10 Collective Soul – “Crushed”
This album I felt was by and large a success and it looks like most critics agree with me, from what I’ve seen following them on my Facebook. It starts out all Queens of the Stone Age-stompy but this song I thought took things to voluminous, climactic proportions, with a post-punk beat and still that newfound gritty edge the band seems to have stumbled upon.
9 Freddie Gibbs, Madlib – “Half Manne Half Cocaine”
This is just the Gary emcee doing what he does best — taking over the show with some mean street rhyming and crafting a hip-hop persona for the whole world to internalize on confrontational summer days. “Half Manne Half Cocaine” is I believe Madlib’s only “trap” beat on this album, which would usually count against it except that Gibbs’ lyrics are thoughtful and substantial, delivered with enough off-kilter insanity, to sell the thing.
8 The Black Keys – “Eagle Birds”
The Black Keys’ new album “Let’s Rock” is a curious confluence of the gutter-rocking swagger of Rubber Factory and the cleaned up, pop production of El Camino, and this track seems to bring the two disparate elements to an enjoyable confluence, lashing out with a certain grit but also congealing a couple of catchy, expedited themes.
7 Thom Yorke – “Traffic”
“Traffic” is the stunning dubstep opener on Thom Yorke’s new album Anima. Feedback for this album as been uproariously laudatory, particularly on this Reddit page I stumbled across of “album discussion,” which was just all these regular people commenting and saying things like it’s his best solo album ever and in one-ups even many Radiohead records.
6 Flying Lotus – “Takashi”
If you can get through that annoying Anderson .Paak aside which is exactly like an Anderson .Paak album, which are all exactly like each other, you get to a pretty meaty and substantial middle and side b of Flamagra, not the least of which is this colorful, funky outing, a mastery of sampling, texture and production in general.
5 The Rats – “Just My Kind”
With how explosive June 28 was as a release date (hence my one-week tardiness in compilation of this list), what with Thom Yorke, The Black Keys, Allman/Betts and Gibbs/Madlib, it seems punk, and especially this band, which is one of four “The Rats” monikers on Spotify, were in danger of getting thrown under the bus. They pump forth with a pretty refreshingly straight-ahead DNA somewhere between The Misfits and The Jim Jones Revue, with just enough world-weary crotchetiness to make the whole thing seem real.
4 Band of Skulls – “Love is All You Love”
“Love is All You Love” is the title track on the new Band of Skulls album, which might be their best LP to date. It’s got some tough acts to follow in the first two tracks, a brisk dirge and a haunting look inside plangent romanticism, but doesn’t break stride, grafting down a nice melodic groove with a mastery in drum sound and contemporary rock mixing.
3 Freddie Gibbs, Madlib – “Crime Pays”
Here is where Gibbs starts really showing off his acrobatic flow and Madlib’s beat is a mosaic of eclectic production elements, with a brief mandolin burp dissipating into a textural and pristine synth arsenal. There’s soul sampling, phrasing morphologies and most importantly Gibbs’ gangster drawl, rapping like a true authority on the streets.
2 The Raconteurs – “Don’t Bother Me”
I had no reason to think this new Raconteurs album would be interesting. I just had a gut inclination, like they’d already exhausted all their existential options for being bland or melodramatic, or something. And not that the new one is especially not melodramatic, but the tension and crazy treated vocals on this cut should make for some smiles and tickled funny bones across the nation (or in nation across the pond, more accurately).
1 Thom Yorke – “Last I Heard (…He Was Circling the Drain)”
Wow, how ’bout that title! Um, that went well! Yeah, Thom Yorke’s not typically one to shy away from themes of genuine human calamity and desolation, and the ephemeral way his vocals have of pronouncing themselves only to dissipate and morph is as haunting as it is eclectic all over this new project. This is music that will sidle up to the overall Radiohead canon most proudly.