"Blood and Thunder" by Mastodon
I downloaded this song purely because of the title (the same reason I downloaded "Friends are Evil" by Jesu). My friend Becky was right: brutal is beautiful. Not that I'm sure she would be into this or anything -- she and her ex, Justin, were into some pretty heavy shit and would blast Therion in the kitchen while making pesto. They were the ones who lent me Reign in Blood by Slayer, which started me on the path towards righteousness.
"Nausea" by Beck
"I'm a seasick sailor on a ship of noise!" Man, it's good to know that Beck is still able to crank out a hit (in my world at least). His last LP, Guero, didn't have any great tracks, but it was still worth it for all the kick-ass remixes it yielded (check out the Gameboy version of "E-Pro," or the Boards of Canada and DNTEL remixes of "Broken Drum"). This is off his latest release, The Information, and it's the kind of song that can make the whole world seem like a catwalk - it just makes you feel so cool.
"Fickle Cycle" by Animal Collective
The Talking Heads told everyone to stop making sense, and I don't think anyone does that better than Animal Collective. I have no idea what this song is about or why they keep screaming "fickle cycle!" at the end, but it's a whole lot of fun. It's also a testament to why more people should explore their public libraries, since that's where I discovered it. (Note: for some reason, on iTunes, this song and "Must Be Treeman" have their song titles interchanged.)
"No Norte Da Saudade" by Gilberto Gil
Most of us think of Luther Vandross and D'Angelo when we hear the word "slow-jam," but every culture's got 'em. Whether it's the brooding Bollywood songs of Mohammed Rafi or the smutty voice of Serge Gainsbourg, everyone in the world has something to put on when they're trying to be romantic. This is tropicalia's version of it, sung by a guy who's probably better known for Brazilian concert rave-ups like "Palco." The vocals are really echoey and hypnotic, and by the time it's over, you won't even need the forget-me-nows. (If you don't get that last part, it's time to start watching Arrested Development.)
"Winter in the Hamptons" by Josh Rouse
Me and my friend Anna were lamenting the other week how long it's been since we went to a concert, let alone to a memorable one (my last time was MIA, and that doesn't count cause I was living in Texas). I decided afterwards to splurge on a ticket to see this guy in Brooklyn in late April. I discovered his music through the soundtrack to Lovely and Amazing. He had this breezy little song on it called "Parts and Accessories," which I especially liked because of all things that it wasn't: ironic, self-conscious, self-indulgent, or maudlin. That kind of made him unlike any songwriter I'd ever heard before. If you're dreaming of sunny climes, I recommend checking him out.