The 15 Best Songs We Heard In July
"The Clarity," Sleep
After 11 years out of the game, you might wonder if stoner-metal band Sleep has lost a step. Thankfully, their new ten minute masterwork of the genre, "The Clarity," shows that they have not. Think of this like the metal version of Dr. Dre's Detox.
You never thought Sleep would emerge from their post-marijuana haze to ever record again, and when they did, you could hardly believe your ears. Yet here it is, and unlike the still as-yet-unreleased Detox, it's real and it's spectacular. COREY DIETERMAN
Lately, I've been going through my car radio and comfortably landing on Classical 91.7, especially on my drive from work. I'm not especially into classical music, but I've found that station feeling either as something clockwork orange, or as simply a relaxing forefront to driving. To my knowledge, this station did cut its Houston staff, which wasn't cool, though its music selection does remain engaging. ALEXA CRENSHAW
"Everybody's Something," Chance the Rapper
Hip-hop is boring as hell lately. Not many artists are doing anything new or original or interesting. Enter Chance the Rapper. He has a completely unique flow, and is one of the most creative lyricists on the scene. "Everybody's Something" is a brilliant showcase of his skills. SELENA DIERINGER
"Honeymoon Avenue," Ariana Grande
Let the snide, music snobbery commence, if it must, but I can't stop listening to this song. I reject the idea we must be dismissive of all kids' TV stars' musical pursuits. If it worked for Drake and JT, it should work for Grande, too, who has a four-octave range.
This auto-themed cut from Yours Truly allows her to zoom from a hushed, wistful idle to some rumbling vocal horsepower. More efforts like this and the sometimes unwarranted and silly stigma of being a child actor will be nothing but a speck in the rear-view mirror. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
"Jealous (I Ain't With It)," Chromeo
Good summer songs make listeners want to shake it. Chromeo makes ridiculous. over-the-top synth-pop throwbacks laced with white-boy funk, and "Jealous" is a particular gem. Throw it on before you go out to get amped up, and again when you get home to close out the night with some impromptu living-room dancing. SELENA DIERINGER
"Just One of the Guys," Jenny Lewis
"Just One of the Guys" is Lewis' first single off of The Voyager, her first solo album since 2008's Acid Tongue, and Lewis uses every second to remind us of the power she welds when it comes to writing a hit. But she doesn't just walk back onstage lightly.
Instead, she returns with lyrics that are tongue in cheek, and telling of a reality many women face when they choose the childless road less traveled. It also helps that the music video, which features the likes of Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway, is just as painfully clever as the song. ALYSSA DUPREE
"The Lord's Favorite," Iceage
Though a new album has yet to be announced, the Danish punk act has released a new song that reveals a new side of theirs. With a little rockabilly flair added to their signature sound, singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt paces himself through a nearly five-minute track that relies heavily on sex appeal. It may not be their usual sound, but it's one I wouldn't mind hearing them expand on. ALYSSA DUPREE
Now recording their third effort, Iceage have once again reinvented themselves, having abandoned their original post-punk sound and their revamped hardcore sound for a new rockabilly-inflected take on punk. These guys refuse to be pinned down, which is what I love so much about them.
Their newest effort is just as vital and exciting as their more hardcore tracks yet the music plays like a fucked-up version of Johnny Marr, with front man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt desperately crooning along with his fractured vocal chords. COREY DIETERMAN
"Rapt," Karen O
It isn't so much that I love this song, but I love Karen O, and I'm excited to hear what the rest of her solo work will sound like. This debut single is off of her debut solo album, Crush Songs, and is expected to release September 9. Even if this album turns out to be a bit of a sop, I'm still going to be excited to hear anything she makes. ALEXA CRENSHAW
"Red River," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Boy is it hard to pick just one tune from Tom Petty's new album, Hypnotic Eye. It's much less of a piece than its predecessor, 2010's blues-oriented Mojo, much closer in spirit to unfairly underestimated '87 grab bag Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), and probably in the top third of the Heartbreakers' 13-album catalog.
Here Petty's crew adds a CCR-ish riff borrowed from their Mudcrutch years (or the 2008 Mudcrutch album) to a chorus that is all about the Jeff Lynne days of Into the Great Wide Open, while dropping all kinds of voodoo slang he doesn't really need to kickstart the Heartbreakers' career into high gear again. Talk about mojo: Petty's hypnotic eye will look down into your soul all right. CHRIS GRAY
"Suck My Heart Out With a Straw," The Fauntleroys
Ivan Julian rips out a rocker that sounds like ? and the Mysterians channeled through a line of coke in the CBGB's bathroom. According to Julian, the music is a leftover from his days in the Voidoids. It's a gusty blast of New York rock, but it's the post-breakup meltdown howl that really puts this one over the top.
Sung from the point of view of a dumped guy who has just been visited by his shrink, Julian screams, "She left the bill on the bed/ She left the pill on the bed." But it's his deranged, repetitive shriek, "You sucked my heart out with a straw," that will ring in your head for days. Why does such pain put a smile on my face every time I hear it? Been there, done that? WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
List continues on the next page.