Music update, June 2017.

Huge month for new music – 31 songs on this playlist is a new record for me, but this is after I cut a few tracks just to try to limit it to the best songs I’ve heard since June 1st. You can access the Spotify playlist below or via this direct link.

Oh Wonder – High On Humans. I know a few of you are big Oh Wonder fans, but they’re pretty new to me, and so far I’m a fan – this is good, smart, alternative pop.

Portugal. The Man – Rich Friends. Their latest album Woodstock dropped two weeks ago and is really strong, their usual mix of bombastic, melodic rock, with more R&B influences than I’ve heard on previous records.

The Amazons – Black Magic. Fairly new English band from Reading who’ve gotten a ton of hype in the British music and mainstream press; I’m a fan of the huge guitar riff driving this song.

Sløtface – Nancy Drew. The Norwegian punk-popsters who gave us “Empire Records” last year are back with another subtly poppy track with slightly twisted lyrics.

Waxahatchee – Never Been Wrong. Katie Crutchfield’s next album, Out in the Storm, comes out on July 14th, and this track is more in the folk-rock vein of 2015’s “Under a Rock.”

The Preatures – Girlhood. This Australian quintet is about to release its first album since 2014, with a similar ’60s British pop/rock vibe. Also, I couldn’t figure out what the repeated line was in the verse, but according to my Internet it’s “a morning girl.”

Beach Fossils – Tangerine. Brooklyn indie-rockers Beach Fossils just released their latest album, Somersault, of stoner/surfer/lo-fi tracks, with this track offering the best hook on the album.

The Districts – If Before I Wake. I didn’t love the Districts’ acclaimed 2015 album, A Flourish and a Spoil, but this song is absolutely anthemic.

No Win – You’ll Be Fine. Apparently No Win is a side project of a member of FIDLAR, although I’m not a big fan of FIDLAR’s music so I was totally unaware of this, but hey, this song rocks.

Ride – Lannoy Point. The shoegazers’ first album in 21 years, Weather Diaries, starts out very strong and has probably four songs that would fit in very well with their vintage output, but I felt like it tapered off towards more maudlin lyrics and less inventive music.

Radiohead – I Promise. Radiohead has reissued OK Computer for the seminal album’s 20th anniversary in a two-disc set called OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017, including three previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions, including this melancholy acoustic track, which would have fit very well on The Bends.

Manchester Orchestra – The Alien. Speaking of melancholy acoustic tracks, one of two new singles from Manchester Orchestra off their upcoming album A Black Mile to the Surface, is a surprisingly melodic, gentle song from a band I typically associate with huge, crunching guitars and with Andy Hull screaming himself hoarse.

Birdtalker – One. Another acoustic track, this one more like vintage folk with some smart and incisive lyrics, from a new Nashville band founded by the wife-and-husband duo of Dani and Zack Green.

The War On Drugs – Holding On. At least this time, the boys kept the song under six minutes! The Bob Dylan overtones can still be a bit much but this song has a driving, memorable hook that really powers the track even when Adam Granduciel starts to sound more like Richard Belzer doing a Dylan impression.

Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass. Yep, that’s the former Oasis singer, with what sounds like a solid post-Be Here Now sort of Oasis track.

Death From Above (1979) – Freeze Me. They’ve dropped the ‘1979’ from their name, although it still appears on Spotify. After a decade-long hiatus, they’re about to release their second album in three years, with this lead single probably my favorite track from them yet.

Washed Out – Get Lost. To borrow a malaprop from my daughter, I’m just so-and-so on Washed Out, the nom de chill of Ernest Greene, whose latest album Mister Mellow drops on Friday. This song encapsulates what I like about Washed Out – a melodic, upbeat, highly layered track that brings more complexity than just calling it a dance song would indicate.

Sparks – What The Hell Is It This Time?. Sparks have been around since the early 1970s, although if you know them at all, it’s probably from their one-off collaboration with Jane Wiedlin, “Cool Places,” which reached #49 on the Billboard 100 and became a staple of new-wave compilations. Now aged 71 and 68, the brothers Mael are about to release their 22nd album, Hippopotamus, and this very catchy lead single finds them just as weird as ever.

Floating Points – Kelso Dunes (Edit). Experimental music is an acquired taste and I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I’ve liked some of Sam Shepherd’s stuff so far, and not just because he’s a neuroscientist who happens to make music.

Phoenix – Ti Amo. The title track from the Grammy winners’ latest record is a throwback to the two-step/garage era of the early ’90s on top of the new wave stylings they usually bring.

Arcade Fire – Creature Comfort. I liked “Everything Now” more, but that’s a top five track of the year for me, so that’s not exactly a slight to this second single from their upcoming fifth album.

Queens of the Stone Age – The Way You Used To Do. Anything from QotSA is an automatic inclusion. Their upcoming album Villains comes out August 25th.

Royal Blood – Hole In Your Heart. The duo’s second album, ?How Did We Get So Dark? , came out earlier this month and it really rocks – it’s a step ahead of their debut – with this, “Lights Out,” “Hook, Line, & Sinker,” “I Only Lie When I Love You,” and “Where Are You Now?” my favorites.

Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo. The first single from the British quartet’s upcoming sophomore album, Visions of a Life, is harder and harsher than anything I remember from their debut album, which had a great balance of hard, fast, driving rock and mellower passages that showcased singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell’s vocal range.

A Giant Dog – Bendover. It’s so loud and obnoxious it’s almost shtick, but it works on this track.

Superchunk – Up Against the Wall. Not only have Superchunk not changed their sound in their nearly 30 years of recording, they don’t even sound like they’ve aged on their new two-track release (the other song, “I Got Cut,” is more of the same).

Jason Loewenstein – Superstitious. Hard rock from one of the guitarists in Lou Barlow’s Sebadoh and the Fiery Furnaces.

Big Boi with Troze – Chocolate. Big Boi’s album Boomiverse is … fine, I guess. I like his vocal style, but I think the album suffers from too many guest spots and from some mediocre beats. Highlights include this track and “Kill Jill” (with Killer Mike and Jeezy).

Ice Cube – Good Cop Bad Cop. A bonus track on the 25th anniversary reissue of Death Certificate, this new song has Ice Cube actually sounding a bit like his old self on a very angry track about police shootings of unarmed black victims and the blue wall of silence that protects the perpetrators.

Less Art – Pessimism as Denial. The new band featuring Ian Miller (Kowloon Walled City) and Riley Breckenridge (Thrice) of the old Productive Outs podcast and of the, uh, grindcore (?) band Puig Destroyer strongly reminds me of early ’90s post-hardcore acts like Quicksand. This first single is off their first album, Strangled Light, due July 28th.

Danzig – Skulls & Daisies. Here primarily for its novelty, as Glenn Danzig is now 62 and sounds it throughout his namesake band’s latest album, salvaged on this track by the guitar work of Tommy Victor, whose main band, Prong, also has a new album due next month.

Music update, May 2017.

My ranking of the top 100 prospects for Monday’s MLB Rule 4 draft is now up for Insiders.

If I don’t hurry up and post this, it’ll be a two-month update that has about 50 songs on it, so rather than wait for the time I’d need to do a full writeup, here’s my latest playlist of new music.


  1. alt-J – Adeline.
  2. Arcade Fire – Everything Now.
  3. The Afghan Whigs – Toy Automatic.
  4. Royal Blood – Hook, Line & Sinker.
  5. Portugal. The Man – So Young.
  6. Wavves – No Shade.
  7. The New Pornographers – Darling Shade.
  8. Japanese Breakfast – Machinist.
  9. machineheart – Shelter.
  10. Hoops – On Letting Go.
  11. Sløtface – Magazine.
  12. Sheer Mag – Just Can’t Get Enough.
  13. Fictionist – Lazarus.
  14. MisterWives – Coloring Outside The Lines.
  15. Are We Static – Heartbreaker.
  16. The Chain Gang Of 1974 – Looking For Love.
  17. WATERS – Something More.
  18. Cloves – California Numb.
  19. Courtney Barnett – How to Boil an Egg.
  20. Sundara Karma – Explore.
  21. Swet Shop Boys – Zombie.
  22. Danger Mouse, Run The Jewels, Big Boi – Chase Me.

Some quick thoughts: I didn’t love alt-J’s new album, Relaxer, as they’ve continued to move away from the minimalist approach of their debut album, but thought the new WAVVES record was strong, and liked the new records from Afghan Whigs (more than their comeback LP) and WATERS. I’ve listed to the New Pornographers’ Whiteout Conditions, released in April a few times; I think it’s solid but not as good throughout as Brill Bruisers. I’m looking forward to the upcoming releases from Royal Blood, Arcade Fire, and Cloves. The Courtney Barnett song is a one-off single, a song she said she wrote when she was much younger but had never recorded. I’ve ended with two hip-hop songs – the Swet Shop Boys (Riz Ahmed & Heems) returned with a six-track EP, while the last song is from the 30-song soundtrack to the upcoming film Baby Driver.

Music update, April 2017.

