20 Songs To Download Now!

20 New Songs For The iPod

Autumn is in full-force right now as the days are quickly getting shorter and colder. But before the bustling of the holiday season arrives, take a minute to catch up on some tunes from the last couple of months. Sweden is in this fall as several bands from this country have peaked through into the States. The Shins make a return to form, and some new artists on the verge will appease. So, drink some cider and bundle up–it’s time to give your i-Pod some fuel.

1. “Turn On Me” – The Shins
Zach Braff ruined a couple of Shins song with Garden State, but luckily the band offered a lot more substance. Their third full-length, Wincing the Night Away, isn’t due until next year, but with the power of downloading, songs have already leaked. James Mercer’s writes thoughtful and poetic lyrics on a love gone bad. The uptempo song begins with ruminations on being fond of someone, then inevitably transforms into hating someone. At least the song ends on an optimistic note: “The worst part is over/Now get back on that horse and ride.” Once again, the Shins verify why they’re so goddamn good. Ah, already something to anticipate for next year.

2. “Young Folks” Peter Bjorn and John
Opening with whistling and syncopated bongos, “Young Folks” from the album Writer’s Block features a duet between Swedes Peter Moren and Victoria Bergsman of the now defunct Concretes. The track is upbeat and based in 60’s pop perfection. An anthemic love diddy, the singers crisscross musing on relationships: “And we don’t care about the old folks/all we care about is talking about me and you.” Not only does this vie for one of the best tracks to include whistling, but also one of the best songs of the year. The rest of Writer’s Block exudes shoegaze explorations and bristling beats. “Young Folks” is just the beginning.

3. “Wolf Like Me” TV on the Radio
New York group follow up 2004’s Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes with a more exhilarating record on Return to Cookie Mountain. Back again with their noise/art rock genre, singer Tunde Adebimpe dips his toe into a fast paced and tribal-esqe adventure with dancey, pulsating beats and jazz elements leading up to transforming into a wolf. Half way through the song, the beats slow down to catch up, then explode with raging rhythms as the vocals get sucked up in the noise. “We’re howlin’ forever, oh, oh.”

4. “Something Of An End” My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden studied under fellow Michigan musician Sufjan Stevens tutelage and the result is equally fascinating. Now residing in NYC, her classically trained background enhances tracks on her new album, Bring Me the Workhorse. She immediately gains Tori Amos comparisons with her bold and dramatic vocals. Crashing guitars and dark strings chime in on the chorus: “Heaven and hell came crashing down/it was beautiful and terrible.” In the end, Worden resolves her demons. 

5. “All Fires”  Swan Lake
Swan Lake isn’t just a ballet—it’s also a band. Comprised of Canadian’s Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Casey Mercer (Frog Eyes) and Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade), Swan Lake becomes a hipster’s wet dream of an ubergroup. They’re debut album Beast Moans drops in a couple of weeks and if this track is any indication of what the album is going to be like, then the band has lived up to the hype. The song contains  minimal guitars, pounding drums, keyboards, Krug’s distinctive trembling vocals, and a strong narrative weaving throughout. “All fires have to burn alive to live.” Indeed.
6. “Hang Me Up To Dry” Cold War Kids
Based outside L.A in Fullerton, this quartet has been playing together for two years without much press, but with the advent of music blogs, a couple of their singles caught fire in the summer.  Lead singer Matt Aveiro sounds akin to Walkmen frontman Hamiltion Leithauser with his disaffected vocals, but that’s where the comparisons end. Their debut full-length, Robbers and Cowards just dropped.“Hang Me Out To Dry” is the ultimate fuck you song:  “Now hang me up to dry/you’ve rung me out too many times,” he shouts drawing out the syllables. The song glides along until the chorus when Aveiro shouts his dissent.

7. “The Room Got Heavy” Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo is a legend in the indie rock realm and on their latest album, the longwinded titled I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, the band improve upon their last couple of records and demonstrate why they reign. Heavy bongos play throughout with an occasional burst of keyboard and Georgia Hubley’s monotone delivery. Repetitive drones and organ filter in with sound effects coalescing into a mélange of sound added as the song goes in. Yo La Tengo know how to rock and how to form sonically pleasing music.

8. “Loose Talk” the Purrs
From Seattle come the pop/alt country quartet the Purrs. They released their debut full-length last year, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of after continual rotation on KEXP. They return this year with a self-titled album releasing “Loose Talk” off it. The track transmits jangly pop with a lot of infectious “sha la la las” and Kinks vibes. Lead singer Jima sings about living in a dead end town and wanting to get out. At the chorus, the song picks up full-throttle and rocks out into oblivion.

9. “X is for Kisses” Adem
British singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Adem Ilhan, or simply Adem, wrote the album Homesongs in 2004 as a one man band. He returns with his second record, Love and Other Planets featuring lo-fi folk inklings. “X is For Kisses” maintains a twinkling xylophone throughout the melancholy tingled track. Melodic and dreamy, Adem’s hushed vocals sing about, well, love and the primal need to be touched and to feel connected to someone.

