Welcome to our weekly roundup of the SPIN staff’s favorite new songs. Below, sample the best from resurfaced Norwegian avant-pop performers, college-rock icons, and more.
Biosphere, “Sweet Dreams Form a Shade” (Smalltown Supersound)
Norwegian ambient producer Geir Jenssen, a.k.a. Biosphere, has long been particular to samples from retro sci-fi titles like the ’70s TV show Space: 1999 and the 1986 movie SpaceCamp. He hasn’t sampled something quite like this before: folk music from Poland, Ukraine, and Russia, collected while Jenssen lived in Krakow, from which Biosphere’s forthcoming album, Departed Glories, is almost entirely constructed. The effect is simultaneously of this world and apart from it, a wispy flow of sound that’s made of language and yet wordless. “Sweet Dreams Form a Shade” is an eerie encapsulation of humanity hidden behind the century of technology that mediates nearly every aspect of contemporary music. — ANNA GACA
Dawn Oberg, “It’s 12:01″ (Self-Released)
It’s entirely possible that San Franciscan singer-songwriter Dawn Oberg already had written half of “It’s 12:01” before Luis Gongora was killed; the inevitability of racist police killing is indeed, as the Randy Newman-esque piano-pounder dubs, “a local and a national shame.” Oberg remembers more slain victims’ names in three minutes than a whole week of the RNC (or — quite frankly — the DNC either) and nails her white ally duty in one couplet: “It’s 12:01 motherf**ckers / Past time to change the guard at the gate.” It’s the chorus because it bears repeating. — DAN WEISS
Dinosaur Jr., “Goin Down” (Jagjaguwar)
Considering the bulk of material they’ve put out since their reunion in 2005, it’s become alarmingly easy to take ’90s-rock mainstays Dinosaur Jr. for granted in 2016. But considering the ongoing glut of (Bill) Clinton-era nostalgia acts cluttering the current indie-rock ranks, let’s instead say a prayer that original gods J Mascis & Co. are still with us three decades into their inception. To that end, the opening track to the forthcoming Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (coming on August 5) offers everything that made DiJr Alternative Nation icons: gruff guitar licks, cymbal-smashing percussion, and, above all else, Mascis’ singular syllable-elongating whine. — RACHEL BRODSKY
How to Dress Well, “Lost Youth / Lost You” (Domino)
Tom Krell — a.k.a. How to Dress Well — understands what so few of the alt-R&B set would even bother to consider: If you’re going to try to write Prince-worthy arena-pop ballads, eventually you have to pair them with Prince-worthy arena-pop guitar licks. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Jenny Hval, “Conceptual Romance” (Sacred Bones)
Jenny Hval’s work is consistently vast. For the Norwegian singer-songwriter-philosopher, it appears no track of hers is complete without references to capitalism, sexuality, romance, and most important, the intersection of all of these subjects. “Conceptual Romance” unifies these abstractions more succinctly than ever before, with an amorphous theme of failure. Be it faded love, bad art, or rejection, the question of what it means to lose is the heart beating through this poised pop mini-masterpiece. — MATTHEW MALONE
Mac Miller feat. Anderson .Paak, “Dang!” (Warner Bros.)
Anderson .Paak doesn’t consciously structure his art to embody funk and soul impulses; it’s just how he bleeds. What made Malibu such a great project was how he used those genres as paintbrushes to vividly depict his humanity and the sun-kissed beaches in his mind. It’s why a collaboration with Mac Miller reads a bit awkward on paper. Even though the latter is precipitously improved from his days as Easy Mac, his modus operandi usually lies on a known syllogism: If it’s dope, it’s dope. Emotive songwriting is an extracurricular detail in his projects.
Not here, though. On “Dang!,” Mac Miller and .Paak (and the Juilliard School students on horns) meet halfway in a groove line colored in fuchsia pastels. Actually, the whole track works in how it treats potential dichotomies as intersections. Take how slick talk rarely subsumes the romantic tension at the lyrics’ center, regardless of how goofy they may be: “Well you can’t go away girl, I’mma need you / Play your games like they my ticket to an Ivy league school.” .Paak and Miller may seem diametrically opposed to some, but they both know there’s gold in the connection between heartbreak and dancing. — BRIAN JOSEPHS
Medasin feat. JOBA, “Daydream” (Self-Released)
Even though Medasin’s “Daydream” is tagged electronic on SoundCloud, it still seamlessly merges myriad other influences: reggae, pop, R&B. The beat comes anchored by steel drums and xylophone, with electric keyboard layered under featured singer JOBA’s soulful vocals. Despite its complex instrumental arrangement, the song is simply about a woman, with JOBA suffering a classic lovelorn insomnia: “I can’t seem to sleep at night / Lucidly floating through life without her.” — MAYA LEWIS