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)

Tennis – “Never Work For Free”
Ritual in Repeat

If this record had released in June rather than September, “Never Work For Free” would have been the Song of the Summer, no question. It’s Madonna-tier Pop with, as you can see, a capital P. You can’t unhear it, and you won’t want to. (insound)

Radar Brothers – “Change College of Law”

The sleepy, strummy crooning of Radar Brothers has been on my playlist ever since 1999’s The Singing Hatchet, but Eight may as well be from a different band (15 years will do that). The rich, shifting phases and varied tones of this track, to say nothing of the almost Grails-like crashing drums and descending bass, were a huge and pleasant surprise, and there are plenty of others worth listening to on the album. (merge records)

White Lung – “Down It Goes”
Deep Fantasy

I’ve been waiting for years for someone to pick up where Hot Snakes left off, and White Lung gets closer to doing so than any band I’ve encountered. Savages got close, but their sound was never desperate enough, and their singer was clearly going for something. Blood on the Wall had some of the attitude, but their best songs were their quietest. This is fast, raw, and brutal, approaching speed metal levels on “I Believe You” but generally striking a happy (and furious) medium with tracks like “Face Down” and this one. Bonus points for having no song reach 3 minutes. (insound)

Dntel (ft. Lali Puna) – “I’d Like to Know”
Dumb Luck

This collection of collaborations is a cheerier affair than suggested by the pessimistic title track (the only one not involving a second artist), and a consistently surprising one as well. Lali Puna meshes naturally with Dntel’s fuzzy electronics and ends up sounding like Ms. John Soda played at 33RPM, while the (excellent) Jenny Lewis track sounds more like a sadistic remix than . “I’d Like to Know” feels extremely carefully crafted, yet at the same time, its 3 minutes and 47 seconds melt away like cotton candy until the sadly brief little breakdown at the very end reminds you what you’re listening to. (insound)

The Drift – “Know Certain Future (Part Two)”
Travels in Constants Volume 19

You’re cheating by not listening to the 17-minute part one, but I think this jazzy odyssey hits its stride here. A bit of horn wankery aside, the driving drums and ominous bass line make it sound like the backing track for ritual dance performed by rhythm-minded demons. (temporary residence)

Kid Loco – “Cocaine Diana”
Kill Your Darlings

A college-era download (recommended by god knows who) comes up on shuffle now and then and sends me down memory lane, scrambling to think of the good times I had when this track was cutting edge. Well, it never really was, but it’s a warm, pleasant guitar/electronic track with a couple great moments that guarantee it’ll be sticking around on my playlist for another 12 or 13 years at least.