"Two-Legged Dog"


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(Sub Pop)

A collaboration that sounds like something neither party was likely to come up with on its own. Okay, maybe Climax Golden Twins would have, but this is as distinctive from their work as it is from A Frames'. In either case, their team-up pays real dividends: epic guitar rumble and scrape that seems to commence in the middle of things, as if rising from the swamp and staggering blearily until the amps get audibly overheated before beating a hasty exit. Or: from "I wonder what they're going to do" to "What the fuck was that?" in 10 short minutes.

"The High Road"

by Broken Bells


This, on the other hand, is exactly what you'd expect from a partnership between the Shins' James Mercer and Danger Mouse, meaning really unexciting. Mercer's vocal melody is rounded and cushiony, though not especially compelling, and the wowing '70s synths that poke in during the chorus nudge the laid-back tempo but without making it any less torpid.

"I Need Love"/"I Need Love (Morgan Geist's Love Dub)"

by Hot Toddy feat. Ron Basejam


In absolute terms, "I Need Love," a slo-mo post-disco track by the British producer who also goes by Crazy P(enis), doesn't sound all that '80s. It's not trebly enough; the drums are too controlled; the title phrase doesn't sound like a Barry White sample. But its Lamborghini sheen just barely concealing vocalist Ron Basejam's broken heart certainly feels like the period it sets out to recall, and that's close enough for me. Morgan Geist's B-side remix strips away most of the vocals and adds tinnier drums and a pitched-up keyboard line that expose its guts even further—like a Miami Vice rip-off that's more compelling than the real thing.

"The Splendour"

by Pantha du Prince

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(Rough Trade)

It's something of a misnomer to call "The Splendour" melodic. It's more fragmented than that—a dozen little percussive elements and bell tones that make a seamless whole. Pantha du Prince, the Berlin techno producer born Hendrik Weber, pays so much attention to detail that the track glitters and glistens from a number of angles at once, so that even as everything adds up, the components still seem scattered. Only that makes it sound difficult, and "The Splendour," like the other Pantha du Prince records, is beautifully vivid—beguiling when played soft, hypnotic when played loud, and sumptuous either way.