I wrote a book, Smart Baseball. You should buy it.

This month’s playlist has 24 songs, and started out over 30 before I started cutting back; I have usually tried to keep them under 20 songs or under 90 minutes but I reached a point where I didn’t have anything left I felt good about removing. A few songs are here because of who’s singing, but most are here just because they’re good songs (Brent … I need to stop using that line). If the embedded widget below doesn’t work you can access the Spotify playlist here.

Royal Blood – Lights Out. This British duo had my #1 song of 2014 with “Out of the Black,” and this new single from their upcoming sophomore album does not disappoint – it’s heavy, dark, and menacing, just like their biggest hit.

DJ Shadow, Nas – Systematic. Nas sounds as good as ever here on this track from the soundtrack to the HBO series Silicon Valley. I particularly like the part where Nas gives us a recipe, complete with directions on how long to cook the cranberries.

The Afghan Whigs – Demon in Profile. Afghan Whigs’ comeback album in 2014? didn’t do as much for me as their upcoming record In Spades, which I heard early thanks to the band’s publicist. Gregg Dulli still sounds great for 52 (!) and the album brings a strong mix of hard rockers and more midtempo tracks like this one.

Ride – All I Want. Another big comeback, as Ride’s first new album in 21 years, Weather Diaries, comes out on June 16th. I believe this is the third single from the new album and they all sound like classic Ride, who were among the most important bands in the first shoegaze era.

Anteros – Cherry Drop. This London quartet sound straight out of the 1979 London new wave/post-punk scene; you can hear Debbie Harry’s influence in the vocals.

Tigers Jaw – June. This punk-pop act from Scranton has apparently had some drama in the last few years over whether they’d actually broken up. This single from their album spin, due out May 19th, marries sweet, high-register vocals with distorted guitar work that sounds like math-rock acts (such as Polvo) for a power-pop result.

The Night Game – The Outfield. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, or some trick of the mind, but this song reminds me strongly of the band The Outfield, both in the style of music and lead singer’s voice. Anyway, this is a strong pop track with background vocals from Gotye. And I’m not the only one to notice the similarity to the band behind perennial walkup song “Your Love.”

The Aces – Physical. The Aces, an all-girl quartet from Utah who made my top 100 last year with their single “Stuck,” return with their second release, “Physical,” another solid pop song that just doesn’t quite have the same hook as their first track.

Splashh – Closer. This Australian indie-rock act’s second album, Waiting a Lifetime, came out on April 14th, more evidence of that country’s tremendous music scene right now, producing great rock and electronic music. The production has a real shoegaze quality, with the vocals mixed somewhat towards the back (but not incomprehensible like on My Bloody Valentine’s work).

WATERS – Molly Is A Babe. Van Pierzalowski’s main band will release its new album, Something More, on May 19th, with this track the second single and “Stand By You,” which just appeared in the last few days, the third. Good luck getting this song’s whining guitar lick out of your head any time soon.

Panama – Hope For Something. Here’s another Aussie act, one I first found with their single “Always,” which I put at #51 on my 2013 year-end list. “Hope for Something” is more layered, with ornate instrumentation and a slower build to the hook, but it’s still a big one.

Feist – Century (feat. Jarvis Cocker). I have mixed feelings on this song, but Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker makes an appearance, so here you go.

Joseph of Mercury – Find You Inside. This was the first song I’d heard by Joseph of Mercury, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who debuted in 2015 with the song “Lips.” This song, his second single this year, combines a less-poppy sort of ’80s new wave with brooding baritone vocals, enunciated like Morrissey does. The result feels soulful without any evident R&B influences.

Sundara Karma – She Said. This may not be new to Sirius XM listeners, as Alt Nation has it in heavy rotation because Sundara Karma is on some XM-sponsored tour.

Black Asteroid – Howl (feat. Zola Jesus). I’m not a big Zola Jesus fan – her incredibly pretentious stage name doesn’t help matters – but her voice’s hollow quality and the stark production here perfectly match the sci-fi horror feel of the electronic music.

Foster The People – S.H.C. Foster the People just put out a three-song teaser EP ahead of their third album, which they’re promising for June or July. “S.H.C.” is the most recognizably FTP of the three songs, with a ’70s guitar riff and vague Latin influences in the percussion.

Portugal. The Man – Number One (feat. Richie Havens & Son Little). Their first single from their upcoming album, “Feel It Still,” might be my favorite song of 2017 so far. This song, though … I don’t even know what I think of it and I’ve listened to it at least a half a dozen times. It’s way out there even for P.TM, with samples from the late folk singer Richie Havens’ song “Freedom” and a collaboration from singer Son Little. The new album, Woodstock, is out June 16th, and they have my full attention.

Pond – Paint Me Silver. Spacey psychedelic rock from Australia. Recommended if you like Tame Impala. Recommended even if you think Tame Impala could stand to keep their songs under four minutes.

Sylvan Esso – The Glow. I am truly not a fan of Sylvan Esso, neither their music nor Amelia Meath’s overly precious vocal style, so it says something about this track that I included it anyway. Saying I think it’s the best thing they’ve done doesn’t tell you much, but there’s a great chorus here if you can get past the track’s opening sound of a digital file skipping.

Miami Horror – Sign of the Times. This Aussie trio has a little bit of a Foster the People vibe, mixing electronic and funk, but more decidedly out of the mainstream, especially with the spoken-word section towards the end of the track. Their latest EP, The Shapes, just came out last week.

Sepultura – Iceberg Dances. I understand people have strong feelings on post-Max Sepultura, but their newest album, Machine Messiah, features some progressive and technically impressive fretwork, most notable for me on this instrumental track.

SikTh – Vivid. I’ve read in a few places how important or influential SikTh have been since their 2003 debut album, but I find it hard to believe given how little I’ve come across their music or how infrequently they’ve recorded anything. Their forthcoming The Future in Whose Eyes? will be just their third album in fifteen years. This frenetic track seems to veer in style from progressive death metal to aggro groove metal and back again.

DragonForce – Judgement Day. DragonForce cracks me up, although I don’t know that this is intended to be funny. They’re just such an unrepetant throwback to the earliest days of thrash, where soaring vocals reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson were common, and fantasy and mythology themes were king. If you remember vintage Helloween with Kai Hansen, that gives you some idea of what DragonForce is about, maybe with a few shakes of Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force.

Memoriam – Memoriam. This is some heavy, sludgy, old-school death metal, with the band and song a tribute to a deceased member of the seminal ’90s British death metal band Bolt Thrower.

Stick to baseball, 4/8/17.

I had one Insider post this week, on the most prospect-packed minor league rosters to open the season. I have already filed a draft blog post on last night’s outing by Hunter Greene, with additional notes on a half-dozen other draft prospects, including Brendan McKay and Austin Beck. (EDIT: It’s up now.) I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

I resumed boardgame reviews for Paste this week with a look at the reissue of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, specifically the Jack the Ripper & West End Cases set, but found it more like a solitaire puzzle than a cooperative game.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. The book now has two positive reviews out, one from Kirkus Reviews and one from Publishers Weekly.

Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Music update, March 2017.

I ended up missing about ten days of music listening while with the family in Arizona and getting ready for various trips, but I think the playlist turned out okay thanks to the volume of new stuff this month, mostly from bands I already knew from previous releases. It’s been a big year for comebacks from 1990s artists too, with three acts on here who have recently released their first new material in over a decade.

If you can’t see the widget below, you can access the Spotify playlist directly.

alt-J – In Cold Blood. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of alt-J’s work, especially their debut album An Awesome Wave, which is on the very short list of my favorite albums of all time, up there with OK Computer, The Last Broadcast, and Whitesnake. (Just kidding about that last one. Mostly.) I wasn’t totally on board with alt-J’s musical shift for their second album, where they eschewed the minimalist approach of their first record with what I considered very mixed results. This song, the second of two singles released so far in advance of their third album, has their trademark lyrical weirdness and interplay across vocals and instruments, but the same ‘big’ sound as we got on This Could All Be Yours.

Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still. This is the song Fitz and the Tantrums recorded in 2017 in an alternate universe where they didn’t become a shitty pop band. Portugal. The Man can be as weird and unconventional as alt-J, but bombast is their raison d’etre, and if anything I find them restrained here on this very old-school funk/R&B track.

Wavves – Daisy. I’m a fan of Nathan Williams’ brand of punk-pop, more so than of some of his predecessors in this California surf-rock sort of vein, which often was more obnoxious than actually good (Nerf Herder or New York’s Wheatus come to mind). Wavves’ sixth album will be out on May 19th and good luck getting that little high-pitched guitar line out of your head.

Basement – Submission. This track comes from Basement’s 2016 album Promise Everything, which was just re-released in a deluxe edition by their new record label. I’ve only heard this song so far, a hard rock track with grunge style but cleaner production.

Dreamcar – Kill for Candy. So, go figure: this is AFI lead singer Davey Havok and the three musicians from No Doubt, and “Kill for Candy” sounds nothing like either band to me. It’s new wave revival, like White Lies or Editors, and catchy without the cloying sound of No Doubt’s faux-ska-whatever they call it.

