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Top 10 Songs of the Week (3/27)

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Even though it seemed like most of the music industry was slamming back Lone Stars by the pair last week, it certainly didn’t take long for some stellar tracks to start flowing in. Some came smashing through the speakers, like Prurient’s new industrial assault, while fresh selections from Mavis Staples and Mas Ysa took more leisurely routes into our selection. FKA twigs and Bodega Bamz set out on some crazy aural detours, but they too eventually found their way. Plus, we get to welcome back Jamie xx. Plug in and enjoy the journey.

10. The Japanese House – “Pools to Bathe In”

The-Japanese-House - EP

This is only the second song we’ve heard from The Japanese House. As far as we know, she is 19, from London, and makes music. But if “Pools to Bathe In” and her debut “Still” are anything to go off of, this is a young talent to be reckoned with going forward. “Pools to Bathe In” is a slow, heartbroken affair that takes the songwriter’s voice and atomizes it over a flowing blend of guitars, bass, and synthetic twinkles. She sings across multiple channels at once, harmonizing with herself, pronouncing soulful lyrics about changing, healing, and growing up. “I get such a rush with my head out the window,” she sings, but the song carries the weight of an adrenaline rush long faded, barely remembered. For such an early release, “Pools to Bathe In” is a work of remarkable patience. Find it on The Japanese House’s upcoming EP of the same name, out April 27th via Dirty Hit. –Sasha Geffen

9. Sly-One – “Influence”

Sly-One

Founded in 2011, Bristol’s Dave Constant, Joe Cannon, and Oliver Read, known collectively as Sly-One, have found themselves on the leading edge of UK’s bass-centric garage beats. The trio’s newest single, “Influence”, which is already available on Black Butter Spread Love Vol. 5, is a cerebral primer for the trending underground sound. This song jacks, gets booties low, and even instigates the intermittent fist-pump, making this a future secret weapon for producers across clubland. Even in the grime, there is plenty of beauty in this cut.  –Derek Staples

8. Bodega Bamz feat. Flatbush Zombies – “Bring Em Out”

Bodega Bamz Flatbush Zombies Bring Em Out

Spanish Harlem rapper Bodega Bamz takes the first verse and the chanted, titular hook on “Bring Em Out”, but this is a team effort. Each of the three members of Brooklyn’s Flatbush Zombies gets a verse, too, not to mention V’Don’s beat, which is a flicker of woozy, somber keyboard melodies and hard-hitting drums. The end result is a fearless stab at an anthem. There’s enough room for these guys to spotlight their individual quirks (and lord knows Flatbush’s Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice, in particular, are two of New York’s quirkiest MCs), but it’s still an immediately enjoyable banger that makes everyone here sound like a star. Find it on Bamz’s debut album, Sidewalk Exec, out April 14th. –Michael Madden

7. FKA twigs – “Glass & Patron”

fka twigs patron

So much of FKA twigs’ music seems to take place in a world outside our own. As such, it’s strange to hear her name-check a brand of real-life tequila. But there it is, right in the title of her new song “Glass & Patron”, a standalone single with an accompanying video produced for the YouTube Music Awards. Compared to last year’s breakout debut LP1, “Glass & Patron” is even stranger and more minimal. Rough industrial scrapes punctuate layers of twigs’ unaltered voice until the beat kicks in and the whole affair glitches out past its own borders. The shifts pitch and the tempos destabilize, landing twigs on an even more alien plane than the one she’s usually dancing on. Of course there’s a bizarre costumed floor show in the forest to go along with this confrontational new tune. –Sasha Geffen

