It’s that time again: the New Year. Publicists are back to work and new songs are to be heard. We’ve already made it clear that we’re stoked for 2014, but we didn’t expect to have such a great batch of tunes so soon. This first Mp3 countdown of the year has major label artists, upstart indie projects, and a variety of different genres, from the southern rock of Drive-By Truckers, to the sophistipop of St. Vincent. That diversity is something we’ll strive to bring you every Friday with this countdown. There are waves of new music released every week, and there’s no way we can write about it all. But we can try to distill that wave into the 10 songs that best represent any given week of the year. We do it in the hope that you might just hear something you like.
10. Flashes – “To Catch a Ghost”
When listening to shoegaze, it’s not unusual to sense a specter haunting the room. Flashes’ punctual guitar strums and dark post-punk drive evoke that ghost expertly. The track’s patient crescendo envelops interesting instrumentation left and right, launching from its dreamy vocal landscapes to a distorted mecca in its conclusion. Download their self-titled debut for free here. –Sam Willett
9. Speedy Ortiz – “American Horror”
Speedy Ortiz is already following up last year’s Major Arcana with a new EP entitled Real Hair, and latest cut “American Horror” sees frontwoman Sadie Dupuis shifting from breakup laments to “songs that are a lot more introspective — myself dealing with and talking to and making sense of myself.” It sounds like something off an old Merge Records 7-inch, thanks to cranky guitars and Dupuis’ disaffected vocal delivery. Few bands do the ’90s revival thing this well. –Jon Hadusek
8. Krill – “Turd”
“I had a vision of myself, a turd spinning in flushing water, not going down,” goes the first line of Krill’s savory new single, “Turd”. The guitars and vocal performance are ragged and temperamental — not lo-fi, necessarily, but recorded with the same impassioned spontaneity. Think Superdrag, but more affected. –Jon Hadusek