Grandaddy – Brush with the Wild. Grandaddy broke up in 2006, which I mention only because I wasn’t aware they’d broken up until I heard this song and read that it was their first new track in eleven years. I wasn’t a big fan in their heyday, but this song has a good hook and a strong “Shorter War on Drugs” feel.

Black Honey – Somebody Better. I think this is the third song I’ve included from Black Honey over the last year, and I’m still waiting (and excited) for the British quartet’s first album given the power-pop singles they’ve released to date.

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions. TNP’s new album, also called Whiteout Conditions, comes out on Friday; you can stream it on NPR’s First Listen before that. In the meantime, the title track is another kick-the-door-open sort of pop gem; A.C. Newman can craft some potent hooks, and I love the way he plays with his vocal delivery here.

MisterWives – Oh Love. This second single from their upcoming album Connect the Dots is a step down from “Machine” in terms of hook and tempo, although Mandy Lee gets to showcase her voice a little more here.

Oh Wonder – Ultralife. I don’t think I caught this London duo’s self-titled debut album, which came out in the fall of 2015, but this title track of their second album, release date unknown, grabbed my attention with the lush instrumentation and apparent mix of influences from several different styles and even decades, back to ’80s pop.

alt-J – 3WW. Obligatory.

Earl St. Clair featuring PJ – Ain’t Got It Like That. St. Clair’s debut EP, My Name is Earl, dropped in early March, and it’s a serious throwback to ’70s soul and funk.

Tei Shi – Justify. Nothing against Tei Shi, who continues to churn out weird-but-intriguing music, but I can’t listen to this without picturing that overhyped Madonna video. (“There’s Prince!”)

Spoon – Tear It Down. I’ve heard three tracks off Spoon’s latest album, Hot Thoughts, so far, and I think … it’s a Spoon album. It’s good, but if there’s something novel here, I haven’t caught it yet.

The Kooks – Be Who You Are. I’d put this in the same category as Spoon’s latest – this is a pretty standard Kooks song, with a decent hook, but nothing we haven’t heard before. It’s like someone took peak Britpop and decided to add more ’60s to it.

Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill. This is more in the vein of Slowdive’s muttering, shoegazing past.

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Song For A Secret. I thought J&MC’s comeback album, Damage and Joy, was a bit tame, but it still had some solid moments like this track, which seems like a sequel to “Sometimes Always.”

White Reaper – The Stack. There’s a little sameness to White Reaper’s output now, but I like their punk-tinged power-pop sound and the main five-note guitar riff here is solid.

The Black Angels – I’d Kill for Her. Another band that’s been around for a while but that escaped my attention, the Black Angels engage in some heavy psychedelic rock, here punctuated by a whining guitar lick that gives the whole thing a Neil Young sort of vibe.

Mastodon – Precious Stones. I originally had “Andromeda” on this playlist, also from Emperor of Sand, but I prefer Mastodon tracks with clean vocals – their music is heavy, but progressive rather than extreme, and their best songs play the vocals off the music.

Dark Tranquillity – The Absolute. This song was a bonus track on DT’s latest album, 2016’s Atoma, and it’s a big departure from their recorded output to date. I’d put it more along the lines of Opeth or Candlemass than the typical melodic death metal that typifies Dark Tranquility’s discography to date.

Pallbearer – I Saw the End. I think it’s fair to say Pallbearer is the best doom band in the world now, although I understand there’s not a ton of competition and some of you are probably wondering what “doom” is in this context. I think they’re the spiritual heirs to Black Sabbath.

Ra’s Dawn – Inside Out. Is histrionic metal a genre? Ra’s Dawn seem to embody the term, combining progressive thrash with the bombastic vocals of early power metal stalwarts like Helloween or Hammerfall. I like the music here but could do without the disappearance of the guitars behind the verses.

Stick to baseball, 3/4/17.

No new Insider content this week, although I believe I’ll have a new piece up on Tuesday, assuming all goes to plan. I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers Mole Rats in Space, a cooperative game for kids from the designer of Pandemic and Forbidden Desert. It’s pretty fantastic, and I think if you play this you’ll never have to see Chutes and Ladders again.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. The book now has two positive reviews out, one from Kirkus Reviews and one from Publishers Weekly.

Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Music update, February 2017.

Big month for new tracks, enough that I started out with 30 songs here and couldn’t cut any lower than 24 without taking out something I liked. I’ve got five metal tracks and two rap songs at the end, but before that we have returns from a bunch of my favorite artists, several appearing in new projects.

If you can’t see the Spotify widget below you can go directly to the playlist here.

WATERS – Hiccups. Friend of the dish Van Pierzalowski returns with the first new single from WATERS in almost a year and a half, and true to form it’s an upbeat indie-pop track with a big hook, definitely something to be sung by ten thousand people in an arena with the volume turned up to 11. (Because it’s one louder than 10.) WATERS’ third album, Something More!, is due out May 19th.

MisterWives – Machine. This NYC indie-pop outfit appears to be channeling Shakira with this funky, swirling, brass-heavy, stomp-along track that feels lush and intricate below the vocals. I think there’s real crossover potential here. The lyrics are a bit of a weak spot here, though, like rhymes from a teenager’s Poetry notebook: “Maybe I’m a dying breed/But I believe in individuality.” Yeah, no one else believes in that any more, it’s just you.

Johnossi – Hands. I heard this track, with lyrics about police profiling of African-Americans, and assumed Johnossi was an American singer of color … only to find out it’s a Norwegian duo singing rather well about an issue that I associated mostly with the United States. It should be a hit if for no other reason than the closing couplet “fuck them haters, we don’t care/put your hands up in the air.”

White Reaper – Judy French. White Reaper rocks your lame ass. Their second album, The World’s Best American Band, is due out April 7th.

Love Thy Brother featuring Ariel Beesley – Love Me Better. This actually came out last year, and I just whiffed on it because on first listen I couldn’t get past the singer’s weird pronunciations. The Montreal duo, actually brothers, teamed up with model/singer Beesley for a very catchy electronic track with an undeniable groove behind the verses, although I think when the music drops behind the choruses the song loses some momentum.

Ten Fé – In the Air. I think I’ve exhausted songs worth sharing from Ten Fé’s debut album, called Hit the Light, which has been my favorite new record of 2017 to date. (It’ll be surpassed shortly, with some big releases coming up this month and next.) Most of the songs I’ve liked from Ten Fé have had heavy new wave influences, but this one is just a straight pop song, something you might have heard on the radio as easily in 1980 as today.

Beach Slang – Bored Teenagers. These Philly punks supposedly broke up during a concert last year, then got back together and fired some members … I don’t know, I’m just here for the music. I do think it’s important that bands with “Beach” in their name deliver on that promise by playing punk or garage or even surf rock, as opposed to Beach House, who are basically just false advertising.

Bleached – Can You Deal?. They’ve doubled their membership over the last two years, adding a bassist and a drummer, and are about to release a new EP, with this punk-pop tune as the title track. It’s a bit of a slow starter, but when they hit the gas in around the midpoint it finally sounds more like a Bleached song.

Future Islands – Ran. I suppose they’ll never top their performance of “Seasons” on Letterman, but this is a good fascimile of that track, with the same pronounced bass line and ’70s soft-rock feel over a contemporary drum beat.

Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution. I’m a longtime DM fan, especially of their more goth-rock late ’80s heyday (think “Never Let Me Down Again,” not “Just Can’t Get Enough”), so any new single from them would make my list, but this felt a little soft for a lead single, like we got an album track instead of the song to make you want to run out and get the album.

Coast Modern – Comb My Hair. This LA duo reminds me a lot of WATERS and a little of Best Coast, with a dash of post-Pinkerton Weezer thrown in, which, uh, waters down the sound a bit. They could do with a little more complexity here, but from the handful of singles Coast Modern has put out to date I think it’s clear they have the ability to craft some solid hooks in the California indie vein.

Space Above – Let It Still. Space Above are a side project for The Naked & Famous keyboardist Aaron Short to do more experimental keyboard-driven songs, but there’s still a clear melody at work on this mesmerizing, textured single. The group’s debut album, Still, dropped on February 17th.

Strand of Oaks – Radio Kids. Timothy Showalter, who records as Strand of Oaks, seems to be at his best when writing nostalgic tunes about being a kid and listening to music. This psychedelic rock track, from his newest record Hard Love. reminds me of “Goshen ’97,” the best song off his previous album.

Mew – 85 Videos. This Danish group, whose singer calls their music “indie stadium,” is about to release its seventh album in late April, with “85 Videos” the lead single. The band has dropped the progressive trappings of its early career in favor of a more dream-pop approach with immaculate production and great technical skills, but without forsaking a good melody that wouldn’t be out of place in ’85.

Sarah Chernoff – Warm Nights. This solo debut from the lead singer of Superhumanoids shows off Chernoff’s incredible voice in a different milieu, over a bass-heavy, almost jazzy groove that’s evocative of a dark club or some sort of intimate venue for a concert. I’ll list just about anything she does on these updates.

