Phosphorescent - "Song for Zula"
The world certainly does not lack tunes on the subject of "love is hard." But when Matthew Houck's ragged, Willie-esque drawl deliberates over lines like, "Some say love is a burning thing / That it makes a fiery ring / Oh but I know love as a fading thing / Just as fickle as a feather in a stream," and, "See, honey, I saw love / You see, it came to me /
It put its face up to my face so I could see /
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me /
Into something I am not recognizing," you will have forgotten all those other songs as quickly as Houck probably forgot his promise near the end not to open himself up this way again. Punctuated by subtle yet buoyant strings, "Song for Zula" (off Muchacho
, out March 19 on Dead Oceans) then proceeds to shatter any memory of previous references to the moon being bright or the idea of "cage as metaphor." And for what it's worth: While it's not necessarily a major accomplishment to make this writer cry at 7 a.m. on a Friday, this song just succeeded in doing so.
Vintage Trouble - "Blues Hand Me Down"
Since the millennium switched over, it seems like every couple of years a band emerges from the rusty sludge of an e-waste landfill to remind us what rock'n'roll is supposed to sound like (and to restore baby boomers' faith in humanity). Like a hand-me-down outfit, "Blue Hand Me Down"
is ill-filling and outdated, but endlessly endearing--not to mention energizing. Check out the video to see frontman Ty Taylor whip a brightly lit Late Show with David Letterman
studio audience into a frenzy of random handclapping. At about two minutes in, he hops up on a nice tourist lady's armrests. Priceless.
Marnie Stern - "Year of the Glad"
With "Year of the Glad,"
the first single off The Chronicles of Marnia
(out March 19 on Kill Rock Stars), Marnie Stern trades in a touch of her trademark guitar heroics to make a playful and tight--the SoundCloud is basically a solid gray rectangle--statement of guarded optimism. It was producer Nicholas Vernhes's idea to subtract some shreddery in exchange for clearer vocals. Also adding to the tautness is the expert drumming of Oneida's Kid Millions. The result: 3:39 minutes of mini-explosion bliss.
Sin Fang - "Young Boys"
I know it's still 2012, but I think I might just go ahead and give Sindri Már Sigfússon, founder of the Icelandic collective Seabear, the award for best cover art of 2013 due to his bouquet-beard-bedecked Flowers
(out February 19 on Morr Music). The first single, "Young Boys,"
features icicle-shattering sound effects, trudging-steadily-through-knee-deep snow percussion, and breath-fog woah-ohs over an earwormy chorus-chant: "We were young boys smoking in the woods / I showed you how, I showed you how." I think I'm ready for winter now.
A-Trak feat. Juicy J, Jim Jones, Flatbush Zombies, El-P, and Flosstradamus - "Piss Test (Remix)"
Here's the latest track off the highly anticipated Fool's Gold compilation, Loosies
, a remix of "Piss Test" (A-Trak/Danny Brown/Juicy J)
. The comp's out December 18. Oh, and it comes on a cigarette-shaped USB. Need I say more?