Listen to the Best New Songs of the Week
This week's playlist is a lesson in diversity. These tracks swing from sparse and somewhat strange to heavy as f---. Keep an open mind while you enjoy some of the best new music we've heard this week, including the first new track from the Black Keys in three years.
With 'Fever,' the Black Keys seem to have found a sweet spot. When they released 'El Camino' in 2011, they brought in thick, lush production that sounded like the band wished it was from Memphis in the '60s. 'Fever' is a natural progression after tracks like 'Gold on the Ceiling' and 'Lonely Boy.' But instead of fuzzy guitars, this track is dominated by drums, bass and that old Farfisa organ sound.
Swans fans everywhere rejoiced when Michael Gira got the band back together in 2010. Their newest album dropped very recently, and 'A Little God' is a blessing to our ears. The band mixes diverse elements, like a drum-and-bass foundation that threatens to turn into a funk song at any second, with discordant guitars, ear-piercing feedback and tormented vocals. This wouldn't work on paper, but they combine it all into something strange and compelling.
Cuckoo Lander is probably going to be making some musical waves soon. The artist made a name for herself as the touring drummer for British singer Charli XCX, and now she's struck out on her own. 'Dum De Diddy Dum' is a sleepy track pushed forward at a leisurely pace by reverb-drenched drums and fuzzed-out guitar. This is probably where the missing fuzzy guitar from the above Black Keys' track went.
'Creeper' by the Acid will do weird and curious things to your head while you're listening to it. Part of your brain will be trying vainly to fit it into some category or genre, and the rest of your brain will be pulled quietly into a hypnotic state. The Acid's vocal track is jarring in its intimacy. It makes you feel uncomfortable, but in a good way.
'Negative Birth' is heavy. And abrasive. And best played at the highest volume possible. Lord Mantis are part of the new sludge scene that seems to be bubbling closer to the surface of the mainstream after languishing underground for a decade or so. This is how these Chicago natives do the "Wall of Sound": with a giant, ragged wave of guitars riding blistering drums. Lord Mantis enlisted the help of another Chicago sludge act, Indian frontman Dylan O'Toole, who perfects the track with his otherwordly (like leading a barbarian-like alien army into war otherwordly) vocals. If the last track slowly seeped into your brain, this one claws its way in through your skin.