Ride – Home Is A Feeling. Shoegaze has come back around again. Slowdive is back, Ride is back, Lush is back … I’m waiting for the Swervedriver/Catherine Wheel double bill. Ride hasn’t released a proper album since 1996, but have put out two singles in the last month – this and “Charm Assault” – presaging an album due out this summer.

Aristophanes – Humans Become Machines. Aristophanes (born Pan Wei-Ju) was introduced to the west on Grimes’ Art Angels album, where the Taiwanese rapper took the lead on the track “Scream.” It’s definitely disorienting to hear a high-pitched female voice rapping in Chinese, but Grimes produced this track, which is good enough for me.

Joey Bada$$ – Victory. The lead single from Bada$$’s upcoming second album is an ode to the NBA, which doesn’t do much for me itself, but his flow really stands out to me, even above other more popular “alternative” rappers like Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole.

CyHi The Prynce – Nu Africa. I’m not trying to change the world, I’m not looking for a nu Africa … wait, that’s the wrong song. CyHi, a frequent collaborator with Kanye West, is playing wordgames here as he tries to squeeze a slew of African country names into the lyrics (I counted 22), but there’s also a very old-school Native Tongues sort of Afrocentrism here, with an argument that black Americans should do more to help develop the “motherland.”

King Woman – Shame. You don’t see many women singing on doom metal tracks, but this is Kristina Esfandiari’s band and she is the dominant presence on this song, although I wish her vocals were produced more towards the front of the mix. It’s like Diamanda Galas doing guest vocals for Pallbearer.

Sleep – The Clarity. I didn’t realize this seminal stoner-rock act, best known for the single-track 2003 album Dopesmoker, had recorded any new material since that record, but this song first appeared on a compilation in 2014 and showed up on Spotify this week. It’s a nearly ten-minute dirge of vintage stoner metal, veering towards doom.

Ignea – Petrichor. A female-fronted symphonic/folk metal band from Ukraine, formerly known as Parallax, Ignea just released their debut album under this name, although several of these songs (including this one) have appeared previously. Their sound is fascinating, and also taught me a new word: the OED defines “petrichor” as “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.”

Havok – Intention to Deceive. Havok are an old-school thrash outfit that draws heavily on 1980s influences like Overkill and Vio-lence, the latter of whom could easily have recorded this song – which has very timely lyrics about authorities distracting the public with trivial controversies while greater ones go unreported.

Mastodon – Show Yourself. This might be the poppiest song I’ve ever heard from Mastodon, and I don’t mean that as an insult. It’s the shortest track from the band’s upcoming album, Emperor of Sand, which comes out at the end of the month, and still has progressive/technical elements but rides on a strong vocal hook that introduces the song.

Music update, January 2017.

My rankings of the top ten prospects by position are now up for Insiders, along with just about all of my offseason prospect rankings. I also have a new boardgame review, of the complex strategy game Forged in Steel, up over at Paste.

I couldn’t find enough new music to fill out a playlist at the end of December, but the last two months combined gave me more than enough material – twenty songs and nearly an hour and a half of new stuff. The beginning of this list feels really strong with singles I’ll have on the year-end list in ten and a half months, and there’s even some good new metal stuff at the end.

If the widget below doesn’t work, you can access the Spotify playlist here.

BNQT – Restart. This supergroup has members of Midlake, Grandaddy, Band of Horses, Travis, and Franz Ferdinand, and just announced their debut album this past week. This song is great, but I don’t think it’s necessarily unique – the main line reminds me of Tame Impala’s “Elephant,” which is a compliment but makes me wonder if having so many cooks in the kitchen will lead to a sound that lacks distinctive elements.

Bad Sounds – Wages. The Guardian named Bad Sounds their best new band of the week back in November, comparing them to early Beck and hip-hop, but I hear more Madchester and baggy sounds here, especially the groups that spun those into something poppier like the Soupdragons and Space Monkeys.

The New Pornographers – High Ticket Attractions. TNP are kind of an auto-include for me, but this is very similar to the better songs from Brill Bruisers, which I loved for its open embrace of pop melodies.

Slowdive – Star Roving. This is the first new single in 22 years from these shoegaze stalwarts, who were, I think, more critically acclaimed in their day than they were ever popular – but it’s good, a classic shoegaze song that doesn’t sound outdated.

Japandroids – True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will. I was not a fan of their 2012 album Celebration Rock, which made a slew of best-of lists for that year, but their latest record, the eight-song Near to the Wild Heart of Life, is cleaner, more polished, and more overtly melodic. The title track is good, this track is good, and the seven-minute “Arc of Bar” manages to fill its length with so much interesting material that I would have guessed it was two minutes shorter than its actual running time.

Spoon – Hot Thoughts. Another auto-include artist, and this song has a good Spoon hook, although the lyrics seem a little beneath them.

Lucius – The Punisher. Lucius put two songs on my 2016 year-end list, with one track at #10, and then rolled out this new single in December, which has a couple of really good melodic lines working in concert in the song’s second half.

Daughter – The End. This song didn’t appear on the Irish trio’s album Not to Disappear, released in January of 2016, but was a bonus track on certain later editions and then showed up as a single in October. It’s similarly melancholy, bordering on depressing, but with musical twists as the song crescendoes that almost hint at hope.

Heavy English – Shake. I loved this band’s first single, 2015’s “Twenty-One Flights,” but their full album didn’t quite fulfill that song’s promise; the whole record dropped in November and other than that song this was my favorite track, bringing in some of the bluesy riffing that made the first song grab my attention.

Slime Girls – Meteor Showers. Slime Girls’ Pedro Silva calls his music “laptop pop,” but this song rocks a little more with heavier guitar lines than that term implies. Apparently he’s been putting out records for years, with four longer releases, but this is the first song of theirs to cross my desk.

Ten Fé – Twist Your Arm. At some point, this electronic pop/rock duo has to release an album, right? I think this is now four great singles, and two I didn’t love, without a full-length record. I do love their sound, clearly – they’re in the same vein as White Lies, doing a more modern twist on synth-driven new wave.

Sundara Karma – Deep Relief. Their single “The Night” was #34 on my 2016 year-end list, and like that song, “Deep Relief” reminds me a lot more of Arcade Fire than the music of their stated influence, Bruce Springsteen. If they sounded more like Springsteen, I wouldn’t have any of their songs on these lists.

Arcade Fire with Mavis Staples – I Give You Power. All proceeds from the band’s first new song since Reflektor, a collaboration with Ms. Staples, will go to help the ACLU.

Goldfrapp – Anymore. This duo’s been around for 18 years, and I could swear I’ve heard some of their music before, but can’t figure out what song(s) that might have been. Anyway, their seventh album, Silver Eye, will be out early this year.

Tei Shi – Keep Running. This Argentine-born singer/songwriter is sort of Grimes Lite, mining similar territory but without Grimes’ vast musical reach, and I think aiming for a more atmospheric sound overall.

Gone Is Gone – Dublin. Mastodon singer/bassist Troy Sanders appears twice on this list, once here and once with his main band. Gone is Gone just released, Echolocation its second album in less than a year, and while I’ve yet to go through that whole album this lead single is strong and similar to the music (like “Violescent”) from their self-titled debut.

Black Map – Ruin. This heavy-rock trio will release its debut album, In Droves, in March; the first single, “Run Rabbit Run,” was #65 on my 2016 year-end list.

Overkill – Mean, Green, Killing Machine. Overkill were one of the better true thrash acts of the 1980s that never rose to the level of the big 3 or 4 (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and maybe Anthrax) but have stayed very true to their original sounds while more popular acts have tried to evolve to chase more sales. Testament and Overkill put out the best records of any of those 1980s/1990s US metal stalwarts that released new albums in the last 24 months.

Mastodon – Sultan’s Curse. Good Mastodon songs are progressive without sounding prog-rockish. This is one of them.

Pallbearer – Thorns. These critically acclaimed doom metallers can get a little long – which is inherent in the genre – but “Thorns” is shorter, tighter, and thus really holds your attention without losing the heavy gloom that makes their music compelling.

Top 10 albums of 2016.

The last few years I’ve ranked a number of albums equal to the last two digits of the year, so I should have been due for a top 16 albums list for 2016 … but I can’t do it. I just couldn’t find that many albums I could truly recommend as complete listens, records that were mostly good from start to finish, as opposed to albums that had three great songs (Jagwar Ma’s Every Now and Then) but had a lot of filler.

I’ve always slipped one metal album on to the list for fellow fans of the heavy stuff; the best metal record I heard this year was Kodama (amazoniTunes) by French shoegaze-metalers Alcest, six songs, mostly long ones, that create a cohesive sound that carries over shifting tempos and movements and the occasional death growl. It was just a fair year in metal, I think, with a lot of well-known artists releasing albums that were pretty ho-hum (looking at you, Metallica and Megadeth). Other favorites of mine this year: Gojira’s Magma, Entombed AD’s Dead Dawn, Omnium Gatherum’s Grey Heavens, Animals As Leaders’ The Madness of Many, Dark Tranquility’s Atoma, and two I’ll suggest with reservations – Cobalt’s Slow Forever, which is brilliant musically but marred by screeched vocals a la Obituary; and Astronoid’s Air, kind of like shoegaze-death metal with clean, often harmonized vocals, but lacking much in the way of hooks.

