Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks

Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of October 26–30, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.

For a little while there, it seemed like the new Grimes record might end up being one of the most anticipated records of 2016—never mind 2015. But Claire Boucher finally delivered the goods this week, and Chance the Rapper popped up on Colbert to drop a new one himself. Couple those superstars with goods from newcomers HÆLOS, BETABLOCK3R, and Made of Oak—not to mention the welcome return of Jeffrey Lewis—and it’s been quite a week.

Lend an ear below.


Grimes, “Flesh, Without Blood”/”Life in the Vivid Dream”

In January, all we knew about Art Angel was that it wouldn’t suck; we didn’t even know that it would be called “Art Angel.” And now that we’ve finally heard what a Roc-Nation-backed Grimes sounds like, we can  let out a sight of relief. “Flesh, Without Blood” and “Life in the Vivid Dream” may represent a step toward polish and refinement for the Canadian bedroom-pop star, but they retain the quirks that made Visions such a great record—and avoid the temptation to go all-in on the bass drop à la last year’s “Go.”

Chance the Rapper, “Angels”

The more Chance commits to this gospel-rap thing, the better it gets. Even without its title, “Angels” bursts on that syncopated Sunday beat and the woozy choir vocals. Toss in Chance’s giddy recitation of his city’s hip-hop radio stations, Saba’s suggestion to wear your haters like a hat, and that brassy descending run that comes at the end of the chorus? Take us to church.

Made of Oak, “Side Rides”

Made of Oak is the solo moniker of Nick Sanborn from Sylvan Esso. The dreamy folktronica glitch beats of “Side Rides,” the single from his debut EP Penumbra, recall the genre-less creativity of Four Tet. And if it sounds like a hot track to spit a verse on, Sanborn’s one step ahead of you—check the wordless rapping in the video above.

HÆLOS, “Pray”

London trip-hop trio HÆLOS nip a bit from the current crop of radio darkwave and pin it to the passing dusty garments of Massive Attack, creating something that feels fresh and current even while being instantly recognizable. Anyone who’s still rocking a “Drum machines have no soul” bumper sticker should probably consider getting a new car.

BETABLOCK3R, “Out of Touch”

In its breezy four minutes, BETABLOCK3R’s “Out of Touch” shifts so easily between modern dance banger and “Lucky Star”–era radio candy that you’d be forgiven for not being sure which year you’re in. But don’t let those sticky guitar lines and blipping keyboards fool you—their gentle twinge is meant to telegraph the lyric’s caution against mistaking unhealthy attachment for true happiness.

Jeffrey Lewis, “Back to Manhattan”

Jeffrey Lewis‘s hyper-literate speak-songs have always been obsessed with music history and hagiography and the ways both intersect in New York City. Now that he has twenty-five or so albums under his belt, Lewis is creating his own New York moment. “Back to Manhattan,” from his new record Manhattan, finds him slowing down, calmly surveying his city as he and his girlfriend cross the Williamsburg Bridge on the precipice of a breakup—”We walked on together/We walked off alone,” he sings.

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