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Top Songs of the Week (5/8)

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As a music obsessive, not much tops long road trips soundtracked by great mixes or surrounding yourself with fresh tunes while strolling through a crowded city center. With temperatures finally topping 70 across most of the nation, we can now all indulge in spring/summertime exploits. Whether you prefer charming the cul-de-sac with Ducktails, serenading the block with Little Boots, confusing grannies with ASAP Rocky’s Rod Stewart sample, or setting off car alarms with the likes of Nocturnal Sunshine and Lil Silva, this week’s list promises to keep the weekend lively.

10. Tronik Youth – “The Healer”

Tronik Youth

Saturday night and Sunday morning come crashing together on Tronik Youth’s “The Healer”. A mix of incendiary disco and soulful gospel, Neil Parnell takes to the decks as a synth-backed preacher for this nearly six-minute dance floor sermon. This fusion of hedonism and scripture has its lineage in Chicago’s earliest underground house parties, yet, when crafted by scene vet Parnell, the vibes continue to arrive with the same mystical force as they did back in 1985. Grab “The Healer” on May 18th via Parnell’s own Nein Records, and look for Tronik Youth’s debut album to come out this summer. –Derek Staples

9. Ducktails – “Headbanging in the Mirror”

Ducktails St Catherine

As the lead noodler for Real Estate, Matt Mondanile might have one of the most instantly recognizable guitar tones in the business right now. He carries that light touch to Ducktails, where his pearly licks kick in on a spookier strain of soft rock. “Headbanging in the Mirror” indulges a swath of psychedelic squiggles and layered vocals. Like Strand of Oaks’ “Goshen ’97” last year, this new Ducktails cut takes a look back at where Mondanile’s come from and where he’s going — and the music that’s been getting him there all the way. “Headbanging in the Mirror” arrives as the first sample of Ducktails’ forthcoming record, St. Cathedral, due out July 24th from Domino. –Sasha Geffen

8. Nocturnal Sunshine feat. Chelou – “Believe”

Nocturnal Sunshine

Maya Jane Coles, who produces hard, lean beats as Nocturnal Sunshine, lets the London act Chelou take vocal duties on her latest offering, “Believe”. The two artists make a startling study in opposites: Nocturnal Sunshine sets sharp drum machines and warm, muted bass loose in the track’s airspace, while Chelou’s wrinkled rock vocals trace minimal melodic patterns in the foreground. “I don’t believe in anything,” goes the chorus, and before long, the synths are melting into the voices, and the line between human and machine blurs. “Neither here, neither there, neither anywhere/ I am nothing,” sings Chelou at the bridge — as if they can feel themselves dissolving into the night. –Sasha Geffen

7. Little Boots – “Better in the Morning”

Little Boots

Little Boots, aka Victoria Hesketh, is regularly compared to today’s biggest pop stars, but it’s telling that new single “Better in the Morning” benefits from its lack of grandeur, favoring a smooth electropop bounce. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a chance at remarkable commercial success; as easy as they seem to come to her, the “doot-doot-doots” and the titular chorus land as being scientifically well-placed. “Lost track of the time/ I never meant to make you wait,” Hesketh sings here, but the fact is that she’s working fast, having just released a four-song EP in December, with a new full-length on the way. “Better in the Morning”, then, is a convincing reason to get you to keep up with her. Find it on her third album, Working Girl, which arrives July 10th via Dim Mak/On Repeat. –Michael Madden

6. Lil Bibby feat. Lil Herb – “Better Dayz”

lil bibby change Top Songs of the Week (5/8)

Lil Bibby and Lil Herb might be Chicago’s best rap duo, and they aren’t even an official pair; it’s just that the East Siders have recorded so many strong songs together that they pretty much owe the rap world a joint project. If such a collaboration ever sees the light of day — and Bibby has said that it might happen soon — it probably won’t sound much like “Better Dayz”, which, compared to their harder past collaborations, sounds unusually bittersweet due to producer C-Sick’s mournful piano and strings (not to mention the rain in the background). Lyrically, the song is about riding the road to lasting fame and fortune while keeping an eye on threatening forces coming up from behind: “Word around town, Bucks made it now/ But I’ma go hard till they take me out,” Bibby confirms. –Michael Madden

