Swan Dive (Wichita Recordings)
It takes big-time talent to wring this much pathos out of three chords and a simple melody, and Katie Crutchfield certainly has that. She also has a way with an absolutely crushing lyric, so keep a tissue handy.
Siren’s Song (Vagrant)
Oh, yeah: Rogue Wave. Those guys were a thing once. And here they are again, with a great big bristly song full of heart, dynamics, and a bit of guitar that sounds like it was carved out of an ocean of frozen tears.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Next time someone asks us "What is soul music, anyway?" we’ll just smile and play this brassy, vintage-sounding vehicle for the leather-lunged Sharon Jones. Not that anyone ever asks us that.
Tiger Tank (Carpark)
We haven’t heard noisily ramshackle yet tuneful indie rock played with such conviction since the ’90s. Ah, the ’90s: that glorious era between the Cold War and the War on Terror, when everything seemed possible but sadly wasn’t. Sigh.
Heartbreak (Ghostly International)
If you enjoy musical genres with the suffix -wave—like, say, darkwave and chillwave—the meat-freezer synths and ice-queen vocals of Heartbreak will have you moping to the dance floor, as soon as you grab a sweater.
No Stranger (Jagjaguwar)
If you’re a fan of Phoenix—which is to say, if you’re boring and live in the suburbs—you’re going to love Small Black’s electronics-driven pop, which is just as sparkly and tuneful as Phoenix’s, only less boring and suburban.
Tell Me (Captured Tracks)
The contrast between the robotic beat and R2D2 synthesizer arpeggios and the spectral vocals tempts us to use the phrase ghost in the machine, except we know what that actually means, so we won’t.
Twerk It (Young Money)
Busta Rhymes fakin’ Jamaican and Pharrell Williams doing his damnedest to out-Diplo Major Lazer? Anyone in their right mind would take Get Free over this half-baked effort, but you can certainly twerk to it.
Lord Summerisle (Metal Blade)
A weird blend of neo-medieval music and apocalyptic folk, Lord Summerisle sounds like what your neighbourhood coven listens to as it cleans up after the annual Mercuralia festivities.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Dear Lord (Give Me the Strength) (Legacy Recordings)
From the five-decade-old group’s first-ever LP of originals comes a song that’ll make you want to throw on some Mardi Gras beads and parade down the Granville Mall as if it were Bourbon Street. Which, sadly, it never will be.
Say Lou Lou feat. Chet Faker
Fool of Me (Downtown)
You just know anyone calling himself Chet Faker is so pleased with his own cleverness that he spends most of his time smirking. Regardless, he teamed up with Say Lou Lou for this dark electro power ballad, so good for him.