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Eleanor Friedberger - "I'll Never Be Happy Again"
Hey, you know who is totally incapable of writing a lyric without at least some degree of evocative specificity? In a moment where we’re generally pretty content to zone out on vapidity if it’s delivered with a soupçon of oomph, Eleanor F. continues to sketch out the names, places, and feelings necessary to give a song a life of pictures inside your head. She's probably the most vivid short story writer in indie rock right now, and Personal Record's AM Gold sounds only up the emotional impact.
Jenny Hval - "Innocence Is Kinky"
A much better, more disturbing version of tech-sex discomfort than Arcade Fire's "Porno", that treats desire like a virus that can fuck up your whole weekend. Also, this is the only time when producer John Parish's intimate knowledge of PJ Harvey's guitar sounds was actually applied to his role recording this Norwegian singer's best album yet.
Courtney Barnett - "Avant Gardener"
Absolute catnip for those with any lucid recollection of the 90s whatsoever, the signature song from this Australian singer falls somewhere on on the spectrum between a free-associating early Beck and the deliberately phrased sugar rush of Sheryl Crow’s “All I Want to do is Have Some Fun”. (The common denominator being the mutual appreciation for a beer buzz, early in the morning.) The neurosis, detailed at length, is specifically hers.
Angel Olsen - "Sweet Dreams"
Maybe my favorite harbinger for a 2014 album, this one-off single only suggests how straight Angel Olsen might stand when that million-watt, country 45 twang of hers gets some support beams placed underneath it.