Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of June 1–5, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
We’re currently in the last throes of spring (or in the middle of a “reverse spring,” depending on where you live) and it’s hard not to feel the creativity blooming around us through just-released tracks from upcoming albums (Royal Headache, Leon Bridges, Chelsea Wolfe, Beirut, Omar Souleyman, Adult Mom, Heaven’s Gate) and one surprisingly awesome cover song (Screaming Females)
Check them all out below.
Leon Bridges, “Smooth Sailin'”
After the massive success of previously released singles “Lisa Sawyer,” “Better Man,” and “Coming Home,” soul-crooner Leon Bridges dropped one more track from his impending debut LP, Coming Home. With a solid beat, driving guitar, excellent call-and-response lyrics, and a sweet sax solo, “Smooth Sailin'” harkens back to the time of dance halls and sock hops.
Screaming Females, “Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift cover)
Last year, guitar overlord Marissa Paternoster and her group Screaming Females did a slow-burning cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy” for the A.V. Club. This year, they transform Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” into a scorching anthem to empowerment. Or, you know, a different kind of scorching anthem to empowerment. You’ll never look at the haters the same way again.
Zach Condon—the frontman and mastermind of the whimsically baroque, indie-folk project Beirut—has announced the details of the band’s fourth full-length No No No and shared the record’s title track. The brand-new song has the familiar Beirut mix of Balkan folk, electronic elements, and Condon’s signature vocal melodies that we’ve been missing for a few years now.
Heaven’s Gate, “Amanda Berry”
Along with Michele Knight and Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry was held captive and sexually assaulted by a man named Ariel Castro for over ten years. When Berry kicked through a storm door and broke free from her captor’s Cleveland home in 2013, her story drew major media attention. “The case resonated with me so much,” Heaven’s Gate singer Jess Paps tells Impose, “Not just because it’s many women’s worst nightmare, but because it’s a remarkable story that illustrates the polarity of total depravity against resilience and survival.” Far from tabloid fodder, “Amanda Berry” is a feedback-drenched four-minute battle that pitches claustrophobic dissonance against wide open space.
When speaking of the meaning and feeling behind her upcoming release Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe describes her music as coming from the realm of “hazy afterlife…an inverted thunderstorm…the dark backward…the abyss of time.” Naturally. For all the necessary ellipses of that statement, it’s actually a surprisingly accurate pre-flight guide for the new single “Carrion Flowers,” an intense and abstract slice of nightmare pop.
Royal Headache, “High”
In anticipation of their upcoming sophomore album, on Thursday, Australian garage-rock quartet Royal Headache release a brand-new single. “High” is two minutes and fifteen seconds of infectious and unpolished lovesick rock. Nothing more, nothing less.
The incredibly prolific Syrian bandleader Omar Souleyman announced Bahdeni Nami, the followup to 2013’s Wenu Wenu, back in March, and today he’s dropped a video for the title track, which was produced by English beatmaster Four Tet. The hard-charging beat plays out over clips of daily street life in Turkey interspersed with shots of Souleyman driving around and generally cutting an impressive figure anytime the camera is turned on him.
Adult Mom, “Survival”
“I survive because I died” goes the chorus of “Survival,” the lead single from Adult Mom‘s debut LP. Singer Steph Knipe twists her voice as she takes us freely and fully through both sides of that equation. A deceptively simple acoustic guitar line gives us a little locomotion, and Knipe dots her vocal melody with a few keyboard runs, but “Survival” all comes back to that singular voice.