Weeding through all the new music out there can be a time-consuming process. Luckily for you, I've compiled a handy list of all the songs you don't know you already love.
CAT POWER: RUIN
There are certain songs that slice their way into your anatomy as devotedly as shrapnel. And most of Cat Power's songs are like that for me. I’ve imitated Chan’s husky spirit-beaten voice more times than i can remember, on bike rides to the beach and up mountains, over the kitchen sink washing the dishes a murky swirl being sucked down the drain, slow dancing with boys in their unfamiliar, disordered bedrooms. Suffice it to say, her music has hitched a spiraling ride on my DNA and the newest hitchhiker is "Ruin." Chan recorded this, along with the rest of her ninth album Sun, after being dumped by actor Giovanni Ribisi, moving to Paris, and cutting all her hair off. She always had a flair for histrionics and, in a world of uncertainty, it's nice to be able to count on our girl being as dramatic as ever.
Maybe you heard about the mind-bogglingly epic double rainbow in San Francisco last week? Well, if you were lucky enough to catch sight of it, you know all about the flood of serotonin that it inspired. Strangers on the street were stupid with happiness, chit chatting with each other, loving being alive at the same time as everyone else. And that's the feeling I get when I watch Le1f's music video for "Wut." The rap scene isn't exactly known for its tolerance of gays, which is why it's so refreshing to see someone as skilled and as flamboyant as Le1f doing his thing so unapologetically. Get light in your loafers and click play.
U.S. GIRLS: JACK
Megan Remy, the force behind this lo-fi project, is a weirdo, and I say that in the most loving way. Her raw, nostalgic songs feel like hallucinations or night terrors of forgotten songs or styles from past decades. On 2011's U.S. GIRLS on KRAAK, she covered Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" (!!!), exorcising the original of its sassy lightness and spiking it with something sinister. "Jack," her first single from the forthcoming GEM, is also a cover, this time of the 1991 Brock Robinson song about a dream that he was Jack the Ripper. Like the maniac that inspired the original, Remy kills this version dead, wearing a turban no less!
Do you ever question the innate goodness of humanity? Endless wars, petty election sniping, and that jerk mean muggin' on the Geary bus can get to a person. Thankfully for us, there's this British singer/songwriter by the name of Adam Bainbridge that is so nice that he named his music project Kindness. But he doesn't stop at making cheery dance music. He takes it one step further in the music video for "House," in which he teaches a young boy how to use a drum machine and then recruits him to help out with the song and some cute-as-pie dancing too. If you're not smiling by the end of this video, I'm sorry to say you're kind of a monster.
The first piece I ever wrote for KQED Arts way back in 2007 A.D. was a review of the Chromatics' Night Drive. 5 years later, a lot of things have changed, mainly that I no longer get student discounts and I have a lot more chest hair. But one thing has stayed put and that's my love for the Chromatics. I mean, did you see Drive (a.k.a. Ryan Gosling Is Hot and Has a Cool Jacket and Is Not Afraid to Bash Your Head In for Love)? A large part of that film's success is due to the Chromatics-heavy soundtrack. And "Lady," snatched from the band's latest full length Kill for Love, is just as punishing as Gosling's dashing good looks.
ELITE GYMNASTICS: ANDREJA 4-EVER
James Brooks may have been ditched by his only bandmate earlier this month, but, judging by "Andreja 4-Ever," his lovely contribution to this year's Adult Swim Singles Program, that doesn't seem to be slowing him down any. The song is an ode to feminist critic Andreja Dworkin, who inspired Brooks to get over his fear of sex. You can hear his gratitude in the way he drags out her name in the song's chorus. When asked about the track, Brooks had this to say: "I feel like, after the second-wave feminists, there's just been such a regressive attitude about feminism that's been so helpful to the patriarchy and so harmful to everyone else and people just accept it and that makes me miserable. Dworkin is not an albatross, she was a f***ing hero." Um, something just got in my eye. I'll be right back.
TOPS: DIAMOND LOOK
You can generally judge a person by who their friends are. And in TOPS' case, that's a very good thing, as their buddy and label mate happens to be Grimes (who just released a crazy music video you really need to see). This foursome from Montreal deals in dreamy synths and gentle rock, but the most striking thing about their sound is Jane Penny's voice that manages to be kooky, jazzy, playful, and sweet all at the same time. I wish they would swap her voice in for the recorded one on Muni that mispronounces Valencia. That would be really nice.
BONUS: TAYLOR SWIFT: WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER
I know what you're thinking. And you're wrong. Cause I was too. The first time I heard this song, I tuned it out as something just for tween girls with colored braces. But, if you stop rollin' your eyes long enough and open your mind just a smidge, you'll discover the possibility that you might actually really like a sugary pop song by Tay Tay Swift. Produced by pop maestro Max Martin (Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," Britney's "Baby One More Time," Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," etc. etc.), this confessional ear-worm is impossible to resist. It's cute, cheeky, and catchy as hell. And it's totally about Jake Gyllenhaal.