Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks

Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of January 11–15, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.

Get ready for the three-day weekend with a few of our favorite new songs from supergroups (The Last Shadow Puppets, George Fest), strong female artists (Courtney Barnett, Erykah Badu), up-and-coming rock bands (Woods, Lionlimb, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever), and one troubadour who left us too soon (Jeff Buckley).

Check them all out below.

The Last Shadow Puppets, “Bad Habits”

It’s been eight years since The Last Shadow Puppets released their great ’60s-influenced debut The Age of the Understatement, but with an upcoming gig at this year’s Coachella, the supergroup duo has been hinting about their second LP for a few weeks. This week, Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Miles Kane (The Rascals) dropped the lead single and music video from their still unannounced sophomore record. “Bad Habits” captures some of the same magic that made the first LSP album so fun with its grand orchestration (provided by Owen Pallett) reminiscent of a Bacharach number, but there’s a rougher edge to the track through Kane’s lead vocals and shredding guitar solos.

Courtney Barnett, “Three Packs a Day”

Given her predilection for songs about asthma inhalers, percolators, and other domestic ephemera, it’s probably not surprising to hear that Courtney Barnett is a fan of instant ramen. What might be surprising is how much of it she eats. “I’m down to three packs a day,” goes the opening line of “Three Packs a Day,” her new single that appears on a compilation for her label, Milk. It’s only slightly comforting that she’s not talking about cigarettes here, though it sounds like she’s not terribly concerned with our concern: “I disagree with all your warnings,” she sings.

Jeff Buckley, “Just Like a Woman” (Bob Dylan cover)

Jeff Buckley was at his best when he was bringing new beauty out of already determined classic tracks. His take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is by far his most famous cover, but, on Wednesday, Buckley’s demoed version of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” was unearthed, and it’s powerful. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Buckley leaves a lot of sonic space between each verse, which gives listeners time to really digest Dylan’s lyrics.

Erykah Badu, “Trill Friends” (Kanye West remix)

“Trill Friends” finds Erykah Badu sitting on Kanye West’s circular beat from “Real Friends” and pinning it down without having to say all that much. “Homeboys / Some of them we wish we never knew at all,” she sings. Despite the lack of verbosity, the tone of her voice and the wooziness of that beat keep Kanye’s melancholic intent in tact.

Woods, “Sun City Creeps”

Across eight albums, Brooklyn’s Woods have created a miniature world, a pocket universe of psychedelic folk implosions. That world’s expanding with their ninth, the just-announced City Sun Eater in the River of Light. While it eventually works in a wiggy guitar workout that would’ve been right at home on any of the group’s earlier records, “Sun City Creeps”‘s buoyed by a loping rhythm, mournful horn chart, and humid atmosphere that suggest Jeremy Earl’s been wearing out his Mulatu Astatke records lately.

George Fest, “Handle with Care”

Towards the end of George Fest, the stage was packed for a charming rendition of The Traveling Wilburys’ classic “Handle with Care” that featured Britt Daniel of Spoon, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, George’s son Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Bates of Big Black Delta, Brandon Flowers, and, weirdly enough, Weird Al Yankovic. If you like what you see, a release of the entire concert is on the way, and will arrive next month on CD, DVD, and LP.

Lionlimb, “Domino”

To mark the announcement of their debut album Shoo, Lionlimb—Stewart Bronaugh and Joshua Jaeger—released a new track, this one called “Domino.” The new track reveals more naturally melodic tendencies and cushiony-soft production, recalling Figure 8–era Elliott Smith.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, “Wither with You”

The first two songs from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s debut release Talk Tight are like a breath of fresh ocean air (fittingly, the track “Clean Slate” is labeled with the “saltwater pop” tag on Soundcloud). Before the Talk Tight’s release in March, Rolling Blackouts C.F. have shared the opener, “Wither With You,” a calming, Petty-esque tune that jangles along with their Kiwi neighbors Dick Diver and Salad Boys.


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