The 10 Best New Songs We Heard This Week: M.I.A., The Flaming Lips

It’s Friday, which means that it’s nearly the weekend, and also that it’s time to look back at the best new music we’ve heard over the last few days. This week there’s a fresh M.I.A. track (in which she discusses reincarnation and the transmigration of the soul, no less), along with The Flaming Lips reminding us why we used to love them, beautiful new tracks from Four Tet and Woods bassist Kevin Morby, Angel Haze covering Miley Cyrus (really), and a whole lot more. None of this action will cost you a cent, so click through and get listening!

M.I.A. – “Y.A.L.A.”

Behold: another new M.I.A. track, this one of questionable provenance — it surfaced on YouTube a couple of days back, and isn’t an official release (as far as we know, anyway). The rip is pretty quiet (turn up your headphones) and terrible quality, but still, it’s an interesting indication of where M.I.A. might be going on the long-awaited Matangi. The production buys into the current EDM-influenced prevalence of farty sawtooth synths on hip-hop tracks, but the vocals are endearingly combative, taking a welcome stab at the entire YOLO phenomenon: “If you only live once, why we keep doing the same shit over and over again?” Quite.

The Flaming Lips — “Think Like A Machine, Not A Boy”

A welcome reminder that when Wayne Coyne, et al concentrate on making music, they can still do a pretty fine job of it. This is from their new EP, which is streaming in its entirety (from various sources) at Stereogum, and it’s really lovely, setting Coyne’s vocal over acoustic guitar and washes of dark, portentous synth tones. The rest of the EP is good, too.

Four Tet — “Gillie Amma, I Love You”

On a similar note, if like us you happen to be having a ball-breaking Friday, then don your headphones, hit play on this, and bliss out for a bit. It’s beautiful.

Kevin Morby — “Slow Train”

Also beautiful: this track from Woods bassist Kevin Morby, which comes across like a latter-day spiritual, resembling a quiet, acoustic version of a J. Spaceman track. It features vocals from Cate Le Bon, and it’s gorgeous.

Angel Haze — “Wrecking Ball”

Wow, what was I just saying about Angel Haze’s freestyles? This is no such thing — it’s a heartfelt acoustic cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” of all things, and proves that our heroine can sing just as well as she raps. In other news, it’d be nice if people would stop asking female musicians shit like this.

Xiu Xiu — “Just Say I Love Him”

Oh dear god — Jamie Stewart is doing an entire album of Nina Simone covers? This is amazing, obviously.

Rae & Christian — “1975″ (Bearcubs dub)

Hey, remember Rae & Christian? The ’90s producers have a new record, and with this mix Bearcubs turns one of its tracks into a warm, deep-housey dubplate. It’s something warm for a chilly Friday morning.

The Notorious B.I.G. — “Going Back to Cali” (Yinyues remix)

A quiet, piano-led unofficial remix of the classic Biggie tune that’s been doing the rounds on the blogs this week. It’s a fine piece of work, even if the electric piano sound is a bit close to Bruce Hornsby for comfort — it’s always good to hear the great man’s vocals, and again, this is pleasant escapism from the impending winter.

Smartboys — “A Different World Now”

Supergroup alert! Smartboys include members of Fucked Up, U.S. Girls, Moon King, and Urban Blight, and on the evidence of this track, those influences add up to pleasantly scuzzy, melodic garage pop.

Kallisti — “Michael Douglas”

And finally, new music under a new moniker from Montreal producer d’Eon, who’s responsible for one of my favorite ongoing series in the form of his Music for Keyboards project. This is very different — it’s downright banging, and aimed squarely at the dance floor — but his work is always worth hearing.