Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

Iron & Wine (Photo: David A. Smith/Getty Images)
Iron & Wine (Photo: David A. Smith/Getty Images)

!!!, “The Long Walk”

The dance-punk stalwarts of !!! just put out a new song off an EP they’ll be selling at their upcoming live shows, and it easily would’ve been one of the best tracks on their recently released album Shake The Shudder. “The Long Walk” sees the band in an extremely disco-forward mode from the very start, bringing in a choir to beef up Nic Offer’s rambling intro with some much-needed atmosphere. Those voices eventually overtake him completely, and a powerful disco belter takes the lead, bringing a four-on-the-floor beat and a boatload of percussion with her to finally snap the track to life. There’s an interesting give-and-take dynamic at play, with Offer returning for the verses and dragging the track’s instrumentation back to the muck with swampy, croaking bass. In the end, it’s the power of a revving electric organ that brings both halves together, lifting those disco vocals up for a final chorus and groovy outro. [Matt Gerardi]

Iron Chic, “My Best Friend (Is A Nihilist)”

The first song released from Iron Chic’s third album—You Can’t Stay Here, due October 13—makes me wonder why I haven’t been listening to the band on a continuous loop since 2010’s Not Like This. The Long Island quartet plays a highly melodic strain of punk à la Jawbreaker, Samiam, Hot Water Music, Jeff Rosenstock, Latterman, and other torchbearers of smart-sensitive-guy punk. (That last one makes sense, considering guitarist Phil Douglas played in Latterman.) “My Best Friend (Is A Nihilist)” encapsulates the best elements of Iron Chic, both sonically and philosophically. For the former: big, hooky guitars carried by a tight rhythm section beneath Jason Lubrano’s raspy voice. For the latter: sadness and self-deprecation made triumphant, turning fuckups into anthems. (“I make mistakes and I make ’em loud / Make ’em big so they shake the ground / And now I’m making up for it.”) I’ll be pumping my fist the next time I fall on my face. [Kyle Ryan]

Iron & Wine, “About A Bruise”

I’m not sure why I’ve never listened through an Iron & Wine album before, because I’ve liked plenty of singles and random samples that have come my way over the past five years. Sam Beam’s new Beast Epic is full of introspective, world-weary songs, most lush but sparse at the same time. As Josh Modell wrote in his review of the album, that’s probably because Beam has returned to his earlier, simpler songwriting roots while delivering the polish of an artist who’s been doing this a while. “Call It Dreaming” is an extremely pleasant song that I enjoy listening to, but it’s the next on the record, “About A Bruise,” that I’ve returned to the most. Like the rest of the album, it’s full of clever wordplay and stellar harmonizing. But there’s a bitter edge laced through his usual softness, as the song title is pulled from the line “Tenderness to you was only talk about a bruise” and Beam’s voice turns lightly mocking with the line “Now you’re making music for beautiful people.” I’m not sure what that’s all about, but it sounds fantastic. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

A$AP Mob, “Walk On Water”

I’ve already written about A$AP Ferg’s Still Strivin, one of three releases from the A$AP crew last month in a stunt they saddled with the unfortunate name “AWGUST.” The posse record by the full mob Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy is almost exactly as good as Ferg’s record, full of fashionably produced sex cuts and effortless A$AP Rocky spots and cavernous bangers, all varying in quality from excellent to middling. Jaden Smith also shows up, if that gives you an idea of what you’re in for. Still, when things click into place, as they do on the effervescent “Walk On Water,” they prove why these guys are worth listening to in the first place, an immaculately assembled track tailor-made to be played while the crew glides into a club and orders a bunch of expensive appetizers that they do not touch. Between Still Strivin, Too Cozy, and A$AP Twelvyy’s 12, there are at least 10 or 15 certified keepers, which isn’t that bad of a batting average, all things considered. [Clayton Purdom]

The War On Drugs, “Holding On”

My favorite song thus far this year is “Holding On” by The War On Drugs, because it is the band at its War On Druggiest. Comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are expected on this track from the just-released A Deeper Understanding, with its xylophone-accented hooks and riding-down-the-road-of-life lyrics. And like their best tracks (“An Ocean In Between The Waves,” “Burning”), “Holding On” propulsively chugs along with the rhythm of a highway lane divider, steadily clicking by at 75 mph. [Kevin Pang]

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