The Songs We Can't Escape

Sedate pianos limn the frame and daydreaming guitars shade the inside while the vocalists co-harmonize and hum along with all the listlessness of a diagnosed amnesiac's summer-long constitutional. Nothing to see here, and nothing to squint for, but "Boat" does cast a mood, of sorts.

Cars and Trains
"The Sun Always Sets"

So this is like Sea Change-era Beck, only with pitch-shifting that happily doesn't come across as artificial, which is what usually happens when songwriters hybridize it with folk strum. Love the way "Sun" always seems on the verge of falling down or falling apart, which is commensurate with the narrator's glum mood. Cheer up, bro—Santa Claus is on his way! Maybe he's bringing you a new mojo.

Amp Live feat. Macro Jaxson & Trackademicks
"Gary Is a Robot"

The Abba-friendly keyb-noodling may beg for further discussion of Sasha Frere-Jones's "hip-hop is dead" New Yorker piece, but really, these guys disguise a statement about modern rap under a geek-jokey veneer, probably without even realizing it. Namely, that the genre's long-running cash/bitches/power status quo has calcified into something so thoroughly empty that it nullifies even the most inventive template flips. I can't even bring myself to feel sad about it.

Bent Spoon Duo
"Let There Be Musk"

There's the very vague sense, here, of clattering stick-on-stick percussion, drum-kit fury, and steam-swollen electronics being boiled down, incrementally, to a focal point. Then you realize they're fucking with you, and that you're actually kind of okay with that.

Yellow Fever
"Hell Fire"

A word to the wise: If you're gonna name your band something like "Yellow Fever," you have no right to come off this bloodless and anemic and staid. We should be scared of you! But your engineer's Siamese cat is probably way scarier.