Songs of the Week: Japandroids Live the American Dream, Tom Cruz Has a Hard Decision to Make, and Let’s Free Pussy Riot

Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built”

Boozin’, rockin’, flirtin’, fist pumpin’, makin’ out, grillin’, shootin’ guns, drivin’ on metaphorically weighted highways — this is exactly what a goddamn Japandroids video should look like. Warning: Will make you want to do Fourth of July all over again because, you know, God bless America. Also, I cannot tell you how proud I am of my native Massachusetts to see that the girl trying not to die from alcohol poisoning at the end of this video is wasted outside of the fine Allston establishment Tavern on the Square. I think I’ve puked right where she’s lying!

Flying Lotus featuring Erykah Badu, “See Thru to U”

Flying Lotus, a.k.a. eclectic California producer Steve Ellison, has collaborated a couple of times with Thom Yorke, just did a track with Earl Sweatshirt, and has now gone and nabbed Badu for the single off his upcoming fourth album, Until the Quiet Comes. So — let’s do the next dinner party at Lotus’s crib?

Kendra Morris, “No Love (But Your Love)”

Gorgeous music magazine/serialized textbook Wax Poetics has a record label, and signed to that record label is Kendra Morris. Ahead of her debut, Banshee, out August 28, Wax Poetics has been releasing a cover by Kendra weekly. The latest installment: Johnny Mathis’s “No Love (But Your Love),” also known as the sample for Gravediggaz’s “Diary of a Madman.” Now quick, turn to the person to your left and ask them to name RZA’s Gravediggaz alter ego (the answer we’re looking for: The Rzarector). If they know it, buy them an ice cream sandwich.

The Coup, “The Magic Clap”

Brother Ali, “Mourning in America”

New joints both from Brother Ali, the greatest albino-Muslim from-Minnesota MC of all time, and The Coup, the politically charged rap duo now making a return after a six-year hiatus. If you were looking for new socially conscious hip-hop to soundtrack your impending revolution, here ya go!

Jade Alston, “Sober”


This week Vulture directs our attention to under-the-radar R&B songstress Jade Alston and her wholly endearing, newish music video (towel dancing, remote controls as microphones, etc.). The chorus to this song — “Thought I would never sleep again / And I would never love again” — might actually never leave your brain.

Vybz Kartel, “My Crew”

Vybz Kartel is still in prison, so this video for “My Crew” — off the recently re-released Kingston Story — features scenes from life in his Gaza City neighborhood. OK, let’s revisit that insane Vybz fake-prison-break story now! Via Hype Life: “Vybz Kartel, who had been charged of offenses including several murders and ganja possession, escaped from the prison along with 7 other prisoners. One prison officer died of a heart attack as a result of the escape and twelve others were injured, including two who were shot with guns that had been smuggled into the prison. Shortly after 1:00 am, Vybz … took control of the jail holding the prison guards hostage at gunpoint. Some of the prisoners took the guards clothing and car keys in order to help with their escape.” Ah, what could have been (but never actually happened).

Swearin’, “Snag”

The self-titled debut from Brooklyn punkers Swearin’ dropped this week. “Snag” isn’t on it, but it should be enough of an irresistible little sonic smash to convince you it would be crazy not to go out and hear the whole thing right now.

Grimes, “Genesis”

Just Grimes. Crushing it in her national TV debut. With backup dancers, smoke machines, flower petals, a kimono, and all-natural Canadian American oddness. Never stop doing you, Grimes.

Fat Tony and Tom Cruz featuring Main Attrakionz, “Double Up”

So not only did this dude name himself Tom Cruz, he also raps about finding himself in tricky situations in which he tells two different ladies he’s going to come over to eat their home cooking. “I’m going to the needy one house first / and the cool one house second,” he decides. “I hope the food ain’t overcooked.” Now that young man is evincing just a remarkable amount of chutzpah.

Questlove, Beastie Boy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Demo

This is so strange. So during this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Questlove backed up Kid Rock and Black Thought on a medley of Beastie Boys hits dedicated to the group. Before doing so, however, he had to put together a demo to get approval for the tracks they’d be playing. He now releases that demo. Unlike, say, a normal person, who’d probably have just made a playlist with the selected tracks, Questlove appears to have re-created them. Honestly, I’m not exactly clear what’s happening here — is that Questlove rapping every word? Who else is playing? Explaining the demo, Questlove says he did it during his lunch break. So it could well be Late Night With Jimmy Fallon announcer Steve Higgins on bass guitar?

Peaches, “Free Pussy Riot”

Peaches’ ode to the imprisoned Pussy Riot was released before today’s verdict sentencing the Russian trio to an inconceivable two years in prison for staging a Putin protest in a church. Of course, the track’s primary sentiment — “Free Pussy Riot / Free Pussy Riot / Free Pussy, try it” — is now even more relevant. Kudos for Peaches for managing to be politically active but still really catchy. Only one question: Is “Putin” definitely pronounced like that? Like, the same as delicious Montreal french-fries-and-gravy-and-cheese dish poutine? Really?

Filed Under: Beastie Boys, Questlove, Songs of the Week

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Amos Barshad has written for New York magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad

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