The Ten Best 
Things Right Now: A Very Important 
Recurring Column 

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Superchunk
Foolish Reissue,
Acoustic
B-Sides
If I remember correctly, the first Superchunk record I ever bought was the "Driveway to Driveway" single, presumably because it was the cheapest thing my local Tower Records had in stock by the band. At the time, even more so than "Driveway" itself, an undeniable high point of the then freshly released Foolish album, I was taken by the b-sides: among them acoustic versions of two older songs, "Sick to Move" from their debut (listen on Spotify), and "Seed Toss" from No Pocky for Kitty. I was struck by how energetic those performances were, how easily Mac McCaughan made up for the lack of accompaniment by simply singing and strumming as loud and as hard as he would have with the full band there. Those tracks, as well as an hour-long live show from 1994 and some rehearsal tapes, come bundled with a brand new reissue of Foolish. At $12 for the CD and $19 for the vinyl, it's one piece of 90s nostalgia you'd be silly to ignore. (If we as a society suddenly become really nostalgic for J Church, you should pay attention to that, too.)




Deer Tick
"Main Street"
Divine Providence is the forthcoming fourth album from Rhode Island-based band Deer Tick, and it's surprising not so much for its occasional rowdiness—leader McCauley seems perpetually fueled by canned beer—but for its simultaneous clarity. "Main Street" is one of the album's standout tracks, driven by an melodic elegance on par with the big-hitter 60s girl-groups.




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Christopher Small
Musicking
Quietly, the music world lost one of its most eloquent and original voices last week. Musicologist Christopher Small died at age 84, leaving behind a small body of work that nevertheless spoke volumes about the way we interact with music. In his 1998 book, Musicking, he explores his central point, that music is something you do rather than something you merely witness. Be sure to check out Mr. Christgau's remembrance oh of him here.










Jeff Tweedy
Covers the Black Eyed Peas
At a release party for Punk Planet founder Dan Sinker's new book, The Fucking Epic Quest of @MayorEmanuel last week, Jeff Tweedy performed an acoustic cover of "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. Recent trends in music criticism would lead you to believe that it wasn't funny, that it was condescending and rockist, which, I don't know. Maybe that last part is true. That song is fucking crazy stupid, though, and so it's totally ok to laugh at it.




Das Racist

"Rainbow in the Dark"
One of these guys took to Twitter a few weeks ago to call me "dum" for pointing out some of the things I don't like about the new Weeknd mixtape everyone was talking about that one day, but I'm not angry. Not since hearing the song "Rainbow in the Dark" off their excellent new album, Relax. Favorite part? "I'm at the White Castle/Tiny-ass hamburgers/Tiny-ass cheeseburgers/Tiny-ass chicken sandwiches/It's outlandish, kid," followed closely by, "Known to rock the flyest shit and eat the best pizza/Charge that shit to Mastercard, already owe Visa."




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Bert Jansch
Birthday Blues
As much for its perfectly designed cover as the dizzying, bluesy folk contained therein.










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Slow Club
Paradise
Slow Club's 2009 debut, Yeah So, was an extremely likable, upbeat collection of unmistakably British folk-pop that no doubt triggered lots of eye-rolls from people who don't go for such extreme cheeriness. Paradise is a considerably darker album, all raspy and bleary-eyed, the boy/girl duo actively railing against realities they wouldn't even acknowledge a few years ago. The melodies are more subtle but they're also far more expressive. (Stream the album here.)






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Little Gold
Weird Freedom
The second album from former Woods guitarist Christian Deroeck's new band is one of the best to come from the borough this year—they've strayed from the rickety country sound and honed in on something more direct and, well, I guess reminiscent of 90s indie rock. Tasteful, hard-hitting and impeccably crafted. (Stream at littlegold.bandcamp.com)






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Michael Hurley

"Be Kind to Me"
There are many fine entry points to the work of folksinger Michael Hurley, but I'm currently partial to "Be Kind to Me" from his 1971 album, Armchair Boogie. "I told you once, and I told you twice, why be mean when you can be nice?/Come on, be kind to me/Can't you see I'm in misery?" (Listen at MySpace, weirdly.)




Laura Marling

"Salinas"
Not yet sure about the rest of A Creature I Don't Know, the third album by 21-year-old Mercury Prize-winning Laura Marling, but this track is as intense and spellbinding as anything she's ever done.



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