"All Time Low"

by Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle


This is quiet but has real bite: The brief guitar solo is acerbic like Neil Young, and the tune drifts without losing its way. Carolyn Mark tends to sound especially good in duets with Neville Quinlan of Toronto alt-country band NQ Arbuckle: on 2005's chilling "Fireworks" ("Come on, you coward/Burn my schoolhouse down") and on this lustrous rumination. "You can't get dinner in Reno/In a place that ain't a casino" is a sardonic line, but at the end of the choruses it hangs in the air with a sense of threat as well as resignation.

"Party in the USA"

by Miley Cyrus


I don't hate teen-pop on principle. I don't even hate TV stars who sing on principle. But, Christ, is this trash. Flog the "Gosh, look at all these famous people I'm more famous than" card some more, Miley, it's really becoming. Slather on some more Auto-Tune while you're at it: That way we can know how much "realer" you are than the Angelenos you're in such awe of and how truly you belong in real ol' Nashville. "The DJ plays my song and I feel all right": That makes one of us.

"Between Us"

by Royal P

(Rhythm Division)

The "P" in UK funky-house producer Royal P's name stands for "Princess," but it could mean "percolating," because that's what this track never stops doing. Royal P is a vocalist as well as a producer, and here she cuts up a few of her own phrases as assuredly as she makes the organ glide and the beats click and pop.

"Lil' Freak"

by Three 6 Mafia feat. Webbie


The background vocal says it best: "Eh. Eh. Eh."

"Late Bloomer"

by High Places

Support The Stranger

(Post Present Medium)

A 12-minute mood piece, on the A side of a split 12-inch (the B contains two tracks by Soft Circle), whose long creepy-crawly ambient intro and outro seemed at first to mask the hazy, gaga percussion-and-drone jam that occupies the track's middle. I'm a fan of High Places' self-titled 2008 album in part because its muddy beauties are brief and to the point, so this seemed excessive at first. But once I acclimated to the mood, I grew to like all of it plenty. Still, the long middle is the prize, expanding on the group's dubby bedroom globalism without diluting it a drop.