14 Songs You Need In Your Life This Week

Tracks we love right now, and why they matter. In no particular order.

February 07, 2015
1. Lower Dens, "To Die In LA"

In person, Jana Hunter's gaze seems to cut through you. A smile is not her default facial expression; she usually looks like she is turning something over in her mind. Hunter is the sort of musician whose songs often sound the way that face looks: reflective, a little austere, and rich with her own particular sense of melancholy. "To Die In L.A.," the first single from her band Lower Dens' new album, is what happens when someone this contemplative makes pop music. Like their other work, it's anchored by Jana Hunter's low, brooding voice, but this time the tempo is up, the guitars are bright, and the synthesizers are nimble enough to make you want to move. With "To Die In L.A.," they've converted their moodiness into enlightened optimism. — Molly Long

1. Lower Dens, "To Die In LA"
2. Young Fathers, "Rain Or Shine"

I dare you to listen to Young Fathers' new single and not burst immediately into a full, all-face-muscles-engaged smile."Rain Or Shine" is the Scottish trio's first release since winning the Mercury Prize last fall and it appropriately bears the mark of pop ambition—upbeat keys, call-and-response vocals, and a super-sticky hook: I may not be around come rain or shine. Really, though, it sounds like a wild gospel song fed simultaneously through present-day top 40 and mid-century krautrock filters. It's thrilling to listen to—so much so that I'm willing to forgive them for the obnoxiously post-modern name they've given their new album: White Men Are Black Men Too. — Rawiya Kameir

2. Young Fathers, "Rain Or Shine"
3. Ca$h Out, “WYD”

Ca$h Out's rapping sounds something more like singing than rappity-rapping, so the fact that that he's got an R&B project called (omg) Less Stress More Sex in the works isn't that surprising. What is surprising, though, is just how hard he's leaning into the sex jam thing, made evident by the release of the project's first single, "WYD," this week. Backed by inomekindakitchen's low lit, lounge piano-laced production, Ca$h coos. It's hard to believe that it's the same guy who had a post-win LeBron James whiling, but I'm into it. —Zara Golden

3. Ca$h Out, “WYD”
4. Laura Groves, "Committed Language"

There's something about Laura Groves' voice that makes you want to wander, and her melodies are delicate but never ambiguous. On the title track from her forthcoming EP, out on Nautic bandmate Bullion's DEEK Recordings, the UK-based singer/songwriter sounds effortless atop synth textures and layered self-harmonies. At the very least, listen to "Committed Language" so you can hear the way those vocal layers slide in when the lush chorus hits. — Noah Yoo

4. Laura Groves, "Committed Language"
5. Julio Bashmore f. Bixby, "Kong"

Bristol boy and frequent Jessie Ware collaborator Julio Bashmore's been hit-and-miss since 2011's astounding breakout "Battle For Middle You." But when he's on, he's really on. Case in point: his latest single is a subtle thumper featuring vocals from Bixby that slink over the track's soft-focus bump and cushy hi-hats. Is this a sign that Bashmore's long-gestating debut LP is finally on its way? Who knows, and who cares. For now, we have "Kong," and that's all that matters. —Larry Fitzmaurice

5. Julio Bashmore f. Bixby, "Kong"
6. Krill, “Tiger”

I had a bad day but at least it's….ending. That's how singer and bassist Jonah Furman opens "Tiger," a song from his band Krill's sturdy and strange upcoming full-length, A Distant Fist Unclenching. On this track, Furman's sighing vocals swim around clean guitar phrases that feel like they're always shifting, plus some spastic outbursts of percussion and melody. As always, Krill is making rock music for people who like hearing stories; this one's about a well-liked dude who gets mauled by a tiger. The song's narrator may be glad his day is over from the get-go but, even after seven-plus minutes, I always wish the song wasn't. — Patrick D. McDermott

6. Krill, “Tiger”
7. AKA f Burna Boy, JR, Da Less, "All Eyes On Me"

The dopest thing about the huge, cross-border realm that is African pop is how common it is for a single track to contain a handful of genres, styles, and languages. Take AKA's "All Eyes On Me," for instance. The South African rapper's party anthem, which has been bubbling for a couple of months now, smoothly combines dancehall, rap, R&B, and a touch of motswako, all over a beat that sounds like it was cribbed directly from a DJ Mustard studio session. Nigerian singer and dancehall artist Burna Boy steals the show with a delightfuly warbled refrain, while AKA, JR, and Da Les will make you consider doing a Dame Dash with a couple bottles of bubbly. — Rawiya Kameir

