Bad News, Sleeper Agent – “Who would want to stay in love with you?” Bitterness never sounded so sweet in this synth-heavy, power pop gem.
Cedar Lane, First Aid Kit – First encountered them through their last disc, The Lion’s Roar, the title track of which might be one of my favorite songs of the past 10 years. The new offering, Stay Gold, is nice, and Cedar Lane is the leader of the pack.
Disco Shit, Cherub – Lighter and more sugary than cotton candy, Disco Shit will challenge you to resist its funky lure.
Don’t Leave Me Dry, Spanish Gold – These throwback rockers deliver the low-key funk.
D.R.E.A.M., Pharoahe Monch feat. Talib Kweli – Two silver-tongued devils rock the mic.
Eye to Eye, Lee Fields & The Expressions – Old school soul, done with sincerity.
Fall in Love, Phantogram – There’s a timelessness to this track, making Fall in Love feel like it would be comfortable among New Wave chart toppers of the 1980s or in coffee houses in 2040.
Guns + Ammunition, July Talk – Picture Nic Cave dueting with Tonya Donnelly in a cocky rock combo.
High & Wild, Angel Wilson – A little bit of Hope Sandoval and Nico in this jangly, ethereal singer-songwriter track.
Indie Cindy, Pixies – A mix of distorted guitars and sweet melodies. Sounds like they never were apart.
Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – Mesmerizing and unique, Young Fathers drop an impossible to shake track that you’ll be thinking about long after the song ends.
Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – A Cool Kid and the funky Chromeo meld wonderfully in this jam.
Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Had the opportunity to see these guys live in May, and the blew me away. An amazing, ass-shakin’ set.
Littlest League Possible, Guided By Voices – Short, sweet, distorted, catchy. GBV’s career summed up in one song.
Little Monster, Royal Blood – Heavy, melodic rock.
Longer Than You’ve Been Alive, Old 97’s – Fun, grouchy and loud, like a good rock ‘n’ roll road song should be.
My Resignation, Besserbitch – Bratty, brash and loud, Besserbitch delivers a crunchy pop punk anthem.
People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sharon’s not wrong, and she sounds even better saying with the Dap Kings in full force behind her.
Sexy Socialite, Chromeo – This cut has some old, skanky, slick Prince-like moments.
Take Away These Early Grave Blues, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Much like Sonic Youth or Akron Family, these guys stretch the boundaries of rock.
Watch You Change, Drowners – “There’s no shoulder cold enough for me.” Breakup song angst done well.
Honorable mention: 27, Passenger; Ain’t So Simple, Protomartyr; American Horror, Speedy Ortiz; Avant Gardener, Courtney Barnett; Blue Moon, Beck; Brand New, Pharrell Williams feat. Justin Timberlake; Canal, RATKING; Chaghaybou, Tinariwen; Different Days, The Men; Dog Bumped, Timmy Barry; Don’t Mess With Me, Brody Dalle; Easy Street, Pete Molinari feat. Barrie Cadogan; Emerald Tuesday, Cibo Matto; Hold On, The Kooks; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; I Wanna Be a Yank, Fucked Up; Jerk Ribs, Kelis; Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Flaming Lips feat. Miley Cyrus and Moby; Never, The Roots feat. Patty Crash; Nights on the Strand, Battleme; Raw Milk, Parquet Courts; Red Water, Diamond Youth; Rollercoaster, Bleachers; Supernova, Ray LaMontagne; Tongues, Joywave and KOPPS; Top Notch, Manchester Orchestra; Uno, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib; We Dare Defend Our Rights, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fire; Work Song, Hozier