The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Chance The Rapper’s Social Experiment, The Good Life’s Comback


This week may be a day short, but there were still plenty of new songs to go around.

Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment — “Warm Enough” feat. J. Cole

Chance the Rapper’s new project the Social Experiment — a hybrid of hip-hop and big band — surprise-dropped its anticipated debut, Surf, late last night for free. Not only is Surf absolutely packed with big-name feature appearances (Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, Busta Rhymes, J. Cole, Big Sean, Jeremih), it’s good, too! (Not that I’m surprised…) “Warm Enough,” one of several tracks featuring J. Cole, doesn’t highlight the booming brass that (wonderfully) punctuates this album, but it does low-key satisfy on a breezy summer day like a Frank Ocean jam and a drink with an umbrella in it. J. Cole sounds awfully similar to Kendrick Lamar in his feature, too (that’s an improvement for him).

The Good Life — “Everybody”

Cursive frontman and Saddle Creek Records staple Tim Kasher formed The Good Life as a solo project nearly 15 years ago. Over the course of The Good Life becoming a proper band, they released a strong handful of hyper articulate, wildly depressed indie rock records, chief among them 2004’s Album of the Year. By 2007, The Good Life had stopped releasing records — until now. Everybody’s Coming Down is out August 14, and if its first single is any indication, this comeback is worth paying attention to, at least lyrically. “Everybody’s saddled with sadness/ A longing they can’t quit/ Everybody knows this is transient/ They’re trying not to notice,” Kasher sings atop an organized mess of riffs and feedback, which gives me major Built to Spill and Modest Mouse vibes. This is how Tim Kasher does a big anthem.

Disclosure — “Holding On” feat. Gregory Porter

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not an idea I usually support with regards to an artist’s evolution, but with Disclosure, I don’t hate the approach. Their strong 2013 debut, Settle, spun house music into something modern pop fans could grasp and more importantly, move to. “Holding On” would fit in well on Settle, and that’s not a bad thing after a brief hiastus from the Lawrence brothers.

Jessie Jones — “Sugar Coated”

In her debut solo single, Feeding People singer Jessie Jones takes the ambling, folkie route towards retro piano pop bliss. “You can kiss the ground that I walk on,” Jones sneers sweetly, with a strong nod towards ’60s girl groups. Underneath it all, rapid-fire acoustic finger-picking and a psychedelic organ make for a strong foil. Jones’ self-titled debut is out July 24 through Burger Records.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra — “Stage or Screen”

Earlier this week, I praised the deliciously funky accidental polyamory blues of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s third album, Multi-Love. Still, I must turn your attention towards it again in honor of “Stage or Screen.” The band’s leader, Ruban Nielson, is best when he edits down his tendencies towards psychedelic jamming while still keeping some semblance of sideways looseness. “Stage or Screen,” a clever song about acting out in a relationship, does just that.

Bonus link: Shamir covering Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” for BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac is the center circle in a venn diagram of my musical interests. His androgynous voice proves oddly perfect for country covers once again (seriously, check out Shamir’s take on Lindi Ortega’s “Lived and Died Alone” if you haven’t soundtracked many a gloomy afternoon to it already).