Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week (the eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight). This week’s countdown is below, and you can listen to a playlist of all our 5 Best Songs on Spotify.
We hope you’re all enjoying your Save Stereogum covers compilation! To be honest, many of the week’s best songs might be found there, but there were a lot of great original songs released this week as well. Here are the five best of them.
The quality of Gorillaz’s output might vary from release to release, but one thing that’s been constant for almost the entirety of the project’s 20 year history is Damon Albarn’s ability to nab big-name forebears and place them alongside groundbreaking new names, situating himself as the conduit between the past and the present. Still, even by his standards, there have been some flexes in his most recent work. Remember a couple months ago when he got Peter Hook to do Peter Hook things on bass so that Albarn could write his very own New Order song? Now he’s gone and hired Robert Smith, but the end goal is something a bit different.
“Strange Timez” doesn’t exactly sound like a completely typical Gorillaz song, nor does it sound like a Cure song. In the beginning, Smith mewls over a free-falling, queasy synth backdrop, with grainy and processed Albarn vocal chirping at him from the distance. They’re just two aging musicians, adrift in space in strange times neither can make sense of. But then the beat kicks in, and “Strange Timez” instantly becomes one of the best Gorillaz songs since the project came back to life. A pulsing, discomfiting dance track in the vein of Albarn’s apocalypse-happy cartoon side, “Strange Timez” is a showcase for two British icons playing off each other, and a testament to Albarn’s skill for corralling and then reframing music history. –Ryan
The new compilation Shut It Down: Benefit For The Movement For Black Lives is a vast and intimidating piece of work — 46 tracks of metal and noise and punk and hardcore. The hit-rate is high; bands like Xibalba and Terminal Nation and Cult Leader and the reawakened Rwake have contributed hellacious tracks. But the standout is the vast, convulsive new song from San Antonio screamo expressionists Amygdala.
In their first release since the ferocious 2019 album Our Voices Will Soar Forever, Amygdala have made an eight-minute monster that moves from sludge heaviness to post-hardcore clangor to ominous atmosphere. In a rare quiet moment, Bianca Quiñones Cruz Benitez says, again and again, that she’s “just so fucking scared”; maybe you can relate. But she’s responded to a hostile world by projecting her own strength all over this monster. –Tom
Susanna Wallumrød is dramatic in the best way possible. The Norwegian singer-songwriter does extravagantly high-concept things like set Hieronymous Bosch paintings and Charles Baudelaire poems to music, and then she sings them with an entire cathedral’s worth of Gothic intensity. “The Vampire,” like the rest of the songs on her new album Baudelaire & Piano, is a musical adaptation of a poem from the French decadent writer’s Flowers Of Evil. It’s a stark and powerful piece of music, just Susanna’s Wallumrød’s voice and portentous piano chords. “You came like the blade of a dagger/ To my heart that was humbled and sad,” she sings. “As bold as a pack of wild demons/ Dressed up for a pageant, and mad.” If this kind of pageantry is mad, then I don’t want to be sane. –Peter
I’m sure all the glossy, poppy ’90s alt-rock revivalism of the last few years offers some appeal beyond nostalgia, or else so many authentically young people wouldn’t be making and consuming it. But for an Old Millennial like myself, the draw to the sound is strong, particularly when paired with lyrics about the kind of teenage drama I was living through the first time this sound came around. Where “Worth It” is concerned, the whoosh and the shimmer and the fizz would be enough to send me spiraling back to my early adolescence even without Bea Kristi expressing conflicted lovelorn sentiments like “Don’t think we can be friends/ Because you’re too pretty/ I wanna see you again/ I don’t know what I’m saying.” Affixed to a piercing hook and buoyed by a dynamic arrangement, her lyrics evoke the urgency of young euphoria and heartbreak with a potency that probably translates even if you didn’t start high school in 1998. –Chris
Over the last decade, Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alex Kerby have used their Blue Hawaii project to channel different kinds of electronic music. On their new Under 1 House EP, they delve deep into house, as its title might suggest. The tracks they’ve shared from it so far have all been forceful and groovy, and “Not My Boss” is their best one yet. It’s made up of little details, synth squiggles and horn skronks and pattering drums, that add up to a massive throb. Standell-Preston uses the same capacious voice she lends to Braids to implore independence from systems that aim to keep you down. “I’m my own damn woman!” she repeats in the background, building to a euphoric conclusion that takes dismantling to the dance floor. –James