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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/7)

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We live for comfort. Sometimes, that means taking a backseat and watching the world transform before our eyes. At other times, we learn from what we see and transform into something jarring and new. The acts on this countdown are here for a reason: They’ve honed the ability to expand, alter, and create. One of pop’s biggest stars has warped her voice into a boundless black hole. An R&B artist fought with her stunning falsetto against an intimidating electronic force, and the winner is too difficult to determine. A punk outfit attempts to break into nastier ground and makes sharper, more successful turns than expected. As you can tell, these moves have pumped us up, so take a risk and dive in yourself.

10. BadBadNotGood – “Can’t Leave the Night”

BBNG

“Jazz slash hip-hop” fits Toronto trio BadBadNotGood snug as anything, but “Can’t Leave the Night” isn’t really either of those things. Like their fellow Torontonians Drake and 40, BBNG have found an aesthetic by fusing genres into a cold, moody whole, and “Can’t Leave” is a half-full Hefty bag of sharp snare strikes and palm-muted single-string runs. Only around 3:20 does the stew take the definite form of a rap instrumental. It’s a payoff moment, but the shadowy and sneakily melodic road there is worth the trip itself. BBNG’s third album, III, is due May 6th via Innovative Leisure. –Michael Madden

9. La Sera – “Losing to the Dark”

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Katy Goodman, aka La Sera, moved to L.A. after finding success in Brooklyn with the newly defunct Vivian Girls. “Losing to the Dark” comes with the distinct image of her staring at a Pacific wave she’s not sure she can handle. (Totally stereotyping here; no idea whether Goodman actually surfs.) “How about you write another song about how fun you are to drink with at the bar?” she sneers, and being an alumnus of the tri-state school of loud-spirited indie rock, I like to think she’s talking about Patrick Stickles or one of those guys. Goodman drops Hour of the Dawn, her third solo LP, on May 13th via Hardly Art. –Michael Madden


8. Conan – “Foehammer”

conan blood eagle11 Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/7)

Liverpool metal quartet Conan are about as sludgy as it gets, but only because you can downtune a guitar only so much. A subwoofer is almost mandatory to do the band’s music justice. On “Foehammer”, a cut from their new album, Blood Eagle (released last Friday via Napalm Records), the bass and guitar come in bowel-loosening waves of fuzz and distortion. And the lyrics are all perfectly in line with their excellent band name, conjuring images of blood-stained battlefields and forgotten sorcery. Fans of High on Fire and Torche, take note. –Jon Hadusek

7. Sharon Van Etten – “Taking Chances”

Sharon Van Etten

Are We There, Sharon Van Etten’s upcoming LP, is due right before summer starts, and “Taking Chances” sounds suited for the music festival circuit. The folkier demeanor of Tramp is transformed into a groovy rock force dominated by keyboard and bass lines. The exhilarating chorus makes the idea of “taking chances” exhilarating, thanks to Van Etten’s audacious vocal performance and guitar strums. –Sam Willett

6. The Range – “Washingtons”

The Range

James Hinton, the Pennsylvania native who produces dense and profoundly genial dance music as The Range, is at his best when building contrast from textures that are fundamentally similar. Like a purely electronica answer to Mark McGuire’s guitars-and-meadows on Along the Way, everything on “Washingtons” is elating besides the namesake, which comes from Nas’ “Life’s a Bitch”, one of the saddest songs in hip-hop history. Some synths bloop and some bleep, while the percussion ranges (haw!) from passive-aggressive snare shudders to confectionate snaps. –Michael Madden

5. Bok Bok feat. Kelela – “Melba’s Call”

Bok Bok

Kelela’s strong comeback, “The High”, was prepared for the bedroom, lingering in intimacy and sexual ecstasy. While she’s taken a step away from her dance-dominated force, UK producer Bok Bok has found Kelela’s new niche and cleverly prepared a mysterious lair for her in “Melba’s Call”. Loaded with twisted vocal samples, the beat shares the spotlight, but that yearning heartache and those precise falsetto gymnastics won’t back down either. –-Sam Willett

4. White Lung – “Drown with the Monster”

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This band just keeps releasing badass 7″ after badass 7″. The latest A-side, “Drown with the Monster”, again sees guitarist Kenny McCorkell trying his damndest to turn White Lung into a crossover-thrash band. Frenetic tremolo picking and searing fretwork pace frontwoman Mish Way’s manic exclamations. She said of the title phrase: “This song is about kicking habits and running away with a new distraction. It’s a song about my two biggest vices, but I’d rather drown with the monster than blow dry my wounds.” It’s about time the band released a new full-length, but with songs this strong, just keep ’em coming. –Jon Hadusek

3. Leather Corduroys – “Dat Strong”

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Ever heard someone rap like he just escaped Hannibal’s cell block? Chicago’s Kami de Chukwu and Joey Purp, members of the Save Money collective, are Leather Corduroys, who’ve found gold here with a heartless sound that evokes the goons who jumped poor Jefferson Tibbs for a pizza in Hardball. iLLeeT’s beat is a slow-rolling piano drip with a raw kick-snare-hat pattern comparable to the entire aesthetic of Lil Herb’s “4 Minutes in Hell” series, but “Strong” doesn’t even need three. Purp is especially threatening here — “I know bitches that’ll kill the fuckin’ best of you niggas/ Young nigga, young nigga, young nigga, you don’t want no dilemma,” he raps, his larynx positively lacerated by a vocal effect. He and Kami both, however, belong in a category with unforgiving drill upperclassmen like King Louie and Montana of 300. –Michael Madden

2. Lorde & Son Lux – “Easy (Switch Screens)”

lorde Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/7)

For his remix of “Easy”, Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) brought in Lorde, who’d already been covering the original version of the song live. The crackling percussion and eerie synths recall the production work of DJ Shadow and James Lavelle’s work in UNKLE back in the late ’90s. They would also bring in pop stars to handle the melodies, and Lorde’s involvement brings a whole new element to “Easy”. Her voice is doubled and overdubbed, creating a bizarre echo that aligns with Lott’s sinister instrumentals. The song will be released on Son Lux’s forthcoming Alternate Worlds EP, available on limited vinyl (and selling out fast) on his Bandcamp–Jon Hadusek

1. Owen Pallett – “The Riverbed”

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Drama is easy to grasp when shown over daytime television, but it can be harder to understand when covered in song. The climax of Owen Pallett’s “The Riverbed” makes it seem easy. “And the world will forget all the good you have done,” he cries, every lackluster moment given a heart-aching reality. Pallett sings to someone plagued by a presumed failure, struggles with depression, and attempts to relieve his pain with alcohol. But there, in the end, is an offer of support: “I will be your riverbed.” Pallett’s upcoming LP, In Conflict, is due May 13th via Domino. –Sam Willett

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