SPIN’s 7 Favorite Songs of the Week: Kamaiyah, M.I.A., Ex-Terrestrial, and More
SPIN staffers select their must-hear tracks to wrap up your week
Welcome to our weekly roundup of the SPIN staff’s favorite new songs. Below, sample the best from Mississippi folk-rockers, London synth-pop wizards, and more.
Kamaiyah, “I’m On” (Self-Released)
Let this week go down as the time everyone fell for Kamaiyah, and with good reason: The 21-year-old Oakland MC has personality, range, and started-from-the-bottom swagger. “I’m On,” the first track from new mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, jumps off of a rough upbringing to manifest the drive that propelled her to succeed. “I know I was made for this / I’m just getting to the cash I was made to get,” she raps, like it was never even a question. All of this self-confidence, and a chill marimba sample to boot. Forget one song; here’s the whole mixtape. — ANNA GACA
Alex Smoke, “All My Atoms” (CW/A remix)
It’s easy to draw parallels between Scottish producer Alex Smoke and James Blake: They’ve both released breakouts on Belgium’s storied R&S Records, and each finds a striking balance between U.K. dance music’s loaded low-ends and the emotional heft of their voices. Smoke’s most recent record, Love Over Will, dives headlong into Depeche Mode’s end of the spectrum, with its icy clangs and quavering pronouncements. Italian duo CW/A draw out that melancholy with machines on their post-apocalyptic remix of album cut “All My Atoms,” which roils and clatters with fuzzed-out dubstep frequencies as Smoke’s dimmed echoes circle overhead. — HARLEY BROWN
Greater Pyrenees, “Homemade Blood” (Procrastinate! Music Traitors)
It’s been four years since the demise of Sean Kirkpatrick’s band Colour Revolt, but he’s back with a new take as Greater Pyrenees. Kirkpatrick covers his bases with “Homemade Blood,” a steadfast, folk-rock single off the Mississippi band’s forthcoming, self-titled LP. Fixated on convincing the listener, Kirkpatrick shakily croons, “We will not give up until this ends.” Given that Greater Pyrenees are the first non-Brand New signees on that band’s Procrastinate! Music Traitors label, we’re inclined to believe him. The enduring guitar fuels the track while Kirkpatrick’s trembling voice reassures the listener: “There were times I have had my fill, but I’m not checking out.” — NATALIE CAAMANO
M.I.A., “MIA OLA” (Self-Released)
M.I.A.’s latest song (or is it two songs on the same SoundCloud file?) grabs you right away with its Lion King-esque sunrising call and quick rhythmic hand drums, but there’s just something about the fiery activist-musician’s voice. Her processed, almost nasally delivery is kicked back and casual because she knows just how much power lies behind her words. M.I.A. wants all her “FLYPIRATES and DJS” to spread this track across the world from the Mexican border where she’s currently situated — and it’s best to follow her advice. — JAMES GREBEY
Wyldest, “Wanders” (Self-Released)
What is the sound of magical thinking? Probably something like this big velveteen sofa of a dream-pop song from North London trio Wyldest. The band is songwriter Zoe Mead, guitarist Holly Mullineaux, and drummer Jack Gooderham, the latter borrowed from Sub Pop’s Still Corners. Like that (criminally under-appreciated) band, Wyldest create delicate, textural soundscapes that bubble up warm and cold at the same time and get deeper on every repeat. — A.G.
Ex-Terrestrial, “Blue Smoke” (1080p)
The legendary Amen break has been used to propel so many of the most incendiary pop songs of the last 30 years that it’s jarring (and strangely exciting) to hear it used for the sake of tranquility. “Blue Smoke,” from Ex-Terrestrial’s upcoming “Paraworld” 12-inch on cerebral dance label 1080p, casts the iconic drum snippet as an unlikely bed for feathery synths and windswept bells, a deep exhale of downtempo relief. Just because there’s “Smoke” doesn’t mean there’s fire. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Synthetic ID, “Ciphers” (Castle Face)
Reach for that xanny right now: San Francisco garage-punks Synthetic ID are so anxiety-inducing you won’t want to risk it. Then again, Castle Face is John Dwyer’s record label, so you know what you’re getting into. “Ciphers” is a tightly wound freakout of needling guitars and rattling drums, while the bass sits in the corner, tapping its finger against the table way too loudly. Get. Us. Out. — A.G.