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.

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.

Majical Cloudz – Childhood’s End

Majical Cloudz are an electronic pop duo from Montreal. This is not a happy song, and it’s an equally unhappy video. The music is beautifully restrained grief, and the video matches it perfectly. The refrain of “went down went down went down” is very powerful, I think largely because singer Devon Welsh remains in a very small vocal range during the verses, and even the slightest peek out into the realm of higher notes has a magnified effect by comparison. The video shows us an old man who has been left behind by society, and who is living in despair. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s well shot and well acted.