Every week, we keep track of and discuss the best songs of the year. This week, hear new additions from Kendrick Lamar, Frankie Rose, Perfume Genius, You Won’t and John Talabot.
KENDRICK LAMAR – “Cartoon & Cereal” f/ Gunplay
It’s an exciting time to be a hip-hop fan. The masters of the last decade are still going strong, finding new ways to stay relevant and building up proteges who build up proteges. Somewhere among the Odd Future’s and the Based God’s and the A$AP Rocky’s rose Kendrick Lamar, the best pure rapper of this jaded, prescription drug-taking new school of hip hop. With his two mixtapes – 2010′s thrilling O(verly) D(edicated) and 2011′s masterful Section.80 – Lamar showcased lyrical depth beyond his 24 years and a classic-sounding flow that deserves more attention. His latest offering, “Cartoon & Cereal” is a powerful testament to the young emcee’s skill; juggling ten different sonic ideas effortlessly, all while creating a narrative that is as relatable as it is fantastical. It’s a golden star on a very formidable, very young career. If ScHoolboy Q’s “Hands on the Wheel” is this year’s “Ni**as In Paris,” “Cartoon & Cereal” is 2012′s “Runaway.”
FRANKIE ROSE – “Interstellar”
By now, you should know how we feel about Frankie Rose’s latest solo release Interstellar – it’s a mirage of a record, emerging from haze clear as day and fascinatingly otherworldly. Its title track is probably its strongest cut and one of our favorite songs of the year so far; it’s chromatically clean and masterfully massive, building up from opaque planes of spacey drones into an irresistible, pounding, driving jam, all tribal drums and spiraling synths and alien, layered vocals that hearken as much to ‘80s new wave and Rose’s Brooklyn lo-fi roots as they do to something totally out of this world. Interstellar drops February 21.
PERFUME GENIUS – “Hood”
We all must endure unbridled 15 second “pre-roll” ads on YouTube because a) Google calls the shots now and b) Shareholders demand revenue streams. So when Matador publicity head Nils Bernstein was informed that a teaser for Perfume Genius’s sophomore release Put Your Back N 2 It was pulled for violating YouTube’s Adult Image/Video Content Policy he retorted on Huffington Post lamenting “they’re worried about upsetting unsuspecting viewers that don’t want to see two men looking romantically at each other.” A little bromance never hurt anyone right? All political and sexual undertones aside, “Hood” reminds everyone to never let anyone completely in or else you might pang out some solemn piano and high notes to externalize your seething insecurities. Either way, it’s just under two minutes of heart-wrenching doubt. Simple elegant uncertainty. The album drops February 21st.
YOU WON’T – “Three Car Garage”
Boston folk duo You Won’t have a truly refreshing and impressive approach to lo-fi bedroom pop that’s pretty clearly exemplified by their new LP Skeptic Goodbye’s standout track “Three Car Garage.” It’s a song that doesn’t let up, what with an absolutely undeniable, masterful groove on just two guitar tracks, rumbling, tribal-y drums that sound like kids running around upstairs, and frontman Josh Arnoudse’s confessional, right-in-your-ear Jeff Mangum-esque croon and lucid, nostalgic lyrics. It’s irrepressibly catchy, inspiringly energetic, relentlessly compelling even after repeat listens – we’d say if only for that truly sublime third verse, if the rest of it weren’t so utterly fantastic too. Arnoudse’s lyrical critique of the delusions of the dream of wealth and grandeur work particularly well because he’s capable of making something so moving with such simplicity. Skeptic Goodbye is out now.
JOHN TALABOT – “Destiny” f/ Pional
Barcelona’s John Talabot started his career as a techno DJ before trying his hand at the kind of chilly, undulating world-influenced house bands like Caribou and Delorean have made hay with in recent years. Despite his club past and his music’s throbbing ‘80s-Ibiza bent, a lot of Talabot’s influence lies in recent electronic indie – reworking an xx track, getting Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow to contribute vocally – and his brand new record fIN blends all these seemingly disparate parts into fairly glorious harmony, as evidenced on standout track “Destiny.” With some vocal and production help from Madrid’s Pional, Talabot builds a dizzying, slow-burning piece of hallucinatory club gold that feels like strobe lights flashing all around you. Part Washed Out, part SBTRKT, part something brand new, it’s all fantastic. fIN is out now.