Top MP3s of the Week (11/15)


cassettes Top MP3s of the Week (11/15)

The marketing machine for 2014 releases is in full motion, as this week’s countdown in heavy on teases for next year’s biggest first-quarter releases. Among them is a comeback single for a UK pop star, a numbingly good Tears for Fear cover, and a deeply personal song from Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! It’s one of the last MP3s countdowns of the year, and also one of the most entertaining.

10. Eagulls – “Tough Luck”


Here’s the headbanger of the week. Distorted coating and anthemic guitar riffs swirl through every nasty verse of “Tough Luck”, the latest reveal from Eagulls’ upcoming debut LP. What pulls the song into high gear is the band’s contagious unity, allowing the chorus to sore along with a pack of fists in the air. Eagulls is due March 4th via Partisan Records. –Sam Willett

9. Jack Name – “Light Show”


John Webster Johns usually tours as White Fence, but he releases music under a slew of monikers. His latest is called Jack Name, and “Light Show” is the lead single from the forthcoming album of the same name. It’s a little more direct and bouncy than anything on Cyclops Reap, yet it retains all the psych flourishes Johns is known for. The sparkling synths are especially appealing on this track. –Jon Hadusek

8. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – “Lariat”

Steve Malk & Jicks

Only Stephen Malkmus would release a lyric video with French subtitles. Aside from that, what matters most is the obvious fun that he and his his band, The Jicks, are having with their latest return. “Lariat” is a joyride of wordplay and a celebration of the past. If you wake up and realize “you’re not what you want” or “you are what you’re not,” you can forget all of that and get lost reminiscing about “growing up listening to the music from the best decade ever,” or figuring out what’s foxy about a love for oxygen. The group upcoming LP, Wig Out at Jagbags, is due January 7th via Matador Records. –Sam Willett

7. Ghost B.C. – “Crucified” (Army of Lovers cover)


Produced and recorded by Dave Grohl, Ghost B.C.’s covers EP, If You Have Ghost, drops on Tuesday, and includes renditions of songs by ABBA, Depeche Mode, Roky Erickson, and Army of Lovers. The highlight is the latter’s “Crucified”, which Ghost turn into a sweeping prog-metal ballad. These guys are master musicians, and they handle these songs with tact and respect. Stream that song (and the entire EP) here–Jon Hadusek

6. Jhene Aiko feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Stay Ready (What a Life)”


Spitting fire similar to AlunaGeorge’s Body Music, Jhnie Aiko’s “Stay Ready (What a Life)” infuses a hazy tranquility into the atmosphere. Like Aluna Francis, Aiko’s vocals are pristine, while special guest Kendrick Lamar transforms her lovely admirations into erotic fantasies, broken down step-by-step. Aiko isn’t looking for riches, stating that “if everything is dipped in gold, then baby it will never grow.” More tales flung from cupid’s bow will be featured on her upcoming EP, Sail Out, which also features Childish Gambino, Ab-Soul, and Vince Staples. –Sam Willett

5. Against Me! – “FUCKMYLIFE666”

against me transgener dsphoria blues

Against Me! teased an acoustic version of the sardonically titled “FUCKMYLIFE666” on the True Trans EP released earlier this year. I say sardonic because this powerful rock version is played with passion and confidence by Laura Jane Grace. It’s triumphant, a personal statement of satisfaction and assuredness after reconciling and embracing her evolution. Mark down Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues (out January 21st via Total Treble) as one of the most anticipated releases of early 2014. –Jon Hadusek

4. Travis Bretzer – “Low Volt”


After his impressive and fun-loving Making Love EP, Travis Bretzer cleaned up his act, brushed off the dust of growing up, and started packing a punch of zany flavors in anticipation of his upcoming full-length debut on Mexican Summer, due early 2014. “Low Volt” is his first reveal of that record and his spunkiest, most polished performance to date. The twangy guitar poetry aches with ’80s punk flavor, and his knack for a catchy chorus stands true. –Sam Willett

3. Sampha – “Happens”


Sampha’s experimentation with piano-driven R&B magic continues to serve up some soulful confessions. “Happens”, the b-side to his “Too Much” single, explores further along the piano keys in a heart-racing panic of drifting away from love. His angelic croons survey an impressive range of falsetto to narrate the rush behind “a multi-colored cluster of lust and love” as he indecisively picks at his heart. “Too Much”/”Happens” is currently available digitally and will be released as a 7″ in January. –Sam Willett

2. Lorde – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears cover)

lorde letterman

This smoky rendition of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” comes at the perfect time for Lorde, who’s on the verge of becoming the biggest pop star in the world. “Royals” is inescapable/overplayed, but like I said in my review of Pure Heroine: It was a sign of artistic integrity from a young pop artist — a light in the dark. Not so soon did I expect her to unleash another musical achievement, however, like this psuedo-darkwave take on the classic ’80s synth-pop song (available on the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack). The production on Pure Heroine was minimal and effective, but this puts BIG sounds behind Lorde’s voice, and it sounds fucking fantastic. Rock guitars and an orchestra bust in during the final titular refrain, as she repeats the words with a hypnotizing cadence. —Jon Hadusek

1. Lily Allen – “Hard Out Here”


During the comedic video of her comeback single, “Hard Out Here”, Lily Allen sits on the operating table as she undergoes cosmetic liposuction. Her manager snidely asks, “How does somebody let themself get like this?” — to which the surgeon replies, “A lack of self-discipline.” Allen interjects: “Um…I had two babies.” In one swoop, she explains what she’s been doing since 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s Youwhile simultaneously commenting on the celebrity obsession with looks and figure.

Allen rails against a lot of things (gender inequality, objectification, consumer culture) in the song, but it’s all filtered through her biting sarcasm and posh accent. The anthemic chorus — “It’s hard out here for a bitch” — and typical electro production make this almost a lock for the Top 40… a mainstream vehicle for some pretty anti-mainstream ideas. The catchiness grabs your attention, and the satire wins you over. A brilliant comeback.–Jon Hadusek