Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks

Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of December 14–18, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.

We’re in the home stretch everyone! Christmas is right around the corner and the holiday jams have been blasting from every surface on planet Earth for weeks now. If you’re getting a little sick of hearing Michael Bublé or Mariah Carey singing their holiday hearts out, we’ve got some great new songs for you by Chance the Rapper, Damien Jurado, DIIV, Ennio Morricone, Pusha T, and Thee Oh Sees).

Check them all out below.


Pusha T, “Sunshine”

On Tuesday’s episode of The Daily Show, rapper Pusha T—formerly of The Clipse—debuted “Sunshine,” the second single from his upcoming King Push — Darkest Before the Dawn: The Prelude. The track finds the Virginia rapper sounding weary as he reflects on Freddie Gray’s death and the relationship between the media and African-American men. “That song was powerful,” Trevor Noah says. “Some of the white people got a bit uncomfortable when you did the Black Power.”

Ennio Morricone, “L’Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock — Versione Integrale”

It’s been thirty-five years since legendary film composer Ennio Morricone last worked in the genre that made him famous: the western. And while we mean no disrespect to 1981’s Buddy Goes West, it’s probably safe to say that Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight should provide the most hotly anticipated Morricone western score since his classic collaborations with Sergio Leone on the Dollars trilogy. And while we highly recommend that you see The Hateful Eight in neckbending 70mm on December 25, you don’t have to wait for Christmas to unwrap the film’s score. Morricone has made one selection, entitled “L’Ultima Diligenza di Red Rock — Versione Integrale” available for streaming. You can hear the dramatic take, and imagine Samuel L. Jackson locked in an intense staring battle with Kurt Russell.

DIIV, “Under the Sun”

When you’re trying to describe a DIIV song to someone, you’ll likely hum the main guitar hook in place of any vocal melody. The same will probably be true of “Under the Sun,” the latest in a string of tracks the Brooklyn dream pop act has shared in the ramp up to the release of their sophomore album Is The Is Are. The bright, upbeat song is a turn toward optimism and accessibility after the recent darkness and complexity of “Mire (Grant’s Song).”

Damien Jurado, “Exit 353”

In 2012, singer-songwriter Damien Jurado released Maraqopa, an album that was, in his words, supposed to be “a quick snapshot” of a kind of safe space he inhabits in his own mind. That snapshot soon blew out into a lush 70mm widescreen film of sorts thanks to producer Richard Swift and Jurado’s twinned vision. Two years later, Jurado’s Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son continued the Maraqopa story, and this March, the trilogy will reach its conclusion with the release of Visions of Us on the Land. Where Eternal Son found our hero ensconced in a commune, Visions follows he and a companion as they travel back out into the world. You can take a peek through their third eyes with “Exit 353.”

Chance the Rapper, “Somewhere in Paradise”

Chance the Rapper is having what they call a moment. A few weeks ago, he debuted the gospel-rap clapper “Angels” on Colbert with Chicago rapper Saba. Then, in the aftermath of the Chicago Police Department’s releasing the footage of Laquan McDonald’s murder at the hands of an officer and the revelation of the yearlong coverup, Chance criticized Spike Lee for the latter’s new film Chi-Raq, calling it “exploitive and problematic.” Those comments prompted Lee to respond, accusing Chance of not criticizing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel because the rapper’s father is Emmanuel’s chief of staff and putting Chance in the realm of people Spike Lee probably shouldn’t have criticized (a realm that also includes Reggie Miller). It’s all made us anxious to hear Chance’s third mixtape, which he’s begun teasing on Twitter, and from which “Angels” is presumably taken. We got another taste this weekend in the form of “Somewhere in Paradise,” which features similarly embattled Chicago artist Jeremih. The song, which found Chance backed by a full band and gospel choir, mines the same gospel-rap vein as “Angels” and “Sunday Candy,” which he also performed.

Thee Oh Sees, “Fortress”

Like a shark, Thee Oh Sees‘ John Dwyer never stops moving forward. Earlier this week, Dwyer and co. unveiled details about their upcoming Fortress 7″ and dropped the hypnotic title track.  “Fortress,” a track recording during the Mutilator Defeated at Last sessions, relies heavily on a distorted bass line that anchors the entire track. Dwyer’s signature breathy vocals don’t even come in until the two-minute mark, leaving the grooves of TOS’ new direction to settle in to a nice rhythm.

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