Whether you’re listening to ATARASHII GAKKO!’s progressive J-pop, Deerhoof’s avant-garde rock or Dave Schulz’s latest endeavors, this week’s selections are a treat for the ears. We round out the best songs of the week with Bebi Monsuta, The Aquadolls and Penelope Isles.
Deerhoof, “Scarcity is Manufactured” — It’s widely said that there are three constants in life, but if I could make a case for a fourth, it’s that Deerhoof delivers the most mind-blowing sounds. Whether mixing chamber music with noise rock or honoring Ritchie Valens’ colorful faire (like on “Scarcity is Manufactured”), the San Francisco quartet never fails to add a flavor that’s unique and innovative every time. The new cut leads with the Valens-inspired riff, followed by Satomi Matsuzaki’s signature playful vocals. It isn’t too long until the track explodes into a kaleidoscope of distorted shredding and a firecracker of a drumbeat.
ATARASHII GAKKO!, “Pineapple Kryptonite” — The latest from ATARASHII GAKKO! comes with a music video that offers all the best action film elements: a car chase, an alien-abduction and a dog with an unknown fate. But don’t get it twisted—with or without cool visuals, the progressive J-pop quartet has an adrenalizing sound that speaks for itself. While previous releases incorporated jazz, pop and rock, “Pineapple Kryptonite” layers hints of punk and hip-hop over vocals that alternate seamlessly between wholesome and heavy. Based on this development, ATARASHII GAKKO! is on the verge of creating its biggest sound yet, its final form—self-choreographed dances included.
Bebi Monsuta, “RäkStär” — Manami and Akira of Bebi Monsuta describe their music as “kawaii-pop,” mixing elements of their Japanese and Portuguese-Brazilian heritage into their work. With the New York City duo’s fierce-yet-fun melodies, it’s hard to imagine any other artist making better pioneers for the genre. New cut “RäkStär” leans toward the fiery side of Bebi Monsuta’s sound by way of a trap beat, but still offers a playful touch with its vibrant vocals and well-rhymed bars.
The Aquadolls, “Disappearing Girl” — Over a fuzzy grunge melody, The Aquadolls tell a story of a modern femme fatale who has “eyes so vain” and “untangled curls.” She’s cool and likes Sonic Youth, she’s unbothered—and with that, she’s totally unavailable. “Hopped in the red mustang/ Not a care in the world/ One kiss is all he wanted/ But that wasn’t in her world,” the Southern Californian trio sings. Whether the “Disappearing Girl” is a self-insert or someone the band thinks fondly of, the song’s hot-blooded attitude makes it easy to put yourself in the protagonist’s shoes. If you were looking for a new mood-booster, this is it.
Penelope Isles, “Sudoku” — The woozy, slacker-pop lick that kicks off “Sudoku” by Penelope Isles is, without a doubt, an effective hook. It’s hypnotizing and melts right into Jack Wolter’s pillowy-soft vocals. The cut feels like living inside of a dream, but it doesn’t stay there the whole time. At the outro, the track unravels with a whirlwind of guitar distortions, like a quick snap back to reality.
Dave Schulz and friends, “You Get What You Give” — For the seventh installment of “CoVideo Stars”—a project between keyboardist-composer-producer Dave Schulz and an ensemble of renowned musicians—the supergroup gives its take on New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” It’s a wholesome, yet inspiring cover that adds a whole lot of flavor to the ‘90s hit thanks to Schulz’s vocals, the Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal’s shredding, Paulie Z’s voice and Prairie Prince’s on-point drumming. They’re joined by Goo Goo Dolls’ Robby Takac, Cherie Currie, Angelo Moore, Mitch Perry, Teddy Zig Zag, Joe Sumner, Jennifer Cella and Georgia Napolitano—who together deliver a seriously epic version of the uplifting chorus.
Chloe’s Pick: This was the first time ATARASHII GAKKO! has been on my radar, but that didn’t stop the group from absolutely blowing my mind. From the video and dance numbers to the eclectic song style, it has a way of demanding a further listen. I’ve already started digging into the group’s archives and am excited to hear more of its future releases.
Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the singer on Penelope Isles’ song. It is Jack Wolter.
Follow editor Chloe Catajan at Instagram.com/riannachloe.