15 Years, Houndmouth – It isn’t hard to imagine a bar full of folks stomping their feet and singing along to this country-tinged rocker.
Baby Britain, Seth Avett and Jessica Leah Mayfield – Avett and Mayfield sound sublime together, and this boozy lament (“Dead soldiers lined up on the table”) is one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs. Match made in heaven.
The Blacker the Berry, Kendrick Lamar – Kendrick doesn’t shy from America’s racism and speaks truth to power.
Bunker Buster, Viet Cong – These guys make good noise. If you like this one, check out their 11+ minute opus, Death.
City Boy Blues, Action Bronson – The more I listen to Bronson’s latest album, Mr. Wonderful, the more I like it. This little burst of neo-blues in the midst of Bronson’s top-shelf hip-hop collection is just one example of why.
Cross the Way, Moon Duo – Fuzzy, trippy stoner rock, somewhere between Jesus and Mary Chain and The Raveonettes.
Hate Street Dialogue, Avener feat. Rodriguez – An infectious groove with dark lyrics resulting in a unique sound.
Hey Darling, Sleater-Kinney – Compact and complex, the signature traits of any great Sleater-Kinney track.
How Could You Babe, Tobias Jesso Jr. – A soulful, plaintive piano ballad that Billy Joel would be proud of.
Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett – Not having seen Courtney Barnett live is an oversight I need to correct, ASAP.
Penny Licks, Lady Lamb – A nifty shot at the sexists out there. The power of both the song and the singer increase as Penny Licks develops.
Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL., 1996), Modest Mouse – Weird Modest Mouse tends to be great Modest Mouse. This is no exception.
Trustful Hands, The Do – These “sentimental animals” craft a groovy, electro-pop gem with a bridge that seems like it could have been lifted from Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
Uptown Funk feat. Bruno Mars and Feel Right feat. Mystikal, Mark Ronson – The power of Uptown Funk is simply undeniable. Feel Right feels like something that could have come off of a classic James Brown album.
Witness, Will Butler – Butler’s sense of humor mixed with the piano-driven power pop he’s peddling results in a pretty sweet tune. I’m not sure Butler should give up his day job with Arcade Fire yet, but his solo debut is worth checking out.
Honorable mention: All is Forgiven, Alekesam; Allie, Belle & Sebastian; Better Man, Leon Bridges; Bitch I’m Madonna, Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj; Don’t Wanna Fight, Alabama Shakes; For You, Genevieve; Go Out, Blur; Going Though Walls, The Do; Institutionalized, Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg; Kelly, I’m Not a Creep, Young Guv; Mantra, Earl Sweatshirt; Melt Me, Hanni El Khatib; Miss Catalina 1992, Buxton; Natural Pearl, Murder By Death; Never Bury the Hatchet, Sons of Texas; No GMO, THEEsatisfaction; Only in America, Action Bronson feat. Party Supplies; Ray Gun, Ghostface Killah feat. DOOM; Rock & Roll is Cold, Matthew E. White; Son of God, Will Butler; These Things I’ve Come To Know, James McMurtry; This World Is Not My Home, Robert Earl Keen; Under a Rock, Waxahatchee