Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of November 9–13, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
The best new music this week came in two forms: tracks with unforgettable grooves (Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Jeff Buckley) and songs with unstoppable rhythms (Hinds, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, The Casket Girls).
Check them all out below.
Jeff Buckley passed away eighteen years ago, but his musical legacy is present every time you hear a new singer-songwriter (like Hozier) bust out onto the scene. His rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is still considered one of the most beautiful covers of all time, and Buckley’s tragic death continues to have the music world wonder what could have been. While we will never get any truly new music from Buckley, soon fans will be able to hear the late musician’s gorgeous voice through unearthed early covers and demos within a new compilation called You and I. This week, one of those lo-fi covers was released—a delicate, yet still soulful take on Sly and The Family Stone‘s “Everyday People.” While the funk is missing from Buckley’s version, his powerful voice really makes you listen and think when he yelps “We got to live together.”
On Thursday, Missy Elliott dropped her first video in three years, for the song “WTF (Where They From).” The track was produced by Pharrell, who also pops up with a guest verse (and makes an appearance in the video in puppet form). Elliott’s signature flow pierces through the ultra-heavy bass mixing playful lyrics about being as delicious as a Big Mac with thought-provoking lines about the damaging effects of cultural appropriation. Welcome back, Missy.
The singers—there are three of them, named Tom, Joe W., and Fran, and none of these guys are giving out their last names—rally around Joe R. and Marcel’s motorik rhythm. The trio trade off short verses, tagging their lines with the song’s title and raving up on countrified guitars between them. In a statement, Fran says that Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever took inspiration from the way “bands like Orange Juice and Style Council built this aesthetic of imagined continental sophistication” in their music; consider “Clean Slate” a raucous picture of an imagined heartland earnestness.
After sharing her own version of Drake‘s ubiquitous and heavily meme’d-over “Hotline Bling,” Erykah Badu has put forth her own response to the mega-hit called “Phone Down,” another #relatable track about mobile phones and the way they rule our lives. Badu wrote in the release, “This one’s for Aubrey.” It’s a cut from her forthcoming mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone, due out over Thanksgiving weekend. Stream it on your smart phone below, or keep it in mind for the next time you need passive aggressive ammunition to fire at your phone-addicted significant other.
With a third proper album due sometime in 2016, The Casket Girls are staying busy with non full-length releases, and have an upcoming split EP with Stardeath and White Dwarfs to be released on Record Store Day (a.k.a. November 27, Black Friday). Entitled What Keeps You Up At Night, the release features a pair of tracks from each band. “Western World,” one of Casket Girls’ contributions, is a fast-moving, dirty piece of Broadcast-inspired psychedelia, driven by a fax-machine blip-track and a devil-may-care attitude regarding mankind’s future (or lack thereof).
Where “Garden” featured a slower beat and crooning vocals, “San Diego” finds the women of Hinds in a more playful mood. Jangly guitars and sing-shouted lyrics bring the warmth of the SoCal sun out front past the track’s textured wall of fuzz. “We all have bad days. We mean bad nights,” Hinds says about “San Diego”‘s meaning. “One day, a friend told us ‘I don’t wanna fall asleep because I know what’s the dream about.’ This song is about staying awake. Just staying awake.”