7. AKA f Burna Boy, JR, Da Less, "All Eyes On Me"
8. Kelly Clarkson, "Heartbeat Song"

Kelly Clarkson's "Heartbeat Song" sounds like Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle"—like, they're basically the same song. And that's okay! "The Middle" is an amazing song, and there are a lot of amazing Kelly Clarkson songs, so logic dictates "Heartbeat Song" is pretty amazing. I have a soft spot for Kelly Clarkson's music in general—"Walk Away" is the best Rolling Stones song the Rolling Stones ever wrote, don't @ me—but something as beaming and optimistic as "Heartbeat Song" stands with her best work, a reminder that while she might not be as big as she used to be, Kelly's not down for the count just yet. — Larry Fitzmaurice

8. Kelly Clarkson, "Heartbeat Song"
9. Silk Rhodes, "Wav Runner (ethan's dream)"

While Silk Rhodes's self-titled debut is full of haunted-house soul music, the Baltimore duo's newest missive feels less like a b-side and more like its own thing entirely—albeit equally sensuous. "Wav runnner (ethan's dream)" is a classic house instrumental with loud breaks and an atmosphere-building haziness, destined to soundtrack the sorts of happy, stress free, inhibition-less nights we all need a few more of. — Patrick D. McDermott

9. Silk Rhodes, "Wav Runner (ethan's dream)"
10. New Regime f. Fat Trel, "Money Hungry"

Virginia rapper New Regime raps loud and fast, like Meek Mill with a somehow funnier name. This loosie with Fat Trel and Kino Beats knocks, and the bars are raw: the Tupac-esque inflections on the hook only strengthen the 2012 Meek vibes. Regime could probably hold his own on beats that didn't sound like the everyday street single, but he'll probably stick to them. We'll listen out either way. — Matthew Trammell

10. New Regime f. Fat Trel, "Money Hungry"
11. Diveo, "Summer Trees"

"Cute" electronic music is very much a thing right now. From the speedy rise of PC Music to the "kawaii club" SoundCloud scene, it's tough to go a week without hearing a track with a bubble-drop synth in it. This new tune by Diveo from Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs "label" fits right into that niche. However, at its core, "Summer Trees" is more than just charming chords and slap bass samples. Within the confines of a standard pop song structure, Diveo duets with a gender-bended version of himself before coasting into a sugar-coated, hyperactive jazzy breakdown. Exhaustive? Perhaps. Will you be bored? Probably not. — Noah Yoo

11. Diveo, "Summer Trees"
12. Chris Brown and Tyga f. ScHoolboy Q, "Bitches And Marijuana"

Chris Brown and Tyga may not be the most palatable pair, but this latest off their upcoming joint album Fan of a Fan is pretty undeniable. Produced by Nic-Nac, who also produced "Loyal," it features a satisfying guest verse from ScHoolboy that's "too groovy for the Grammys" and a breezy hook. When it comes on in the club, everything is going to be so lighted. — Zara Golden

12. Chris Brown and Tyga f. ScHoolboy Q, "Bitches And Marijuana"
13. The Cribs, "Burning For No One"

Wakefield trio the Cribs have secretly established themselves as one of the UK's best rock bands, a group that's sharp with hooks that sound ripped from the 1990s buzz bin, in a very good way. "Burning For No One" is the latest single from the forthcoming For All My Sisters, and it's the type of sweet, slightly crunchy rock song I'm a total sucker for—a reminder that, even if people don't listen to Teenage Fanclub as much anymore, the sound that band established is still plenty effective. — Larry Fitzmaurice

13. The Cribs, "Burning For No One"
14. DJ Chico Mix, "Queztalcóatl"

This is the kind of track that soundtracks dream raves and brings on out of body experiences: synapsing rhythm, x100 bass, entrancing ambiance—it's all there. The finished product is three and a half minutes of pleasure center therapy: all the gestures are self-assured, and each part fits with the others like a puzzle. — Alexander Iadarola

14. DJ Chico Mix, "Queztalcóatl"
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14 Songs You Need In Your Life This Week