The Songs We Can't Escape

"Electric Car, Gas Guitar"

Here these NYCers crouch comfortably in a whammy-barred bunker, munch illicit co-op brownies, turn a signature Ramones riff I can't quite place into biodiesel for their next-gen Vespas, are awesome.

The Bundles
"Pirates Declare War"

"This is the moment you fear/Repeating every day for a year" makes for a tidy sound-bite summation of life circa-now, as we stumble over the line separating an awful decade from an uncertain one. The Bundles are how anti-folkie/Juno beneficiary Kimya Dawson spends her spare time these days, and the raucous, trading-verses "War" finds her and her bandmates passing off pathos as playfulness, or maybe it's the reverse.

High Places
"I Was Born"

The High Places of 2007/08 were scattered, diffuse, a walking, echoing case of sonic bed-head. The High Places of 2009/10 are deliberate, focused, and starry-eyed yet grounded. Reborn (or born again), as it were.

Human Host
"The Flying Captain"

Grim, stern synthed-myth trudges stridently through bewitching distortion, throws Robert Pollard an oblique wink, salutes Michael Jackson, makes us wonder whatever happened to that Magic: The Gathering adherent from high school who dropped out and had become, last we knew, a shaman.

Wolf People
"Cotton Strands"

You know it's primo prog-rock hour when the flautist gets more hot-shit solo action than the guitarist, the guitarist is still fairly ace, the vocalist sounds like he's singing from beneath a druid cloak, and the scattered themes (poison, homicidal impulses acted upon, warfare, treads incapable of being unwound) make your blood run cold.

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