The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: King, Earl Sweatshirt, Anderson .Paak

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We probably spent more time this week thinking and talking about Kanye’s hypothetical taste for “butt stuff,” but there were plenty of people that actually released music this week. Even in a week where the first Rihanna album in four years got overshadowed by some petty Ex-Factor tweets, we got new tunes from favorites both old and new.

For this week’s column, we’ll take a look at some druggy electronic sounds from the Sydney scene, the most talented Odd Future member’s fanciful whimsy, some midwestern synth pop from a Mom+Pop band, and the long-awaited return of the King.

Anderson .Paak – “The Waters (ft. BJ The Chicago Kid)”

But first, the new record from the curiously styled Anderson .Paak, a California kid who somehow maintains an effortless cool while still repping his Southern Baptist upbringing. Even after his 2014 debut Venice, he still played drums at church every Sunday. Both he and his guest on “The Waters,” BJ The Chicago Kid, featured on Dr. Dre’s Compton, with .Paak popping up on six of the album’s 16 tracks. “The Waters” has heavy Like Water For Chocolate vibes, but don’t call him a rapper; he easily slips in and out of his soulful croon to spit dope rhymes, without any digital assistance. An immense talent.

Flying Aster – “Be Quiet”

We don’t know much about the Sydney, Australia-based collective Solitary, other than it’s run by three artists: LANKI, Mayke, and Flying Aster. Yesterday, they released a 7-track compliation called Solitary Volume 1, featuring work from the trio, as well as Sim Fane, Sunday, Andrew, and JOFÚ. Some of it is more danceable than others, but they’re all dope club-friendly jams. Listen for them on the dancefloor at your more discerning underground dance clubs.

Earl Sweatshirt – “Wind In My Sails”

We’ve never really vibed with Odd Future’s bratty skate punk steez, but it’s nonetheless impossible to deny the talent of its star MC, Earl Sweatshirt. Of the three tracks he released on a whim this week, “Wind In My Sails” is our favorite, but all three highlight Earl’s half-interested yet dextrous flow and macabre tone. The Alchemist beat is built on a mean Thomas East sample, and Earl’s verse is economical enough to render a hook irrelevant.

POLIÇA – “Wedding”

While POLIÇA’s upcoming record United Crushers , due out March 4 on Mom+Pop Records, wasn’t necessarily on our radar heading into 2016, this week Flavorwire’s Shane Barnes clued us into this new video for their track “Wedding.” The video uses a multi-cultural Sesame Street vibe to juxtapose a theme of police brutality with an ominous bass line and lyrics about cocaine. The kids are taught how to react when approached by law enforcement and make DIY gas masks; you know, for when they inevitably are assaulted by police. Admittedly, there is something odd about a white band from Minneapolis teaching children of color about how to interact with police, but there’s something about the tone struck by the pairing of the visuals and the music that works for us.

KING – “Native Land”

King’s debut, We Are King, flows so well as an album that it was hard to settle on just one track. But the album’s closer, “Native Land,” might just be our favorite. Their vocal harmonies are unfuckwithable, and it sounds so bright it’s almost bursting with sunlight. We had no trouble transporting ourselves to our own ancestral native land, though your mileage may vary, depending on the relative iciness of your homeland’s climate. Regardless, it’s a highlight on a wonderful, long-overdue debut LP from three women who first made waves back in 2011 with their debut EP, The Story. We’ve waited five long years, but King has returned.