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Top 10 Songs of the Week (1/31)

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Nostalgia can be a funny thing. While digging through crates of family photos or spinning old mixtapes can bring back good memories, some resurrect more challenging, introspective feelings. The latter thread through this collection of tracks. Some are bitter about it and rock their memories to shreds, while others think about what could have been.

10. Alexander Spit feat. DaVinci – “Pool Shark”

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The affable Los Angeles rapper/producer Alexander Spit, who could’ve picked so many other names, is usually judicious with the pen. On “Pool Shark”, though, he’s edged ever so slightly by San Francisco’s DaVinci, who, over piano topspin and anvil-heavy drums, starts things by enumerating the perks of his underdog status. For his turn, Spit recounts undoubtedly intense experiences like stealing cars and tripping nuts in Death Valley. There’s no hook here, although the half-sung latter part of Vinci’s cameo sticks in its own way. —Michael Madden


9. Mobb Deep – “Taking You Off Here”

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Mobb Deep have released a lot of subpar music since 1995’s The Infamous. But they get an unfair shake, because it’s flat out unfair to compare the rest of their work to that masterpiece of an album (Nas can relate, maybe Kendrick too, in a few years). When they’re on, Mobb Deep mostly succeed at evoking that unsettling, evil mafioso vibe. Latest cut “Taking You Off Here” is a perfect example, with its dissonant organ samples and steady boom-bap — the ideal background for any gangsta lyricism. Though age is finally creeping into their respective flows, Prodigy and Havoc play their familiar roles of New York street enforcers, the latter making his threats clear and present: “Come and get your ass whipped, on camera/ No tapping out on this concrete canvas.” –Jon Hadusek

8. Ruine – “Decades of Sorrow”

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Formed from the members of Magrudergrind and Mutilation Rites, Ruine is Brooklyn’s newest metal band and a bludgeoning one at that. On “Decades of Sorrow”, they concoct an Autopsy-esque filth that lurches and curls from note to note. Slowly, the sludge turns into melodic drones of fuzzed-out feedback, pleasant even. For a demo, Ruine creates a pretty colorful recording here, exploring a variety of moods. Limited quantities on red vinyl are available for pre-order here, and you can listen to the track here–Jon Hadusek

7. RLMDL – “Bilingual”

Space Project

RLMDL categorize themselves as a dream rock band, but they approach the unconscious act of dreaming more seriously than others. Similar to the guitar tones drifting along the ocean floor of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”, “Bilingual” challenges the barriers of their lucid dreams with hazy undertones. As a result, they learn that the American Dream doesn’t always equate to finding wild success, but sometimes in “[making] your own kind of empathy.” Download their Bilingual EP here. Sam Willett

6. Wavr – “Untouched”

Wavr

Combined with the recent Slowdive reunion, Wavr virtually shouted “#shoegazeisalive” to their growing fan base in celebration with the release of their new EP, Disconnect. Lead track “Untouched” thrives off this excitement and builds distorted chaos through a heavy combination of effects pedals and composed confidence. During its seven-minute duration, they manipulate dynamics masterfully, ranging from near silence to distorted wasteland seamlessly. Despite the EP’s title, Wavr lend comfort amidst the static. Listen to Disconnect here–Sam Willett

5. Behemoth – “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”

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On Tuesday, Behemoth will release The Satanist, one of the most anticipated metal albums of 2014 and a return to the band’s raw, blackened roots. Single “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” is an undiluted concentration of occult brutality, and it’s played at such a relentless speed that there’s no room for any of the hokey indulgences that often plague Behemoth and other high-profile black metal acts. Also, there’s Nergal’s ridiculous lyrics: “Great volcano of excrement … I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake.” The camp is strong with this one, but don’t let that hamper your perception: This shit is still damn heavy. –Jon Hadusek

4. Bear Hands – “Agora”

Bear Hands

During the winter months, it’s easy to catch some seasonal depression, dropping your adventurous spirit and treading towards the warmth and solace of time spent indoors. Bear Hands frontman Dylan Rau battles with something similar in “Agora”, which tackles him before the thought of leaving ever surfaces. This is no suppressed downer, though, as Rau confronts and and challenges that feeling, building positivity in its powerful chorus. Bear Hands’ sophomore effort, Distraction, is due February 18th via Cantora Records. –Sam Willett

3. Wye Oak – “The Tower”

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“The Tower” is the latest from the newly guitar-free Wye Oak and should serve to reinforce the songwriting talents of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. As previously mentioned, Wasner grew tired of playing the guitar following the lengthy tour for their last record, so she switched to bass for their new LP, Shriek (out April 29th via Merge). “The Tower” presents this new sound as a kind of electro chamber pop, with odd beat syncopations and meandering instrumental sections. Although it’s a dramatic departure, the duo now have more room to experiment, their sonic palette no longer restricted by rigid chord progressions. –Jon Hadusek


2. Darkside feat. Tamara – “Things Behind the Sun” (Nick Drake cover)

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We couldn’t have expected Darkside’s cover of “Things Behind the Sun”, which Brooklyn guitarist Dave Harrington debuted on his Modular Modcast this week, to turn out like Nick Drake’s 1972 original. Harrington and producer Nicolas Jaar join as Darkside for electronic music that’s hardly of this solar system, whereas Drake’s songs are uniformly poignant and autumnal. Here, Harrington’s guitar glacially creeps behind Tamara’s shadowy vocals, and the result isn’t many leagues removed from Grouper’s The Man Who Died in His Boat. “Please beware of them that stare,” goes the first line, and when Tamara exhales it, there’s no missing the deadly seriousness. Download the track here. —Michael Madden

1. Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”

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Cloud Nothings aren’t involved in this “emo revival” stuff. As openly as frontman Dylan Baldi presents himself, the Cleveland band’s songs are more Cobain homage than rampant catharsis. Much like the Attack on Memory standout “Stay Useless”, “I’m Not Part of Me” shows us a captain of guitar crunch sweetening unsteady riffs with tidy melodies. It’ll be on the band’s fourth effort, Here and Nowhere Else, out April 1st via Carpark/Mom+Pop. —Michael Madden

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