Every week, Vulture highlights the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best music.
Angel Olsen, "Shut Up Kiss Me"
On Olsen's previous (great) records, she sounded kind of like a sad ghost. But on "Shut Up Kiss Me," the ghost is out on the town and in the mood for some kissing. Like imagine if Odysseus lived in the 1950s and had a pompadour, this is the song the sirens would sing to get him to come roller skating. —Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)
The industrial sound sculptures Venezuelan Alejandro Ghersi makes as Arca pack breathtaking beauty and fearsome brutality into such close quarters that the young auteur can already count the likes of Björk, FKA Twigs, and Kanye West among his growing list of collaborators. This weekend saw the surprise release of Entrañas, a 25-minute song in 14 sections that barrels through a gallery of bone-breaking beats, overdriven gothic synths, and unsettling bricolage before landing on the haunting solo ballad “Sin Rumbo,” a meditation on Arca’s recurring thematic muses of otherness and alienation. —Craig Jenkins (@CraigSJ)
Blood Orange ft. Empress Of, "Best to You"
It feels a little insulting to pick a song off Freetown Sound where Dev Hynes is an afterthought, but, as others have correctly noted, women are the focal point of a lot of his art. A spoken-word piece about female representation, performed by a female slam poet, opens the album; women are featured on almost every song; and often it's the female voice through which Hynes speaks loudest. On "Best to You," he projects onto Empress Of's Lorely Rodriguez the destructive pain of not feeling enough for a lover — an insecurity explored, among so many other self-examinations, throughout Freetown Sound. In a way, the roles are reversed, with Rodriguez experiencing all the self-doubt Hynes usually harbors. "I can't be the girl you want, but I can be the thing you throw away," she repeats until he knows she means it. On an another excellent song this year, Empress Of challenged gender identity and expectation, singing, "I'm only a woman if woman is a word / I'm only a struggle if I get in your way." Freetown Sound doesn't just reduce women to a word, it puts them in control of the language. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
Sampha, “Plastic 100°C”
I want you to try to listen to this captivating performance four times. First, try your best to tune out the vocals and just listen to the jazzy, lyrical piano playing; then just listen closely to Sampha's rich, honest voice and the pain that bleeds at its edges; then listen to it all together. It is a tremendous composition from the English R&B singer, best known Stateside for his collaborations with Drake and on the most recent track off of Kanye's Life of Pablo, "Saint Pablo." Finally, read The Fader's profile of Sampha and his battle with a globus pharynges (a psychologically caused feeling of a lump in your throat), and keep that in mind when you listen to the lyrics again. —JDF
Gucci Mane ft. Tupac, “On Me”
As a huge fan of the living Tupac, I loathe the tendency of rappers who never met the man to plunder his unheard verses to prop him up as a cred-building guest feature. Smacks too cleanly of Weekend at Bernie’s. It amuses and amazes me to say that the new Gucci Mane single “On Me” has somehow executed the posthumous Pac song trope with grace. Gucci continues to mutilate every microphone he touches, and the production here seamlessly affixes g-funk sounds to a trap underpinning, making room for a familiar-but-not-too-familiar archival Tupac verse that, for once, almost sounds like it belongs in the song it’s been repurposed for. —CJ
Clams Casino ft. Kelela, “A Breath Away”
There's nothing like a rapper (specifically Vince Staples) over a dark, jittery Clams Casino beat. The same now goes for a singer like Kelela soaring above a featherweight, fluttery piece of production I never expected from Clammy. Just when you think things are about to turn ominous, with all those layered bongo loops crashing on top of each other, she takes everything higher. The song's about a relationship teetering toward death, but no one sends off a lover like Kelela. It doesn't get much closer to heaven than this. —DL