A$AP ROCKY FEAT. SKRILLEX - WILD FOR THE NIGHT
When the tracklist for A$AP Rocky's debut album was announced, Skrillex's presence was a major eyebrow raising moment. Many questioned whether two artists from such divergent scenes could successfully come together. But the union worked like a charm, in part because neither artist takes themselves too seriously, though they are serious about making sure people have a good time. Skrillex's over the top synth blasts provide a perfect foil to Rocky's spitfire rhyming.
BAD RELIGION - MY HEAD IS FULL OF GHOSTSLegendary punk rockers Bad Religion are 16 albums into their career, and their attack is still as blistering as ever. On "My Head is Full of Ghosts," they come across as eminently melodic and dignified as ever, while singer Greg Graffin provides some witty wordplay, and the exuberant harmony section is hitting on all cylinders.
TORO Y MOI - HARM IN CHANGE
Experimental electronic musician Chaz Bundick is quickly becoming one of the best at producing sleek, urban and sophisticated pop music. "Harm in Change" unfolds gradually like a warm summer night, with a slight sensuality present in Bundick's lyrics. But most impressive is his production work, as he mixes and weaves layers to create a sweet danceable mix.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE - IN ANOTHER WAY
Here, captured in a solitary five and a half minute track, is everything that makes My Bloody Valentine great. There's still the mind warping sense of fuzziness, drone, and distortion but they also pack a bit of pep in their step as well. Fast paced, energetic drums set the mood, while a lovely synthesizer line comes in over the top and carries the song to its conclusion.
WAYNE SHORTER - PLAZA REALJazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter and his quartet express a vast variety of moods. This remake of a Weather Report song shows off his versatility in being able to sculpt old classics to fit with his current sound. He loves to experiment, even veering into modal territory when the situation calls for it, and "Plaza Real" is one of his greatest showoff pieces from the new album, Without a Net.
RIVERSIDE - CELEBRITY TOUCH
Riverside is a somewhat overlooked Polish band that does a great job of mixing prog with hard/heavy metal. There is a bit of Porcupine Tree influence, but they also take cues from Rush and Pain of Salvation among others. Packed full of swaggering solos, headbanging riffs, and clean melodic sections, "Celebrity Touch" proves these boys know how to mix it up.
STEVEN WILSON - THE HOLY DRINKER
The final 1:30 of this song alone is awesome enough to put this song on the list. Those doomsday scales backed by Marco Minneman's manic drumming is one of the greatest musical passages ever blogged about on this site. But the rest of the song is no pushover either, as a healthy serving of flute, organ and guitar solos complement Wilson's story about a religious thinker gone astray.
DARKTHRONE - VALKYRIE
Longstanding prodigies Darkthrone may no longer practice black metal on a daily basis, but there's still plenty to love. This old school blast of metal is impressive instrumentally, but even more absorbing is the classic fists raised attitude that is mostly missing from modern metal. And it's also tough to argue with the haunting acoustic intro.
HOW TO DESTROY ANGELS - AND THE SKY BEGAN TO SCREAM
Dissonant and anguished soundscapes have never been new territory for Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor, but his new side project How to Destroy Angels does give him a chance to manifest his downbeat vision in new ways. Muted ambiance and creeping electronica replace the loud drums and guitars of NiN, while Marquieen Maandig steps into the spotlight with her smooth, sensual voice.
YOUTH LAGOON - PELICAN MAN
Trevor Powers draws influences from all over the map, and it's hard to think of music that's been this honest and down to earth in quite awhile. "Pelican Man" combines the humbleness of Animal Collective, the confessional nature of Tune Yards, and the playfulness of Sufjan Steven's The Age of Adz. All the while, the warped, wacky nature of the track suggests Powers might not quite be in the right frame of mind.
DAVID BOWIE - THE STARS (ARE OUT TONIGHT)
Bowie's re-entry into the field was sudden and dramatic, following the surprise announcement of the English rocker's excellent 24th album, The Next Day. The guitar crackles and the rhythm section is smooth, but if there was any question if Bowie is still capable of capturing your attention then it's time to put it to rest. He's still every bit as charismatic and enrapturing as ever, comfortably taking his place as one of rock's elder statesmen.
KVELERTAK - BRUANE BREN
Norwegian hardcore/metal outfit Kvelertak sound like they would be a hell of a fun group to hang with. At least, their music does a great job of giving off that vibe. Lead vocalist Erlend Hjelvik's voice bears similarity to Anders Frieden and Speed from Soilwork, but his band knows how to let their hair down better than almost anyone else. With an abundance of bluesy solos and a shoutalong chorus, Kvelertak have delivered your next soundtrack for getting shitfaced.