Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of February 8–12, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
Another three-day weekend is upon us, and that means we need some great music to get through the vacation. Thankfully, this week brought a ton of great songs from upcoming albums (Santigold, BJ the Chicago Kid and Kendrick Lamar, Kevin Morby, Kanye West) and unparalleled stand-alone singles (James Blake, Sheer Mag, St. Vincent).
Check them all out below.
We’re highly anticipating the arrival of Santigold’s third album, 99¢, from which we’ve already heard the tracks “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” and “Chasing Shadows”—both of which are bangers, have no doubt. Two weeks to the day before the full release is out unto the world, Santi has shared a third single—“Banshee.” For those a little bit removed from their last lesson in Gaelic folklore, a banshee is a spirit whose cry is a harbinger of death. If this is it for us, however, we’d be cool with that.
Following in his wife’s footsteps, Kanye West yesterday broke the Internet by trying to hold a live-streamed fashion show and album debut at Madison Square Garden. If you closed your tab after staring frustratedly at static shots of a half-empty MSG, you may have missed the debut of Yeezy Season Three, but you did not miss the debut of The Life of Pablo, Kanye’s new record. At least, not the whole thing.This morning, he tweeted out a fresh track list that expands on the album’s previously announced set, and he gave us another single—the Arthur Russell–sampling “30 Hours.”Kanye also noted that the album is being mastered and will be released sometime today. Given how long we’ve waited for this thing, there’s no telling whether that’ll happen or not, but the deluxe groove of “30 Hours” has us hoping.
“Fuck your love, motherfuck your love” isn’t really the way most people start songs about Cupid (shoutout to Valentino). But then, most people aren’t distressed about Cupid’s frequent appearance at the bar and club instead of back here in the real world. That’s the motivation behind BJ the Chicago Kid‘s “The New Cupid.” The track, which is taken from his forthcoming album In My Mind, is a lament for the disappearance of love’s magic simplicity, and it finds the soul singer slow-jamming his verses over a silky smooth sample. Kendrick Lamar drops in for a guest verse, plopping himself down in the middle of the beat next to BJ and commiserating: “My heart don’t work / I’m unemployed / The feeling is void.”
Things are shaping up nicely for Kevin Morby’s upcoming third LP, Singing Saw, which was recently introduced with a teaser that established the ghostly vibe forthcoming. This week, the ghosts have become more literal, as the first single, “I Have Been to the Mountain,” has been released along with a carefully choreographed video about one man’s waltz out the hospital door—unfortunately more metaphysically than literally. Though as Butthead would say, “I have seen the top of the mountain, and it is good.” The video was directed by Phillip Lopez and stars Nathan Mitchell, who both came to Morby’s attention when he saw their “Harlem River”–featuring short “Fred Astaire with a stomach full of Corn Chips and Valium.” This new project could be considered a prequel or a sequel depending on how you look at things.
James Blake, “Modern Soul”
While everyone was trying to make sense of Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden, electro-singer-songwriter James Blake dropped his first new song since 2013’s Overgrown. “Modern Soul” showcases Blake’s powerful, Sam Smith–esque voice over a buzzing sea of synths and keys. It’s the kind of track that has us wondering when the producer/performer’s next album is coming…and why it’s not sooner.
Sheer Mag, “Can’t Stop Fighting”
Some of us ’round these parts were really digging the sounds coming from Philadelphia glam-rockers Sheer Mag last year, so it was with no small amount of glee that we anxiously hit play on “Can’t Stop Fighting,” the band’s new stand-alone single. And guess what? It rips. If you don’t mind us, we’ll just be sitting here waiting patiently for that full-length.
St. Vincent, “Emotional Rescue”
In 1980, The Rolling Stones released “Emotional Rescue,” a slinky, sexy jam that featured Mick Jagger’s rarely heard falsetto and a hypnotic disco beat. Now, over thirty years later, Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) has released her wonderfully strange take on the hit song for the official A Bigger Splash soundtrack. She warps Keith Richards’ solid guitar riff with layers of fuzz and glitches while crooning in echoes over herself. It’s trippy and infectious.