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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/13)

on March 13, 2015, 1:00pm
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With the music portion of SXSW right around the corner, our ears have been pressed firmly to the ground in the search for exciting new artists. This week that includes the engrossing folk of Kate Stables’ This Is the Kit to teenage Chicago rapper/producer Frank Leone. A few more recognizable names made the cut as well, the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Tame Impala checking in with new tracks. The Top Songs of the Week feature will be taking next week off, but between this excellent batch of tunes and our upcoming SXSW coverage, there’ll be plenty to get hyped about.

10. Frank Leone – “MONSTERS”

Frank Leone Enter Wild

19-year-old producer/MC Frank Leone grew up in Monticello, IL, somewhere between Chicago and the expansive greenery of Allerton Park, one of the “Seven Wonders of Illinois.” But he’s pretty clear where his new tape should lead you: out into the woods. Leone has been dropping bits and pieces of EnterWILD since he started working on it three years ago, highlights like “TOAD VISION” only offering a glimpse of the project’s “action/adventure album” story, something akin to vision questing through a dark, supernatural forest. Though originally dropped a bit ago, “MONSTERS” gains an extra psychedelic malevolence in context, equal parts hardcore menace and Hans Zimmer burn thanks to pitch-shifted moans and screams. Frank and fellow Chicagoan Monster Mike trade verses on this fangs-bared burner, the two “monsters coming for your stash.” Check out the entirety of EnterWILD on SoundCloud–Adam Kivel

9. Crooked Colours – “Another Way”

Crooked Colours

“Another Way” offers a taste of the indietronica stylings of Perth trio Crooked Colours. Premiered by Dom Alessio of Australia’s triple j, the standalone single is an emotive convergence of Friendly Fires-esque pop with Mord Fustang’s electro mania. The first portion lures the listener into a shallow pool of shimmering echoes before a geyser erupts at 2:12, sending the vibes into nape-tingling territory. Grab the single today via Sweat It Out. –Derek Staples

8. Denzel Curry – “Envy Me”

Denzel-Curry-Photo

If nothing else, Florida rapper Denzel Curry, barely 20, is an exciting prospect because of just how much he seems to believe in himself. His verses convulse with speed, emphasis, and, more to the point, a dazzling sense of competitiveness, which is why a song called “Envy Me” is bound to feature some of the most impressive rapping he’s capable of. There are Southern inclinations at play in Curry’s delivery and frequent collaborator Ronny J’s cosmic beat, but you can hear that Curry is in many ways a product of the internet, too; he’s not an artist to be boxed in. “I’ma keep balling til the end of me,” he assures on the hook, and you can tell he sees both obstacles and myriad opportunities for recognition between now and then. Find “Envy Me” on Curry’s 32 Zel / Planet Shrooms double EP, out May 26th.  –Michael Madden

7. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”

Tame Impala

Kevin Parker seems in possession of such expansive recording know-how that you could easily misremember certain Tame Impala songs as being longer than they are. That’s why it’s hard to think there will be a shortage of ideas before “Let It Happen”, which is longer than any song on either of the first two Tame Impala albums, is over. Crunchy psychedelic rock it isn’t; it’s something even more dizzying. Parker’s vocals may have a Lennon-esque familiarity, but the rest seems to be the result of a striving for heights even greater than those reached at the band’s best. What a quest it is. This one will presumably be on the third Tame Impala LP (planned for release sometime this year). –Michael Madden

6. Doe Paoro – “Traveling”

Doe Paoro - ANTI- Records

Doe Paoro’s debut album, Slow to Love, made a few quiet splashes when it came out in 2012. After a few years’ dormancy, the singer has announced a followup is due via ANTI- this year and shared a new single that’s disarming in its simplicity. “Traveling” is just about space. The only thing at stake is Paoro’s voice and where it can go. The R&B beats and studio overdubs that populated Slow to Love are absent; instead, she sings over a single electric guitar line in what sounds like a live take. No drums, no edits, just a voice in a room and the words it moves across: “I wanted solitude and that’s what I got.” –Sasha Geffen

5. This Is the Kit – “Silver John”

This Is The Kit - Kate Stables

This Is the Kit has assumed various incarnations since 2003, but songwriter Kate Stables has always been at the folk group’s core. Her third album, Bashed Out, comes to light next month with some help from the National’s Dessner twins; Aaron produced it, Bryce played on it, and their label, Brassland, will be releasing it. Our newest glimpse of the album arrives in the form of “Silver John”, a melancholic rock offering that casts its eyes on the sort of apocalyptic destruction that no one can prevent. Surrounded by mounting synths and brass, Stables’ voice is the sympathetic bedrock that keeps the whole affair from hurtling off into space. The story here might be desolate, but there’s hope in her inflection. –Sasha Geffen

4. Geronimo! – “They Put a Hook Inside of Me”

Geronimo Buzz Yr Girlfriend IV

It’s hard to believe that CoSigned Chicago rockers Geronimo! announced they’d be calling it quits in 2014 — maybe I’ve just been trying to deny it in the hopes it wouldn’t be true. As they clear out the practice space and release their final material, the blistering “They Put a Hook Inside of Me” reminds exactly why I’d stick to that foolish hope. The second to last new song from the band, this one rushes headlong on Matt Schwerin’s furious drum pounding. When Kelly Johnson’s vocals first enter after his guitar’s already scorched the earth, there’s a sort of manic, youthful Melvins sound to the proceedings, but the song mutates a few times after that, never losing its fury or fun. Buzz Yr Girlfriend: Vol. 4—Why Did You Leave Me?, the (*sob*) final Geronimo! release, will be available March 31st via Exploding in Sound. –Adam Kivel

3. Lower Dens – “Ondine”

lower dens

You know how your mate, mother, and/or best friend knows exactly how to say something to immediately get under your skin? Well, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter has that effect. The argument doesn’t have to be lengthy; most of the time it only takes a few pointed words. On “Ondine”, it is Hunter’s repeated promises (“I would treat you better”) that have this impact — a feeling that is only exacerbated by the track’s depressed pop wanderings. Get lost with Hunter and co. when Escape from Evil  arrives March 31st via Ribbon Music. –Derek Staples

2. Sufjan Stevens – “Should Have Known Better”

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

“Should Have Known Better”, the second single from Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, out March 31st, unfolds masterfully, starting with the 39-year-old songwriter’s quiet singing and acoustic picking before adding new melodies and layers to accommodate for the shifting emotional makeup. It’s a song of death and new life, with Stevens recalling memories of his troubled late mother and reminding himself of the “illumination” brought by his brother’s young daughter. Over its five minutes, the somber title line recurs, but it’s cast under increasingly bright, orange light (at least until the beam of a droning outro that might signal a fresh crisis). Despite its perpetual motion, it’s an example of Stevens’ songwriting acumen that’s simple and truer for it. –Michael Madden

1. Grimes – “REALiTi”

Grimes-realiti

Unlike last year’s “Go”, intended to be a Rihanna single that got reabsorbed into the Grimes canon, “REALiTi” was never really supposed to see the light of day. Grimes cut it from that album she’s been busy working on, then released it without warning as a thank-you to the fans who supported her on her tour throughout Asia. Lucky for us, “REALiTi” is the most vivid pop number Claire Boucher has written, well, ever. Her breakout album Visions overflowed with catchy tunes, but Grimes clouded them over with effects. Now, the last haze from her early days in the experimental Montreal scene has been wiped away. “Baby, every morning there are mountains to climb,” Boucher sings at the bright, ascending chorus. Like all the best Grimes songs, it teeters perfectly on the line between lament and empowerment. –Sasha Geffen

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