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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/6)

on March 06, 2015, 1:00pm
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The thaw is finally within sight. In the homestretch of a brutally cold, bleak winter, it finally seems like spring sunshine might actually be around the corner. That means it’s time to start digging out some of the brighter, warmer material, and our countdown is beginning to reflect that. Whether that’s the dreamy indie pop of Eternal Summers or the playful dub of Nocturnal Sunshine — heck, even the names are reflecting the undeniable return of that big ball of fire. Add in some equally undeniable returns from the likes of Kanye, Chromatics, and more, and you’ll be a few steps closer to putting the parka in storage.

10. Former Ghosts – “Past Selves”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of Zola Jesus’ best vocal work is hidden away on Former Ghosts’ debut, Fleurs. Now, she returns to pitch in with some of her earliest collaborators. Freddy Rupert has brought back Former Ghosts for one final 7-inch with both Zola and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. “Past Selves” ripples with thick analog synths that sound like they’re on the verge of falling apart, while Rupert and Nika Danilova duet in more or less the same register. “I hate my gender and all my past selves,” they sing, their voices collapsing into each other as the instrumentation stutters and glitches. Former Ghosts might be dissolving with the release of this single, but “Past Selves” is one heck of a song to go out on. –Sasha Geffen

9. Thee Oh Sees – “Web”

Thee Oh Sees new album

Back in 2013, word got out that John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees were going on an indefinite hiatus, a shock to the many fans of one of the most prolific garage rock acts in the game. But, true to their frenetic pace, that hiatus seemed to last all of a few minutes, and now Dwyer and co. are back with yet another new album. The first taste, “Web”, opens on a rippling bass march and Dwyer’s characteristic psychedelic guitar slashes. It’s all pretty predictably stony — at least until Nick Murray breaks into a shimmying beat and Dwyer breathily whispers out the staccato lines, like some sort of disturbed disco daydream. “Web” and the rest of Mutilator Defeated At Last will be available for purchase on April 19th. –Adam Kivel

8. Nocturnal Sunshine – “Take Me There”

Nocturnal Sunshine

The home of the original deep, brooding dubstep, UK’s bass producers are reclaiming those vibes and fortifying a genre that many claimed to be “dead”. Following an extended hiatus away from her dubstep-centric Nocturnal Sunshine alias, London’s Maya Jane Coles has returned to her grimey, two-stepping tactics on “Take Me There”. The lead single from her long awaited self-titled Nocturnal Sunshine full-length, a playful female vocal skips through the extended subterranean bass lines and psychedelic synth puddles — this certainly isn’t the dubstep that blew-up Stateside a half-decade ago. Nocturnal Sunshine will be available May 26th via I/AM/ME. –Derek Staples

7. Westkust – “Swirl”

Westkust Last Forever

From the ringing distortion that opens “Swirl”, it’s clear that Westkust aren’t messing around. They bring a sun-drenched, fiery pop grin to bounce off of the pummeling that fellow Swedes Makthaverskan deliver — and that connection isn’t just due to the fact that the two bands share a couple of members. Gustav Anderson’s vocals have been readily compared to a tighter Michael Stipe, while Julia Bjernelind offers a starry counterpoint. “Swirl” is the first taste of Last Forever, available via Luxury in Scandinavia on 4/22 and in the US via Run for Cover sometime this summer.  –Adam Kivel

6. Ava Luna – “Coat of Shellac”

Ava Luna - band 2015

Barely a year after the release of its last album, Electric Balloon, Ava Luna will draw LP3 out into the world. The forthcoming release is called Infinite House, it arrives April 14, and we got our second taste of it early this week. “Coat of Shellac” is a slicker number than first single, “Billz”; it unclenches some of the nerves that tend to keep Ava Luna wound tight, giving itself up to its own groove. Bassist Ethan Bassford keeps the whole arrangement trained on a tasteful sprinkling of notes, interlocking with drummer Julian Fader to propel the buoyant neo-soul tune into the air. This is Ava Luna at its most lighthearted and free, and for the often anxiety-riddled New York art pop group, it’s a great look. –Sasha Geffen