You can see my ranking of the top 100 songs of 2016, which I posted last week and informs this list as well.

10. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (amazoniTunes). I mean, it’s a Radiohead album, so it’s brilliant and intricate and slightly experimental, but it’s also on the ambient, ethereal side of things, which, as a fan of their first three albums, I find a bit disappointing. There are two standout tracks here, “Burn the Witch” and “Desert Island Disk,” but there are plenty of other worthwhile moments on the album (like the two-step drumbeat that underlies “Identikit”) and nothing truly unlistenable.

9. Wire – Nocturnal Koreans (amazoniTunes). Barely an album at 26 minutes for eight songs, it’s essentially the discarded tracks from their 2015 self-titled album, but cleaned up with better production, and the result is a distillation of Wire’s best sounds, musically and technically.

8. The Coral – Distance Inbetween (amazoniTunes). In a year when the Stone Roses dropped two singles in an unexpected comeback, their brand of blues-heavy psychedelic rock was done better on two albums that landed in my top ten, including this one. The Coral seemed on the verge of dissolution after losing two key members in the last few years, but this album sees them back to their mid-aughts heyday of driving, throwback rock, including tracks like “Fear Machine,” “Chasing the Tail of a Dream,” and the opening track “Connector.”

7. Lapcat – She’s Bad (amazoniTunes). Experimental-ish electronic music, picking up where the xx’s first album left off (an album the xx themselves seem to have forgotten), led by Cate Coslor’s sultry vocals but powered by the sparse, atmospheric synth lines behind her. They’re apparently big Portishead fans and the influence is clear on “She’s Bad,” “Lavender,” and “Nebraska.”

6. SULK – No Illusions (amazoniTunes). This is the other Stone Roses-influenced album here, this record opens with a three-song punch that will transport you right back to “She Bangs the Drums” and “I Wanna Be Adored,” although they’re missing Ian Brown’s swagger here. Even when the melody doesn’t click, they still evoke a time and feeling with guitar lines like the one behind “Love Can’t Save You Now.”

5. White Lung – Paradise (amazoniTunes). This album was so hyped, and I bought into it completely, that I found myself a little disappointed when it came out and it was merely very good, a 60 rather than a 70. It’s smart punk, well-informed by decades of punk-pop fusions, but “Hungry” was the only single that I thought stood out on its own, although “Kiss Me When I Bleed” and “Below” are solid too.

4. School of Seven Bells – SVIIB (amazoniTunes). I tried not to bow too much to sentiment here, as this is the farewell record from SVIIB, whose founding member, Ben Curtis, died three years ago this month of lymphoma at age 35. His bandmate and former partner Alejandra Deheza returned to the studio a year later and completed the record they’d begun, producing an album of two parts. The first seven songs are typical SVIIB fare, dreamy electronica given texture by Deheza’s smoky, low-register vocals, mixing upbeat tempos with a clear sense of loss in the lyrics to songs like “Open Your Eyes,” “Ablaze,” and “A Thousand Times More.” Then the album closes with two ballads to rip your heart right out of your chest.

3. Thrice – To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere (amazon (for $5!)iTunes). That’s Riley Breckenridge of the Productive Outs podcast and the band Puig Destroyer on drums for these post-hardcore stalwarts, whose latest album was their first in five years and something of a return to heavy rock after 2011’s Major/Minor. This hits a particular sweet spot for me, as I’ve always favored guitar-driven music, even to the point of listening to some extreme metal, but also am drawn to strong melodies and smart lyrics. “Blood on the Sand” and “Black Honey” made my top 100 but I’m also a fan of opener “Hurricane” and the angry “Death from Above.”

2. Wild Beasts – Boy King (amazoniTunes). The best rock record of the year finds Wild Beasts coming down from their art-rock heights to produce their most accessible album to date, a disc devoted to the idea of toxic masculinity (“Now I’m all fucked up/And I can’t stand up/So I better suck it up/Like a tough guy would”). Their willingness to experiment is corraled here within normal song structures, and they’ve created hypnotic, twisted dance songs like “Alpha Female,” “Get My Bang,” and “He the Colossus” that fill out the record along with the slower but still catchy “Big Cat” and “Tough Guy.”

1. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here … Thank You 4 Your Service (amazoniTunes). Another record informed by loss – founding Tribe member Phife died in March, just as the quartet were finishing the album – this isn’t merely the best record of the year, it’s one of the best records of the century and my favorite rap album of the last twenty years. Where the Tribe were always pioneers of Afrocentric lyrics and infusing jazz and other traditionally black music into their songs, they were fundamentally about peace and personal, spiritual uplift. We Got it from Here, however, finds the Tribe seriously pissed off, and their lyrics and vocabulary reflect it – but Q-Tip, Phife, and the revenant Jarobi White are as energized as ever, dropping rhymes like they never quit, like The Love Movement never happened, like the state of Black America is more important than whatever personal feud kept them apart for almost two decades. Busta Rhymes hasn’t sounded this good since The Coming. Kendrick Lamar is here. Jack White is here. Elton Fucking John sings on this record. And there are hooks everywhere – on “The Space Program,” “We the People,” “Melatonin,” “Dis Generation,” “Ego,” and more. I didn’t see this album coming, and I don’t give any record extra points for coming from an artist I love or one that’s been gone a long time. The only flaw here was that, at sixteen songs, it probably could have been shorter, but with Phife gone, I’m happy to hear everything he recorded before he left. This is almost certainly the end of the Tribe as we knew them, but what a fucking way to go.

Others I considered that didn’t make the cut – and I listened to a LOT of albums this month to make sure I had enough of a sample to put together a list at all – included sad13’s Slugger, Bob Mould’s Patch the Sky, Jagwar Ma’s Every Now and Then, Broods’ Conscious, and Daughter’s Not to Disappear.

Top 100 songs of 2016.

As with all of my music lists, this represents my personal preference. If I don’t like a song, it’s not here. That wipes out some critically-acclaimed artists’ 2016 releases entirely, including Frank Ocean, Angel Olsen, and Bon Iver. Other folks liked that stuff. I didn’t. Everything’s fine.

The top 100 playlist has all tracks ordered from 100 to 1, as usual. I have changed one thing from past years; the last three years I posted a top albums list first, and this a day later, but this year I’m saving the albums list till the following week. I started that post, realized I only had about eight albums I felt strongly about, and decided to go back and listen or re-listen to about a dozen others before writing up whatever number I can reach.

If the Spotify widget won’t display for you, you can access the playlist directly.

100. Dinosaur Jr. – Goin Down. The opening track on Dinosaur Jr.’s first album in four years, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, sounds very much like vintage Dino Jr, but the album ended up feeling repetitive to me … just like vintage Dino Jr. I like this song though.

99. HAELOS – Separate Lives. This British electronic trio produces music that is clearly influenced by 1990s trip-hop but manages to transcend that genre’s tendency towards, uh, music for the heavily stoned with faster beats and more pronounced melody lines on top of the spaced-out rhythm.

98. The Aces – Stuck. A one-off single from a then-unsigned quartet, this is one of the year’s best straight pop songs, effervescent without being cloying. I do wonder if they’ll have to change their name at some point to avoid confusion with the blues band of the same name, who backed up singer Little Walter and recorded a few songs on their own.

97. The Faint – Young & Realistic. A new single to promote their retrospective Capsule album, this is dark electronic indie music from the Omaha stalwarts and perhaps my favorite song of theirs since their 2004 record Wet from Birth.

96. D.A.R.K. – The Moon. A sort-of-supergroup, D.A.R.K. stands for Dolores (O’Riordan, of the Cranberries), Andy Rourke (of the Smiths), and Ole Koretsky (of … I don’t know what). Their first album, Science Agrees, came out in September, and it’s full of dark, moody songs like this one, light on melodies and not particularly sounding like either O’Riordan’s or Rourke’s old bands.

95. Preoccupations – Stimulation. Formerly known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations issued their first album under their new name this September, but their sound hasn’t changed, a meld of garage-rock sounds from the 1960s and early punk/guitar-driven new wave from the late 1970s. I like their overall sound more than I like their songs, and I do not stick around for the 10-minute tracks they have included on each album to date, but “Stimulation” shows their potential when they hit on a memorable melody.

94. Bastille – Good Grief. I assume I’m supposed to dislike this because Bastille is so popular, but guess what – it’s a great song, just like “Pompeii” was, and both pair a cheerful melody against a song about death and despair.

93. Sleigh Bells – I Can’t Stand You Anymore. Sleigh Bells have a critical and cult following of which I am not a member; I loved “Rill Rill” and got off the train before it derailed (derilled?) into noise-rock. This lead single from their album Jessica Rabbit, which just dropped a few weeks ago, does a better job of keeping Alexis Krauss’ voice out in front, and has a minimalist backing track led by a solid guitar riff without the trappings of some of their earlier, more dissonant works.

