/22)


    Even while we were still mourning David Bowie, none of us expected to have another musical heavyweight to cry over. But then we lost Glenn Frey, and the tributes poured in once again. To get a little bit of sunshine into the mix, we’ve got a bunch of new songs to highlight, and even one that itself pays tribute to a lost friend. So, read on, take some solace that creativity and art will live on forever, and enjoy the rest of your day, even if a few tears are still flowing.

    10. REZZ feat. Delaney Jane – “Lost”


    Thanks to regular Soundcloud uploads, the blogosphere has been the figurative fly on the wall as Niagara Falls native Isabelle Rezazadeh (bka REZZ) has experimented with her tormented dance-floor vibes. What started out as Gesaffelstein-inspired darkwave has evolved into slithering electropop. Available through deadmau5’s mau5trap imprint, “Lost” (feat. Delaney Jane) does borrow some of the energy from the boss’ Sofi-featuring releases. It’s more than just the female vocal — it’s the tensions that exist between soft melodies, exasperated yearnings, and rumbling low-end synths. –Derek Staples

    09. Kal Marks – “Mankind”

    Kal Marks Everybody Dies

    As their name suggests, Boston-based melodic sludge rockers Kal Marks clearly have a wry streak — their 2014 EP is titled Just a Lonely Fart, and their upcoming full-length is Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies. Lead singer Carl Shane could be sneaking some gallows humor into “Mankind”, but it’s difficult to tell from his mangled, incoherent vocals that channel more anguish than snark. Shane has called the track “an angry song about being kind to the rest of humanity.” Clearly, the best way to jolt people out of their inertia into compassion is through a scraping, snarling guitar and a moody, unrelenting bass line. Kal Marks will release Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies on February 19 via Exploding in Sound and Werewolf Records. —Karen Gwee

    08. Public Access TV – “On Location”

    Public Access TV


    It’s kind of difficult to Google the band name Public Access TV. But the New York quartet make up for every ounce of internet search difficulty in pure rock swagger and fun. Their latest doesn’t make the Bing-ing any easier, but “On Location” is full of the kind of limber, shining guitars and rubbery bass that will instantly hook into your head, Jeeves be damned. “Don’t stop/ Do what you wanna do,” John Eatherly repeats. Fans of an older group of New York rockers, The Strokes, will wanna pay attention now. These guys might just have the formula to hit their same highs. Public Access TV’s self-titled debut should be out sometime later this year. –Adam Kivel

    07. Whitney – “No Woman”


    Many mourned when garage pop trio Smith Westerns broke up back in 2014, but 2016 bodes well for heartbroken fans: former frontman Cullen Omori is releasing a solo album on Sub Pop sometime this year, and former guitarist Max Kakacek has teamed up with ex-Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich to create Whitney. Their latest single, “No Woman” is a melancholy number about traveling and transitions. Its pleasures are simple: Ehrlich drifts in a modest falsetto over Kakacek’s nimble, understated guitar line, their meandering punctuated by hopeful horns, which help lift the song out of its breakup-induced ennui. No title or date has been announced yet, but Whitney will be releasing new music this year on Secretly Canadian. –Karen Gwee

    06. Four Tet + Designer – “Mothers”


    Four Tet has proven time and time again that he’s a master of the slow build. On last year’s Morning/Evening, the producer played with gradations as subtle as the changing sky. Now, he’s teamed up with Australian beatsmith Designer for the new single, “Mothers”, where a skittering, swaying pulse packs an immense amount of detail into a similarly measured shift. “Mothers” lets its polyrhythms drift in and out of sync until its central clockwork winds down. This duo is in no rush, and the space they create with their combined effort is worth hanging out inside for as long as it takes to see itself through. –Sasha Geffen


    05. A$AP Rocky feat. A$AP Ferg and A$AP Nast – “Yamborghini High”


    The A$AP Mob were dealt a tragic blow last year when they lost founder Steven “A$AP Yams” Rodriguez. The tributes continue to roll in, this time in the form of a Mob cut called “Yamborghini High”. On it, Rocky, Ferg, and Nast team up to pay respect to their fallen comrade, in large part by talking about the grand lifestyle his pushing afforded them. Ferg steps in to cut to the chase: “I’m on a Yamborghini high, flyin’ through the sky/ Yammy’s vision got us rich,” he offers, while Rocky loops in for the hook. It’s been about a year since his passing, but Yams is clearly still missed. –Adam Kivel

    04. Underworld – “I Exhale”


    Despite the title of their forthcoming full-length, Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future (out March 18th via Caroline International), Karl Hyde and Rick Smith seem frozen in time — in the best way possible. After early endeavors with reggae-infused techno and guitar-led electropop, Underworld (with the assistance of Darren Emerson) revolutionized rave culture in the early 1990s. As the duo prepare to take over Indio in April, Hyde and Smith aren’t making dramatic sonic shifts to keep up with the EDM Joneses; they’re simply continuing to do what they do best. Their first fresh single in six years (as recent reissues were heavy with previously unreleased material), “I Exhale” opens with a guitar focus similar to their pre-Emerson days. It isn’t until the mid-point that the brash analog decay even begins to compete; the live percussion and psychedelic lyricism quickly taking control of the track. With mega-clubs having trouble in the US, it is this alternative dance music that is starting to peak, but no one had to inform Hyde and Smith — that has been their forte for nearly three decades. –Derek Staples

    03. Mykki Blanco – “Scales”

    Mykki Blanco

    Every new Mykki Blanco track comes stamped with a smirk and a bite that immediately marks it as Mykki. The rapper’s latest offering, “Scales”, buries that smirk under the skin, pairing Mykki’s gritty flow with a motion-sick beat courtesy of Jeremiah Meece. The bars on “Scales” are as pointed as ever, but it’s the treatment of Mykki’s vocals that sets the track apart from rough-cut punk rock songs like 2014’s “Moshin’ to the Front”. Instead of getting louder or sharper at the hook, Mykki fades into a blur, as if drifting away from the microphone. You have to lean into your headphones to catch the words, a technique that only draws you in deeper to everything Mykki has to say. –Sasha Geffen

    02. Fatima Al Qadiri – “Battery”

    Fatima Al Qadiri Brute

    Fatima Al Qadiri’s first single from her forthcoming sophomore record, Brute, doesn’t need lyrics to hone in on its politics. Its dissent lies in its lurch, its frightening artificial crunches, the sounds of fanfare twisted and thickened into sounds of menace. “Battery” is a warning. It mangles the human voice into places no voice should go, and it lacquers that violence with a sick sparkle. The dual meaning of the track’s title filters into its function: both a source of energy and a way to describe brutality under the hot lights of the law. –Sasha Geffen

    01. Eryn Allen Kane – “How Many Times”

    Eryn Allen Kane


    Chicago-via-Detroit vocalist Eryn Allen Kane has one of those voices that just makes you stop in your tracks and take notice. In fact, Prince did just that, grabbing her for his track “Baltimore”. Spike Lee noticed too, inviting her to contribute to the soundtrack to Chi-Raq. Beyond that incredible voice, though, it helps that her songs are typically just as stunning, and that’s certainly the case on “How Many Times”. Paired with lush piano arpeggios, thunderous percussion, and gospel backing, Kane growls and sways through a stunning performance. “How many lies are you telling me now? I want to see the light,” she insists. This is a powerful statement, with many more sure to come. Her new EP, Aviary: Act II, will be out February 2nd.  –Adam Kivel