This week hear an exclusive track from Maximo Park, plus new music from Zion featuring Akon, Young Joc featuring Gorilla Zoe, Wooden Wand, and Rose Kemp

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated April 18, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Download This: An exclusive from Maximo Park

MAXÏMO PARK, ”By the Monument”
This English quintet’s 2005 debut was one of the tightest albums to emerge from the recent post-punk revival, sonically speaking — those tense, rigid tunes felt plotted down to the minutest detail. On their thrilling follow-up, Our Earthly Pleasures (due May 8 in the U.S.), however, the band loosens up immeasurably. This song, which we’re proud to premiere on this side of the Atlantic, finds them positively swinging underneath lead singer Paul Smith’s fragments of evocative imagery: ”Defacing pictures of famous people on the train/Standing by the monument, just waiting for the rain.” (Download it exclusively from

ZION FEAT. AKON, ”The Way She Moves”
Akon’s perpetual chart presence should have been enough to make even the most casual listener tire of his amorous whine over the past few months, but somehow the guy keeps cranking out great tunes. His latest is a fun, breezy duet with Zion, the hook-singing half of Puerto Rican reggaeton stars Zion y Lennox. Expect to hear their bilingual banter — including shout-outs to Shakira and Beyoncé, two fellow straddlers of pop’s cultural divides — blasting from every station on the radio dial by mid-summer, sounding just as hot and catchy as it does today. (Stream it from Zion’s MySpace)

Did Starbucks hire this pair of Atlanta MCs to promote its brand as part of an ingenious viral marketing strategy? Probably not, but their new single might leave you longing for a latte anyway. Joc and Zoe sound like the baddest baristas in history as they rap about hustling customers at ”Starblocks” over an appropriately frothy, energetic beat. Try not to let Zoe’s boast that he sells ”Colombian, and I ain’t talkin’ coffee beans” crash your caffeine buzz. (Stream it from Gorilla Zoe’s MySpace)

James Toth had a deliberately mysterious air about him when he emerged on the indie-folk scene a few years back, calling himself ”Wooden Wand” and recording lo-fi psychedelic freakouts with a band he dubbed ”the Vanishing Voice.” He shifted to a more traditionally song-based style on last summer’s excellent Second Attention; now his upcoming solo album James & The Quiet (due June 12) is being touted as his least obscure release yet. Judging by this teaser track, which surrounds Toth’s typically surreal lyrics with sweet harmonies and clean piano chords, he’s definitely heading in that direction. (Download it from label Ecstatic Peace’s website)

ROSE KEMP, ”Violence”
Thanks to her reputation for captivating live performances as well as her famous parents (two members of venerable folk-rockers Steeleye Span), this young Briton has had a strong following in her native land for some time. Americans can check out Kemp’s music for themselves now that A Hand Full of Hurricanes has become the first of her albums to see U.S. release; the way Kemp’s powerful voice steadily pushes each delicate verse towards a grungy guitar tantrum climax should help her win plenty of new fans here. (Download it from