03.25.2012

New Music: Best Songs of 2012…So Far

 Every week on my radio show, “Pitchfork vs. StereoBear,” I round up the best new music the internet has to offer. Stepping into the black hole vortex that is the world wide web is, needless to say, daunting– clicking through countless SoundClouds and RSS feeds, shuffling back and forth between multiple Google Chrome tabs, switching between “play” and “pause,”  sensory overload is imminent and indeed inevitable. But through the sonic sludge, true winners emerge. Here’s what you should be listening to to start your 2012 off right:

1. Porcelain Raft – Unless You Speak From Your Heart

Jangly, Italian power-pop with a MGMT Oracular Spectacular-era stomp. With a chorus made up of entirely of whirring noises layered seamlessly into singer Mauro Remiddi’s pitch-perfect “whooo-oooh’s,” this track off the album Strange Weekend, released in January by Secretly Canadian, is sure to keep you satisfied throughout the summer.

2. Moonface – Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips

In the wake of Wolf Parade’s demise (R.I.P.), both lead singers Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug have taken on darkly catchy synth-pop side projects, Boeckner with Handsome Furs and Krug with Moonface. At only more than slightly two and a half minutes long, “Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips,” manages to pack in a span of instruments- – electric guitars, synthesizers, drums, keys and bass. The thread that ties them all together are Krug’s distinct vocals and lyrics. This song, recorded in conjunction with the Finnish band Sinaii, comes off of Moonface’s upcoming second album Heartbreaking Bravery, to be released in April by Jagjaguwar.

3. Julia Holter – Goddess Eyes II

Conservatory- trained pianist Julia Holter makes music that is beautiful, pure and simple. Maybe not classically beautiful, but surely haunting, ethereal, delicate and moving. With a backing track and a voice that would make Annie Lennox jealous, the whole song swells and then rises up again, despite only consisting of probably four lines of lyrics (don’t ask me to count, the song is almost 7 minutes long). If you like Kate Bush, Grimes or Bjork, I highly recommend you check out Holter’s blend of inspired chamber-pop.

4. Ava Luna – Wrenning Day

After I found their EP Ice Levels on some random corner of the Internet, the genre listing for Ava Luna’s thrashing “Wrenning Day” curiously came up on my iTunes under the label “Soul-Punk.” While certainly quite the melange of musical styles, this categorization is actually strangely apt.  Juxtaposing a thick bass line over back-up singers Becca Kauffman, Anna Sian and Felicia Douglass’s angelic harmonies, the song reaches crescendo with lead vocalist Carlos Hernandez’s outright wailing. Recently signed to Infinite Best Recordings, Ava Luna are without a doubt some of the most creative, energetic musicians performing today. See them live if you get the chance!

5. Usher – Climax

If you live in Fairchild House, you might have heard Usher’s unmistakable falsetto emanating through the halls of the third floor on what unfortunately appears to be an embarrassing regular basis. Uh, that was me….. Sorry I’m not sorry but this song is just too good. Partially arranged by classical music wunderkind and honorary member of Grizzly Bear, Nico Muhly, “Climax” is a perfectly constructed pop song, replete with a catchy bridge, chorus, verse, and you guessed it, climax. I am not kidding you, this song is actually addictive. If you disagree with me about this (there has been a fair amount of controversy among my friends recently as to whether this or “Burn” is actually the best Usher song, so you’re allowed), fine. If not…. you know what music to play next time I invite you to my room.

-Julia Pressman (Listen to “Pitchfork vs. StereoBear” Fridays at 9am!)

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