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.

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.

Cults – I Can Hardly Make You Mine

This is the single from Cults’s new album Static. “You Know What I Mean” being one of my favorite songs of 2011, but their first album not particularly impressing me, I was intrigued to see if they had charted any new territory. They have. The sound is a lot more guitar-heavy, and garage-y than their first album, but the melody sounds like it could fit on any of their older songs. This makes me want to listen to Static, which you can get here, and see if it’s an improvement.

Vaults – Cry No More

Vaults are an English band, who don’t have any other music than this online. If this song is evidence, though, they’re a band to look out for. The track has already hot almost 400,000 plays on SoundCloud, and deservedly so. It’s pretty much just vocals, bells, and strings, with some synth later on. The lyrics are cryptic, but definitely make me feel like going out and kicking some ass in a hunger-games-esque setting.

Tom Milsom – Having Fun

I first heard this as the weather on an episode of Welcome to Night Vale, and it blew me away. I’m not sure how to put it exactly, but the lyrics are funny, the music is jazzy and almost jungle-like, and I love the sort of controlled chaos it reaches at points, followed by the absolute drop of everything. Just check it out, you won’t regret it.

Alt-J – Taro

Hands-down my favorite Alt-J song. I think this whole nerdy-psychedelic thing is what they’re best at. They create this amazing sense of majesty with the buildup to the “chorus,” and then that weird sound he makes the guitar make, like halfway between a sitar and a mandolin, completely pays off. I saw a video of them performing this live, and the way he does it is by hammering on the guitar strings with something that looks a lot like a roll of tape. I still don’t totally get it, but this song is perfect. This video is completely unrelated, but it works I guess, so who cares.

Radiohead – Lucky

One of my favorite Radiohead songs. It combines triumph and hopelessness in a way that I’m not sure I’ve heard pulled off in other places. My favorite part is Johnny Greenwood’s guitar solo. It perfectly encapsulates the feel of the song – anguished, but not in a gloomy way. Instead it soars, pleading to the heavens rather than dwelling on the pain. It’s also simple (pretty much just echoing his part from the chorus), which can sometimes make for a better solo than a guitarist showing off. Overall, a fantastic song from a fantastic album.