The Songs We Can't Escape

Jonathan Badger
"Neurosmith"

You know how some early-'00s DVD sets have those creepy, cryptic instrumental themes that repeat during the interval between when you slip them into the player and when you actually start watching them? This is kind of like that, only longer and on an otherwise movingly lachrymose record.

Aaron Dilloway
"Infinite Lucifer"

Exploded in Hendrix vs. "The Star-Spangled Banner" style, the three-note string that opens "Here Comes the Bridge" falls prey to afterburner sear and g-force whiplash. By the time you reach the other end of this cyclonic 13-minute dissembling, you won't be sure what anything means, let alone concepts as vague and nebulous as "love" or "marriage."

QuESt
"Exhibit Q"

Rap is so narcissistic and ego-driven at this point that when an MC says something like "2010 is not mine/I'm just growing, motherfucker," it sticks out like a sore thumb. Miami's QuESt didn't title his latest mixtape How Thoughtful just for kicks; he hails from the Talib Kweli/Tribe Called Quest school of "conscious" rap, where plaints like "Reactions use to cause me trouble/I prefer responding" are the norm. But I like him, and his too-smart dithering, and the jazzy, chill feel of the productions he jacks here. Only minus: During condensed-rhyme runs like this he sometimes seems to get a little bored, like he's got ADHD or something.

The Secret History
"Johnny Anorak"

Two months from now, some fey, underfed high school junior—you'll know him because he'll be the only dude wearing a scarf and a ski cap in the mall food court—will be finalizing his senior yearbook quote, which will either be "In the ghettos dreaming of meadows" or "Dime novels discarded in hovels." He will be inordinately proud of himself, but 10 years from now, he'll wish he'd quoted Animal Collective's "My Girls" instead.

Yellow Swans
"Limited Space"

Sampled finger chimes flare like sonar pings through an ambient feedback storm that swells in size and intensity until you realize that for the last several minutes, a vicious psychic tidal wave has been savaging you like a child's abandoned rag doll.

 
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