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Top MP3s of the Week (1/10)

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cassettes Top MP3s of the Week (1/10)

It’s that time again: the New Year. Publicists are back to work and new songs are to be heard. We’ve already made it clear that we’re stoked for 2014, but we didn’t expect to have such a great batch of tunes so soon. This first Mp3 countdown of the year has major label artists, upstart indie projects, and a variety of different genres, from the southern rock of Drive-By Truckers, to the sophistipop of St. Vincent. That diversity is something we’ll strive to bring you every Friday with this countdown. There are waves of new music released every week, and there’s no way we can write about it all. But we can try to distill that wave into the 10 songs that best represent any given week of the year. We do it in the hope that you might just hear something you like.

10. Flashes – “To Catch a Ghost”

flashes

When listening to shoegaze, it’s not unusual to sense a specter haunting the room. Flashes’ punctual guitar strums and dark post-punk drive evoke that ghost expertly. The track’s patient crescendo envelops interesting instrumentation left and right, launching from its dreamy vocal landscapes to a distorted mecca in its conclusion. Download their self-titled debut for free here–Sam Willett

9. Speedy Ortiz – “American Horror”

Speedy Ortiz

Speedy Ortiz is already following up last year’s Major Arcana with a new EP entitled Real Hair, and latest cut “American Horror” sees frontwoman Sadie Dupuis shifting from breakup laments to “songs that are a lot more introspective — myself dealing with and talking to and making sense of myself.” It sounds like something off an old Merge Records 7-inch, thanks to cranky guitars and Dupuis’ disaffected vocal delivery. Few bands do the ’90s revival thing this well. –Jon Hadusek


8. Krill – “Turd”

Krill

“I had a vision of myself, a turd spinning in flushing water, not going down,” goes the first line of Krill’s savory new single, “Turd”. The guitars and vocal performance are ragged and temperamental — not lo-fi, necessarily, but recorded with the same impassioned spontaneity. Think Superdrag, but more affected. –Jon Hadusek


7. Garden City Movement – “The More You Make It”

garden city movement entertainment

After exploring dreamy electronics with their stunning single “Move On”, Garden City Movement’s next venture seethes along vibrant dance floor dynamics. “The More You Make It” embraces movement rather than work, sparking thoughts like “the more you make it, the lonelier you are.” The schizophrenic sampling and electronic saxophone solo in its bridge break stress from the air. Maybe it’s better to dance more rather than work more. –Sam Willett

6. Damaged Bug – “Eggs at Night”

 Top MP3s of the Week (1/10)

John Dwyer may have hiatus’d Thee Oh Sees and moved from San Fran to L.A., but he hasn’t stopped making music. His latest project, Damaged Bug, is an amalgam of drum machines, minimal techno basslines, and live instrumentation. Single “Eggs at Night” is a far cry from the spiraling guitarwork of Thee Oh Sees, but it’s no less accomplished, with Dwyer putting on a baritone croon over plodding downbeats. With a lot of changes occurring in Dwyer’s life, Damaged Bug appears to be an outlet for more personal, introspective recordings. The full-length LP, Hubba Bubba, is out February 25th via Castle Face. –Jon Hadusek


5. St. Vincent – “Digital Witness”

St Vincent

Similar to her vocal-led “Weekend in the Dust” on Love This Giant, “Digital Witness” pulses ridged synth lines and groovy horn arrangements into St. Vincent’s latest mental mystery. Like many technology critiques, the zany rocker pinpoints how mass media can decompose the beauty behind art. She yearns to confess her doubts but knows that most will inevitably “turn their TV on” as their primary window the world. What stings most is her concluding statement: “won’t someone sell me back to me?” Keep an ear out for more of St. Vincent’s vices on her upcoming self-titled album due February 24th. –Sam Willett

4. Drive-By Truckers – “Pauline Hawkins”

Drive-By-Truckers

Drive-By Truckers are calling their new album, English Oceans (out March 4th via ATO), a return to their Alabama Ass Whuppin’ days of southern garage rock, and lead single “Pauline Hawkins” does share that same live sound of the aforementioned record. Patterson Hood wrote the song about Willy Vlautin’s new novel, The Free, and one of its chief characters, the eponymous Pauline Hawkins. “She had lived through a tough life and had a brutal job,” Hood said, “which caused her to be somewhat closed down in her emotions.” Prime material for another fantastic DBT character study. –Jon Hadusek


3. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – “In Love with Useless”

ASDIG

Even though St. Vincent believes fast-paced technology is distorting our minds, A Sunny Day in Glasgow shows how short attention spans can stimulate a gorgeous array of joyful magic. “In Love with Useless” is one of their zaniest adventures yet, mixing energetic mood swings with dark, overwhelming noise to create a dynamic form of shoegaze. Even though Annie Fredrickson’s lyrics are all but covered, she powers through with an array of charismatic, explorative vocal harmonies. It’s easy to get excited for the band’s next album, hopefully due sometime this year. –Sam Willett

2. ALVVAYS – “Adult Diversion”

alvvays

“Adult Diversion” is a whimsical dream jam and brings “feel-good” to a staggering high. Its lo-fi introduction is deceiving, slowly building excitement with perfectly-sewn guitar arrangements that will sweep you off your feet. Just in case you literally hit the ground, sweet female vocals croon relief with the chorus: “If I should fall, act as though it never happened.” If “Adult Diversion” means embracing your mistakes and being a kid again, Alvvays knocks it out of the park. –Sam Willett


1. The Men – “Pearly Gates”

 Top MP3s of the Week (1/10)

Brooklyn quintet The Men polarized fans with last year’s New Moon, adopting twangy Americana sensibilities in lieu of the catastrophic guitar noise of their early releases. A year of touring that record has worn that sound in well, as their latest single, “Pearly Gates”, is an uproarious barnburner that recalls the chaotic dabblings of Memphis legend Jim Dickinson. For six minutes, The Men abuse the blues scale with slide guitars, harmonicas, and searing feedback as they amble toward a sloppy, horn-laden outro. It’s their strongest recording in a long time (and will be included on the forthcoming LP Tomorrow’s Hitswhich drops March 4th via Sacred Bones). –Jon Hadusek

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