Kiss last year goodbye with Norwegian electronica duo Röyksopp’s woozy remembrance of debauchery past, which sounds more like last call at the Stork Club than it does like anything from the current millennium.
Also from Norway, indie-popper Sondre Lerche has a pared-down take on the power ballad of 2013 that’s fun, but—and it hurts to admit this—mostly proves that Miley Cyrus has better vocal chops than pretty much everyone else who has tried to sing “Wrecking Ball”.
Black Me Out (Total Treble)
There’s nothing quite like starting the new year in a blind rage, and Against Me! meets your seasonal-anger needs with the biting lyrics of this anthemic midtempo stomper: “I wanna piss on the walls of your house/I wanna chop those brass rings off your fat fucking fingers.”
Calm It Down (Asthmatic Kitty)
And after you enjoy that fit of pique, allow Sisyphus (the unlikely trio of Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, and Serengeti) to set a soothing mood and bring your blood pressure down with this cloud-rap gem about chilling the fuck out.
My Brightest Diamond
Make You Feel My Love
If you’re going to cover Bob Dylan, ’90s Dylan isn’t the obvious choice, but given the spine-tinglingly intimate way Shara Worden sings this tender love song, accompanied only by a muted electric guitar, you’d swear it was from the Greenwich Village glory days.
Gender-bending trap-rave MC Mykki Blanco is one of hip-hop’s biggest oddballs—and his/her entire career to date might be one extended act of performance art—but this much is straightforward: you can shake your ass to “Booty Bamboo”, if that’s your thing.
Sides of Chaz
Sweet Tea (Fork and Spoon)
Sides of Chaz is a side project of Chaz Bundick (hence the name, duh). He’s better known for his Toro Y Moi project, but here he gets all lysergically lo-fi, sounding like the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev used to in the days before the Internet ruined all of our lives.
Adult Diversion (Royal Mountain)
Will 2014 be the year that sees the unstoppable ascension of reverb-drenched indie guitar pop? Just kidding; that was 2008. Nonetheless, there will alvvays be a place for a charged-up bit of jangle like this effortlessly melodic beauty.
Never Gonna Change (Capitol)
This sister-brother duo from Auckland (“New Zealand’s Next Pop Wonder”? asks Billboard) offers a down-tempo breakup lament that will remind you of that time someone ripped out your heart and took a dump in the gaping wound. In a good way, of course.
How to Dress Well
Tom Krell forgoes his usual tear-stained bedroom R&B to lend his delicate touch to his favourite Smog song, and the result is a glacially paced wonder of shifting timbres and layered vocals.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Why did Unknown Mortal Orchestra release a 22-minute instrumental—mostly mind-expanding drones—the day after Christmas? And what does the title mean? The world may never know. The world may never even want to know. But thanks anyway, guys.