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Fitz and the Tantrums,
Combining distorted bass reminiscent of The Black Keys, a catchy electronic element and a constant driving dance rhythm, this song is certainly bound for the Billboard charts. "Spark" combines a number of pop elements while maintaining the group's signature indie rock/ electronic style for a song that will have you tapping your foot all day. While it's not the current single from the group's highly anticipated album, it is the song that could propel this band from relatively unknown to the indie electronic band of the year. (Hoffman)
If you're celebrating summer in Cleveland, be sure to wear flowers in your hair. Also, do give Foxygen's January release We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic a listen — particularly the chilled-out "San Francisco." Jonathan Rado's guitar work nimbly calls to mind the late-'60s psychedelia that seeped through the music of the song's namesake. And Sam France gently complements the music with lilting vocals. Recipe: One part gin, two parts tonic, three parts Foxygen. (Eric Sandy)
Ghostface Killah, "Blood on the Cobblestones" (Soul Temple Records)
Among the more prolific Wu-Tang alumni, Ghostface Killah stands tall alongside the iconic hip-hop group's legacy. His latest album, Twelve Reasons to Die, extends Wu's smooth flow, imaginative raps and innovative beats and samplings. "Blood on the Cobblestones" is one of the most rambunctious songs on the album, and it serves as a tight shot of energy to any summertime mixtape. In 2013, hip-hop is alive and well in respectable corners of the genre. (Sandy)
The Handsome Family,
"Octopus" (Carrot Top
Records / Loose Music)
Summer typically brims with upbeat melodies, sunny lyrics and a buoyant outlook on the fun of the season. The Handsome Family dovetails toward darker waters on their latest album, which includes the haunting "Octopus." Don't mistake the tint for gloom, though. This song is jaunty and, to be frank, perfect for a late-night chill session on the porch with your buds. (Sandy)
Iron & Wine
"Caught in Briars"
(4AD / Nonesuch)
Samuel Beam takes a new direction away from solo guitar work with this song as bass, drums and piano become the driving melody. He's able to keep that signature Iron & Wine vocal style while making the music more up-tempo and jazzy. Instrumentals are beautifully arranged to support changing key signatures and a more jazzy style than we are use to hearing from the artist. (Hoffman)
Queens of the Stone Age
"My God is the Sun"
While the bass sets the groove for the song, frontman Josh Homme comes in with the band's signature voice harking the song's refrain "my God is the sun." This typical stoner rock song is accessible to anyone and brings fans back to the sound that made them fall in love with the band in the first place. (Hoffman)
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