A new year of Jams is upon us! Let's commence.
Sky Ferreira - "Lost In My Bedroom"
We begin 2013 with a trio of gems that manage to be dreamy without sacrificing momentum. The first comes from Ferreira, a teen pop refugee-turned-blog star poised to turn a big 2012 into a huge 2013. I never quite latched on to her single "Everything Is Embarrassing," but the gurgling surge of "Lost In My Bedroom" grabbed me instantly.
The xx - "Sunset (Jamie xx Edit)"
In which the UK's breathy, sometimes breathtaking minimalist twee/R&B triad lets its prodigious producer rework one of the best songs from last year's Coexist. This "Sunset" edit isn't Jamie xx's best work (The Fader recommends his work for Alicia Keys' latest record), but it's still utterly pleasant for kicking back on this Friday afternoon. Speaking of breakout producers...
Ryan Hemsworth - "Colour and Movement"
Didn't even realize Hemsworth had sampled The Notwist's gorgeous "Consequence" for this equally gorgeous Clams Casino-style dreamscape until the very end. This is only the latest of many wondrous tweaks the Canadian producer has graced us with lately. Dude should be on your radar in 2013.
Eat Skull - "Space Academy"
My favorite Eat Skull song, "Stick To the Formula," is crackling and aggressive. "Space Academy," the lead single from the Portland lo-fi band's forthcoming III, is on the more free-flowing, spaced-out side of the garage punk continuum. The album drops Feb. 19 on Woodsist.
Azealia Banks - "BBD"
Seems like Angel Haze is the current leader in the race for hipster rap blog hype queen (of the moment), but Azealia reasserts herself at year's beginning with the EDM-charged burner "BBD." She's also firing back with more direct forms of warfare. "BBD" is not from Banks' proper debut album Broke With Expensive Taste, which is coming out later this year sometime.
Pulp - "After You"
Aboard the S.S. Coachella, legendary Britpop combo Pulp hopped in the studio with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy to put the finishing touches on a single they started writing more than a decade ago. "If you need to be naked/ That's alright by me," Jarvis Cocker croons breathily. This sounds exactly like the song you'd expect Pulp and James Murphy to record on a cruise ship, so that's great.
Frank Ocean - "Wise Man"
So Frank Ocean wrote a song for "Django Unchained," but Quentin Tarantino couldn't find the right scene for it. Too bad, but at least Frank didn't seem to mind. And now we get to hear the song, which is as gorgeous as you'd hope, a thousand pounds of intensity simmering under the most subdued funk guitar loop known to man.
Born Ruffians - "With Her Shadow"
I've always loved Born Ruffians' yelping, yowling take on frayed-nerves post punk, but it's certainly been a case of diminishing returns. Now it seems they've decided to sound like Vampire Weekend instead, which, for one song at least, is working out. "With Her Shadow" comes from a forthcoming release on Paper Bag Records.
Low - "Plastic Cup"
The first song from Low's upcoming The Invisible Way is a lovely but confusing little story starts with a former(?) stoner cheapskate getting drug-tested, then zooms in on the plastic cup collecting the pee, then zooms out to its excavation 1,000 years in the future. Lovely little song from a lovely little album coming March 19 on Sub Pop.
Local Natives - "Heavy Feet"
Every song I'm hearing from this L.A. indie rock mainstay's sophomore album is making me think it's going to be a giant leap beyond the first one. Hummingbird is out Jan. 29 via Frenchkiss, and the band plays the Newport on March 26.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - "We No Who U R"
The first single from Cave's Push the Sky Away retreats from the aggression of Grinderman back into his more maudlin side. Fittingly, its video is visually quiet too.
Gunplay - "No Church"
Not sure why it took so long for insanely talented, insanely troubled and possibly just insane hip-hop wild man Gunplay to rap over a song by his spiritual ancestor DMX, but now he's done it. "No Church" lacks the hook power of shouting one's initials ("D! M! X!"), but in every other way it measures up to the original. Here's hoping Gunplay's legal troubles don't keep him from releasing lots more music this year.