The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Mula, So So Glos, Esperanza Spalding


We spent a lot of time thinking about black music this week, especially the ways in which it is consumed, critiqued, celebrated, and even litigated. But it wasn’t all that serious — we still found time for some fun.

This week’s column features new tunes from Brooklyn’s preeminent hometown punks, a Best New Artist not named Megan Trainor that was already all about that bass, a “adult” themed wordplay, and a metal band gone pop. But first, a Dominican family matter:

Mula – “Retumba”

Dominicanas Anabel and Cristabel Acevedo used to make music under the name Las Acevedo; for their new project, Mula, the pair has added Rachel Rojas and some more electronic elements to their sunny island vibe. “Retumba” pulses with considerably more energy than the previous project’s acoustic beach-bonfire aesthetic, but the sense of place is still there.

So So Glos – “Dancing Industry”

Just as their former flophouse home, Market Hotel, has grown up into an above-ground legitimate music venue and arts space, So So Glos have done some maturing, as well. The pop punk quartet maintains their signature brash defiance, but the So So Glos on “Dancing Industry” is an older, wiser version of what is one of New York’s most fun live acts. Their latest LP, Kamikaze, is due out May 13 on Votiv Music.

Esperanza Spalding – “Earth To Heaven”

Many have been laid to waste by the curse of the Grammys Best New Artist, but a talent such as Esperanza Spalding was probably never in danger. The cellist/bassist’s told NPR that her new LP, Emily’s D+Evolution, is about “…barely having the tools that you need, but having to move forward, and having to keep moving.” The titular subject? “…a spirit, or a being, or an aspect who I met, or became aware of.”

“Earth to Heaven” is a little jazzy, a little funky, a little bit of ballad. It tries to be a few different things, without ever committing, and it’s all the more lovely for it.

Adult Books – “Casual Wrecks”

LA via OC DIY darlings Adult Books first made some noise back in 2012 with its self-titled debut EP, and in the years since, their dreary deadpan take on modern post-punk has graced stages in support of the likes of OFF! and Mike Watt. “Casual Wrecks” builds on four chords to a crescendo finish, with some spacey synths thrown in the mix for good measure. The band’s new LP, Running From The Blows, is due out March 4 on Lolipop/Burger records.

White Lung – “Hungry”

White Lung has always had a pop sensibility, but their hard edge and guitarist Kenny William’s finger acrobatics always betrayed their metal influences. Here on “Hungry,” the first single from their forthcoming LP Paradise (Domino, May 6), it’s clear that their new direction is more post-punk than metal — it’s got more in common with Pity Sex than it does Deafheaven. Amber Tamblyn stars in this bizarre clip for “Hungry,” and while it doesn’t make much sense, it’s worth the price of admission just to see William as an eager pool boy patting down Tamblyn’s chest after she spills a drink on herself.