Spoon – Written In Reverse

One of my favorite tracks from probably the most consistent band of the ’00s. I see them as having followed a Beatles-esque trajectory – they released a few poppy albums that were solid but didn’t break any molds, then Gimme Fiction was their Rubber Soul (moving in a new, more complex direction, but retaining some old qualities), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was their Revolver (getting weirder while remaining amazing pop-rock), and Transference their Sgt. Pepper (embracing full-blown weirdness, doing things few, if any, people have done before with the genre). This version of “Written In Reverse” isn’t quite as smoothly mixed as the studio version, and lacks some of the flourishes like the weird background piano at parts, but it’s very cool to see the band at work together like this, something that I feel has declined recently in the music world.

Sisyphus – Calm It Down

Sisyphus is a group made up of Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, and Serengeti, all artists I’ve (probably unjustly) neglected thus far, but this track immediately got my attention. It fuses hip-hop, electronic, and indie music in a pretty seamless way. It’s catchy, has a fun beat, and manages to work as a light almost-dancey pop number and a groovy indie track for just kicking it. My only criticism is that at the end, when it tries to get a bit more sentimental by dropping everything but the vocals and piano, it feels a bit hokey. Anyway, it’s a fun song for all you college kids out there.

Kid Sam – Mirror Drawings

I was recently shown this by a person I met on the internet, whose name I don’t know. But you know who you are, so thanks. Kid Sam are an Australian band, and the two members are cousins. Other than that, I know nothing about them. Anyway, this song is an interesting take on the guitar-driven indie ballad. The lyrics achieve what I find to be the best indie-lyrics can do – semi-mystic and romantic, melancholy and hopeful at once. My favorite part of this song, though, is the guitar, which within a very simple riff and solo manages to switch between melodic and tuneless to great effect. I’ll have to acquire their album and see what I think.

Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip – Butch & Sundance

Let’s put aside the fact that mostly anything that references the George Roy Hill classic Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (one of my favorite movies) is OK with me. Even if this wasn’t already in my good books because of the title, it would be after hearing the track. Busta and Q-Tip trade bars over a nice jazzy beat for 3 minutes. It’s smooth, lyrical, and it’s a pleasure to listen to two veterans still give us reliable bars after so long in the game (Something not everybody can do. Looking at you, Jay-Z. Shots fired.). This is from their new collaborative mixtape, The Abstract & the Dragon, which you can get here.

Disclosure – Latch (DJ Premier Remix)

Hip-hop legend DJ Premier remixing one of my favorite tracks of the year? I downloaded this as soon as I heard it. I was at a loss for how he could pull this off, but he does so impeccably, replacing the beat with a slow piano line and some drums that KNOCK. I like this version easily as much as the original. From Disclosure’s new album Settle: The Remixes, which you can get here.