Finding good new music is hard. Finding new music is easier than it has ever been, with Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, and all that stuff. We have more access than ever, but it can be so overwhelming. 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To makes the process a little easier. We listened to hundreds of new songs to make this list. These are the songs that spoke louder than the rest. These are the 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To.
Hear all 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To:
Action Bronson (feat. Chance the Rapper) – “Baby Blue” – 0:00
Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Without You” – 6:09
Gangrene feat. Samuel T. Herring (of Future Islands) and Earl Sweatshirt – “Play it Cool” – 11:56
Evans The Death – “Don’t Laugh at My Angry Face” – 16:44
Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips picks Radiohead – “Staircase” – 22:00
1. Action Bronson (feat. Chance the Rapper) – “Baby Blue”
If you have ever been on the receiving end of a break up, you know that there is this feeling, and it’s not a feeling I’m proud of, but I think we’ve all felt it: you want to hurt that person in some way. Not a physical hurt; you want them to feel how you feel, which is hurt. You want to make it equal. Because they hurt you and it feels like they got off hurt-free. So you might want to get back at them. Maybe you unfriend them on Facebook, or Instagram. You stop talking to them, and you think, “That’ll show ‘em.” But at that point, it’s really not that effective. There is really not that much that you can do.
In this song, Chance the Rapper hopes to equally distribute the hurt by wishing a series of mild inconveniences on the person that hurt him. He says things like, “I hope every soda you drank is already shaken up, and I hope snow is always in your driveway. I hope you never get off Fridays.” It’s nothing drastic, but it’s enough hurt to equal things out a bit.
- Listen if you like: Melodic hip-hop, killer hooks, Chance the Rapper
2. Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Without You”
The piano is timeless. It doesn’t go through fazes of popularity the way banjos, synthesizers, and even guitars often ebb and flow according to current musical moods. One person sitting in front of a piano will never sound old. Bach sat in front of a piano. Duke Ellington did it. John Lennon played piano, and it never sounded dated or passé. It’s classic. I think there is something in the tone of the chords on a piano that seem to have the ability to express a wider range of emotion than any other instrument. They are similar to the range of the human voice, and I think that’s appealing.
Tobias Jesso, Jr. is a man in front of a piano, using the wide emotional range that instrument offers to express his own. This song doesn’t sound like the hot new thing. It doesn’t sound old either. It sounds timeless.
- Listen if you like: John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, male piano balladeers
3. Gangrene feat. Samuel T. Herring (of Future Islands) and Earl Sweatshirt – “Play it Cool”
Gangrene takes a page out of its own book in this song and truly plays it cool. This song has the street cred and unquestionable cool of early 70’s black power funk, with a thick bassline holding down the song and exotic flutes balancing it out during the hook. Adding to their cool comes a verse from one of the one of the most interesting rappers making music right now, Earl Sweatshirt. But the coup de ta of cool on this track is Samuel T. Herring, lead singer of Future Islands. On the hook. His voice is so low, powerful, and smooth. I always thought that Sam Herring should do hip-hop. I hope to see more of this from him in the future. And in this song, he really plays it cool.
- Listen if you like: mid 70’s Blaxploitation films, in-your-face bass, Future Islands
4. Evans The Death – “Don’t Laugh at My Angry Face”
There was an angry face that I used to inappropriately laugh at when I was a kid. And it was my dad’s. It was uncalled for and it only made things worse, but when your parents are mad at you as a four year old, you have control. And seeing my dad get so frustrated pleased me so. Or at least, that’s how I’m going to justify it as an adult. I was probably just being a brat.
- Listen if you like: Drony guitars, cataclysmic crashing, The harmony in falling apart
5. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips picks Radiohead – “Staircase”
The Flaming Lips are a bunch of weirdos that got together in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and started a band. Wayne Coyne is their lead singer. Occasionally he does things like pour fake blood all over himself as he sings the encore, crowd surf by standing inside of a huge clear inflatable ball. And recently he has been really, really close friends with Miley Cyrus. We caught him last summer at Riot Fest and, while sitting cross legged in the grass, asked him what he is listening to. Hear his full explanation in the podcast at the top of the page.
- Listen if you like: Flaming Lips, totally normal time signatures, Johnny Greenwood’s guitar work
6. BONUS TRACK: Washington Phillips – “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?”
Washington Phillips was a man of the Lord who released just 18 songs in his lifetime, all of them recorded between 1927-1929. Phillips played a mysterious instrument known as a dolceola. He is the only person known to play this instrument. It both looks and sounds like a tiny piano. It’s part of why I love this song. It sounds heavenly and innocent.
I also love the lyrics. They are so full of suffering and sorrow, but they are also hopeful. Phillips wonders what his friends who died are doing in heaven. In all of his descriptions of peoples’ lives, they suffered so greatly in life. Their quality of life was so terrible that death was a welcomed relief. Phillips does not complain about the injustice of their lives; instead he is optimistic they are in better place.
It’s a song that is totally in its own time. It’s true blues. He is speaking for the quality of life of many people in his time. Part of the reason that I believe the blues doesn’t translate well into the current time is because the general quality of life for all people has improved. That’s not to say that there isn’t suffering and injustice in this world. You only have to read the headlines to know that those exist.
But, in general, our culture has turned toward the idea of heaven-on-earth. Our quality of life has improved by leaps and bounds since the late 1920’s when this song was recorded, and death is rarely looked at as the sweet release that it is in this song. Because of that, I believe that this song, and this music, can do much more than just sound pretty. It can teach us teach us about everyday life in that period, and our own lives too.