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Top 10 Songs of the Week (8/7)

on August 07, 2015, 12:00pm
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This week’s list of Top Songs is packed full of musicians who forged their own path. Wolf Eyes have been consummate noise-makers for nearly two decades, now arriving at Third Man Records of all places. FKA twigs works with a more approachable sound, but does so with a decidedly unique voice and aesthetic. And no one’s going to take a look at or listen to Danny Brown and think the guy broke big by playing it safe. In any genre or scene, the artists on this week’s list have carved that path into the mysterious wilderness, and listening to the songs ahead will give you a glimpse at those exciting realms.

10. Frog Eyes – “Two Girls (One for Heaven and the Other One for Rome)”

Frog Eyes band carey mercer

Before recording upcoming album Pickpocket’s Locket, Frog Eyes frontman Carey Mercer was in radiation treatment for throat cancer. In fact, if that didn’t work, he explained to Noisey in a recent interview, he’d need surgery on his throat, which would theoretically completely change his voice. While he seemed jokingly interested in that prospect, let me say thank goodness that electric voice of his remains intact. Either way, his beautiful, poetic lyrics would remain, as evident from the new “Two Girls (One for Heaven and the Other One for Rome)”. His evocative talk of bishops, crystals, honey, and smoke rides like a winding river among lithe saxophone, upright bass, nimble drumming, and his trademark guitar, which arrives like brief bursts of summer thunderstorm. Pickpocket’s Locket arrives August 28th via Paper Bag. –Adam Kivel

09. Windhand – “Crypt Key”

Windhand

Relapse Records has a knack for unearthing heaviness that appeals even to the non-metal crowd. That continues with the newest offering from Windhand. Hailing from Richmond, the five-piece brings that relaxed Southern pace to their driving psychedelic metal. The slow build, paired with a bare acoustic guitar, steers ears inward before guitarist Asechiah Bogdan kicks on the amp and contorts “Crypt Key” into a provocatively grungy beast. Vocalist Dorthia Cottrell never strains among the riffs, her (relatively) delicate timbre lurking amid the dark nuances of her bandmates. There, she feels “safe from everyone.” “Crypt Key” will be available on Grief’s Infernal Flower, out September 18th. —Derek Staples

08. Danny Brown and Clams Casino – “Worth It”

Danny-Brown-Clams-Casino-Worth-It

Like a comedian dealing with intense personal problems behind their jokes, Detroit rapper Danny Brown can sound downright troubled even if he is, as he’s proclaimed, the “rap Martin Lawrence.” He’s in that troubled headspace on “Worth It”, his new Adult Swim Singles collaboration with Clams Casino. It recalls earlier Brown songs like “Torture”, barbed with the risks of temptations, including “fast cars and ice” and “new girls every night.” Sure, Brown’s notepad sessions have led to a Don Shula-caliber winning percentage, but are his indulgences masking something that needs resolving? Over Clams’ fascinatingly stomach-turning production, Brown ponders the question for himself. –Michael Madden

07. Pleasure Leftists – “Protection”

Pleasure Leftists

Pulled from Pleasure Leftists’ forthcoming The Woods of Heaven album, due out August 21st via Deranged, “Protection” comes as a wild declaration of willpower. “Give me your hand, I’m alive/ I will survive, will survive, will survive,” howls Haley Morris, like she’s trying to convince anyone who will listen, but especially herself. Like a stateside counterpart to Sweden’s Makthaverskan, the Cleveland band pairs post-punk guitars with hurricane drum beats and powerful vocals. After a bright bridge progression, the song ends starkly on one last chorus, letting the ghost of its melody hang over the silence it leaves behind. –Sasha Geffen

06. Kevin Gates – “Tomorrow”

Kevin-Gates-Main-Pub-Photo-3

Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates is on an incredible roll, one he’s sustained with his Murder for Hire mixtape and other songs throughout 2015. “Tomorrow” is another track that came with no special warning, but it’s likely it will turn out to be another in Gates’ series of world-conquering loosies — and this one is particularly definitive as a Kevin Gates song. Here, he juxtaposes rap star lavishness with the seemingly distant themes of depression and drug dependency. For people wondering what’s supposed to be so profound about Future’s lyrics, Gates is a more comprehensible alternative, as songs like “Tomorrow” linger with streamlined melodies and Gates’ internal fire. –Michael Madden

05. Lou Barlow – “Moving”

Lou-Barlow-solo-album

Lou Barlow has released albums with both Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh since last debuting a solo full-length. Now, he’s in pensive acoustic mode again. On “Moving”, the first song to emerge from his upcoming Brace the Wave, Barlow captures a sobering sound thanks in part to urgent strums of a downtuned ukulele. In turn, he gets closer to the song’s theme: not just his recent move back to Massachusetts after 17 years spent in Los Angeles, but his general feeling of wanting to get somewhere he isn’t already. Brace for Brace the Wave, out September 4th via Joyful Noise. –Michael Madden

04. Lindsey – “Jack”

Lindsey Jack

While “Jack” might not initially strike with the same powerful bass lines that shake the deep house stages of massive electronic music festivals, NYC’s Lindsey sources some forgotten underground prognosticators as inspiration (e.g., Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and Mr. Fingers). “Jack” arrives from a place before house even had a big room to contend with: a mid-1980s era when soul, R&B, analog electronica, and disco were coalescing to fuel sweaty after-hours dance floors. Lindsey’s manipulation of the low end is more subtle, the undulations slowly taking over like a steady, yet unexpected, surge of dopamine. What’s fresh is truly subjective, because Lindsey is working with vibes that predate most of the twenty-somethings exploring her new project. Let the professor work!  –Derek Staples

03. Wolf Eyes – “Enemy Ladder”

wolf eyes new album

If I were given a year to come up with the next signee to Jack White’s Third Man Records, I don’t think I’d have come up with Wolf Eyes. Sure, they’re fellow Detroiters with a serious legacy — but these are the weirdos pushing industrial, noise, and hardcore insanity out at a prolific clip, destroying eardrums in their wake. But here we are, with Nate Young, John Olson, and Jim Baljo about to team with a former White Stripe to release their latest album. The result? Early sample “Enemy Ladder” carries all the growling Sturm und Drang you’d expect, but with a relatively approachable, Swans-y structure to the fury. I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is due October 30th. –Adam Kivel

02. Girl Band – “Paul”

 Top 10 Songs of the Week (8/7)

“Paul” might be Girl Band at their most deranged. The seven-minute whopper smashes Dara Kiely’s vocals between unsteady coils of clean bass and a hellish military march on the drums, making him sound like the smallest and most vulnerable piece in the song’s machine. It starts with abundant space in the sound field, then Alan Duggan’s distorted guitar fills the whole thing up with a noxious, undulating smog. Of the four Dublin musicians, bassist Daniel Fox shines clearest here with his lashes of rising notes, but all of Girl Band finds space to flex inside this bizarre little world they’re calling “Paul”. Watch for their upcoming debut, Holding Hands with Jamie, out September 25th via Rough Trade. –Sasha Geffen

01. FKA twigs – “Figure 8”

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FKA twigs’ music has always had a menacing edge, but her spook factor is usually at its highest when she’s pitch-shifting her vocals down to a demonic growl. On “Figure 8”, she manages to pack all the threat of “Preface”, off LP1, into her high notes, lilting to the upper edge of her range as a spiky bass line churns beneath. The song’s beat multiplies like a hatching spider egg, full of twitching, glistening pieces. “It’s a miracle if we’re still alive,” twigs sings. By the time she does switch over to that speak-singing devil rasp, she’s already backed us into a corner with nowhere to run. –Sasha Geffen

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