The Blue Rondos – “Little Baby”

Produced by Joe Meeks, this and a handful of others were all this short-lived British band put out in the early ‘60s. Still, “Little Baby” is note-perfect: very much a bouncy pop song, yet ever so slightly bent. (official site – watch for autoplaying music)

Cue – “Wedding Song for Living Things and Dead Things”
Wedding Song

This energetic instrumental has the feel of a frenzied, multi-species jig. The combination of piercing violin, crashing percussion, and noisy guitars could easily have been muddled but it’s done well here, especially the quiet moments that have you waiting for the return of the jangly fury. (myspace)

Imprints – “The Sea & Electricity”
Data Trails

The sparkling conclusion of a lush, dark, and beautiful album, this track’s cohesive sound stands in stark contradiction to the fact that the whole LP was recorded over just three days. Another excellent record from Serein. (bandcamp)

Teebs – “Shoouss Lullaby”
E s t a r a

The incongruity of this song being played loudly at a nearby dive bar caused it to stick in my memory. Its warbling, jangly meandering is a good primer for the rest of the record – and indeed, the Teebs discography. (Ninja Tune)

La Luz – “Sleep Till They Die”
Weirdo Shrine

Weirdo Shrine is one of the most end-to-end-solid records I’ve heard in a long time. The band’s surfy psychedelia is equally good in quiet and explosive modes, always tonally consistent but never repetitive. The closing three tracks (not distant from this opening track; the album is a tight 31 minutes) demonstrate this especially well, so listen all the way through. (bandcamp)

Elvis Depressedly – “A Bible in a Bath of Bleach”
Mickey’s Dead

A minimal yet tone-rich album that sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom, Mickey’s Dead finds a middle ground somewhere between Sparklehorse and Midlake circa Bamnan and Silvercork. And despite the sad-sack trappings of the band’s name, the album’s name, and the song’s name, this isn’t some weepy tale of woe. (NB: be prepared to turn down the volume for the wash of distortion at the end) (bandcamp)

Bing & Ruth – “And Then It Rained”
City Lake

One of the most melancholy tracks I’ve heard in ages, “And Then It Rained” is part of a very surprising spread of music offered by this incredibly talented group. Their two ambient/classical/noise albums are equal parts Stars of the Lid, The Wind-Up Bird, and perhaps Hauschka, and entirely worth your time. (artist page)

Debbie Wiseman – “The Smallest Compliment”
Wolf Hall

I was struck by this little lute (?) and harpischord suite whilst enjoying the excellent BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall, particularly the second movement and its spare, shadowy plucking. (artist page)

Briana Marela – “Friend Tonight”
All Around Us

This Seattle singer-songwriter worked with Sigur Rós’s producer on All Around Us, and it shows – or rather, sounds. Gauzy, pitch-shifted, multi-layered vocals, reverse echoes, and muted, and heartbeat-esque beats are found all the way through — so if that’s not your style, keep on walking. The quieter moments strike a Julianna Barwick tone, while the poppier songs (like “Friend Tonight”) lean more toward the Hundred Waters/Sylvan Esso side. (jagjaguwar)

Battle of Mice – “At the Base of the Giant’s Throat”
A Day of Nights

This post-metal group’s creditable but unremarkable compositions are merely a noisy nest in which to cradle the unique voice of Julie Christmas. Switching between childlike whisper, death-metal scream, and breathy song in the recitation of lyrics rich in darkly poetic imagery, Christmas packs a frisson-inducing wallop. The 911 call that forms the coda of this song, apparently the climax of the spectacularly dysfunctional relationship behind the album, had me hovering over the pause button in terror. ACTUAL TRIGGER WARNING. “Sleep and Dream” is another, less disturbing standout. (neurot)