The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Jason Isbell, Demi Lovato


Perhaps you want to listen to the Flavorwire staff discuss Donutgate on our new podcast, but if new music is more your thing for the commute home, we’ve got five great new tunes to check out.

Jason Isbell — “Speed Trap Town”

Since leaving the Drive-By Truckers in 2007, Jason Isbell has been one of alt-country’s most vital voices — a streak that continues with his new album, Something More Than Free, out next week. The album’s streaming over at NPR this week, so allow me to direct your attention to “Speed Trap Town.” Over the course of four minutes, Isbell mourns a father who so embodied the place he lived and worked as a state trooper, his son decides it’s time to go after dad finally passes. “It never did occur me to leave ’til tonight/ There’s nobody left to ask if I’m alright,” he sings atop an acoustic melody that blossoms into a full band and a solo as fiery as this father’s spirit.

Demi Lovato — “Cool for the Summer”

Demi Lovato’s new single isn’t even the year’s best bi-curious pop anthem (that honor goes to Sizzy Rocket’s “Bestie”), but it is the one we’ll be hearing on repeat all summer long, partially because it features the vague phrase “cool for the summer” that’s sure to be co-opted to mean anything and everything. Borderline nonsensical lyrics aside, the song’s ’80s mash-up — synth-pop, meet hair metal — is an addictive bit of over-the-top fun.

Gardens & Villa — “Fixations”

If you were a fan of the Elephant 6 collective that birthed bands like Of Montreal and Apples in Stereo, or the warped, fuzzy psych-pop revival currently taking hold thanks to bands like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, then Secretly Canadian band Gardens & Villa may be one to get into in the coming months. The Santa Barbara trio turned L.A. duo lean on swirling synths and a pounding punch of piano and percussion to lead “Fixations,” a highlight off forthcoming LP Music For Dogs (out August 21). Also a bonus: the song’s Factory-parodying video.

Palehound — “Healthier Folk”

Fans of Speedy Ortiz’s grunge-influenced, hyper-emotionally-articulate rock may find their comrades in the Massachusetts punk scene, Palehound, appealing. On “Healthier Folk,” the band’s 21-year-old singer and songwriter Ellen Kempner lets out her frustrations about being treated like a “homesick child” in light of an illness, as well as generally being made to feel different. Kempner’s vocals are detached on purpose, but a swell of distorted fuzz gives the song its necessary momentum and makes for a compelling juxtaposition. Palehound’s debut LP, Dry Food, is out August 14.

Beach House — “Sparks”

With the holiday last week, we skipped this column and subsequently didn’t get a chance to highlight the first single off the as-good-as-you-hope-it-is new Beach House album, Depression Cherry. “Sparks” is among the heavier songs on the LP, the Baltimore duo’s fifth, but there’s still a hazy layer of vocals floating atop the sharp blast of organ and the My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar feedback. Depression Cherry is out August 21.