Every year, I devote the first half of December to catching up on any music I may have missed this year before we put together our end-of-year lists, a favorite exercise for any music fan. So I scour other publications lists (which always come out crazy early and sometimes miss out on a great release like Beyonce’s late surprise last year), ask friends for recommendations, and try to get a hold of any album that been on my to-listen list. Thus, here are five of my favorite song discoveries in that period, all which could find their way onto our end-of-year lists in a few weeks.
The Preatures – “Cruel”
Love the feverishly catchy sound of HAIM but could do without so much cheesy 80’s production? Give these Aussies a try. There is still the catchy 80’s pop sound, but the Preatures favor funk and disco production and just won’t slow down until you are thoroughly entertained. “Cruel” is a great example of this, certainly invoking a little Prince crossed with the Hives.
Luluc – “Small Window”
The Aussies are really come up strong this year, as Luluc is yet another late year discovery for me from Down Under. This comes appropriately from the world of NPR, which couldn’t promote the Aussie folk duo’s new album more in the last month with two of NPR’s finest critics citing Passerby as their favorite album of the year. I haven’t heard it enough to go anywhere near that far, but the still, calm beauty of songs like “Small Window” are undeniable.
King Tuff – “Black Moon Spell”
Who said rock is dead? T. Rex disciple Kyle Thomas released his third album under the moniker King Tuff called Black Moon Spell, and it’s full of full-blooded rock songs to bash in your head to. The title track has a Monster guitar riff with a capital M, a tour-de-force rock performance you rarely hear these days.
Allah-Las – “Follow You Down”
You can find L.A. rockers Allah-Las at the intersection of early 60’s surf rock and late 60’s psych rock. Their sophomore effort, “Follow the Sun” has the laid back vibe you would expect from that combination, but plenty of pop heft to make it worth your while.
Parkay Quarts – “Pretty Machines”
So this isn’t a discovery as much as an excuse to talk about Parquet Courts’s new album Content Nausea, released under the alter-ego Parkay Quarts. This song to me shows why Parquet Courts are sort of the heirs to the Strokes throne of coolest indie rock band around. While Parquet Courts don’t have the leather jacket cool of the Strokes, they do have the “no skin off my back” aloofness of the Strokes and make up for the lack of style with whip smart and irreverent humor both lyrically and musically. “Pretty Machines” even sounds like a Strokes song with its super melodic lead guitar riff and laid-back vocal.