6. Prurient – “Dragonflies to Sew You Up”

Prurient new album

Prurient mastermind Dominick Fernow claims that his new album contains pieces of every sound from his project’s past, as well as “a whole new palette of wind, rocks, wood, cloth, fire, dirt, and more.” Lead track “Dragonflies to Sew You Up” takes the task of piecing together that eclectic mix and outdoes it: Fernow had session musicians record guitar, drums, and electronics isolated from each other with no conception of how the other would sound, and then stitched them all up in post. While Prurient’s past catalog features some numbingly abrasive stuff, “Dragonflies” has a haunting beauty that scrapes away just as much as the burning power electronics. This track and the rest of the album, Frozen Niagara Falls, hits shelves on May 12th via Profound Lore Records. –Adam Kivel

5. Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Wool”

Earl I Don't Like Shit I Don't Go Outside

Earl Sweatshirt’s new I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is (if you can believe it) deeply introverted, even reclusive. That’s why the songs that bring a guest rapper into the fold seem to mark a sudden U-turn. Case in point: “Wool”, which not only features Vince Staples (who’s appeared on each of Earl’s solo projects to date, something you can’t even say about Tyler, the Creator) but also one of the album’s brightest-sounding instrumentals, produced by Earl under the name RandomBlackDude. That’s not to say it’s a ray of sunshine at the end of the album, however; it’s a forbidding, hook-less track with a raw crunch. –Michael Madden

4. Mavis Staples – “Your Good Fortune”

Mavis Staples Your Good Fortune

Whether it’s Arcade Fire or Jeff Tweedy pulling her up on stage, Mavis Staples has been a favorite collaborator of the emotionally powerful indie rock set for the last couple of years. On the soul legend’s new EP, however, she’s going back to her roots. While Your Good Fortune includes re-recordings of The Staple Singers tracks, it also features a pair of brand new, deeply resonant songs, including the stunning title track. Written by producer/”future soul” musician Son Little, the track booms thanks to Staples’ mighty croon. “I can cry through the levy/ It would wash you away,” she moans, a simple bluesy waltz drifting behind the verse, only to have the chorus slow things to a molasses swoon. Your Good Fortune will be available on April 21st through ANTI- Records. –Adam Kivel

3. Torres – “Sprinter”

Torres-Sprinter-Album

“Sprinter”, the title track from Mackenzie Scott’s upcoming sophomore album as Torres, is a shadowy, vaguely grunge number that’s more nuanced and volatile than its stomp initially suggests. Textural shifts justify the song’s five-minute length, to say nothing of the autobiographical narrative of the lyrics. “I was a sprinter then,” Scott sings again and again, and even if you don’t pay attention to the rest of the words, there’s a clear past tense foundation to the proceedings. The gloominess of Scott’s vocals and the eerie instrumentation bond to give the song an anxious weight, but it’s one that Scott’s working on getting straightened out. Sprinter arrives May 5th via Partisan. –Michael Madden

2. Mas Ysa – “Look Up”

Mas Ysa Look Up

Aside from a few festival slots last year, Thomas Arsenault has kept a low profile as Mas Ysa. So far, the Canadian producer and songwriter has only released 2014’s Worth EP, but his new single this week hints at more to come. “Look Up” pairs flat beats and artificial instruments with Arsenault’s ragged voice. The song snowballs its uncanny valley synthesizers, the falseness of the instrumentation only enhancing the raw emotion in the vocals. Structurally, “Look Up” works as a cohesive pop song; texturally, it’s a study in opposites that threatens to fall apart only to evolve into a strange new organism. Here’s the Oneohtrix Point Never/American Football synthesis you never knew you needed. –Sasha Geffen

1. Jamie xx – “Loud Places”

Jamie xx

This fresh Jamie xx offering might lack The xx bassist/vocalist Oliver Sim, yet it is (arguably) the most invitingly dense production within either Jamie’s solo work or the group’s collective catalog. With the support of bandmate Romy Madley Croft on vocals, the more minimal segments of the track are reminiscent of the trio’s debut album; however, the new gospel overtones highlight Jamie’s refined expertise in enveloping an audience in dark, moody instrumentals. “Loud Places” will be available when Jamie xx’s debut solo album, In Colour, drops this June via Young Turks. –Derek Staples

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