Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of September 7–11, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
Even though this was a short work week, there were more than enough excellent new tracks to keep us moving courtesy of highly anticipated collaborations (Big Grams), upcoming releases (Zola Jesus, Hinds, Clearance, Boulevards), stand-alone singles (Chromatics), and one unbeatable late-night performance (Kendrick Lamar).
Check them all out below.
Just as they promised, Big Boi and Phantogram have dropped the debut single from their collaborative EP as Big Grams. Despite the track’s ritzy horns and big beat, “Fell in the Sun” is a strangely melancholic track. Big Boi sits back, resting in the beat and uncharacteristically respecting its parameters, while Sarah Barthel pins a wraith-like hook across the measures.
At this point it’s well-known that Kendrick Lamar has been shying away from playing almost anything off of his latest album—the incredible To Pimp a Butterfly—on tour. Last night, Lamar broke that habit by performing a Butterfly medley on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s first (official) musical guest masterfully ran through four tracks from the unbeatable LP (“Wesley’s Theory,” “Momma,” “King Kunta,” “u”) with a live band featuring Thundercat.
They invented the standing desk so that you could respond appropriately to something like this dropping while you’re at work. Boulevards, the recording project of Raleigh’s Jamil Rashad, have an EP coming out on September 25, which is about as much time as you’ll need to wind down after hearing “Sanity,” the EP’s second single. Rashad grew up playing in punk and hardcore bands, and the drive and discipline of those genres comes through in “Sanity”‘s relentless groove. Clear a little space around your desk, do a few warmup stretches, and hit play.
Zola Jesus, “Circles”
It’s been almost a year since Nika Danilova (a.k.a. Zola Jesus) dropped her fifth full-length Taiga, but it seems that the experimental songstress has a couple of more tricks up her sleeve for 2015. Next week, Danilova will release The Nail EP—which mostly features remixes and tracks from her previous release—and earlier this week she revealed a previously unreleased track entitled “Circles.” The droning song’s beat is simple and slow, a perfect foundation for Danilova’s vocal chants and haunting harmonies.
“Garden” is the first single as well as the first track on Hinds‘ upcoming LP, so it’s a good starting-off point if you didn’t already catch stand-alone singles like “Chili Town” and “Trippy Gum.” This latest track has the same vibe as their earlier music, which is kind of like if HAIM was engulfed in the fire of Black Lips.
This year’s Adult Swim Singles program has been absolutely killing it. After releasing dynamic and unmissable tracks from the likes of Peaches and Shabazz Palaces, the Cartoon Network programming block has started to wind down the summer with an absolutely effervescent single from Chromatics. “Shadow” highlights Ruth Radelet’s wispy and sweet vocals over Johnny Jewel’s sweeping orchestration. While we still don’t know when the band’s next LP, Dear Tommy, will actually ever come out, the etherial beauty of “Shadow” will tide us over.
“Crowded Out” is an expertly carved slice of half-tempo magic-hour rock that jangles its way into a half-cocked guitar workout. Mike Bellis and his group amble through the song, casually climbing the melody and wearing its melancholy overtone like a nametag from an event they left an hour ago. Yeah, you might’ve heard something like this before, but Clearance play this music so well that it doesn’t feel like a reanimation so much as a continuation.