PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND - AUGUST NIGHTSSip from a chilled glass of wine as you enjoy this classy, brass laden piece of throwback jazz. Director David Jaffe has organized a very smoky, 50s sounding piece that tempers the sound of clarinet with soft horn and trumpet to forge a concoction that sounds as elegant as it does nostalgic.
KA - OUR FATHERBrooklyn rapper Ka is pensive and thoughtful, but also delivers gritty street realities. Bearing resemblance to Nas and The Wu Tang Clan, Ka reflects the great heritage of the New York rap scene. He proves he's no lightweight on "Our Father," a dark mafia-esque tale of blood and revenge.
FUCK BUTTONS - BRAINFREEZEThis sounds like something playing from an alien spaceship's boombox, mixed with a little Crystal Method, and topped off with something I can't describe. I can't decide what I like best -- the urgent, industrial drumming, the demented seagull sound, or the fact that this song sounds like it's ready to swallow the world.
EARL SWEATSHIRT - CHUM"Chum" is a dream coated nugget of philosophical introspection, and the most compelling cut from his major label debut. A moody, moving piano beat backs Earl as he explores his relationship with his estranged father, his kinship with Odd Future cohort Tyler, the Creator, and the pressures of delivering in the music industry.
TY SEGALL - SLEEPERGarage rock wunderkid Ty Segall changes his approach a bit on his latest album, spearheaded by this acoustic, folk based number. Segall gives a powerful emotionally charged performance as he weaves his tale of loss and regret, yearning for days when things were better.
PORCELAIN RAFT - IT AIN'T OVERItalian musician Mauro Remeddi turned heads last year with his eclectic blend of electronic indie pop, and now looks to show he's more serious on his sophomore release. "It Ain't Over" is a taut and driving tune that sees Remeddi turning out some of his most delicate and yearning vocals of his career.
FOREST SWORDS - FRIEND YOU WILL NEVER LEARNSubtlety is key for UK producer Matthew Barnes, the man behind Forest Swords. This eight minute closing suite from his excellent Engravings album feels like it's being broadcast from a faraway smoky place, as a myriad of vocal samples, piano keys, and abstract synth patterns drift towards you from out of the mist.
NINE INCH NAILS - VARIOUS METHODS OF ESCAPETrent Reznor dialed back the intensity on the latest Nine Inch Nails album, and the result is sleek mood pieces such as this. The verses are buzzy, slinking, and subdued, but the chorus is a force of nature. Clanking guitar combines with Trent's impassioned vocal to create a concoction that will knock you on your ass.
NEKO CASE - MANCrunching power pop chords and blistering solos carry this driving anthem as alt-rock goddess Neko Case busts our her tale of badassery. When she declares, "You didn't know what a man was/until I showed you," it's hard to decide whether to consider her sexy or to be terrified of her.
JANELLE MONAE - DANCE APOCALYPTICMonae has always had a silly side, and it is in fine form on this track. On the surface it comes across as a fun, dancey number decked out with 60s girlpop vocals, but look deeper and you'll see an apocalyptic tale complete with zombies marching in your front yard. I cannot get this song out of my head.
ARCTIC MONKEYS - WHY'D YOU ONLY CALL ME WHEN YOU'RE HIGH?The veteran British rockers return here with one of the most tantalizing cuts from their acclaimed new album A.M. Alex Turner's smooth, sensual croon drifts over a grooving, R&B style beat before ending in a hazy wash of alt-rock goodness in the final stanzas.
CHVRCHES - SCIENCE/VISIONS
Acclaimed Scottish synth pop trio Chvrches may be getting lots of attention for their hit singles, but don't sleep on this tune. It builds and churns as it goes along, mixing a sinister, underwatery sounding synth riff with Lauren Mayberry's urgent vocals to craft a track that delivers a solid punch from beginning to end.