Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Brian Merlos
Straight out of some anthro class on brand society. (COURTESY OF HOT CHIP)

Beanie Sigel ft. R. Kelly “All the Above”

Some say only white, indie dilatants listen to R. Kelly for any sort of pleasure anymore, laughing at his outlandish concepts (“Sex Weed” and “Trapped in the Closet”). But haters be damned, the guy can fucking sing. Most recently recruited for the opener of Beanie Sigel’s upcoming album The Solution, Kel’s boisterous claims (“I’m hood, I’m street / Still standing in the middle of the beat / I’m a mack, I’m a thug”) sear through the cinematic production of “All the Above” while Sigel’s chic Roc-A-Fella flows ramble alongside. If ever there was an anthem for the business thug personality, “All the Above” is it.

Chris Gaerig

Destroyer “Foam Hands”

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

So maybe The New Pornographers’ Challengers wasn’t what it should have been. Luckily, Dan Bejar is still a baller. He spearheaded some of the best on the album, and let’s face it – we’re all going through beard withdrawal. Destroyer’s latest, “Foam Hands,” finds Bejar in his trademark slippery-crooning form accompanied by the typical jingle-jangle rising action, a well-placed, subtle guitar solo and an everything-is-OK whistling interlude. It’s Bejar on a Sunday morning. It’s Bejar on his front porch. It’s Bejar with an, um, foam hand? At least most things are all right in Destroyer land.

Matt Emery

Ghostface Killah ft. Beanie Sigel and Styles P “Tony Sigel a.k.a. the Barrel Brothers”

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

When the first turntable scratches suppress the fading electric guitar on “Tony Sigel a.k.a. the Barrel Brothers,” it’s obvious Ghostface Killah isn’t looking to play games. He screams, “Straight out the ghetto, I’m damn hood” over the intoxicated beat: guitars and hazy keyboards fighting for room to breathe as the bass drum kicks along the upbeat. Beanie Sigel and Styles P (both with upcoming albums) drop solid flows but wisely fall in line behind the prophetic Ghostface. Not to be completely outshined, though, Sigel spits “You gonna have to cut me out of the track like cancer” as the track climbs to its climactic end.

Chris Gaerig

Hot Chip “Ready For the Floor”

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

I still can’t quite tell if I should take Hot Chip seriously. Its title track from 2006’s The Warning says it’ll “Snap off your head.” Whatever, the shit is still addicting and so is “Ready for the Floor” from its forthcoming LP. There’s a little bit of disco, still more spastic electro-dance, but maybe a bit too much repetition in one of their more uninspired beats. The elements almost feel too consistent and their playful charm might have – gulp – taken a hit? Good thing its fun-loving vocals salvage the potentially damaged goods. Just check the Joker-inspired, paint-tossing music video for further proof. They’ll be just fine.

Matt Emery

Kevin Drew “Age of Consent”

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

Broken Socialite Kevin Drew is at it again. After the release of his beautiful Spirit If. earlier this year, he returns with a cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent.” The cover melodramatically paddles along a river of sustained pianos and tense dead air. Though the track never seems to go anywhere, Drew’s exasperated moans are more affecting than the original and carry the track’s delicately beautiful sentiment. “I’ve never met anyone like you before” he hums as the keyboards become heartbreakingly distant while Drew sounds exponentially drained. He repeats the line before the track fades away on the same tortured piano that carried it throughout.

Chris Gaerig

The Magnetic Fields “Three-Way”

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Remember laying in bed a few summers ago when all your windows were open and all you could hear was some garage band’s muffled music echoing off your neighbor’s house? Well, The Magnetic Fields somehow recorded it, stamped its name on it and added intermittent group shouts of “Three way!” into the mix. The hollowed-out guitars plod through a suburb of distortion and feedback before being corralled in and put back into stasis by potentially sexual, vocal bleats. There’s a certain amount of joy in the shoe-gaze, but before a harmonious climax can occur, the damn vocal “Three way!” interrupts everything. And I’m not a “Three-Way” without a climax.

Matt Emery

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