Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

From throat-singing to sweet indie pop, check out another batch of 10 excellent new tunes


Did you guys see Jewel tear apart Ann Coulter? Totally not a sentence I expected to be typing in 2016, but there it is, and boy was it marvelous. But that’s just got our gears a-grindin’ for next year’s roast and what wacky, delightful, unexpected musician/political personality burns we might get to see. Perhaps Sheryl Crow will call out James Carville! Or maybe Lisa Loeb will take down Wolf Blitzer! Maybe we’ll finally get to see Natalie Imbruglia really insult Rush Limbaugh! We can dream. Until then, we’ll just have to get lost in the dream world of a new batch of 10 excellent tracks.


10. Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar – “The Greatest”

sia killian young 15 Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

There’s an unwritten requirement for pop stars that says they must write an empowering anthem, one that lifts you up and encourages strength in the face of difficulties. Sia stepped up to the plate this week with her own pick-me-up: “The Greatest”. The gentle hit uses airy instrumentals to speak about perseverance and brings Kendrick Lamar on board for a verse of his own on the topic. “Letdowns will get you/ And the critics will test you,” he raps. “But the strong will survive/ Another scar may bless you.” The song’s music video — a reprise of Maddie Ziegler and 49 dancers who work through a tribute to Orlando shooting victims — gives even more meaning to the song, reminding listeners that, as any good pop song should, it’s theirs to mold, and Sia’s has the right structure to make it listenable for hours on end. –Nina Corcoran


09. Swet Shop Boys – “Zayn Malik”

swet shop boys

As regular visitors to CoS have undoubtedly noticed over the past few years, the lines between cinema, television, and music have all but vanished. Featuring budding actor Riz Ahmed (The Night Of), Swet Shop Boys represent this cultural amalgam. Not dissimilar to the likes of Donald Glover and Tyler, the Creator, Ahmed’s gifts as an all-around entertainer translate directly into his musical approach. Alongside Das Racist’s Heems, “Zayn Malik” is a freestyle” that eventually took the shape of an existential view of aspirations and inspirations thanks to the duo’s quick wits, lyrical improvisation, and comfort riffing off another collaborator. Keep it on repeat, as the references to Marcus Garvey and the sanitation of information might be missed when getting down the first time around. Secure the pair’s debut full-length, Cashmere, on October 14th.  –Derek Staples 


08. St. Lenox – “Thurgood Marshall”

st lenox thurgood marshall1 Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

The only thing more sweet than the story behind Andy Choi’s new album as St. Lenox might be the music within. Ten Hymns for American Gothic acts as the Korean American’s gift to his father for the elder Choi’s 70th birthday, and early preview “Thurgood Marshall” finds St. Lenox looking for inspiration from the first African-American Supreme Court justice. The lawyer/classically trained violinist builds off of layered keyboards, chiming guitar, and a snappy drumbeat, all led by his John Darnielle-like tumbled lyrics. Though it may not be your 70th birthday, you too can enjoy Ten Hymns from My American Gothic when it drops October 21st.–Adam Kivel 


07. Marissa Nadler – “The Best You Ever Had”

nina corcoran marissa nadler 3261 copy Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

Photo by Nina Corcoran

“There was a time I knew your fate like the back of my eye,” Marissa Nadler sighs at the close of her new song, “The Best You Ever Had”. The song, taken from the new companion EP to her excellent Strangers, fades softly like steam from an over-boiled tea kettle, her voice simultaneously barely a wisp and holding the core of dark-cloud memories. Her guitar loops and lolls, a light twinkle building in the edges. New EP Bury Your Name will be available September 23rd via Sacred Bones. –Adam Kivel


06. American Football – “Give Me the Gun”

american football 2016 comeback Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

