Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)

Plus, Kevin Morby, Allison Crutchfield, and Forth Wanderers try to prove Roger Daltrey wrong


It seems that every other week, some old white dude decides that rock and roll is dead. This time it was Roger Daltrey, who announced the demise in in an interview with The Times. He went on to add that “the only people saying things that matter are the rappers,” and while the rad rap tracks in our countdown this week bear out the value of the genre, the old Who-head ought to take a look at our list every week, as it regularly features great rock tracks. Give us a holler, Dalt! We’ll set you straight!

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10. Kevin Morby – “Beautiful Strangers”

Kevin Morby // Photo by Philip Cosores

Photo by Philip Cosores

Earlier this year, the world mourned one of America’s worst attacks: the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando. Though time has passed, many of those wounds, both literal and community-based, remain open. One of the people to feel its pain is singer-songwriter Kevin Morby. After hearing about the tragedy, he took to the studio to record two new songs, one of which is “Beautiful Strangers”, a winding, intimate folk number that picks up momentum as it goe. This goes out to “people who liked to laugh, dance, and love in the way that we all do, but can’t anymore,” he wrote on his Bandcamp. It may seem strange at first to grin or move in time to his song, but let it grow. Morby’s songwriting catches a hold of the heart in funny ways and, when given time, convinces you it’s time to move, even if your body’s biggest dance move is a subtle sway back and forth. –Nina Corcoran

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09. Drake – “Sneakin'”

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Photo by Sara Marjorie Strick

Drizzy took some unacceptable shots at the ailing Kid Cudi, but remember, he just turned 30. “Man, I’m only 29, have some patience with us,” he raps on new track “Sneakin'”, recorded prior to reaching the big 3-0. (Which by the way, this is all reminding me that I am roughly the same age as Drake and yet have never even once released a hit single or high-fived DeMarcus Cousins from my courtside NBA seats … But I digress.) Over some London On Da Track niceness, Drake and the up-and-coming Atlanta rapper 21 Savage drop some lines about keeping the fake friends away and being the best. “Shit ain’t been the same like before/ I still love it but I used to love it more,” Drake adds — and if this is the sound of him half-assing it, we’ll all be completely floored when he gets back to feeling it. –Adam Kivel

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08. Forth Wanderers – “Nerves”

forth wanderers Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)Why throw hard punches when the sadness you’re conveying speaks for itself? New Jersey act Forth Wanderers sigh with every guitar line and heavy slosh of percussion, and their newest cut, “Nerves”, maintains that style. The song wags its tail like a dog seeking forgiveness while knowing it’s in the wrong. A catchy guitar melody sings repeatedly, the tempo holds its own, and vocal harmonies appear halfway through, bringing intimacy into the mix for a true plea of acceptance in the wake of a relationship. Forth Wanderers revive slacker rock without trying too hard. Then again, isn’t that the point? –Nina Corcoran

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07. Run the Jewels – “Talk To Me”

run the jewels rtj3 new album 2016 Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)

Cartoon Network exec Jason DeMarco introduced Killer Mike and El-P, essentially pushing together what would become one of the most powerful rap duos in the world today, Run the Jewels. It’s only fitting, then, that Mike and El have turned to the Adult Swim Singles Series to preview their third record together. The fiery “Talk to Me” is a Trump-dissing “soundtrack to World War 3 and the apocalypse,” according to Mike, and we can’t think of a more fitting metaphor. “Rhyme animal, pit bull, terrier,” Mike opens up the first verse, bodying the spray-tanned menace with a few lines. El follows, adding some lines that make it clear RTJ are here to win: “Talk real good ’cause I’m smart and stuff/ We a good crew to fuck with, better to love.” RTJ3 is looking like it’s inching closer to your ear-holes, so get yourself ready. –Adam Kivel

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06. A$AP Mob feat. A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Playboi Carti, and Yung Gleesh – “Telephone Calls”

asap rocky tyler Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)

Posse cuts aren’t the rarity that they once were, but getting one where each individual voice sounds unique and tied to their own shit, but still come together stylistically is a little less common. That’s just what happens on “Telephone Calls” with A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, Playboi Carti, and Yung Gleesh. Structurally, Rocky gets a phone call from each of the other rappers who then drop a verse. I’m not typically a Tyler backer, but he sounds great on this track, taking on a little Southern drawl and repping McLaren cars and the Odd Future Carnival. The upcoming A$AP Mob group tape, Cozy Tapes Vol. 1, drops on Halloween and should be a blast. –Adam Kivel

