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Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/4)

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Whatever preventative measures you take to avoid hearing loss, get ‘em ready, because we have a boisterous countdown this week. From Thee Oh Sees’ tight songwriting to Jack White’s vicious instrumental, this is a list loaded with frenzied rhythms and six-string warfare. Competitive rhymes from Drake and nostalgic hiss from Ricky Eat Acid are here for good measure, but that’s relatively easy listening.

10. Thee Oh Sees – “Drop”

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It’s possible Thee Oh Sees have appeared on this countdown more than any other band, and that’s not just because they release a lot of songs. John Dwyer runs his label, Castle Face, and his various musical projects with businesslike efficiency, but never at the expense of his art (this is 100% DIY, a la Rough Trade and Merge). And he’s wise when it comes to choosing which album cuts to tease. Latest single “Drop” — the title cut from their forthcoming, pre-hiatus-recorded album — is tight, cheerful, and more song-oriented than the neurotic psychedelia of last year’s Floating Coffin. There are “oohs” and “ahhs” and Kinks-esque riffing, and those guitar solos after the verses are the kind of wild moments Thee Oh Sees are known for — sure to spark moshes and put the sweat on the floor. –Jon Hadusek

09. Ricky Eat Acid – “Can You See It’s Bloom”

Boring Ecstasy

Here in Chicago, we’re currently experiencing a dead spring. Even though the air is starting to feel warmer, our surroundings are still bare-boned and dead. Ricky Eat Acid’s “Can You See It’s Bloom” looks beyond those brittle characteristics and toward renewal. Its simple, two-note keystrokes bring tranquility, further developed with wind chimes and sporadic electronic manipulation. Sam Ray, the man behind the project, attempts to illustrate the gradual growth of the season’s greenery and beauty with every layer, and if taken seriously enough, you can feel it, too. The track is a part of Orchid Tapes’ newest compilation, Boring Ecstasy: The Bedroom Pop of Orchid Tapes, available here–Sam Willett

08. Drake – “Draft Day”

drake cover 650 Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/4)

“In this position that we’re in, it takes major sacrifice,” Drake told ESPN’s First Take last September when asked about buddy Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback jock-tastically depicted in this surprise song’s cover art. Arriving a month ahead of Manziel’s inevitable selection at the 2014 NFL Draft, however, the Lauryn Hill-sampling “Draft Day” is a victory lap, the rap equivalent of Johnny Football finger-wagging at an opposing cornerback after tossing Mike Evans another touchdown. “That boy singin’ on every song when he know he can spit,” Drizzy raps, impersonating a loyal fan; here, he primarily spits. There are a couple throwaway lines (under whose celestial jurisdiction is Drake our “darkest angel”?), but eventually he finds a zone: “I play like I’m on ‘roids, no Canseco, no Oakland A’s though, shout out the Bay though.” —Michael Madden

07. Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”

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The half-burnt raging of “High Ball Stepper”, our first taste of Jack White’s Lazaretto (out June 10th via Third Man Records/Columbia), recalls the mercenary focus of the scene in It Might Get Loud when White constructs a functional guitar from an empty Coke bottle, a wooden board, and other domestic debris. After the initial blues rock guitar drips, there’s a piano break during which White presumably takes a long drag from his cigarillo. Eventually, we’re re-launched into a groove that is, spiritually speaking, close to the bluster of today’s blockbuster rap production. Did we mention there’s no singing? —Michael Madden

06. How to Dress Well – “Repeat Pleasure”

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Last week, Tom Krell (aka How to Dress Well) played Chicago and blew us away, and now he’s dropped a new single, “Repeat Pleasure”, and announced a new album, “What Is This Heart?” (out June 24th via Domino). On this track, like his other recent single, “Words I Don’t Remember”, the crooner shifts his crafty R&B toward danceable pop, though it’s still calm and concentrated. There’s an uncertain melancholy in his voice, as if it’s so pure that it could crack into shambles in an instant. Synths pulse, while tiny ticks and tocks keep the rhythm. –Jon Hadusek

05. Tweens – “Be Mean”

tweens Top 10 Songs of the Week (4/4)

The pop punk of Cincinnati outfit Tweens buzzes with nostalgic analog warbles and melodic female vox that call back to the Bangles, only sassier and punkier. Singer Bridget Battle ain’t down with all that twee fluffy stuff. “Your sweetness is killing me,” she sings on “Be Mean”, a highlight cut off their self-titled debut (streaming here). A masochistic anthem or pure sarcasm? Tweens leave that up for interpretation. –Jon Hadusek

04. Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal”

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Parquet Courts’ latest single, “Sunbathing Animal”, intends to demolish the band’s “slacker” tag, evidenced by this rundown posted on their blog. Its hard-hitting guitar strumming pumps adrenaline into their most sophisticated lyricism yet, honing in on undeniable habits and personal weakness. Nonetheless, they have fun ripping through gnarly guitar solos and epic punk jams. Keep a look out for their upcoming album, Sunbathing Animal, due June 3rd via What’s Your Rupture?/Mom+Pop. —Sam Willett

03. Lucki Eck$ – “All Senses”

Lucki Eck$ All Senses

Not long ago, we told you that Chicago rapper Lucki Eck$ was ready to make a huge leap. We weren’t the only ones paying attention, though, as the self-professed alternative trapper just got added as opener for The Old Danny Brown Tour. Before joining The Hybrid on the road, though, Eck$ dropped another crusher in the form of “All Senses”. Drake isn’t the only one talking football this week, as Eck$ compares his dealing game to everyone from Peyton Manning to T.O. He also seems to have something in common with The Based God: “I know I’m Lil B with the dope/ They going woo when I cook it.” This one drops on Volume 3 of Chicago indie label Closed Sessions’ compilation series, due sometime this year. –Adam Kivel

02. Strand of Oaks – “Goshen ’97”

Strand of Oaks

“Goshen ‘97”, the surprisingly throttling first taste of Strand of Oaks’ Heal (out June 24th via Dead Oceans), features Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, who lends his inimitable guitar whaling to the Philly songwriter also known as Timothy Showalter. The whole thing does sound like a Dino Jr.-style wall of sweetened fuzz, but it also sounds like a picture-perfect alt rock touchstone, period, generating its gust from the repetition of the chorus (“I don’t wanna start all over again”) and smaller details including the cheetah-like snare blasts. Lyrically, it’s perfectly vulnerable scrapbook stuff, Showalter thinking back to his basement-based teenagerdom: “I was lonely, I was havin’ fun.” —Michael Madden

01. Lower – “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin”

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A couple of years ago, Copenhagen’s Lower teased post-punkers for eight minutes with their Walk on Heads EP. The collection’s four songs unlocked an addicting thrill ride that was over right when we started screaming — y’know, like pretty much every roller coaster across the world. Now, they’re back and ready to drop their proper debut, Seek Warmer Climes, on June 17th via Matador. Don’t let the big label thwart you, as their new single, “Lost Weight, Perfect Skin”, proves that the weather’s still dark and musty for this overseas crew. “Regret the chances I took,” Adrian Toubro pines, recalling the terrifying feeling we’ve all experienced upon immediately realizing we’ve made a big mistake. Victims of cosmetic surgery should relate to this one. Hopefully not. –Michael Roffman

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