Gearing up for their first album in 17 years, American Football have released a new track entitled “Give Me the Gun”, the latest from their forthcoming, self-titled album (out October 21 via Polyvinyl). Yet again, the Illinois quartet remind us of that 1999 nostalgia, hitting all the right emotional notes. Erratic time signatures, delayed guitar melodies, and spastic percussion grow like sinewy limbs, everything coalescing with featherlight vibraphone flourishes and Mike Kinsella’s unadorned, modest timbres. –Alejandra Ramirez


05. Zack de la Rocha – “digging for windows”

zack de la rocha

It actually comes as little surprise that Zack de la Rocha currently has a singular Tweet — the phrase “where the days are all night” accompanied by links for the former Rage Against the Machine frontman’s long-awaited solo single. Now that the El-P-produced “digging for windows” has officially re-introduced de la Rocha’s incendiary vision back into the voting populous, many hope for his voice to grow deafening as the year progresses. El-P is a natural selection for the return. Perpetually blurring the amorphous boundaries between hip-hop, punk, and rock as one half of Run the Jewels, El-P has been developing the new sonic backdrop of de la Rocha for years. As the producer/rapper confirms, the new iteration of ZDR will surface in full form in 2017. —Derek Staples


 04. Dan Deacon – “Change Your Life (You Can Do It)”

dan deacon change your life Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

Dan Deacon live shows aren’t just a spectacle; they’re an experience. His hands-on approach to dancing and games turns his performances into a group effort, something that asks audience members to give it their all by giving in to the moment, whatever the moment may bring. His new single, “Change Your Life (You Can Do It)”, has been in his live rotation for a while, but only now gets a proper release. It’s a joyful, comforting number about improving your life by taking action and accepting change, a motivational tune that utilizes blissful electronica production to smooth over some of his usual glitchy jumps. Though it was written for New Year’s Eve, it’s applicable to any day you feel a need for motivation, curiosity, and wonder — which, if you’re a Dan Deacon fan, you know can and should be any day of your life. –Nina Corcoran


03. Tim Hecker – “Veil Scans”

tim hecker Regina Spektor, Zack de la Rocha, and Sia Headline Our Top Songs of the Week (9/9)

With the release of Love Streams earlier this year, Tim Hecker has been combing through his sound, reworking his brand of minimalist drone into avant garde noise, filing each sharp sound into an even more jagged yet smooth angle. “Veil Scans”, his free single for Adult Swim’s Singles Series, broods about over an eerie loop of strings. Violins remain in their high registers while distorted fuzz crumbles in the background. A monotone synth note hums by itself in the end. Despite this all sounding like a scary time, Hecker, as usual, finds a way to combine these elements for an experience that’s relaxing in its beauty, even if it remains dark throughout. –Nina Corcoran


02. Tanya Tagaq feat. Shad – “Centre”

Tanya Tagaq // Photo by Ben Kaye

Photo by Ben Kaye

There’s a lot going on on the new single from Tanya Tagaq — though that shouldn’t be any surprise to listeners at all familiar with the Polaris-winning throat singer. “Centre” opens with fellow Canadian Shad spitting some lines about dots and the center of the earth, as if meditatively trying to burrow down. A twitchy beat composed in part of layers of Tagaq’s groaning vocals builds and falls apart in waves, even featuring perhaps the closest to an R&B hook Tagaq has produced. The “beatbox”-ish breakdown three minutes in offers another new twist, a strange animalistic burn. Tagaq’s new album, Retribution, drops October 21st via Six Shooter. –Adam Kivel


01. Regina Spektor – “Black and White”

regina spektor black and white

Excluding her catchy Orange Is the New Black theme song, it’s been four years since we last heard from Regina Spektor. Luckily, she’s gearing up for a new album entitled Remember Us to Life, out September 30th via Sire/Warner Bros., a record that will serve as a follow-up to 2012’s What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. We already heard the alluring bass thump of “Small Bill$” and synth jaunt of “Bleeding Heart”, and Spektor has now followed up with “Black and White”. The newly released song finds Spektor melancholic as earnest violins, rippling electronics, and soft acoustics reverberate and coalesce into a brooding ballad. —Alejandra Ramirez

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