Top 10 Songs of the Month: Tash Sultana, Blood Orange, and Nicki Minaj

Mitski, boygenius, and Interpol also made huge waves in August

Stream Flow State Album Tash Sultana debut
Tash Sultana, photo by Caroline Daniel

    August spoiled the ear with an array of new songs that all embodied degrees of pure volcanism. Whether it be through a slicing guitar solo, emotional lyrics, creative concepts, or pure swagger, August’s musical offerings erupted with their own artistic phenomena, expelling it into iTunes libraries, Spotify playlists, record stores, and a special place within each listener. While the tracks featured here are certainly sonically diverse, they are all united by one fundamental similarity: they wield an insatiable sense of power in their own right.

    –Lindsay Teske
    Contributing Writer

    10. Alice in Chains – “Rainier Fog”

    The title track from grunge titans Alice in Chainslatest album dazzles while reveling in its own sense of darkness. Reportedly taking its name from Seattle’s Mount Rainier, the track acts as a nod to the city’s famed grunge scene where Alice in Chains began to make their strides in the ‘90s alongside peers Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and others. The Goliathan gusto that sweeps through “Rainier Fog” reaps a degree of power that can only fit in an homage to one of the most influential periods in recent music history. With the band’s heaviness hypnotic as ever, “Rainier Fog” serves as a reminder that Alice in Chains has not once lost hold of their innate dynamism. –Lindsay Teske

    09. Robyn – “Missing U”

    For anyone who’s ever danced alone in their room to Robyn’s incredibly catchy voice, it’s your lucky day. In early August, the Swedish singer-songwriter and club music icon released her first song in eight long years, “Missing U”. And boy, the tune does not disappoint. Similar to Robyn’s past material, “Missing U” combines the singer’s fairy-like vocals with moving and danceable beats. It’s the kind of song that you can both dance and cry to — something Robyn has perfected over almost two decades of making music. She consistently manages to capture every possible emotion into every one of her songs, and “Missing U” is no exception. –Clara Scott

    08. Gold Star – “Dani’s in Love”


    Oozing sonic charm, Gold Star’s “Dani’s in Love” infuses delight and buoyancy into the modern love song. It overflows with an effortlessly authentic sense of sweetness, and that’s largely due to the reality behind the track. The “Dani” in question is the real-life girlfriend of Gold Star’s Marlon Rabenreither, and the song tells the tale of a period in their relationship (one that did, as the lyrics suggest, actually include Dani saving Rabenreither’s life). “Dani’s in Love” will be included on Gold Star’s forthcoming album, Uppers and Downers, which is set for a September 7th release. If the track is symbolic of what listeners can expect from the record, it’ll be a batch of songs that will certainly not be easy to shake from memory. –Lindsay Teske

    07. Christine and the Queens – “5 Dollars”

    Sweet and hard-edged, soft but building, “5 Dollars” is a crusade for empowerment. Each time Héloïse Letissier sings out, “Eager and unashamed,” the song climbs a little, heaping more and more meaning and significance onto the phrase “five dollars” until the end, when the phrase reaches its apex as a vehicle for power and vindication. Christine and the Queens validates her listeners, asserting, “Some of us had to fight/ For even being looked at right.” “5 Dollars” couples scintillating synthpop with Letissier’s wide-ranging vocal talent, for a grand total of high, sweeping promise. –Laura Dzubay

    06. Interpol – “The Rover”

    Tattooed with sharp guitar riffs and a dangerous sense of mysticism, “The Rover” easily earns a place as one of the more striking tracks on Interpol’s latest record, Marauder. As detailed by frontman Paul Banks, “The Rover” tells the tale of a ebullient cult leader whose allure toes the fragile line between precariousness and promise. Throughout the track, Interpol musically embodies the complexities of such a character with ease, embedding a deep-seated grit amidst the melodism. The concept behind the track is so clearly conveyed that it makes “The Rover” a feat of inherent creative sophistication. –Lindsay Teske


    05. boygenius – “Stay Down”

    In a strike of poignant talent, songwriters Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker have combined to form supergroup boygenius, and with this, they have captured lightning in a bottle. Out of the three singles the group have released, slow ballad “Stay Down” is a classic reflective moment for the three artists, featuring Baker as a lead and the others as chorus. This seems to be the format boygenius have taken to, and it is absolutely brilliant. Not only does “Stay Down” highlight Baker’s beautiful vocals, but the song also uses Bridgers and Dacus’ equally strong voices to add power to a relatively soft song, combining near the end for a harmonically perfect climax. –Clara Scott

    04. Nicki Minaj – “Barbie Dreams”

    “Barbie Dreams” wasn’t a single off of Queen, but it could have been. Nicki Minaj spends the four-and-a-half-minute track taking a wild inventory of fellow rappers, name-dropping figures like Fetty Wap, Drake,  and Young Thug while leaving others up to speculation, all against a masterful backdrop. It’s catchy, sly, twangy hip-hop, with Minaj running her characteristic vocal gamut: wavering dramatically on “No, I ain’t stuttered and no, I ain’t Ruben,” even letting out an exaggerated snore before spitting, “Damn, a bitch snoozin’.” “Barbie Dreams” is Minaj at her freshest: assertive and relentless, with the freestyling talent and pitch-perfect lyrics to back it all up. –Laura Dzubay

    03. Mitski – “A Pearl”

    Mitski’s new album, Be the Cowboy, is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year. Of the record’s 14 songs, none is as balanced between raw emotion and musical virtuosity as “A Pearl”, Mitski’s half-ballad, half-rock anthem detailing the remnants of a love lost and often remembered. “It’s just that I fell in love with a war/ And nobody told me it ended,” she sings, both solemn and powerful at the same time, with the special kind of softness that only Mitski can create. The song is a highlight off of Be the Cowboy, among tough competition like “Nobody” and “Two Slow Dancers”. –Clara Scott

    02. Blood Orange – “Charcoal Baby”


    Dev Hynes, better known as Blood Orange, plays to all of his strengths on “Charcoal Baby”. It’s a smooth, introspective track that expertly balances vulnerability and self-assurance. Hynes beckons the listener to look inward with melodic lines like, “Can you still count all of the reasons that you’re not alone?” A more than apt precursor to Negro Swan, “Charcoal Baby” turns an inward eye to the trauma of exclusion and social conditioning (“No one wants to be the odd one out at times/ No one wants to be the negro swan”) amidst a lush musical haze and an unforgettable guitar riff. –Laura Dzubay

    01. Tash Sultana – “Salvation”

    “Salvation” encompasses what is so utterly astonishing about Tash Sultana’s work: what may initially come across as a soothing track is deeply rooted in rich layers and textures — so much so that several listens may be required to fully absorb them all. But with a track like “Salvation”, such a feat is a welcome pleasure. Sultana blends detail, intelligent lyricism, and sonic diversity together with the precision of a chemist. The result? The creation of a track so comprehensive that it exudes universal appeal. –Lindsay Teske