What first impresses on "Blameless," the new single by St. Louis-based electronic-music group CaveofswordS, is simply the melody: the way it flows in and out and around and through the host of percussive and synthetic textures. The melody is carried by Sunyatta McDermott's seraphic voice, but it's also absolutely inseparable from each musical element. In short: "Blameless" is glorious.
The Beyoncé/Beck mashup "Single Loser (Put a Beck on It)" was probably inevitable. As it turns out, Beckyoncé's track serves as a pretty catchy (how could it not be?) and playfully ironic commentary on the whole Kanye vs. Beck Grammy kerfuffle.
On the new track "Stacks on Stacks," the minimalism of electronic-pop band Bouquet serves as a wide and open canvas for subtle textures and just as subtle but always vivid strokes of emotion and harmony.
Recalling the darkest moods of Bruce Springsteen circa "Tunnel of Love" and the thrilling, contemporary approach to classic rock of bands like the Hold Steady, Gaston Light takes inspiration from a New Year's resolution by Woody Guthrie and runs with it on "Wake Up and Fight."
A praise song for winter, "Slaughterhouse Gulch" doesn't just paint a portrait of Gwyneth Moreland's cottage home in Mendocino County in Northern California. It evokes all the details, small yet visionary, of the natural and spiritual cycle of the seasons.
Picking up where bands like (if there ever could be a band like) Gogol Bordello left off, This Way to the EGRESS turns in a madcap take on the underrated (if not unknown) gypsy-jazz-old-time-punk drinking song.
A little skronky, a little anxious and a whole lot of rock 'n' synth 'n' sax fun, "Voodoo Doll," by supergroup Diamond Rugs, is a study in successful musical contrasts.
Sultry electronic pop and just as sultry acoustic instruments come together on the new track "Change It Up" by Flint, Michigan-based group Boudoir Noir.
Hailing from the misty, Scottish Hebrides region of Isle of Mull, Sorren Maclean's contemporary take on folk music, as displayed on the new song "Rows & Rows of Boxes," sounds like it just couldn't have come from any other place.
Strummy, sunny and more than a little orchestral, "Portrait" by Breakfast in Fur sketches out a dreamscape somewhere between David Bowie in Berlin and psychedelic pop.