Top 10 Songs of the Week (5/6)

Can anything but Radiohead top this week's list?


    Could it be anything but “Burn the Witch”? That’s how the conversation went around the office when Radiohead finally released their new single. With all of the disappearing shenanigans, claymation teasers, and fervent fan anticipation, it had to live up to the hype. In fact, I’m pretty sure one of the team came close to insisting that it needed to fit every slot in the top 10. But you’ll have to read through to find out where exactly it wound up and what challengers it faced.

    10. iLoveMakonnen feat. Lil Yachy and Skippa Da Flippa – “Loaded Up”


    Last month, iLoveMakonnen announced that he was collaborating with Lil Yachty on a new mixtape. This week, we may have finally gotten our first taste of the collaboration via “Loaded Up”. The track features the burgeoning top talents in Atlanta with Lil Yachty and Skippa Da Flippa running shotgun. Boasting Yachty’s braggadocio aesthetic and Makonnen’s druggy-hazed aesthetic, “Loaded Up” comes in tow with hilarious punchlines and a nearly improvised and charming flow. Featuring Danny Wolf’s light production, erratic and feather-light synths serve as the backdrop to the Atlanta trio’s comical, pop-off raps. –Alejandra Ramirez


    09. Charlotte Carpenter – “Am I Alone in This?”

    Charlotte Carpenter

    There is a boiling cauldron of emotion fueling the stoic minimalism of Britain’s Charlotte Carpenter. “Am I Alone in This?”, the first single pulled from Carpenter’s forthcoming How Are We Ever To Know? EP, echoes the uncertainty of millions of millennials across the globe. Rife with false starts and accidental slide-guitar strikes, the folksy cut’s gait is a further embodiment of life’s dead-ends and misdirections. Even amidst this chaos, Carpenter remains steadfast in her approach to the craft — reclaiming power when nestled behind her trusted guitar. As with the greatest of bluesmen, Carpenter offers a momentary reprieve from our own darkest days. Grab How Are We Ever To Know? June 10th via Let It Go Records. —Derek Staples


    08. Blowout – “Indiana”


    The idea of anyone singing about Indiana with a semblance of sincere beauty seems strange to a lifelong Chicagoan. Even friends from Indiana or those who have moved there sing its praises with a knowing shrug. But here are Portland quartet Blowout with a song bearing that state’s name as a title, Laken Wright belting out an emo-tinged tune that can’t help but bring a warmth to my icy heart. Maybe Indiana is a great place! I’m convinced! Blowout’s new album, the delightfully-titled No Beer, No Dad drops August 5th via Lauren Records/Making New Enemies. –Adam Kivel


    07. Red Axes – “Boosh Gdola”

    red axes

    Formerly honing their collaborative skills as part of Tel Aviv’s Red Cotton rock outfit, Red Axes’ Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi now display a wizardry in dance-floor dynamics. With five years as a production duo behind them, their recent output, including “Boosh Gdola”, pulses atop tightly coiled electro-psychedelia. For those who grow bored with the ongoing or even monotonous rhythms of techno but revel in that dark escapism, this is a prime opportunity to explore an ever-growing array of affecting textural tones. A disembodied voice serves as a loose guide through these layers. The single can be found on the Moon Faze II compilation, available May 9th via Multi Citi. –Derek Staples


    06. Joey Purp – “Photobooth”

    joey purp

    One half of Leather Corduroys and a key member of the Savemoney crew that spawned Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, Joey Purp has yet to explode into the national spotlight the way he absolutely should. Hopefully new single “Photobooth” is yet another step in that direction. The beat, produced by GARREN, pushes a sample of a horn into a distorted blur, akin to a wiry post-punk guitar. Similarly, Purp’s burning delivery goes from aggressively smiling to teeth-baring angry, old-school to furious. Joey’s new project, iiiDrops, should be available soon. –Adam Kivel


    05. Braids – “Companion”


    Raphaelle Standell-Preston, the frontwoman of Montreal outfit Braids, recently penned a deeply moving essay for Pitchfork about her struggle to come to terms with sexual abuse in her life. The title track off the band’s upcoming Companion EP, due out May 20th via Arbutus/Flemish Eye, sees her deal with some of that aftermath. Her voice trickles out with delicate delivery over fuzzy electronic waves that pulse, eventually building to a point so intense that she herself begins to tear up. It’s a musical crossroad of Vulnicura and Amber Coffman, where an inner spirit guides Standell-Preston’s voice towards something akin to spiritual catharsis, reminding us why an artist’s most affecting work is often one that details what’s effected them. –Nina Corcoran


    04. Local Natives – “Past Lives”


    There are Fleet Foxes-style harmonies and then there are Local Natives-style harmonies. The two bands are undoubtedly key players in today’s musical landscape, but what separates them are the ways in which they brandish those voices. On “Past Lives”, a single we can only hope is off an upcoming LP, Local Natives opt for overwhelming the listener with well-timed crescendos as they do so well, bringing a sunny California shine to worried lyrics. Asking to be saved from themselves isn’t new. What is new is the confidence that Local Natives boast. There’s no need to lay all their vocal cards on the table. With percussive drumming stylized like the encouraging march of an army, they hammer out a call to arms that has us with hands drawn to our foreheads in salute. –Nina Corcoran


    03. Kehlani – “24/7”


    Photo by Amy Price

    Earlier this year, tragic news broke that R&B vocalist Kehlani had been hospitalized following an apparent suicide attempt. After some time away, it’s good to see the silky-voiced singer returning, especially with such an honest, warm track as “24/7”. The song could well be addressing the feelings that led her to a dark place, making it that much more powerful, a rise from ashes. “It’s okay to not be okay,” she begins the song, addressing a world in which mental health issues still aren’t always seen as being as serious as they are. To have found beauty in such a terrible situation is an amazing achievement. –Adam Kivel


    02. James Blake – “I Need a Forest Fire”


    James Blake surprise released his new LP, The Colour in Anything, yesterday evening, which serves as a follow-up to 2013’s Overgrown. He’s been promoting this album for over a year, and tracks we’ve already heard include the solemn, warbled “Modern Soul”, frenzied electro R&B “Timeless”, and minimal, former title track “Radio Silence”. This week on Annie Mac BBC, the British songwriter premiered an updated version of “Radio Silence” and a Justin Vernon-assisted track entitled “I Need a Forest Fire”. Featuring an obscure and hazy-eyed loop, the song combines minimal and airy electronics with Vernon and Blake’s earnest timbres. –Alejandra Ramirez


    01. Radiohead – “Burn the Witch”


    Once again, Radiohead crafts a single on which both anxiety and courage gormandize, and oh how they gnaw with fervor. “Burn the Witch” serves as the band’s first new single in five years — hopefully off their upcoming LP, but for now being released as a 7″ b/w “Spectre” out May 16th — but feels as if it’s playing tug-of-war with Kid A and Hail to the Thief. In part because it was. “Burn the Witch” was hinted at on live tours in the past decade, in lyric form on the band’s website, and, according to longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich, in the studio. What Radiohead held out for — this sweeping rendition that rides a trembling electronic heartbeat as full orchestration curls its wings outward — offers listeners a return to the blackest corner of their minds, a place where each member worries over the crumbling state of the world but articulates it with sheer beauty. “Abandon all reason/ Avoid all eye contact/ Do not react,” Thom Yorke sings, then wielding the song’s titular phrase like a shield. In a world filled with political upchuck and soul-claiming technology, he sings with an unperturbed tone as his brain shoots out sparks, refusing to give in when he — and the rest of us — has every reason to as we look upwards from the eye of the tornado. —Nina Corcoran