92. Spirit Animal – World War IV (To the Floor). Spirit Animal’s EP World War IV is as eclectic as this song, with bits from all different genres, in one measure drawing on 1970s funk, then shifting into an ’80s metal riff for the chorus.

91. Christine & the Queens – Tilted. This song first appeared in 2014 in French as “Christine” but was rereleased earlier this year in a mostly-English version, and the chorus is one of the year’s best earworms, not to mention the indelible image of the line “I’m doing my face/With magic marker.”

90. Cloves – Better Now. Kaity Dunstan, aka Cloves, made my top ten last year with her incredible piano-and-vocals track “Frail Love,” and is back now with this lead single from her debut album, due out at some point in 2017. Still just 20 years old, she should be a mainstream star by this point next year, based on her output to date.

89. Bear’s Den – Auld Wives. Bands with “Bear” in their names are almost as trendy as those with “White” in their names right now. This London duo seems to have drunk heavily on darker, gothic music since their first album of Mumford-esque folk-pop, although “Auld Wives” was the only real standout from their sophomore album.

88. Descendents – Victim of Me. I wanted to love Hypercaffium Spazzinate, the Descendents’ first album since 2004, but I just kind of liked it; it’s older, wiser (one song is called “No Fat Burger”), but a little tamer too. I still like their general sound, a poppier take on classic punk that isn’t sanitized like Green Day’s commercialized version.

87. Atomic Tom – Someone to Love. A soaring new-new-wave track that gave me a-ha flashbacks, but in a good way, with the same kind of huge energy as that branch of ’80s synth-pop, but with more guitars and less artificiality.

86. Animal Collective – Golden Gal. The song opens with a sample from the show Golden Girls, which has somehow come back around to cult popularity – if you’ve ever been in a Big Gay Ice Cream shop, you’d think the show never fell out of favor – but it’s a good example of how AC’s Painting With showed them dabbling more in conventional song structures without losing their inherently experimental style that made them distinctive in the first place. “FloriDaDa” is the best song on the album but appeared on my top 100 last year.

85. Wire – Numbered. Think of a number … Wir(e) sound remarkably young on Nocturnal Koreans, their 15th album, coming out more than 38 years after their first record Pink Flag introduced the world to “Three Girl Rhumba,” to which this new track alludes in multiple ways. Wire remain cynical post-punksters who seem to drop melodies almost in spite of themselves, and their latest album, only 26 minutes long, was one of the year’s best.

84. Daughter – No Care. Daughter’s album Not to Disappear tended more towards lugubrious quietcore, but this one track brings a manic, angry energy that breaks up the album. The way the song seems about to careen out of control puts the lie to its title and chorus, as if the lady, singer Elena Tonra, doth protest too much.

83. The Wans – Run Baby Run. A hard-rock trio from Nashville with some blues or even country underpinnings, like the Black Keys did a few lines and got angry. This is meant as a compliment.

82. Kate Nash – Good Summer. I miss the lyricist behind “Foundations,” but I still love Nash’s voice and she has a knack for crafting a pop hook, even though this bit of candy veers towards bubblegum more than I’d like.

81. Black Honey – All My Pride. This female-fronted post-punk act from the UK appears twice on my list, not including the song “Black Honey” by a completely different band. If you were into White Lung, who also appear here, you’d like Black Honey, which has a similar vibe with maybe 10% less rage.

80. Lucius – Pulling Teeth. Lucius are weird, practically a walking stereotype of Brooklyn hipster musicians, but they had a huge year in 2016, with an album in March, Good Grief, that had a couple of outstanding singles on it, and this track from an upcoming 10″ along with “The Punisher.” If you can get past the superficial stuff, Lucius actually produces some really novel pop sounds that draw upon many different eras going back to the 1950s.

79. Broods – Free. I could listen to Georgia Nott sing just about anything – and she’s not too hard on the eyes either – but this duo’s new album marked a significant change in direction from their debut record, which made my top albums of 2014, bringing bigger production values, more electronic elements behind her vocals, and a clear right turn towards commercial pop. I worry they’ve lost a little of what made their debut special to try to appeal to a broader audience, but two core facets are still here – Nott’s voice and strong vocal melodies.

78. The Big Pink – Hightimes. Nothing will ever match “Dominos,” but this was a solid return from The Big Pink after years of meh singles that followed their kick-the-doors-down debut track.

77. Mt. Si – Oh. This new project from Sarah Chernoff of Superhumanoids, an absolutely superb vocalist, dropped a four-track EP in February that showcases her voice with sparser electronic backing than she’d get with her regular gig.

76. Halsey – Castle. Halsey’s everywhere thanks to that awful song she did with the Chainsmokers – who are on my short list for Worst Artists of 2016 along with Twenty-One Pilots and DNCE – but this track, released as a single this spring thanks to its inclusion in the dud film The Huntsman, is both a great showcase for her voice’s smoky qualities and the swirling melody in the chorus.

75. Grimes – Medieval Warfare. A mediocre Grimes song is still better than a good song by a lot of other artists; this track, which sounds like a B-side from a single off Art Angels, appeared on the Suicide Squad soundtrack.

74. Hey Violet – Brand New Moves. Get used to this group, as I think they’re about to break through as a pure-pop act aimed at teenaged listeners, with their abysmal “Guys My Age” already getting some airplay and their label the new one formed by the 5 Seconds of Summer boybanders. “Brand New Moves,” the title track from their latest EP, is by far their most sophisticated song, with elements of R&B and even some darkwave distinguishing it from the pure-pop crowd.

73. of Montreal – it’s different for girls. If you can handle Kevin Barnes’ idiosyncratic vocal delivery – before I knew this band was from Athens, Georgia I assumed they were from another country – of Montreal creates some compelling experimental pop music, sometimes exasperating but sometimes clicking, as it does on this comical semi-feminist track.

72. Lush – Out of Control. A very quiet comeback from these early 1990s shoegazers who had a brief moment in the sun with their modest alternative hit single “Ladykiller” back in 1995, but one that found Lush moving back to its Spooky/Split roots.

71. Chairlift – Romeo. Their best song to date, “Ch-Ching,” made my top 10 of 2015; the album Moth didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the lead single, but this was the second-best track on the record.

70. Regina Spektor – Grand Hotel. Just vocals and piano, with Spektor managing to craft something of a story, heavy on physical imagery, about a hotel that has a direct connection to the underworld.

69. Dawes – When the Tequila Runs Out. This has a little bit of a novelty-hit feel to it, but I’m not averse to novelty hits if they’re smart and still catchy.

68. Wild Beasts – Tough Guy. Get used to this band, as they’re going to show up again on this list; Boy King was the best rock album of the year. Wild Beasts was always an experimental outfit, a la alt-J or Everything Everything, but on this latest album they toned down a little bit of the madness to create more compact, accessible songs that are still way out of the mainstream.

67. Thrice – Black Honey. Another of my favorite albums of the year, Thrice’s post-hardcore To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere had a bunch of standout tracks, including this one, the complex opener “Hurricane,” and one more song higher up this list. I feel like Thrice has taken up the mantle of bands like Clutch or Corrision of Conformity fell off, making music that clearly descends from hardcore but works with slower tempos and real hooks. Full disclosure: I know their drummer, and perhaps so do you, as it’s Riley Breckinridge of the Productive Outs podcast.

66. The Struts – Kiss This. I like this song. Don’t @ me.

65. Black Map – Run Rabbit Run. This group’s members are all parts of other bands I’ve never heard of, so forgive me if I balk at Wikipedia (which is never wrong) terming them a “supergroup.” This is an extremely catchy hard-rock song with a real bluesy riff underpinning it.

64. Banks & Steelz – Giant. So many of these rap/rock partnerships turn out to be disasters that I was shocked when this one – Paul Banks of Interpol and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan – produced a couple of decent songs, including this one, which is probably the strongest rap performance I heard from RZA on this record. Ghostface Killah also appears on the lead single, “Love + War,” although I found the chorus to that song really week.

63. Leagues – Dance with Me. This Nashville outfit had a couple of minor hits in 2013 with “Spotlight” and “You Belong Here” and returned this fall with Alone Together, which has a similar sound that blends indie and electronic sounds with tempos and riffing. I like their way of bringing those styles together, as it’s less cloying than other bands that try to mash them up into something pop, but Leagues hasn’t found the commercial success they deserve yet.

62. Car Seat Headrest – Fill in the Blank. So everyone comments on the funny intro to this song, which sounds like a college student on the campus radio station announcing the next song, which is by some artist she’s never heard of so she has to look it up. I think that’s genuinely funny … the first time. And then it’s never funny again. I also was totally underwhelmed by this album, which is making a lot of folks’ top ten lists for the year, between Will Toledo’s whiny voice and the fact that it sounds like it was recorded in a storage locker. That’s a lot of words about not liking Car Seat Headrest, but I think this song has a good hook.

