SPIN Singles Mix: Best Coast Dream of ‘California Nights,’ Mac McCaughan Is ‘Lost Again’ and More
SPIN staffers handpick their can't-miss tracks to get you through the week
Welcome to SPIN’s Singles Mix! The SPIN staff has rounded up their favorite, must-hear tracks for your personal playlists. From Israeli shoegazers to no-fucks-giving Swede pop brats to indie-rock royalty, these are the songs you need to know right now.
Best Coast, “Caifornia Nights” (Harvest Records)
By the very nature of the band’s name, California and Best Coast can never be separated. However, the title track to their upcoming LP (out on May 5) makes it sound like Bethany and Bob have been spending more time in the desert than at the boardwalk. Sure, they still muse over getting high and loving the Sunshine State, but the atmospheric, “Bullet the Blue Sky”-esque guitar, pulsing bass, and heartbeat drums do most of the talking here. It’s a welcome departure from their usual retro-pop style, with fantastic results. CONNOR O’BRIEN
Big Sean feat. Jhene Aiko, “I Know” (Universal)
DJ Mustard is played out — it happens to everybody. Which is why it’s smart for the producer to launch this cleverly minimalist reinvention, on an LP that signals Big Sean’s similar sonic reworking. Aiko’s slick, hushed vocals don’t suffocate under Mustard’s mix as she sings “Let me be your vacation.” She needs more beats like this — not to mention producers who play to her strengths rather than making her work for it. BRENNAN CARLEY
Calexico Feat. Ben Bridwell, “Falling From the Sky” (ANTI-)
Indie rock’s favorite Tex-Mex torchbearers team up with Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell for this dusty amble down the desert highway. Adding just a touch of their signature Mariachi horns, Calexico and Bridwell have more questions than answers in “Falling From the Sky,” such as, “Where do you go where you have no one to see?” and “What do you feel when you’re all alone?” Such nomadic existentialism can be tough to work through, which is all the more reason to add this one to your “Western Walkabout” playlist. RACHEL BRODSKY
Death Team, “Fucking Bitches in the Hood” (Warner Bros.)
Whatever you’re thinking from the title, it’s not that. What it is is the missing link between Daphne & Celeste and Die Antwoord, an absurdist Swedish pop anthem that makes Icona Pop seem like half-steppers, laying tough-girl rhymes that are too ridiculous to actually come off as tough (or even as rhymes, really) over Elton John honky-tonk piano and disco handclaps. It’s as infectious as it is preposterous. And that’s before we even get to the video. Or their website. Anyone know where can we buy Death Team jerseys? ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Emile Haynie feat. Rufus Wainwright, “Little Ballerina” (Interscope Records)
Like its titular dancer, Emile Haynie’s “Little Ballerina” is eminently graceful and deploys its sweeping choral melody with a deliberate touch. But like a ballerina, there’s also a lot of power lurking below the movements. The beat builds throughout the track, and the drums eventually fray with raw emotion. Rufus Wainwright’s lyrics are similarly touching, detailing the thrill and troubles of loving someone despite their “bleach-blond hair and a coldhearted stare.” Maybe, as he sings, he’s “a fool for love,” but “Little Ballerina” captures the beauty in staving off cynicism for as long as one can. JAMES GREBEY
Mac McCaughan, “Lost Again” (Merge Records)
It seems unlikely that the prolific Superchunk and Portastatic frontman would have waited so long to release something under his name. No matter — the heartfelt “Lost Again,” a midtempo exploration of McCaughan-brand earnestness, was worth the wait. A sweetly harmonized track, “Lost Again” strongly echoes U2’s “With or Without You” in lyric and sentiment, as McCaughan bleats about being “lost again without you, my friend.” Let’s hope, to quote Dublin’s favorite rock band, he finds what (or who) he’s looking for. R.B.
Squarepusher, “Rayc Fire 2″ (Warp Records)
As is Tom Jenkinson’s prerogative, “Rayc Fire 2″ proves he hasn’t gotten sick of rapid-fire squirt-sonics piling up into one big Lightning Bolt-stressed explosion, as his career approaches the 20-year mark. Synth-horn blasts stretched far past the breaking point with hammering beats to match, the initially rave-friendly track becomes something else entirely over the course of its five minutes. Faster, for one. DAN WEISS
Vaadat Charigim, “Ein Li Makom” (Burger Records)
This Tel Aviv dream-gaze project might sing exclusively in Hebrew, but the cultural divide grows blurry once their reverb-heavy, washed-out words sink into a cascade of fuzzy guitar solos and cymbal-shattering drum-work. Who needs a translator, anyway? R.B.
XYLØ, “America” (Self-released)
Los Angeles dark-pop duo Paige and Chase Duddy — A.K.A XYLØ — might be brand-new to the music scene, but their spellbinding first single, “America,” sounds anything but amateur. Less inviting but similar in its seductive propulsion to Lana Del Rey, “America” utilizes haunting, animus lyrics (“Real life is make believe / All that glitters isn’t gold to me”), trancelike vocals, and a languid heave of distorted synths. Though it’s cool and detached, there’s charm and romance in “America”‘s heart. MARGARET FARRELL