This speed round comes at a good time. The first quarter of 2010 has me more excited about music than I've been in a while, and that's largely due to rock. I looked more or less askance at last year's indie consensus, but so far this year I'm on board. I've yapped about Yeasayer and Spoon here before; I wouldn't have picked the latter's "Written in Reverse" (Merge) as a single, or Vampire Weekend's "Cousins" (XL), but they're good anyway. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' "The Mighty Sparrow" (Matador), on the other hand, is bracing, starting with high-wire guitar and vocal lines and getting its strength as it eases up.
A handful of scuzzier 7-inches have also grabbed me. Best Coast's "Something in the Way" (PPM) doesn't just run the Beach Boys' woo-woo backing vocals and sunny disposition through a bunch of transistor fuzz: It's totally rousing, thanks to Bethany Cosentino's soaring, nasal lead vocal. She puts Everly Brothers YouTube videos on the band's websites for good reason. Hanoi Janes' "Across the Sea"/"Skeleton Girl" (Captured Tracks) is jaunty nautical guitar chime backed with a song that runs more on chomp-fuzz chords, with the B-side winning; Beach Fossils' "Daydream"/"Desert Sand" (Captured Tracks) is more deliberate, guitar parts more sculpted (with hints of surfy tremolo), the vocals more sonorous (and male). Let No Age's "Depletion" (from the band's February 8 session on Daytrotter .com) serve as a coda—a digital-only rave-up that gets more ferocious in passing.
Dance music's place in the indiesensus (sorry) seems assured as well. Joy Orbison's The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow EP (Aus) is the dubstep champ's spac-iest work yet: poignant title cut, Actress's spacey electro remix, and the soul moves of "So Derobe." His London colleague Subeena favors keyboards that sound as much like celestas as they do aliens on "Picture"/"Spectrums" (Opit), but she's good at both, as well as the thunderous low end. Gui Boratto's free web track "Telecaster" (MP3) is tech-house that makes most of its minimal ilk (including Boratto's last album) sound merely shrunken, thanks to a sinuous Fender guitar line. It slots in neatly with the languid nu-Balearic feel of DJ Kaos's "Kosmischer Ruckenwind"/"Rough Side" (Clone Loft Supreme). It's not nearly as yacht-rock as Kaos's Tiedye-remixed "Love the Nite Away" from last year, but it's plenty beachy nevertheless. It's getting to be about that time.