61. Hippo Campus – Boyish. Minnesota indie-rockers who sound nothing like Prince, which I thought was illegal if you were from the Twin Cities or something. The pairing of the keyboard line and the vocal melody gives this song its most persistent hook, more than the call-and-response act in the chorus. Their debut album, Landmark, is due out on February 24th.

60. Suede – Outsiders. Anderson, Oakes, and company have put out a couple of solid albums the last couple of years for an unexpected second act that will never match their “Metal Mickey” heyday but brings some lyrical and musical maturity to their Britpop roots, even hitting the top ten in the UK. There’s a real sense of yearning and loss in a lot of songs from these two records, as on “Outsiders,” which marries some great guitar work from Oakes with melancholy vocals from Anderson.

59. Temples – Certainty. Temples’ second album is due out in March, with this as the teaser first single, driven by an organ riff after the chorus that reminds me of the earliest output of the Charlatans and their own reliance on a Hammond organ on their debut record.

58. Sad13 – <2. That’s Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, who have a song much further up this list; she issued her solo debut, Slugger, this summer, and it sounds a lot like Speedy Ortiz’s two albums to date, which is a good thing – melody and anti-melody, often using dissonant sounds, vocals that seem to be fighting the music at times but always manage to come together by the end of the song. If anything, “<2” is a bit more melodic than the best Speedy Ortiz songs (like “Tiger Tank”), but if you liked her work before the solo album you’re going to like this.

57. The Kills – Doing It to Death. It’s not quite “Sour Cherry,” but what is? Jamie Hince’s guitar work is really the star of the song, even overshadowing Alison Mosshart’s vocals when the latter are mixed toward the front of the track.

56. Jagwar Ma – Give Me a Reason. Jagwar Ma are an Australian indie-pop trio, and they’re only “indie” in the sense that they haven’t really broken through yet – this is great, smart, complex music that would fit in fine on pop radio except for the fact that it’s better than almost everything else on those stations. “Give Me a Reason” sounds like a lost Madchester track that’s been remastered but would rank among the best songs by the Happy Mondays or the Inspiral Carpets.

55. ELEL – Animal. This eight-member outfit finally released their first full-length album, Geode this fall, including their minor hit “40 Watt” from last year and this song, my favorite from them to date, which encapsulates their mixture of soul and Caribbean rhythms into typical rock song structures.

54. Hundred Waters – Forgive Me for Giving Up. Hundred Waters had my #1 album of 2014, then released this one-off single this year, along with a very weird remix of their song “Show Me Love” that included Chance the Rapper. (I didn’t like it.) This song is more like HW’s other output, using Nicole Miglis’s potent vocals as another layer of melody.

53. White Lies – Come On. This is unapologetic ’80s new wave revival music, one of the two best tracks on their October album Friends, along with “Don’t Want to Feel It All.”

52. Nani – I Am Volcano. They describe themselves as “manic-wave,” but this sounds like very early post-punk to me, like what Siouxie Sioux might have produced had she stayed in a more guitar-driven direction than going towards what would become new wave. I think this is a band to watch.

51. Jeff Beck – Live in the Dark. Yes, that’s the Jeff Beck, the 72-year-old guitar virtuoso and author of the song “Constipated Duck.” His Loud Hailer was his first album in six years, and he hasn’t lost anything as a guitarist or author of memorable licks. Singer Rosie Bones (of the London duo Bones, with guitarist Carmen Vandenburg, who also appears on this album) can get in the way of Beck’s work sometimes, but on “Live in the Dark” her deep, bluesy vocals complement his work and turn what he’s called a “guitar nerd” sort of track into a viable radio single.

50. The Temper Trap – Fall Together. TT’s best song since their 2008 hit “Sweet Disposition” also carries a big chorus and anthemic feel tailor-made for playing to a big stadium crowd in their home country of Australia.

49. The Coral – Fear Machine. I thought the Coral’s album Distance Inbetween was one of the best of the year, and a criminally underheard rock record that particularly satisfies me as someone who grew up on the hard rock of the ’70s and ’80s but bailed on the stylized, overproduced groove and rap-metal acts of the 1990s. The Coral quaffed deeply on what was called metal in the 1970s and this song grooves in a way that so-called “groove metal” doesn’t. Recommended if you like Band of Skulls.

48. Last Shadow Puppets – Bad Habits. LSP’s surprise second album left me pretty cold other than this one single, and even this isn’t close to “Standing Next to Me,” the glorious throwback single from their first album. Alex Turner is capable of better.

47. Trashcan Sinatras – Let Me Inside (Or Let Me Out). I loved the first two albums from these Scottish folk-rockers, which produced alternative hits like “Obscurity Knocks” and “Hayfever” (the latter featured in a Beavis and Butthead episode). Wild Pendulum, their first album in seven years, leans more towards the folkier side of their sound, but the first three songs on the album have a little more energy to them, like their best singles from their 1990s period did.

46. School of Seven Bells – Ablaze. The farewell album from SVIIB was finished after the death of member Benjamin Curtis, who recorded with partner Alejandra Deheza up until a few months before leukemia ended his life; Deheza returned to the studio after taking over a year away from music and completed the album, which is a tremendous, emotional record in its own right, and a fitting tribute to Curtis. SVIIB never broke through as they deserved, but I hope this album will find its audience in time given the presence of several great singles and the crushing suite of ballads that closes the record.

45. FREAK – Nowhere. I wrote in November’s playlist how FREAK has been compared to Nirvana, but I don’t hear that as much as I hear Drenge and Royal Blood and other stripped-down British garage-rock acts, maybe with a little more hard-rock edge to it.

44. KONGOS – Take It From Me. The South African (by way of Arizona) quartet behind the 2012 hit “Come With Me Now” put out a presciently-titled album called Egomaniac this summer, featuring more of their kwaito-infused rock; this received moderate airplay but I thought it was the best song and most radio-friendly single from that full-length.

43. Stone Roses – All for One. It’s not vintage Stone Roses – if it were, it would probably be in my top five – mostly because someone seems to have emasculated Ian Brown between Solarized and his reunion with John Squire, whose guitar work sounds pretty much as it did in his abortive efforts with the Seahorses.

42. Corinne Bailey Rae – Stop Where You Are. Rae’s first album in six years, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, was a welcome return for one of the most beautiful voices in music, absent since the album she recorded after her husband’s death in 2008.

41. Van William – Revolution. Van Pierszalowski of WATERS recorded two songs as Van William this year, with help from First Aid Kit on this folky track, although it’s still very clearly the same voice (literally and figuratively) behind WATERS’ hooks and lyrics. Full disclosure: Van’s a Dodgers fan and a fan of third-wave coffee, like I am, and we’ve chatted about both a number of times over the last year-plus, so I won’t pretend to be objective here.

40. SULK – Black Infinity (Upside Down). It’s a better Stone Roses song than either of the songs the re-formed Roses released this year, although in this case I’m talking first album Roses more than second.

39. Monica Heldal – Coulda Been Sound. Heldal’s vocals remind me of Kat Edmondson’s bubbly, evocative style, and the fingerpicked acoustic guitar here would have fit perfectly on Ben Howard’s 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated album Every Kingdom.

38. Lapcat – She’s Bad. I need to spend more time with the new album by this Swiss-American electronica trio; this title track features a hypnotic guitar line over a classic trip-hop rhythm that could easily have come off Massive Attack’s Mezzanine.

37. Ten Fé – Overflow. Still waiting for a full-length album from this new wave-ish duo, who’ve produced a couple of great singles so far in the same vein as White Lies.

36. Drowners – Pick Up the Pace. Named for a Suede song, this quartet had a couple of songs I liked in 2013 that appeared on their debut album, but this year’s On Desire was a relative letdown, sounding too derivative of their Britpop idols without enough hooks like the ones that drive the chorus and bridge of this track.

35. DMA’s – Too Soon. This Australian band sounds right out of mid-90s Britpop, to the point that Noel Gallagher (ex-Oasis) said he’d “boo them” when he saw them at an event where his new band was playing with the DMA’s. I’m over the antics of the brothers Gallagher, and the hackneyed music they put out now, but this DMA’s track does a pretty good impression of that particular moment in music time without coming off as unoriginal (the way Drowners can).

34. Sundara Karma – The Night. A British band (from Reading) whose members cite Bruce Springsteen as an inspiration, although I don’t hear that directly in this swirling, yearning song, more like a focused version of Arcade Fire’s brand of slow indie-rock.

33. Porches – Be Apart. I can be pretty harsh on songs that have this kind of sound, like a bunch of kids playing around with their first Casiotone keyboard, but man this song, from Porches’ album Pool, is just creepy as hell and that makes it great.

32. Thrice – Blood on the Sand. The best pure single off Thrice’s To Be Everywhere is Nowhere, although I think their album as a whole rewards full listens.

31. Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life. I’ve said before I wasn’t a big fan of Japandroids’ critically acclaimed 2012 Celebration Rock album, which I thought was more noise than melody and lacked the big hooks I’d expect from an album with such plaudits. This lead single and title track from their upcoming album is far more memorable, with the vocals getting more emphasis in the production as well.

