The Decemberists – The King is Dead – “January Hymn”
The Decemberists chose their name because of their fondness for the eerie aesthetic that goes with the last month of the year. Their latest single captures the solemn, quiet beauty of the season with minimal guitar strumming, and reverb from the keys echoing beneath the mollifying effect of Colin Meloy’s voice. It’s half love song, half lament.
PUJOL – X File on Main St. – “Bonedaddy”
Daniel Pujol repeats “skeleton” in his nasally twang over a simplistic drum-and-bass hybrid in the style of early ’60s pop music, sounding as if Iggy Pop plucked a song from That Thing You Do and put his own vocals over it. It’s infectious enough to make you dance through it and strange enough to make you think, “What the hell was that?” at the end of it.
Turbo Fruits – Where the Stars Don’t Shine – “Where the Stars Don’t Shine”
Thick with pounding percussion like a giant balloon popping, and furious strumming, as if the guitar’s being strangled, this track thunders and blasts for three minutes, in classic rock ‘n roll fashion. It’s nothing new, but well worth your time.
Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday – “Shake Me Down”
Matthew Shultz sounds as if his vocal cords were wiped with sandpaper; they emit a gravelly sweetness that combines with a weepy, bluesy guitar to form the core of this heavy-hearted garage rock ballad. A southern twang and down-home energy reminiscent of The Whigs are part of the instant appeal.
Candi and the Strangers – 10th of Always – “Nico Regrets”
A free download of this dreamy pop number has been floating around, a preview to the Austin, Texas quintet’s new album, which drops in February 2011. Coming on like a modern-day Blondie, it’s a dance song that progresses evenly at mid-tempo while the chill, sultry vocals both charm and disarm.