Broken Bells, ”After the Disco”
The indie power duo deliver the American Hustle of songs — all Me Decade grooviness and narrative tension.
London producer William Bevan pulls something mournfully beautiful out of a swirling kaleidoscope of synths and echo-chamber vocals.
Angel Haze, ”Deep Sea Diver”
Over mesmerizing, half-submerged synths, rap’s headline-grabbing agitator ponders “rage-colored lilies” and “building castles for a dead man.” Woo, beach party!
Mø, ”Never Wanna Know”
The Danish songstress works with cool-kid scenemakers like Diplo, but this heavenly throwback is a straight-up girl-group swoon, as yearningly gorgeous as any Shangri-Las classic.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, ”Houston Hades”
Malkmus, sporty as ever at 47, unfurls an affectionate, ultramelodic goof on everyday “ladies” and their “Slim Shadys,” with doo-doo-doos for all.
Hospitality, ”I Miss Your Bones”
Peppy, dark, punky, jammy: Amber Papini and her ramshackle band of Brooklynites do indie four ways, in as many glorious minutes.
James Vincent McMorrow, ”Cavalier”
The bearded young Irishman’s fragile song-poem brings a little Bon Iver, a little James Blake, and a lot of lovely bare-bones falsetto.
Phantogram, ”Fall in Love”
Is the title of the coed New York duo’s stuttering electro lullaby a directive or a warning? We choose both.
St. Vincent, ”Digital Witness”
Artful pixie Annie Clark, solo again after her 2012 album with David Byrne, discovers her inner swagger over a distorted, high-kicking beat.
Sevyn Streeter, ”Sex On The Ceiling”
Get your gravity boots on: The balladress behind 2013’s lovely (no, really) Chris Brown collab “It Won’t Stop” has very athletic bedroom plans.
Warpaint, ”Love Is To Die”
Loving, dying — how bad could they be with a liquid groove like this, and the all-girl gauze-pop band’s fluttering harmonies?
Black Lips, ”Boys in the Wood”
The lo-fi Atlanta rockers know how to make music that sounds like whiskey feels: slow and burn-y and delicious.
Lou Reed, ”Solsbury Hill”
God bless the late master for tearing into Peter Gabriel’s flute-laced ’70s twinkler like a cranky uncle, transforming it into an ugly-beautiful dirge.
Dum Dum Girls, ”Lost Boys and Girls Club”
Aimless goths, prepare to put this wildly slinky, all-black-everything anthem from L.A.’s guitar-slinging Elviras on repeat.
As usual, the Scottish post-rock vets take their time methodically unrolling an epic instrumental ear-bender. Go ahead, take the scenic route.