The 10 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Julianna Barwick, M.I.A.


It’s Friday, and this writer is nursing a) a hangover and b) a creeping sense of existential despair at Miami winning the NBA Finals. Happily, it’s also time to look back at the best songs we heard this week, which are rather less depressing: there’s a beautiful new song from Julianna Barwick (with actual lyrics!), Lucinda Williams doing her best to justify the existence of that terrible-looking Lone Ranger film, new songs from No Age and Pond, Metz doing their best to undermine the integrity of your fancy expensive speakers, a majestically weird pseudo-rave track from a gentleman by the name of Sophie, and more. All this is streaming for free, so stop reading and start listening!

Julianna Barwick — “One Half” The imminent arrival of Julianna Barwick’s new album Nepenthe is causing much excitement at Flavorwire Central. This new song is the second single from the record — the first, “Forever,” arrived last month — and it features both Barwick’s signature washes of vocal layers and also, wonder of wonders, intelligible lyrics.

Lucinda Williams — “Everything But the Truth” Well, at least one good thing has come out of the big-budget borderline crapfest that is The Lone Ranger: a new song from Lucinda Williams. It finds Williams sounding as world-weary as ever — it’s the first new material the world has heard from her since 2011, and hopefully it’s the harbinger of a new album coming sooner rather than later.

No Age — “No Ground” Another new No Age track, this one rather more dark and menacing than “C’mon Stimmung,” which we discussed last week. You can hear it at NPR (you need to scroll about halfway down the page).

Pond — “Xanman” Sure, this is derivative ’60s/’70s revivalism, but shit, I’d take it over Foxygen any day of the week. At least it’s good.

M.I.A. — “Bring the Noize” As discussed earlier this week.

Metz — “Can’t Understand” Live, Metz are 100% guaranteed to melt your ears, and this record will most likely do the same to your speakers if you turn it up loud enough. You have to be in the mood for this sort of band, but when you are, there’s really nothing better than just banging your head frantically and letting the adrenaline flow.

Psychic Twin — “Unlock Yr Heart” Um, wow — this really does sound an awful lot like Grimes. Listen at Lower Frequencies and tell us we’re wrong.

Arp — “More (Blues)” Alexis Georgopoulos is apparently calling this track “narcotic gospel,” which is really a label that should be reserved for Spiritualized alone. Still, this song’s horn-driven sound does rather recall aspects of Jason Pierce’s work, and what it lacks Spiri’s psychedelic grandeur, it makes up for in quietly intimate prettiness. The new Arp record sounds fascinating, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of it.

Sophie — “Bipp” Fun fact: Sophie is a dude. And he makes strange burbling alt-rave music, of which this is a fine example, falling somewhere between bubblegum pop and something you’d listen to while munching molly in the middle of a field. It’s essentially a post-millennial answer to the Prodigy’s “Charley,” and it’s weird as hell.

Dur-Dur Band — “Shock Blast” (Secret Circuit remix) In which one of Flavorwire’s favorite producers reworks a track by Awesome Tapes From Africa discovery Dur-Dur Band. Bravo.