10. “Anti-Anti” Snowden
A plethora of catchy “ohhs ohhhs” and the lyric “inebriation is revelation” opens Atlantic based quartet song “Anti-Anti.” From the beginning, it’s a non-stop ride through joyous melodies that makes the listener want to clap along. Despite the title, there’s nothing negative about the sound. The bridge slows things down with heavier basslines then it kicks up again with mushed up vocals from Jordan Jeffares. Fun and catchy, it lingers in the brain for a while.

11. “Stuck Between Stations” The Hold Steady
In the past couple of years, The Hold Steady has become a voice for the youth of America. Last year’s Separation Sunday landed on several best of the year lists and their new one, Boys And Girls In America, will be no exception. Craig Finn’s acquired taste vocals sound like Bruce Hornsby or that other Bruce… Springsteen. An electric guitar is strummed, piano is cued, and Finn sings: “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together,” setting the stage for a record filled with stories on fictional characters. The band take Springsteen’s penchant for narratives on the ennui of youth and put a fresh, rocking spin on it.

12. “There Goes My Outfit” The Dears
The Dears’ No Cities Left from two years ago contained sweeping orchestral numbers, but on their new disc, Gang of Losers, they remove some of the theatrics to be replaced with dulcet rock harmonies. Singer Murray Lightburn reflects upon life and religion: “I found a new connection/being born is really such a chore,” he sings. It’s a relatable track for anyone who’s been defeated by life. The anthem grows stronger as the song goes on and so does the drama: “I got mud and blood all over my face.” Na, na, nas in effect.

13. “Special” Mew
The Danish quartet featuring lead singer Jonas Bjerre released their first album, Frengers, in 2003. Three years later, they have become a much buzzed about band. Mew generate aural soundscapes, moody with a modern rock vibe. In a recent interview Mew commented on the name of their album stating “kite” refers to something that’s both fragile and soaring–two words that best describe this song and all their others.

14. “Enough To Get Away” Joseph Arthur
Joseph Arthur gets compared to Leonard Cohen because of his half spoken and half sung introspective vocals. Cohen’s influences are evident on Arthur’s fifth album, Nuclear Daydream. A shaking tambourine channels into dulcet harmonies and Arthur’s ramblings on escapism. He sings about the mundanities of life evitably wanting to run away from it and make things better. Twangy guitar solos and Arthur’s breathy vocals complement the folk-tinged and pretty track.

15. “When You’re Away From Me” Favourite Sons
After a couple of well-received EPs, this New York band finally release their debut full-length, Down Beside Your Beauty. Ken Griffin begins: “Dead bodies piling up like garbage in the sun,” an unexpected yet intriguing line to begin such a buoyant song. The track electrifies with constant guitars, Griffin’s baritone voice, and his candid lyrics: “When you’re away from me, I feel so sad.” Some of their other tracks on the record contrast with earnestness, but here, sweetness prevails on a pleasing track. 

16. “Cherry Lips” Archie Bronson Outfit
Hailing from England, on the group’s second album Derang Derang, they create rip roaring garage rock with gnarling guitars and pounding, discordant drums. Sam Windett sings falsetto shouting out repetitively, “your fat cherry lips” and goes on to repeat: “it’s so fun to love someone/just try to get over it.” A rollicking good time is had by all.

17. “Get Myself Into It” The Rapture
The Rapture arrived onto the hot New York dance punk scene when other groups like !!! and LCD Soundsystem were also trying to make a name for themselves. Pieces of the People We Love becomes their third album and first since 2003’s Echoes. “Get Myself Into It” signifies The Rapture’s funky grooves, dance proclivities, and 80s driven aesthetics. Jazzy horns penetrate the chorus turning into a fun, disco track

18. “Kelly” Van She
The New Wave 1980s were over 20 years ago, but it never hurts to resurrect those feel good, synth orientated songs. Australian group Van She has done exactly that on this dance/pop track. From their self titled EP, lead singer Nick Routledge purges angst about some girl named Kelly. The song would be perfect during a montage sequence in a 80s teen romp movie just as the hero attempts to get the girl but fails miserably. If only it still was 1985, sigh. Van She bestows fine synthetic nostalgia.

19. “Keep On Smiling”120 Days
This Norway quartet has become one of the hottest bands to emerge from Scandinavia this year. Their self-titled debut immerses itself in Krautrock sensibilities and evolving soundscapes. Ethereal beats and drones accompany spaced out keyboards and echoing vocals. Melodic tinges and strange effects ebb and flow with the “keep on smiling” adage popping up. It’s a journey into time and space and back again.

20. “Yours to Keep” Teddybears
The Teddybears (formerly Teddybears Stockholm) have been around since 1991 and used to be a hardcore group. With their latest album, Soft Machine, the Swedish group softens a little. “Yours to Keep” features dulcet beeps and bleeps and tender female vocals singing rhyming lyrics. Whirling sound effects mix in creating an electro-pop atmosphere. This song contrasts another one of their songs, "Cobrastyle, "an edgier song hip-hop track, but the Teddybears also know how to be calm.

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