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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/28)

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Dreaming is bittersweet. When you’re unconscious and fantastically wandering, the potential for wondrous adventure is limitless. But, when you wake up, memories often quickly fade, the vastness suddenly impossible. Thankfully, this countdown is filled with artists who never wake up. Some tracks are as sweet as can be, ranging from a celebrated re-recording of an overlooked hit to some subtle tranquility new to a blonde rocker’s repertoire. Nightmares can be equally as entertaining, and some masters of drone and gnarly punk continue to warp your perception of sanity. If you’ve been busy, be sure to listen to these songs before you catch up on some sleep this weekend. Be sure not to press snooze too many times, though.

10. The Orwells – “Let It Burn”

The Orwells - Disgraceland

Finally, after a slew of tours and singles, Chicago rock ‘n’ roll upstarts The Orwells have announced their sophomore album and major label debut, Disgraceland (out June 3rd via Canvasback/Atlantic). Lead single “Let It Burn” is more of the same from the boys: writhing chords, power-pop hooks, and the fuck-all attitude of frontman Mario Cuomo. While not as fetching as last year’s breakout single “Other Voices”, it’s still a solid teaser for the new album. –Jon Hadusek

09. The Black Keys – “Fever”

the black keys turn blue

On “Fever”, the chomping first single from The Black Keys’ upcoming Turn Blue (out May 13th via Nonesuch Records), we get all manner of classic rock power moves: glug-glug V6 riffs, Pet Sounds super producer sheen, “96 Tears” organ stabs just dorky enough to work, and more. It all proceeds in a logical order, unfolding without any kind of hook during the final third. Hundreds of garage rock bands can write one deliriously catchy song per album. Auerbach and Carney are the genre’s reigning titans because they can also write with the pointillist’s touch heard here. –Michael Madden

08. ASG – “Comet Drop”

asg Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/28)

ASG’s Blood Drive, which saw the Wilmington band combining stoner sludge with a keen sense of soaring melody, was one of the more under-appreciated metal records of 2013. On “Comet Drop”, a new track courtesy of the Scion A/V singles series, ASG revisits that sound but focuses the arrangement down to a succinct three-and-a-half minutes. It’s structured like a pop song (why don’t more metal bands do this?), and there’s not a single note wasted on pointless guitar theatrics or heavy-for-the-sake-of-heavy pandering. Meaty riffs, catchy chorus, no bullshit: ASG do it right. –Jon Hadusek

07. D’Angelo– “I’m So Glad You’re Mine” (Al Green cover)

d'angelo jazz

D’Angelo is best live, where a lineup of instrumental heavies like bassist Pino Palladino lay down the funkiest extended jams imaginable. The R&B superstar’s live cover of Al Green’s “I’m So Glad You’re Mine” meets those expectations and gives the song a new, sexier depth, similar to his phenomenal rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”. Backup vocals infuse seduction into D’Angelo’s recitation of Green’s lyrics, and the song’s concluding guitar and Rhodes solos give it some sugary coating. More recordings from his 1995 live album, Live at the Jazz Cafe, London, will be re-released on vinyl in the near future. –Sam Willett

06. Odonis Odonis – “Order in the Court”

odonis odonis cover

Toronto’s Odonis Odonis purvey the same noise rock psychopathy as crosstown scene mates METZ. The music is wild, played with no rules and little adherence to commercial viability. But it’s thrilling in its unpredictability, as heard on “Order in the Court”, a cut from their forthcoming LP, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled (out April 15th via Buzz). Guitars aren’t strummed so much as they’re abused and tortured, shrieking ungodly shrieks of feedback while the vocals are shouted with similar raw abandon. The combination is just as affecting as Lee Stringle’s ultra-creepy animated music video for the track, which can be viewed below. –Jon Hadusek

05. Swans – “A Little God in My Hands”

swans cover 2014 Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/28)

Taking into account The Seer, Swans’ nightmarish album from 2012, their new single is their most approachable effort in recent memory. “A Little God in My Hands” has groove as opposed to the band’s trademark paralyzing weight. As you drive forward, though, Michael Gira’s lyricism puts you back in your place. Each lyric ends with snarling mockery, especially the repetitive “oh yeah” before a vicious wall of feedback is unleashed. After seven minutes, Gira’s judgments feel like protester’s scripture. It’s an effort to disrupt what’s comfortable and hard to shake off, each subsequent visit surprisingly addicting. Their upcoming LP, To Be Kind, is due May 13th via Young God/Mute Records. –Sam Willett

04. Asaad feat. Ab-Soul – “Alejandro Jodorowsky Flow”

Asaad-Alejandro-Jodorowsky-Flow

Philly rapper Asaad, formerly known as Saudi Money, might not be as eccentric as his co-star on “Alejandro Jodorowsky Flow”, but his great new Flowers II does position him as something of a pariah. And this song has a couple odd choices going for it: the title, from the Chilean-born film director who’s had a lasting impact on artists of all stripes, and the sample, “What Would You Give” by The Monroe Brothers, the Great Depression-era bluegrass combo. Surprisingly, this is one of the most approachable songs on Flowers II. It’s just too bad these guys didn’t try to make a hook out of that title. –Michael Madden 

03. EMA – “3Jane”

ema01402 Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/28)

What with her mocking use of terms like “superhighway,” South Dakota-bred songwriter Erika M. Anderson, aka EMA, achieves a caring snootiness on “3Jane”, the latest single from her third solo record, The Future’s Void (out April 8th via Matador). The song laments the claustrophobia of the social media era, and though it was written from personal experience, Anderson suggests we can all benefit from less screen time. If the album’s “Satellites” was like a knife to the throat, “3Jane” is more like a nursery rhyme, bedded as it is in clinking piano progressions and cymbal splashes. –Michael Madden

02. Air France & Yumi Zouma – “It Feels Good to Be Around You”

Air France Yumi Zouma

The most memorable phrase of Air France’s “It Feels Good to Be Around You”, which originally appeared in 2011, was its last lyric: “Are you with Air France?” In March 2012, the electronic duo had stopped hearing the affirmative and called it quits. Two years later, the yes has become a reality thanks to the up-and-coming dreampop act Yumi Zouma. As opposed to the original’s dance-infused electronics, Yumi Zouma’s chorus-loaded reinterpretation makes it appropriate for slow dancing, a song that makes you reflect while you move. Air France’s Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt seem to approve of this experimentation, contributing background vocals that make everything feel right again. –Sam Willett

01. Sam Smith – “Stay with Me”

sam smith

At some point, the prodigiously gifted English singer Sam Smith must have realized he had a masterpiece on his hands, because the production touches on “Stay with Me” — gospel singing, pattering drums — wouldn’t have worked this well if the song weren’t so commanding from a writing standpoint. It has the kind of clarity every songwriter aspires to, although even Smith would have to admit some luck was involved. The 21-year-old says he wrote his upcoming debut, In the Lonely Hour (out May 26th through Capitol Records), for lonely people, especially victims of unrequited love. But the ambiguity in the lyrics here seals the song’s appeal across a variety of lovelorn predicaments. –Michael Madden

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