5. Eternal Summers – “Together or Alone”

Eternal Summers - band

Eternal Summers may have added a member and sought outside production help in the years since first emerging as a quick-striking guitar-and-drums indie pop duo, but “Together or Alone”, our first preview of the band’s upcoming Gold and Stone, is about as pure as it gets. Nicole Yun’s sun-kissed guitar lines and wispy vocals entwine for efficient beauty, capturing the serene nature of their name perhaps more than anything else in the Eternal Summers catalog. It’s not entirely dreamy, though: Yun’s sudden anguish at the chorus (“On with the gain of losing ourselves”) serves as a posture-straightening pinch in an otherwise hazy song. Gold and Stone is out June 2nd via Kanine Records. –Michael Madden

4. Tink – “Ratchet Commandments”

Tink

First Drake came out condemning girls who use their phones too much, and now Tink is out here preaching that there’s more to life than Instagram. There’s enough shade under this new tune to block out a scorching Midwestern summer, but the young Chicago rapper nails it in with her flexible, assured delivery. Tink’s flow unfurls effortlessly over production by her biggest fan, Timbaland, her words snowballing into what ultimately comes through as a declaration of confidence and a promise not to sweat the petty stuff from your enemies. Yeah, it’s spoken like dogma, but coming from Tink, I’ll take it. –Sasha Geffen

3. Kelela – “A Message”

Kelela new EP Hallucinogen

If anything, Cut 4 Me, the debut mixtape that the daring Los Angeles singer Kelela released in 2013, was maximal to the point that it blurred her potential as a pop/R&B vocalist. The standalone strength of “A Message”, on the other hand, is perfectly clear thanks to a powerful yet weightlessly delivered chorus and an otherworldly production landscape provided by Arca, whose shivering synths and deceptively calm drums are immersive and only slightly imposing. The more you listen to it, the more it sinks in that Kelela’s voice could be as aesthetic-defining as her ear for beats, and here, in particular, that’s a mesmerizing combination. This song opens her upcoming EP, Hallucinogen, out May 5th–Michael Madden

2. Chromatics – “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around”

Chromatics - i can never be myself when you're around

Dig out that Members Only and your BluBlockers (or go grab some from the local thrift store) because Chromatics’ new single “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” is prime for a hair-blown cruise straight into the sunset. Featuring Desire’s Megan Louise on backing vocals, the track’s swirling narrative touches on both the positives and negatives of losing oneself for another’s love. Lifted by some nostalgic synthesizer interplay, it’s difficult not to at least smile during the gloomy times — much like after some spirited, irrational, adolescent arguments. An official release date for Chromatics’ forthcoming Dear Tommy has yet to surface, but expect more singles and an official announcement soon. –Derek Staples

1. Kanye West feat. Allan Kingdom, Theophilus London, and Paul McCartney – “All Day”

Photo by Amanda Koellner

The simple phrase “rapper Kanye West,” normally so inadequate, has rarely applied like it does on “All Day”, from his upcoming So Help Me God. He doesn’t sing like on “Only One”, “FourFiveSeconds”, or even “Wolves” — he raps, quickly and with great animation, reporting all manner of personal affluence while still sounding as hungry for recognition as the Chicago drill rappers he gestures to in his tersest lines. What makes it sound like the product of the nearly two dozen collaborators that it is are (among other things) gravity-bending vocals from Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom, near-overwhelming synth tones, and — in a moment of quiet before things rocket forward again — a Paul McCartney whistling solo, delivered casually like the earlier chaos never happened. Something definitely happened here: An elder statesman just showed his dominance by way of a display of true MCing, though not without some sonic indulgences to assert his appetite for extremes. –Michael Madden

All Day | Listen for free at bop.fm

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