Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr 1. Drake – “10 Bands” (Cash Money) “10 Bands,” one of best tracks on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, features all the staples of a Drake classic: a double-barbed hook, crisp percussion, and shout outs to corporate sponsors (see shameless Nike FuelBand advertisement at 2:10). Product placement never sounded this good. 2. Dan Deacon – “Learning to Relax” (Domino) “Learning to Relax” is the very essence behind the creation of Dan Deacon’s newest full-length effort Gliss Riffer. The stuttering jubilation and veiled emotive release do borrow from Arcade Fire (whom Deacon was supporting when he decided to record this album in hotel rooms), but Deacon certainly marks the track with his indelible charm. A self-described stress-addict, the process behind this single, and the larger effort, allowed the Baltimore-based producer to focus on his eclectic inner-monologue instead of 20 extra musicians coming in and out of his recording studio. 3. Blur – “Go Out” (Parlophone) These are heady times for fans of Damon Albarn. Within the last month, not only has artist Jamie Hewlett confirmed that he and Albarn are planning a return of Gorillaz, but Blur has also announced the impending release of their first new album in 12 years. You’ll have to wait until April 27th for The Magic Whip; all the more reason to work first single “Go Out” into your heavy rotation in the interim. 4. Pinkshinyultrablast — “Holy Forest” (Shelflife) Diabetics should probably steer clear of this Russian shoegaze group’s newest single, it’s as delightfully sugary as they come. Angular guitars and charming keyboards lead off, but soon full guitar squalor cocoons the song in cotton candy fluff. It’s the high of a sugar rush all packed into a tight four minutes. 5. Lisa Hartmann – “’Cause I Knew” (N/A) The films of director Bruno Dumont are known for a Bressonian austerity with a dash of Grand Guignol shock value, but he surprised the arthouse crowd with a TV miniseries that’s not only a black comedy, but a coming of age movie – and with a catchy single on iTunes. “’Cause I knew” sounds like the cover of a tween angst song you’ve never heard before, but it’s an original I can’t get out of my head. Lisa Hartman’s awkward performance channels the installation videos of artist Rineke Dijkstra, capturing that tantalizing stage of adolescence when your mature voice is in sight but just out of reach. 6. Pink Floyd- “Nervana” (Parlophone) The hard rock track “Nervana” both sounds like Pink Floyd and shows a daring direction that they could have (and perhaps should have) ventured into had they continued beyond this swan song. This is a uniquely catchy guitar based jam track that could only have been better with words added. Like the best and most unique of Pink Floyd, this song leaves you wanting more. 7. James McMurtry – “Copper Canteen” (Complicated Game) In the age of bro country, one could be forgiven for hearing an opening line like “Honey don’t you be yelling at me when I’m cleaning my gun” and assuming what follows to be a horrific bubbas, trucks and 2nd Amendment screed. But in the literary hands of James McMurtry, that line sets up a striking and sympathetic portrait of small town life in the upper Midwest. “Copper Canteen” is only one example of McMurtry’s virtually unparalleled storytelling prowess on his remarkable new album, Complicated Game. 8. Father John Misty – “Heart-Shaped Box” (Self-released) It takes some balls to cover a Nirvana song, let alone stripping down one of their most beloved tunes into a solo acoustic number. Father John Misty’s Josh Tillman certainly doesn’t seem to lack self-assurance, and as someone who doesn’t appear to shy away from attention, he picked a good way to get noticed. Somehow, despite having none of Cobain’s inherent vocal edge or cutting guitar behind him, Tillman digs deep within himself to the point “Heart-Shaped Box” comes across nearly as inside him as it was Kurt. 9. Sufjan Stevens – “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” (Asthmatic Kitty) A song as painful as it is beautiful, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” finds the artist best known for portraits of other places and people turning his lens on his own grief following his mother’s death. For longtime Sufjan Stevens fans hearing the Michigan-born storyteller whisper-sing the words “Fuck me, I’m falling apart”, as he describes trying and failing to use vice to fill his void, will damn near rip your heart out. No one is spared grief in this life but few capture it in song in as haunting a manner as Stevens does here.