The Songs We Can't Escape

Islands
"No You Don't"

Nick Thorburn is a genius at taking pieces of sordid, sorted subject matter—dying, say, or Whitney Houston, or a burglar breaking into one's home—and turning that ugliness and pain into lyrically winding indie-pop you wouldn't be afraid to throw on a mixtape for Mom. "No You Don't" is in the same vein, setting a collage of conflicting perspectives (gloves-off know-your-dope-dealer PSA, worried pal voicing concerns, addict's sullen dismissals) to exhilarating synth-popcorn pulsations that flicker like haunted halogens.

Newagehillbilly
"Madmen"

There's just something, I don't know, endearing about the combination of intestine-contracting amplifier noise and introduction-level musical scales wrung from a keyboard, the mashing up of pro ne'er-do-well ear-bleed and the elementary-school familiar. Should Burning Star Core's C. Spencer Yeh cover the Suzuki Method songbooks? He totally should! And nope, I don't watch Mad Men.

Rihanna feat. Young Jeezy
"Hard"

Ri-ri reunites with the brain trust behind "Umbrella"—The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, who've had a helluva year production-wise—for a commandingly cold kiss-off (directed to you-know-who, and why) that's the polar opposite of the trio's previous friends-4eva single and trumps Mariah's equally cocksure "Up Out My Face" by virtue of having an actual target. (Fun-fact: Dream/Stewart also produced "Face.") Young Jeezy drops in to front 'n' stunt because, I guess, the label figured the song needed a rapper.

Surfer Blood
"Take It Easy"

When the singer from a band with a name like "Surfer Blood" instructs you to chill, you probably oughta. Because surfers are pretty calm people, and maybe this guy begins and ends his day with a chalice of actual surfer blood, you know?

Tickley Feather
"Sure Relaxing"

As it turns out, it's impossible to take someone's yearning, waltz-time ooze seriously when a vocal filter has perverted his singing voice into some sort of Donald Duck/echo-chamber disaster. But this song is nonetheless awesome to behold.

 
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