Kanye West is going through some things right now. While Snoop Dogg’s response seemed entertaining at first, now that Ye’s been hospitalized, cracking jokes seems in bad taste. So, instead, we’ll simply wish him well and send positive thoughts. When we’ve gone through some hard times, music can be a big help, uplifting from the darkness, or even just helping understand it. In case anyone else out there is having a difficult time, the power of music is here to help.
10. Stove – “Blank”
Stove are ready to return with yet another release in 2016, but this one seems to delve somewhere darker. Is the Meat That Fell Out, their upcoming EP due December 9th via Exploding In Sound, comes hand in hand with “Blank”, a song that’s dull but still pointed with despondency in tow. Drummer Jordyn Blakely and bassist Alex Molini take the songwriting reigns and steer Stove into a grimier light. It’s the type of downer indie rock that makes Pedro the Lion so easy to love, calling upon some suppressed self-loathing but looking to rounded guitars to balance it out. In that, “Blank” is another brick in Stove’s path, but thanks to the rhythm section’s new take, it feels like a progression forward into darkening fog the band has been primed to explore. –Nina Corcoran
09. Cate Le Bon – “Rock Pool”
Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon is prepping the release of an EP called Rock Pool, composed of tracks cut from the sessions of this year’s Crab Day — the “killed darlings,” as she puts it. Considering the vibrant life of the EP’s title track, it’s hard to imagine how this song ever was able to be killed in the first place. The shambolic guitars and sharp-turning vocal lines recall Deerhoof, though the loose and rumbly percussion (courtesy of Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa) and tinny bass strike closer to Tom Waits’ recent output. “I’m only living in a rock pool world,” Le Bon repeats on the hook, chops of electric guitar trailing her words. Grab this and the other killed darlings of Rock Pool on January 27th, via Drag City. –Adam Kivel
08. Matthew Squires – “Shape of Your Heart”
Psych pop brightens even the gloomiest of winter days, but it does even more when the person making it lives in the south. Austin-based singer-songwriter Matthew Squires writes this precise type of jangly music that gives you a burst of newfound energy. On “Shape of Your Heart”, a single off upcoming full-length Tambaleo (out via Already Dead Tapes on January 20th), he finds the heartfelt psych of Quilt, the lucid lyrics of the Moldy Peaches, and the ’60s energy of Foxygen. “I am the Antichrist/ I am Mother Teresa, too,” he sings, giddy with the type of delusional joy that stems from melancholic views. As the song slows down to a ’90s slump, Squires’ frown is a bit more visible — but even then, it feels like there’s no point in frowning. “I promise I’ll never abandon you/ Even if you say you want me to,” he sings, and it’s hard not to believe him. This is a guy who’s intent on making things work out, even if the weight of the world is pressuring him to believe otherwise. –Nina Corcoran