Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What are you listening to this week?

Future (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Future, “Wicked”

I was only passingly familiar with Future until earlier this year, having heard the occasional guest spot or bubbling radio song. I went to school via an excellent primer on this very site, but didn’t really follow up. Then my 7-year-old son somehow discovered the song “Wicked,” and now it’s pretty much all he wants to listen to. He encountered “Wicked” on Pandora, I think, and then grabbed my phone in the car and turned it on, having apparently already heard it several times. It has pretty much every word he shouldn’t hear or say in second grade in it, though I’m temporarily thankful that he doesn’t understand at least a couple of them yet. It’s one of those Future songs where the Auto-Tune-loving rapper is fairly mush-mouthed, perhaps a side effect of the various drugs he references in this song, and many others. Even the name of the song is barely discernible, sounding more like “wiggy wiggy wiggy wiggy” than “wicked wicked wicked wicked.” Still, there’s no better judge of what’s catchy than a 7-year-old, who loves to give thumbs-down to Pandora songs—and rarely dishes out a thumbs-up. It is catchy and inventively produced and is making me want to dive further into Future’s deep catalog. But not with my kid around: I’ve grandfathered this song into the rotation for now, but he’s not hearing any more Future for at least a few years. [Josh Modell]


Kasbo, “Snow In Gothenburg”

Beginning with little more than a baritone piano chord, Kasbo’s new single, “Snow In Gothenburg,” slowly adds layers of minimalist drums and synths, never becoming overstuffed or complicated. Instead, it’s a lush and spare electronic anthem, the kind of dreamy turn-of-the-millennium space jam that would have fit right in on the soundtrack to The Beach. The spare and tremulous vocals rarely intrude, but when they do, it’s merely to hang an additional high-pitched sonic cloud on top of the entire track, with the repeated “something new I can be” creating a sense of optimistic possibility to the already cathartic musicality. I’ve been listening to the song all week, and each time it comes on, I feel a swell of endorphins, as though the mere act of listening were giving me a contact high. It’s an odd comparison, but I find I’ve been telling people it’s like a not-embarrassing version of a Coldplay album closer, a way to get a simple and transcendent melody and rhythm that stays pure enough to avoid sounding like cheese. I’d recommend it as a solid addition to your wintry wanderlust playlist. [Alex McLevy]

Shinichi Atobe, “Regret”

Now that our Best Of 2017 lists are all cemented, I can move on to my annual tradition of discovering too late other albums that I love and retroactively fiddling with a ballot that no one else really cares about anyway. I’m not sure where I’d slot Shinichi Atobe’s From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art—somewhere below Porter Ricks’ Anguilla Electrica, perhaps, but slightly above Gas’ Narkopop, to name two albums that offer similar ambient techno pleasures. But again, the list-making is over. Now I can just enjoy being immersed in this curio from a mysterious artist, who some people have suggested might be just a myth, just another made-up alias subsumed by the intentionally obfuscating aesthetics of the late Chain Reaction label that released his sole official work in the early 2000s. From The Heart has an appropriately murky backstory to add to that: Demdike Stare’s Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker supposedly tracked Atobe down in 2014, coming back with a wealth of unreleased material they’ve been doling out across three new albums now—including three From The Heart tracks that have been (barely) remastered from a set of five acetates, their dub hiss now fully disintegrating into nothing. But you don’t need to know any of that to appreciate its nearly 10-minute opener, “Regret,” a song consisting of little more than a hypnotic loop of shimmering chords over a ticking hi-hat rhythm, with only the subtlest of textural shifts drifting in and out. It’s so simple, yet—like Atobe himself—so mysteriously engrossing. I could listen to it on repeat for hours. It’s one of the best tracks of the year, which I’m getting in right before the buzzer. [Sean O’Neal]


The Bongos, “Numbers With Wings”

My Spotify radio-enabled journey into the world of obscure ’80s guitar pop recently led to the discovery of a new gem: “Numbers With Wings” by Hoboken power poppers The Bongos. The title track on the group’s first EP after signing with RCA Records, “Numbers With Wings” opens with a snippet of sustained guitar hum that’s quickly caught up in layers of jangly strumming, expansive vocals, and a rhythm section that chugs along like a locomotive, giving it an unusually cinematic feel for a four-minute pop song. (Think Echo & The Bunnymen meets Lost Highway.) With the help of an extremely ’80s music video, The Bongos were nominated for an award at the inaugural MTV Video Awards, but broke up, and subsequently faded into obscurity, four years after “Numbers With Wings” was released. [Katie Rife]


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