As the month of May fades away and Summer ‘17 comes to fruition, it’s important that you have the hottest new tracks in constant rotation. Whether you’re looking for the latest in hip-hop, indie rock, or electronic music, we’ve got you covered with the best new tunes from this past week. On this edition of our weekly SoundCloud playlist, we’ve got an intergalactic banger from Shabazz Palaces, a magnificent movie score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, a raucous mix from Death Grips, and more.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - War Machine
If you’re looking for a heady track to send your meditative mind to an otherworldly atmosphere, the latest collaboration between mutual Australian musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is the ideal vessel. The two esteemed artists have joined forces to score War Machine, a new Netflix film starring Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton.
In the three-minute offering “War Machine,” Cave and Ellis unleash a mystic synth that lingers perpetually throughout the song. This whirling sound is soon amplified by a barrage of military band-styled drum rolls and organ, weaving together what the pair has declared to be “a kind of spiritual electronics.” Finally, in the final 30-second stretch of the song, an avalanche of angelic voices tumble down, driving this ethereal cut to completion. The movie’s soundtrack was released this weekend via Lakeshore Records, alongside the film itself.
D∆WN - Break Me
After starting her musical career on the 2004 MTV show "Making the Band 3" and as a member of the R&B group Danity Kane, New Orleans singer-songwriter Dawn Richards (also stylized as D∆WN) has been traveling down the solo path for quite some time. Last year, her Infared EP with esteemed producer Kingdom brought her sound to new depths, fusing his bass-heavy beats with her luminescent voice.
This past week, D∆WN surprised fans with the previously unreleased track “Break Me,” a lo-fi cut that gushes with vulnerability. Produced by Atlanta up and comer Leonce, the track offers a spiritual aura that Richards cuts through with harrowing lyrics like “makes me feel good to be weak.” Her delicate and lustful voice floats effortlessly over Leonce’s murky and melancholy beat.
Baba Stiltz - Can’t Help It
Recognized as an up and coming artist on the house music scene, Swedish producer Baba Stiltz has set himself from the pack with his unpredictable creations and unique genre-bending style. In his latest number “Can’t Help It,” Baba Stiltz pieces together a digital exploration of sound that teeters between soulful pop and straightforward house.
From the very start of the mix, jumbled drum machine rhythms and colorful synthesizer blips come together to create an energizing ensemble of sound. Once the funky dance beat builds up, the Studio Barnhus artist brings the track down to earth with his wistful lines about being selfish and immature. “I was just a boy when we first met/Guess I still am,” he laments with his atonal voice. While this computerized cut has enough vitality to enliven the dance floor, the regretful lyrics help tether the song to a somber mood.
The Districts - If Before I Wake
Originally formed back in 2009, the small town Pennsylvania indie outfit The Districts have snugly positioned themselves between the worlds of folk and garage rock. But on their upcoming album Popular Manipulations, the band seems to be aiming for a more intense and ardent sound. This newfound focus is exemplified on the single “If Before I Wake,” an anthemic jam that pulls influence from shoegaze and drone-rock.
Their latest offering is pushed forward by thunderous guitar distortion, boastful drums, and lyrical themes of isolation and abandonment. Singer and guitarist Rob Grote delivers fiery and chantable lines that gleam with self-loathing. “Would you start to miss me or am I all alone?/ No, I’m just a narcissist,” he roars. On “If Before I Wake,” The Districts deliver relentless energy that helps light up the shadowy world surrounding us, creating a rock tune that is both deeply pensive and simply enjoyable. Their upcoming project Popular Manipulations will be released on August 11 via Fat Possum Records.
Takeoff - Intruder
After the chart-topping album CULTURE propelled them to a new level of fame, the Atlanta trap trio Migos have been taking turns finessing tracks on their own. While Quavo and Offset are no strangers to releasing solo work, Takeoff is seldom seen apart from his iconic crew. But just a couple of weeks after the two other Migos gang members dropped bangers of their own, Takeoff has finally emerged with his first-ever solo cut, entitled “Intruder.”
Producer OG Parker conjures up a bouncy piano sample and clattering trap drums, setting the stage for Takeoff to take the spotlight for himself. After kicking things off with an adlib-filled hook, Takeoff proves he can hold his own with a menacing rampage of quick-witted bars. “Notice I drink heavy codeine but when I pick up the chopper, get endurance/Night time vision on the scope/Pickin' off an intruder, I'm watchin' the door,” he spits. The two-minute cut is certainly short, but Takeoff’s robust presence leaves a lasting impression for the listener.
Ani DiFranco (ft. Bon Iver) - Zizzing
American songwriting virtuoso and feminist icon Ani DiFranco recently tapped the talent of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon on the captivating number “Zizzing.” Her latest offering depicts a personal relationship that seems to be breaking at the seams, and the sporadic percussion and spiraling guitar notes aids this symbolic unraveling.
DiFranco’s conversational voice hovers over the polished track, singing expressive lines like “And in the background a riverboat is sounding its goodbye/ Our magic should be more powerful as the years go by.” Vernon provides jarring background vocals, cooing out passionate harmonies that match the intensity of DiFranco’s subject matter. A climatic violin solo soars over the jazzy instrumentation as the song comes to its completion. As two of most prominent voices in modern folk rock, DiFranco and Vernon’s collaboration on “Zizzing” is nothing short of staggering. The single will be featured on DiFranco’s upcoming album Binary, due out June 9.
Shabazz Palaces - Since C.A.Y.A.
Shortly after announcing that they would be releasing two separate albums this July, the Seattle hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces dropped their new single “Since C.A.Y.A.,” a nostalgia-inducing joint that features smooth basslines from the one and only Thundercat.
Ishmael Butler (a.k.a. Palaceer Lazaro) takes us back to his younger days in the ungentrified Seattle Central District during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The former Digable Planets MC grinds out his rhymes from inside a metallic chamber, spitting wistful and borderline spiteful lines like “Lost in these streets is now lost in the beat/Man, I can't even remember my last tweet.” Bass virtuoso Thundercat ties his funky flavor to the clanky production, creating an untamed style of free jazz that sounds as if it’s from a distant future. “Since C.A.Y.A” will be on the album Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, which will be released alongside its counterpart, Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, on July 14.
Death Grips - Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix)
Earlier this week, the explosive experimental hip-hop group Death Grips announced that they were working on a followup album to their 2016 release Bottomless Pit. To celebrate this welcoming reveal, MC Ride, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin treated fans to a new 22-minute mix entitled “Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix).”
More than just a lengthy track, the extensive offering explores a wide range of musical ideas and styles, essentially playing like an EP. “Steroids” starts with a grinding beat that will flood your mind with abrasive wonder, and then shuffles through a slew of breakdowns, snarling vocals, and constant waves of the band's trademark harsh noise. This exhilarating and grating number is held hostage by MC Ride’s reckless lyrics, spitting lines like “We're the same as you/But we know we're fucked” and “Fuck everything to go ahead/And pay us for my shrine.” The upcoming project doesn't have a release date yet, but this marathon of noise will surely keep fans satisfied in the meantime.