After looking back and compiling this century’s non-essential jams last week, we’re back to the present tense, sharing the week’s best songs.
The National – “Not in Kansas”
Matt Berninger sounds here like he just learned there was a law banning indie-rock going into effect at midnight and he had once last chance to cram every stray thought about his record collection into a song before he heard that knock on his door. After opining that the follow-ups from the Godfathers and the Strokes were both as good as their debuts and confessing to a compulsive need to binge on R.E.M.’s “Begin the Begin,” Berninger gets supported by a chorale lifted from Thinking Fellers Union Local 42 and starts singing another R.E.M. song. I'm not sure this track is even audible to anyone under 40.
Slowthai – “Nothing Great About Britain”
On the title track of his debut album, Barbadian-British rapper Tyron Frampton takes aim at his country’s latest epidemic of grandiose nationalism, then comes around to “Hand on my heart I swear I'm proud to be British” as he catalogs the quotidian pleasures he enjoys, as though to remind us that pride isn’t the problem, it’s what you choose to be proud of that matters.
DJ Khaled feat. Cardi B and 21 Savage – “Wish Wish”
Khaled’s guest-list-masquerading-as-an-album schtick has really worn thin, and his uncanny valley simulation of “Ms. Jackson” is a crime not just against history but more importantly against SZA. But at least we live in a world where we got to hear Cardi rap "Put a ribbon on my box cause this pussy gifted." That’s not nothing, people!
Lana Del Rey – “Doin’ Time”
Sorry Sublimophobes, but the Sublimissance is in full effect. No matter how you feel about the burgeoning nostalgia for Long Beach’s poppy ska-punk outfit, it's fun to hear Lana’s murmur turn Bradley Nowell’s misogynist resentments into a back-door celebration of an “evil” woman, and it’s also we’ll ever get to hearing her sing “Summertime,” I suppose.
Khalid feat. Megan Thee Stallion & Yo Gotti – “Talk (Remix)”
Yeah, I slept on Megan, whose new album Fever is as raw and hard as you’ve heard, and also on this Khalid single, which didn’t click for me till it became a hit. If you’ve been drowsing along with me, here’s our wake-up call.
Tyler, the Creator – “Earfquake”
Whether in transgressive enfant terrible mode or reforming as a jazzbo experimentalist, Tyler’s always struck me longer on vibe than on skills or content. But on his new album, Igor, there’s a soulful density that carries him a few steps forward, and bringing in Playboi Carti for a verse doesn’t hurt.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.