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05. Allison Crutchfield – “Dean’s Room”

ac merge Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)

The Crutchfields of Alabama seem like a pretty hip clan, at least if we’re to judge by their indie rock ambassadors, Allison and Katie. The twin sisters formed the awesome P.S. Eliot back when and then split off, the former to work on Swearin’ and the latter with Waxahatchee. Now, Allison is adding another project to that scrapbook, and under her own name to boot, finally getting that Crutchfield surname its proper due. Debut track “Dean’s Room” pairs the new wave/post-punk rhythm and energy of “Age of Consent” with some rubbery pop punk bass and a little bit of distortion. But Allison’s sweet vocals are the star of the show. “I’ve never been addicted to anything like this before,” she sings, a feeling you’ll be well acquainted with by the time you click play on the track the 15th time. Allison Crutchfield’s Tourist in This Town hits shelves January 27th via Merge Records. –Lior Phillips

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04. Clams Casino – “Time”

clams casino Drake, Joanna Newsom, and Run the Jewels Highlight Our Top Songs of the Week (10/28)

What would you get if you convinced Tim Hecker to take tracks from his excellent Love Streams, add some drum machine, and turn out some instrumental hip-hop? You’d probably wind up with something like the icy “Time” from Clams Casino. Fresh off of his major label debut, the producer readied this slab of spectral intrigue for a 111-track (!) compilation in support of the legendary London club Fabric, which is being threatened with closure. Despite some of Clams’ usual signposts, this one has an groove-worthy rhythm, something a little more club-ready than some of his more ethereal stuff. The massive #savefabric comp can be yours starting November 4th, with proceeds going to try to keep the club up and running –Adam Kivel

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03. Pussy Riot – “Straight Outta Vagina”


Photo by Igor Mukhin

“Some of you might become somewhat uncomfortable as parts of this film unfold,” drones a voice at the start of the new track from punk protesters Pussy Riot. And, considering all of the intense injustices that they have taken on, one has to wonder what they’ll be facing this time. But take one look at the track title or listen a few seconds later, and you’ll get it: Pussy Riot are here to make sure you’re comfortable with vaginas. “Don’t play stupid, don’t play dumb, vagina’s where you’re really from,” they chant on the hook, something that should be obvious but considering the conservative movement’s problems with the word — let alone the actuality — it’s become a needed reminder. The track’s a little more cheeky hip-hop than you might expect from Pussy Riot, but they found a way to deliver their message perfectly here. –Lior Phillips

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02. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “Riparian”

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith // Photo by Heather Kaplan

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith manages to swim in a stereo of sound that could easily be on another planet or in the depths of the ocean. The experimental electronic composer has creativity to spare, or at least that’s what “Riparian” suggests, a standalone single she’s offering this week after already dropping full-length EARS and collaborative album Sunergy with Suzanne Ciani this year. “Riparian” floats gently forward, wooden xylophone notes plopping around, while Smith channels her own dark, warped whispers reminiscent of The Knife or Fever Ray. It’s alluring poison, and if you don’t keep a strong head, you’ll be sucked into her world forever, swirling synths and all. –Nina Corcoran

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01. Joanna Newsom – “Make Hay”

Joanna Newsom Kimmel

Last year’s excellent Divers saw Joanna Newsom returning to top form. Her first album in five years was filled with piano that sung as bright as her own voice, even if the stories she sang detailed sea tales and adventures much darker than her pitch suggested. To celebrate the album’s one-year anniversary, Drag City shared a loose track cut from the full-length, “Make Hay”, which references several songs from the LP. Newsom returns to themes of love as a symptom of time and death, yes, but “Make Hay” chases optimism otherwise absent from the album. “Make hay while the sun shines,” she sings. “I’m calling for my old friend/ We sow and we reap, again.” They’re words to meditate on, as usual, and she coats them in her own brand of fairy dust: trembling piano chords, mysterious xylophone, and a final measure that suggests we still have so much to discover if we choose to look for it. —Nina Corcoran