Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/1)

This week's list features future festival stars, so get your ears prepped early


    Festival season continues at a rapid pace, featuring big performances from all of the beloved stars as well as scene-stealing sets from small names that will break big in no time flat. There’s just something about this season that makes that predictive part of the process so much more fun, guessing which small font name on the poster will wind up headlining down the road. Our list this week features a few names from both of those categories, particularly young punks and up-and-coming rappers vying for the big time — and with tracks like this, they’ll reach that tier sooner than later.

    10. Devendra Banhart – “Middle Names”

    devendra banhart

    Back when freak folk tried its luck and Mac DeMarco had yet to be a household name, Devendra Banhart was making hikers and college kids everywhere swoon. It’s been more than three years since his last release, but now the folk fella is back with “Middle Names”, the opening track off Ape In Pink Marble, out September 23rd via Nonesuch. Forget his weirder past. If this track is any indication, he’s found total peace of mind. “Middle Names” watches rain slide down his skin while a simple acoustic guitar line dabbles about. It’s hushed and pretty — the type of work Jose Gonzalez became famous for — as if suggesting he’s finally (gasp) grown up. Banhart meditates through his arrangements and lyrics here. Consider it a first that’s more than welcome to repeat itself in the near future. —Nina Corcoran


    09. Black Dice – “Big Deal”

    black dice

    Since their formation in the late ‘90s, Black Dice have experienced a number of creative eras. “Big Deal” ends a relatively silent four years for the trio, not having released any new records since 2012’s Mr. Impossible. No longer charged by the intensity of their twenties, Black Dice’s heavy noise/industrial exploits have taken a turn toward more freewheeling experimentations. A cacophony of quirky garage rock motifs pulled from the last four decades and Eric Copeland’s unintelligible vocals, “Big Deal” doesn’t define a new sound for the group but seems to serve as a precursor to Black Dice’s next discernible era. Grab the forthcoming two-song EP Big Deal July 4th via L.I.E.S. and keep an ear open for more freak-outs. —Derek Staples

    08. Trentemøller – “River In Me”


    In its debut state, the Jehnny Beth-featuring “River In Me” is a coldwave single proud of its retro edge. “I wanted the musical universe to have more space,” explained Denmark’s Trentemøller on the creation of “River in Me” and the forthcoming 12-track Fixion LP. The multi-instrumentalist and talented live producer’s new minimal approach offers him the opportunity to treat “River In Me” as a living work of art — promising ongoing edits when he eventually supports the September 16th release on the road. Quick to test a second take of the track, Trentemøller has already revealed his own remix, intensifying its dystopian feel with psychedelic filters and a darker low-end punch. —Derek Staples

    07. Sampha – “Plastic 100°C”


    In general, we’ve had scarce solo output lately from Sampha. On the other hand, he’s been busy featuring on cuts from the likes of Jessie Ware, Drake, SBTRKT, and Kanye West. His last solo EP was 2013’s Dual, but with excellent new track “Plastic 100˚C”, let’s hope he feels inspired to produce a new release soon. His recent feature on Fader included footage of the UK artist performing the song in his typical melancholic style. The song coalesces languid jazz progressions and lamenting timbres into an emotive and somber ballad fit for a steamy summer evening. –Alejandra Ramirez


    06. Thelonious Martin feat. Joey Purp – “Bomaye”


    Young Purple is on a serious hot streak. The man also known as Joey Purp‘s feeling so good that he does double duty featuring on Thelonious Martin‘s new single for Adult Swim Singles Series, opening the first half with a barking wild-eyed flow (“Cold world but we got heaters on us”) and closing the track down with a more steely delivery. His verse on this latter part is a punch in the gut: “So stop sayin’ what you would do/ If you had a gun and then someone decide to shoot at you/ And you from where I’m from and had all the same factors influence you/ And you tried to practice restraint,” he begins, making the violence a terrifying, tragic part of your reality. –Adam Kivel

    05. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani – “Closed Circuit”

    kaitlyn aurelia smith suzanne ciani

    It’s going to be one of those “no duh” statements, but modular synths allow for quite a bit of manipulation — both musical and emotional. To prove that point, ecstatic composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith teamed with modular synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani for the beautiful, shimmering “Closed Circuit”, the first taste of their upcoming collaborative album, Sunergy. The rippling waves on the accompanying video fit the music perfectly, the vibes flowing out constantly. Layers of synth ring out in concentric circles, until you’re entirely surrounded. Sunergy drops in full September 16th via RVNG INTL., the 13th edition of their FRKWYS series. —Adam Kivel

    04. Fudge (Michael Christmas x Prefuse 73) – “In My Shoes”

    Michael Christmas // Photo by Philip Cosores
    Photo by Philip Cosores

    In an unlikely collaboration, Guillermo Scott Heren (aka producer Prefuse 73) and Michael Christmas have joined forces. Even more unlikely, they’re going under the moniker Fudge. Set to release their debut album, Lady Parts, on September 9 via Lex Records, the group has released their first single off the album. Jaunty and sharp, “In My Shoes” showcases a spitfire rap from the Boston MC while erratic synths tear through the light and airy production. The juxtaposition of Christmas’ harsh tones, Alex Mali’s mellow vocals, and Heren’s jazzy, shifting electronics make for one simmering, cool joint. —Alejandra Ramirez

    03. Angel Olsen – “Shut Up and Kiss Me”

    Angel Olsen

    For all the heartbreak and loneliness Angel Olsen painted herself with on Burn Your Fire For No Witness, My Woman sees her splitting that classic country weakness straight down the middle, portraying pain and isolation in sheer confidence. On “Shut Up Kiss Me”, her second single released before the record drops on September 2nd via Jagjaguwar, Olsen plays up insanity while embracing the stubbornness that comes with it. “I ain’t giving uptonight,” she sings. “Even if you walk around as though you think you’re right/ At your worst I still believe it’s worth the fight.” It’s a cinematic endeavor, Olsen hurling herself on a lover who’s literally in tears trying to leave her — and sonically it sounds just as bold. Electric guitars maintain her early twang, but confrontational crescendos and a slight tempo change fuel her words with a fever. This is a TCM Western stepping out of black and white and into a world of color where there’s a middle ground for the first time ever — and it stretches on for miles. Olsen’s grasp on the reins shows she’s not only in control, but she’s steering herself — and us — in a new direction that’s impossible to look away from, even in its manic fuming. –Nina Corcoran