High Five: A Handful of New Songs From Danny Brown, Lauryn Hill, and More That You Need To Hear
There's a teetering combustibility inherent in this week's selections. Consider the impending virality of Mapei's stunning "Don't Wait;" the brooding melodicism of Papa; and Danny Brown's well-grounded boasts. Each artist, in his or her own way, appears on the brink of something incendiary and, ultimately, quite exciting.
There's a new Lauryn Hill song out this week. Really.
"Don't Wait" - Mapei
It takes about 15 seconds with "Don't Wait" to understand why this song is hurtling like a well-lubed hollow-point through the music blogosphere. You've got your ultra-sparse, Lorde-ian instrumentation; your lush, fussy stacks of melodic bliss; your digitized finger snaps. The best part, though: this is a ground floor-type situation. Go ahead -- Google "Mapei." What you get is a Swedish Wikipedia page, an outdated MySpace account, and a Twitter avatar just barely slouching toward quadruple digits. In other words, tell your friends while you can; they'll find out soon enough.
"Young Rut" - Papa
Partially due to lack of imagination (but mostly due to sheer passion. PASSION!), we here at the High Five make no qualms about throwing out the occasional nugget of repeat advocacy. As such, we once again endorse the L.A.-based Springsteen heirs Papa. "Young Rut," the latest single off their debut LP, Tender Madness, wells up with their signature brand of piercing, demi-macho moroseness. "Don't know what I want/But I know that want it bad/Keeps me up all night/It keeps me so goddamn mad," drummer/singer Darren Weiss groans. Adrift never felt so adroit.
"Consumerism" - Lauryn Hill
There are moments on this track that Lauryn Hill, who before May hadn't released a song in more than a decade, sounds as though she's struggling to keep up with her own frenetic thought process. "Consumerism" isn't so much a song as it is a warp-speed rant set over a glistening, grinding backbeat. And though its unrelenting pace leaves you feeling a bit molested, there's enough breathing room during the choruses to allow you to brace for what's next. The undeniable thesis: Ms. Hill is back, and she's clearly spent every moment out of the limelight thinking about what to say.
"Red 2 Go" - Danny Brown
There's something to be said for the dexterity with which Danny Brown skitters between sophistication and smut, between confessions and zingers. To wit: "Red 2 Go," an earnest tale disguised as a brag-banger, in which Brown's current life of excess ("codeine in my cereal;" "In Barcelona poppin' cherries") is rooted in an earnest -- even touching -- narrative of uncertainty. Brown is, after all, a Detroit native, and the city's spectre of poverty shades even his most buoyant assertions: "I got my ass up/Stopped depending on luck/Greyhound to NY on 300 bucks/ Got my hopes up but my confidence was low/ Now my self-esteem is astro/ Looking at this cash flow."
"Bud" - Honeyblood
Jangly, exuberant and delectably simple, "Bud" is a downhome-sounding romp from the Scottish duo Honeyblood. There's an undeniable debt to Neko Case in here somewhere, but not so much as to detract from the organic talent of lead singer Stina Tweeddale. If anything, this song reaffirms the beauty of a clear voice shimmering above a gritty guitar line. Though Case may have perfected this, no one's saying she's owed a monopoly on it.