by Walter Jones
On "I'll Keep On Loving You"/"Living Without Your Love," his DFA debut last May, New Orleans producer Walter Jones fashioned an utterly precise, emotionally charged revamp of circa-'82 synth disco—warm, melancholy, full of unexpected surges even as, structurally speaking, almost nothing changed. The B-side was my single of the year. This is much more casual: brisker tempo, synthesizers floating largely in the mix's middle rather than gliding in the foreground, and a very busy keyboard bass line that busies the track along, which has the paradoxical effect of making it take longer to sink in.
by Corinne Bailey Rae
Critic Chris Molanphy, on Twitter: "So wait, there'll be another Corinne Bailey Rae album? I wasn't sure she was real—thought she was assembled in a lab to seduce Grammy voters." This standout track could have been made in a lab, too, but one that produces snappy mod-pop—not so much fellow Londoners Lily and Amy as early Saint Etienne or Cardigans.
by Dirty Projectors
These two songs are clearly outtakes from Bitte Orca; neither has the concentrated kick that makes "Cannibal Resource" or "Stillness Is the Move" still startling after two dozen plays. But they've still got the skewed charm that makes the album so potent, and their relative sweetness (not to mention their free-download status) works as a bridge into the band's stranger stuff, if that's what you're looking for.
by Mi Ami
The skronky guitar of "Ascending Melody" segues neatly into this headlong shimmy by a San Francisco trio that arose from Dischord's Black Eyes. The groove here is jagged but never stops hurtling, like a messier Vampire Weekend or a harder Gang Gang Dance, up to and including the tweeting synth and bottle-percussion breakdown that, oddly, give the track an extra charge by calming things down for a minute.
(Kill Rock Stars)
Sam Coomes is often lauded for being sardonic, and he's good at that, but what he's really good at is wailing. After tightening the screws for three verses, he finally lets it out: "Away! Awaaaaay! Awaaaa-aaaay!" Then his guitar follows suit. On the final verse, he sounds like he can't wait to do it again, and does.