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Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/18)

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Several of these artists, including Justin Townes Earle, Electric Wizard, and Vashti Bunyan, are here largely thanks to experience. In other words, they’ve long since known how to develop and configure these particular sounds. That’s not to say we didn’t find invention this week, too — just check on The Bug’s collab with Grouper or the latest from the one-woman black metal project Myrkur. Regardless of one’s career stage, there’s a broad range of textures and emotions here, and whether familiar or otherwise, all of it is just about undeniable.

10. Jesse Marchant – “Every Eye Open”

Jesse-Marchant-album-cover

New York-via-Montreal songwriter Jesse Marchant is now recording under his birth name after preferring the moniker JBM; accordingly, for the latest song off his self-titled follow-up to 2012’s Stray Ashes, he’s unguarded and contemplative, singing somber notes of romantic dis/mistrust. It’s built on sturdy guitar chord progressions, but pretty soon the song’s legs are stretched out, with purposeful drumming and one-string drips elevating the song to a post-rock crest. “I’ve been living in lies, too,” Marchant hums, acknowledging common ground he shares with his muse, achingly hoping he’ll find more. Jesse Marchant is out September 9th on No Other. –Michael Madden


09. Vashti Bunyan – “Across the Water”

vashti Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/18)

Vashti Bunyan, the pushing-70 English songwriter who reemerged in the mid-’00s after decades of obscurity, will return with her third and final album on October 6th/7th. “Across the Water”, our first taste of Heartleap, isn’t exactly a radical left turn; inching forward with acoustic guitar picking and light string work later on, the song is a beautiful Vashti Bunyan recording first and last. But while the composition appears tight and controlled on the surface, Bunyan’s pure voice alone expands the atmosphere until the whole thing sounds like a sketch of a majestic Astral Weeks getaway. –Michael Madden

08. Electric Wizard – “I Am Nothing”

electric wizard Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/18)

Electric Wizard have always been thematically minded, and Time to Die, the doom metal blueprint-builders’ eighth album and first with drummer Mark Greening since 2002’s Let Us Prey, will cover the omnipresent mystery of death. “I Am Nothing”, then, seems to set the tone (“I am nothing, I mean nothing”), although it’s already apparent the song might be more effective with the rest of the album. Musically, it’s classic Wizard, a minefield of slurring riffs and, around the seven-and-a-half-minute mark, a blast of goosebumpy psychedelic distortion. Time to Die is out September 30th via Spinefarm. –Michael Madden

07. Myrkur – “Nattens Barn”

myrkur Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/18)

The integration of electronic music into metal is a touchy subject for traditionalists, but it’s become more commonplace in recent years. Bands like Ulver proved that you can span genres without losing the power and grandeur synonymous with heavy metal and, in the process, create a unique piece of music. That concept is exemplified on “Nattens Barn”, the debut single by Myrkur, a one-woman black metal act from Denmark. Little is known about the artist recently signed to behemoth label Relapse (which is releasing Myrkur’s debut EP on September 16th), a mystery fitting such a masterful, otherworldly song. Her voice is languid and pristine, gliding over monolithic chords and swirling buildups. There are shoegazing atmospherics at work here, but the song really takes off when the cut-up drums kick in, sliced into a nervous, glitchy breakdown.–Jon Hadusek

06. Justin Townes Earle – “White Gardenias”

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While Justin Townes Earle has long established himself as one of the best voices in Americana, he’s never shied away from his unabashed love for other genres. In interviews, he’s sung the praises of Motown and soul, and one of his best songs is a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”. On “White Gardenias”, the excellent single off his forthcoming album, Single Mothers (out September 9th), Earle pays tribute to jazz singer Billie Holiday. Featuring one of Earle’s strongest melodies yet and a wailing steel guitar, “White Gardenias” lilts like a country lullaby. –Josh Terry

05. Low Steppa feat. Natalie Wood – “Drifting (Extended Mix)”

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The Netherlands’ Spinnin’ Records continues to embrace the deep house sound with the release of Low Steppa’s brooding “Drifting”. The R&B-tinged vocals of Natalie Wood cut the track with a Disclosure-esque edge, but the Lawrence brothers have yet to explore the depths of this Birmingham-based producer. Already receiving support from the likes of Lane 8 and Chuckie, you can secure your copy now via Beatport. –Derek Staples

04. Lia Ices – “Higher”

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As Lia Ices, New York-based musician Lia Kessel makes breezy, electronic-infused indie pop. On her latest single, “Higher”, Kessel’s voice weightlessly floats over a summery, tropical beat courtesy of her brother Eliot and co-producer Clams Casino. Throughout the track, there are studio flourishes from around the world, including an Asian dulcimer and a sample of a Persian santur. It’s delightfully all over the place, and fans of quirky pop should be very excited for her new album, Ices, which is due out September 16th via Jagjaguwar. –Josh Terry

03. Sinkane – “How We Be”

Sinkane - Mean Love

Ahead of Mean Love (out September 2nd via DFA), Sinkane has dropped a funk-laden concoction dubbed “How We Be”. The single is no Parliament rip; instead, the subtle electronic blips keep the timeless vibes relevant for the 21st century dance floor, just as DFA artists have done time and time again. Still a relative unknown, Sinkane is primed to break out this fall atop rotund grooves like these. –Derek Staples


02. The Bug feat. Grouper – “Void”

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Electronic artist The Bug employs the vocals of Grouper’s Liz Harris like an instrument on “Void”, a cut from his new LP Angels & Devils (out August 25th via Ninjatune). Her voice booms with cavernous echo, a drone rather than words being sung. The economic trip-hop beat gives the eventual snare buildup a soaring effect that drops out and comes back around thrice more, an abrasive contrast to Harris’s backdrop. Stream here. –Jon Hadusek

01. Shabazz Palaces – “Forerunner Foray”

shabazzpalaces lesemajesty 1425 Top 10 Songs of the Week (7/18)

Seattle abstract-rap outfit Shabazz Palaces have an ear for the ambiance of a song, and theirs is a dark mood: uneasy, pensive, and postmodern. Like their previous singles “#Cake” and “They Come in Gold”, “Forerunner Foray” squirms and lurches, an embrace of dissonant synths and crackly percussion to go with deadpan verses about a vague past, plus impressionistic tales of grim violence and death in the streets. In light of Death Grips’ breakup, Shabazz Palaces are candidates to hold down the hip-hop underground, and they’ve proven capable with a strong run of songs leading up to their second LP, Lese Majesty (out July 29th on Sub Pop). –Jon Hadusek

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