30. Swet Shop Boys – Tiger Hologram. The unexpected partnership between actor Riz Ahmed (The Night Of and Rogue One) and Heems (ex-Das Racist.) produced this alternative rap gem that seems to nod to Indian music but is firmly grounded in the shorter musical lines of American hip-hop. Riz outrhymes Heems here, but it’s the repeated synth line that hooked me on this track.

29. Sløtface – Empire Records. Punk-popsters from Norway who had to change their name from Slutface because no one wanted to write about a band called Slutface. I think they’re better off this way. This is the title track from their four-song EP, with a full-length album to come in 2017.

28. Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nothing Personal. Finally released in the U.S. this year, nine months after it first appeared in their native UK, Dinosaur Pile-Up’s Eleven Eleven yielded this very Nirvana-esque rocker with a driving core riff. There’s some good heavy stuff on Eleven Eleven, like “Willow Tree” and “Anxiety Trip,” although I found their slower or lighter material more like bad grunge.

27. Frightened Rabbit – Get Out. These Scots received a lot of favorable reviews for their latest album, Painting of a Panic Attack, but I thought most of the record lacked any clear hooks or strong melodies, with the exception of this song, which perfectly balances their normal folk-rock sound (think early Belle & Sebastian) with a cathartic release in the chorus.

26. White Lung – Hungry. This Vancouver punk act seemed poised for a big breakthrough with their 2016 album Paradise, which featured a couple of strong advance singles, including this one, and very positive reviews, but it sank without a trace here in the U.S. That’s a shame, as it’s made a number of publications’ best albums of the year lists and will be on mine as well.

25. The Head & the Heart – All We Ever Knew. TH&H seem to be good for one really great song per album, which isn’t to say their other stuff is terrible, just that I find a lot of it to be repetitive, and maybe too folky for me. This song has a couple of good hooks and the violin lines in the bridge bring real textural interest to a part of the song that might have been an afterthought.

24. Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry. I stand for science, and songs about science, or songs that just make a lot of allusions to science. Also, this song is really mesmerizing to listen to.

23. Broods – Heartlines. I noted above that Broods seemed to aim for a wider audience with their sophomore album, but there’s still enough of their atmospheric sound on the record to retain me as a fan, along with Georgia Nott’s outstanding vocal work.

22. Bob Mould – Voices in My Head. Hüsker Dü’s lead singer bounced back with a surprising return to his power-pop roots on Patch the Sky, an album that fits in the space between his first band and the short-lived Sugar; it’s as if Mould can’t help but write one memorable guitar riff after another, and this song, “The End of Things,” and “Hold On” rip open the album in fine form for someone who should be thirty years past his peak.

21. Black Honey – Hello Today. God, this song makes me miss Velocity Girl.

20. Wild Beasts – Get My Bang. I could probably have stuffed five Wild Beasts songs on the top 100 but I settled for three. It’s probably sacrilegious to say a band of four British white guys is continuing the tradition of funk-electronic-pop founded by Prince, but the way they’ve amped up the bass here bears his unmistakable influence. I could even see Prince writing about toxic masculinity, the overarching theme of their album Boy King.

19. Bat for Lashes – Sunday Love. Natasha Khan, who records as Bat for Lashes, wrote an entire concept album called The Bride about a woman whose fiance is killed en route to their wedding. It’s depressing as hell. This is a beautiful song, though, even though it’s about grief.

18. HAERTS – Eva. The longest song I’ve ever included on a year-end list, this nearly eight-minute opus is really a great four-minute HAERTS song with a three-minute instrumental outro.

17. With Lions – Down We Go. Never look back, Sister Sociopath. Heavy southern blues-rock that just grooves like there’s a foot on the accelerator the whole time.

16. ATCQ – We The People. The first single from the Tribe’s triumphant final album is an angry rant about black lives not mattering, with a hint of defeat about the political climate that isn’t supporting the change we need.

15. Van William – Fourth of July. A slice of sunny acoustic pop that Van Pierszalowski released this summer, his first song under the Van William moniker, although the upbeat guitar work and the various “whoa-oh-oh-oh’s” mask some dark lyrics about losing one’s faith.

14. Gone is Gone – Violescent. A new side project featuring the lead singer of Mastodon and one of the guitarists from Queens of the Stone Age, Gone is Gone has produced a short album and a couple of singles already in the last year, music that’s a little heavier than straight stoner rock but I think not fast enough to be called metal. This song is my favorite by them to date; they take the depressed-grunge sound of Alice in Chains and tune it down, with heavier, less slick production.

13. The Naked & Famous – Higher. I’ve liked TNAF’s sound but compared them unfavorably to CHVRCHES, who mine similar territory with better results. This, however, is a real standout track from the New Zealand group, their best song to date, an anthemic work with a pulsing synth line and shout-along chorus.

12. Phantogram – You Don’t Get Me High Anymore. The duo really dug deep for the title of their third album, Three, which featured this lead single comparing a lover to a drug in the most unflattering of terms.

11. School of Seven Bells – Open Your Eyes. Released too late for my 2015 top 100, this song from SVIIB hit the perfect melange of poignancy for late bandmember Ben Curtis and the spacey electronica the duo made on their previous three albums. Alejandra Deheza’s whispered lyrics seem so much more melancholy in the context of her former romantic and professional partner’s death.

10. Lucius – Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain. It’s not quite Shirley Manson saying she’s only happy when it rains, but Lucius has managed to craft a clever song about looking for the bad when everything’s good – to the point of an inability to just be happy in the moment – in a song that infuses indie-pop with a healthy dose of Motown.

9. Bear Hands – 2AM. I mean, the core message of the song is an essential truth: Nothing good happens past two a.m. It’s less of a rock song than their previous alternative radio hits “Agora” and “Giants,” and there’s real craft in its crescendo from the ambling verse, like a drunkard who’s stayed too long at the party, to the voice of conscience in the tight chorus.

8. Jagwar Ma – O B 1. It’s a slow build, but a big payoff in Jagwar Ma’s best song to date, a minute and a half to the two-stage chorus that turns the song’s rhythm and tempo on their heads. Unlike their first hit, “Save Me,” which was great for three minutes but then seemed like a song that couldn’t find the exit, this one keeps the beat going strong right past the five-minute mark thanks to the long intro and the layered backing music.

7. FKA Twigs – Good to Love. I hated FKA Twigs’ highly-regarded but, in my opinion, utterly juvenile debut LP1, which showed she had many influences and could use them to curse in lots of different musical styles. Then she blew me away with this stunningly gorgeous ballad. “I’ve got a right to hurt inside.” Yes, you do whatever you need to do, just keep writing music like this, please.

6. Wild Beasts – Big Cat. Boy King was one of the best albums of the year, and if you listen to this and don’t find yourself singing “Big cat top of the food chain” over and over for hours, you might be tone-deaf.

5. Everything Everything – I Believe It Now. I’ve lumped Everything Everything with Wild Beasts and alt-J as British bands doing experimental things within alternative rock’s frameworks, with Wild Beasts veering towards art-pop and Everything Everything writing the musical equivalent of Zadie Smith’s hysterical realism. This one-off single, written for British soccer telecasts, is their most focused track yet, a huge, bombastic anthem that finds the quartet keeping themselves just a shade more under control than usual.

4. Speedy Ortiz – Death Note. Go figure: Speedy Ortiz’s best song so far was a rejected track from 2015’s Foil Deer that they released as a one-off this spring.

3. Glass Animals – Life Itself. Glass Animals always does interesting things with their percussion, but I haven’t thought much of their songwriting to date because they seemed more focused on being weird than writing tight songs. This, though, flattened me on first listen. It’s a perfect pop song, with multiple melodic elements, witty lyrics, and, of course, interesting percussion sounds.

2. ATCQ – Dis Generation. It’s about as close as we’ll ever get to a “Scenario” reunion, with Q-Tip, Phife, Jarobi White, and Busta Rhymes rapping fast, with each other, over each other, around each other, and, in Busta’s case, back and forth to himself. It’s the best he’s sounded in twenty years, and the energy of the studio is palpable in every line. Jarobi “imbibing on impeccable grass.” Tip making “a jubilant noise” and praising the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt as “extensions of instinctual soul.” Busta Rhymes rhyming “In the church of Busta Rhymes, it’s my sermon you’re getting/Horizontal spittin’, I’m the exorcist of your writtens/’Don’t interrupt me n****!’/Sorry, that’s the sin I’m forgivin’.” And Phife, may he rest in peace, reminding us all that “we still the highest of commodity grade.” Yes, you were, and will forever be.

1. Radiohead – Burn the Witch. No song this year stayed with me like this one; their album A Moon Shaped Pool was too tepid for my tastes, but the interplay between the strings and Thom Yorke’s vocals – reminiscent of his work on P.J. Harvey’s “This Mess We’re In” – is like a surge of electricity that won’t stop, and some of the lyrics, including the line that “this is a low-flying panic attack,” stand as reminders of the art that Radiohead is capable of producing.