5. Lil Silva – “Drumatic”

Lil Silva

Don’t get lured into a false sense of comfort during the first few ambient moments of this cut. One minute in, the UK’s Lil Silva pierces those pleasing waves with his jarring low-end techniques. The title cut from his forthcoming Drumatic EP, this new single pulls from the best of Britain’s underground bass mechanics. So whether you enjoy swaying at 128 or crushing the dance floor at 185, this will get your body gyrating. For those in the UK, “Drumatic” is already receiving massive radio support. The rest of us will have to wait until June 6th, when the EP lands via Good Years Recordings, to indulge further. –Derek Staples

4. A$AP Rocky feat. Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson – “Everyday”

Asap-rocky-m's

The convergence of Mark Ronson, Rod Stewart, and Miguel might not exactly have been inevitable, but here we are. “Only God could judge me, and he don’t like no ugly,” ASAP Rocky notes, and tying those disparate features into one song is something that isn’t ugly and should be judged pretty favorable by listeners, divine or otherwise. The latest track to presumably come from the upcoming At.Long.Last.ASAP (which has a fresh June 2nd release date), “Everyday” pairs a sample of Stewart’s “In a Broken Dream” with Rocky’s slippery flow and some sonorous croons from Miguel for a stunner of a track. –Adam Kivel

3. Sharon Van Etten – “Just Like Blood”

Sharon Van Etten new EP

Sharon Van Etten has a lot of songs that suggest she’s been through some rough breakups. Just when you think she’s due for a streak of good luck, another painful tale rears its head. This time, that’s “Just Like Blood”, in which she details a messy, potentially violent conclusion: “You set me off just like a gun/ Then you run just like blood,” she aches, her voice reaching tentatively through the slats of the window shades formed by cross-cutting violins and piano. Van Etten’s voice continues to grow and strike out in new directions both sonically and lyrically, and this one adds to a growing list of heartbreaking, virtuosic performances. “Just Like Blood” and the rest of her new EP, I Don’t Want to Let You Down, is due June 9th via Jagjaguwar. –Adam Kivel

2. Moses Sumney – “Seeds”

Moses Sumney

Moses Sumney‘s list of collaborators runs long, and includes such high-profile names as Karen O, Beck, and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. He even has Sufjan Stevens’ stamp of approval — the two have been playing shows together on Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell tour. But Sumney’s solo work is a force altogether its own. In contrast to Stevens’ clean fingerpicking, Sumney plays a guitar that sounds rich with age and flecked by rust. He sings not through effects but across multiple tracks piled on top of each other, multiplying his falsetto to chilling effect. He sings about sickness and death even while his melodies lilt toward life and hope. “Seeds”, the A-side to a forthcoming 7-inch, festers inside its own contradictions. It’s weighted with danger and decay even as Sumney’s voice floats by like dandelion seeds in the wind. –Sasha Geffen

1. Vince Staples – “Señorita”

Vince-Staples

Unlike other Vince Staples songs, “Señorita” is unconcerned with consequences. Once an active member of the 2N Crips in his native California, Staples now raps about the streets with keen foresight, aware of the various dead ends a young man of his background can reach if he’s not careful. “Señorita”, however, finds Staples unfurling murderous tales with little feeling, leaving listeners to decide for themselves whether this “I” is untouchable or doomed. “Just focus, I’m trying to paint you a picture,” he insists during his first verse, and Christian Rich’s beat, colored by creeping piano keys and gut-shanking snares, bolsters the grim atmosphere without distracting from the urgency in his voice. Also sampling Future’s “Covered N Money” and featuring Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra on the outro, the song serves as the first single off Staples’ debut album, Homecoming ’06, out June 30th. –Michael Madden

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