music / Columns

The Best New Songs Of The Week: Drake, Rick Ross, Frank Ocean, More

March 20, 2017 | Posted by David Hayter

It’s not quite been such a hot week for new music (we were rather blessed last week), but there are still a few tracks that made us sit up and take notice here at 411. So let’s not waste time…

“In The Name Of All Of Us” by Darkest Hour [Metal]

“In The Name Of All Of Us” is a fabulously violent hardcore onslaught destined to tear limbs asunder, but behind the brutality lies incredible craftsmanship, cheeky hooks and spellbinding guitar work. Not bad for a band operating exclusively at light speed. Read The Full Review

“Reverie” by Arca [Electronica]

Arca’s production is ghostly and phenomenal, this much we knew. What we are rapidly discovering, as anticipation builds for his latest release, is that, beneath the inhuman coldness of his sonic city and behind the alien cathedrals of sound he erects, is a bruised human soul. His falsetto is harmoniously tortured, in a remarkable feat of sheer expression, Arca feels like a wretched creature given a voice for the first time – the desire to convey, share and summon up is overwhelming.

“Chanel” by Frank Ocean [R&B]

Frank Ocean is young, talented and, it would seem, in love. He rides a wave of dreamy elation on “Chanel”, but, beneath the euphoric joy of it all, he can’t escape the mundane nature of life (the drudgery of the streets and petty arguments between the sheets), on this magnificently hazy stream of consciousness single. Read The Full Review

“Going Backwards” by Depeche Mode [Pop]

So Neo-Nazi’s have tried to co-opt Depeche Mode’s music, well the band’s reply is unequivocal: fuck, right, off. “Going Backwards” is the opening track from the band’s most political charged, but also as starkly stripped back and understated LP. Martin Gore is the star of the show here. The arrangement is restrained (no thudding keys) as the singer’s words are left to hang in the air until they thoroughly sink in: “We’re going backwards, turning back our history/Going backwards, piling on the misery”.

“X22RME” by Actress [Electronica]

Now this is violence subdued. There’s a malevolence in way Actress scraps, drags and saws sound. The central loop of this track is abhorrent: a blend of suction and erosion, that is completely at odds with steady anodyne beat. “X22RME” is a head-trip, like walking into a fashion show, seeing the beautiful people, the wonderful clothes, the pristine lighting, only to hear a psychopath scream and cough up phlegm over the PA system. Actress inhabits a strange middle ground between space-aged-chic and industrial grit.

“Idols Become Rivals” by Rick Ross [Rap]

Rozay is coming for Birdman’s neck on a diss track that works just fine as a stand-alone. The last verse proves devastating as the bravado is put to one side, so Ross can detail how Birdman ripped off the artists he took under his wing and who made him rich {“last request: can all producers still get paid”). In the more buoyant and braggadocios first verse, Ross mixes in some throwaway jokes and Biggie references before supplying a brutal put down: “And then I met you out on Live Nation dates/Came to the realization that your watch was fake/you nearly broke my heart, I really thought you niggas really owned them cars”.

“Madiba Riddim”/”Blem” by Drake [R&B]

There’s plenty of interesting (and ponderous) experiments to be found on Drake’s latest “playlist”, but on a first listen it’s this understated and heartfelt pairing that shines. Drake is hopping from the Caribbean to South Africa (and planting a foot in Europe en route) as he serves up some dreamy dancehall with a sorrowful twinge. There’s a tendency to groan when Drizzy starts a track by proclaiming: “I cannot tell who is my friend/I need distance between me and them”, but fear not, this isn’t a moanfest, instead it’s a danceable lilt that masterful employs Drakes underrated croon.

“Parking Lot” by Blink-182 [Pop]

Blink-182 have had various stabs at severity and thoughtfulness over the years – normally in the guise of textural guitar work or Tom Delonge’s introspection – but Blink 2.0 continue to show a flair for “Jesus Of Suburbia” style outsiderdom on “Parking Lot”. The na na nas feel wholly superfluous and juvenile, but the spritely cry of “Fuck this place, let’s put up a parking lot” is the kind of line that suggests that old pranksters can rebel without losing their sense of humor (or sounding as sanctimonious as their peers). The pre-chorus is the star of the show on a track that is full of whimsy and regret: an image of youthful romantics with no place to go and no vision of where to go next, resigning themselves to a shoulder shrug.