This week’s installment of our regular mixtape series brings brilliant tidings from established artists experimenting with new sounds (Cut Copy, M.I.A.) or returning with their signature masterwork (Ra Ra Riot, Jenny Lewis) and new bands we’re falling deeply in love with (The Naked and Famous, Rai Knight). There’s also a Drake cover. Right Click + Save As to find the one you love (or download the entire collection) after the jump.
1. Cut Copy – “Where I’m Going”
The new material from the Melbourne trio is cut from a completely different cloth than their two earlier, adrenaline-packed electro LPs. With the producer of Meriweather Post Pavilion on board, there’s a familiarly AC-esque breakdown hidden within “Where I’m Going,” a track the band describes as something Brian Wilson would’ve written had he been rolling in ’60s London.
2. M.I.A. – “It Takes A Muscle”
With an 8-bit intro that immediately sets the tone, M.I.A. finally gives us a glimpse into the poppier side of // / Y /. One of the stronger (and more emotionally accessible) cuts from her third album, “It Takes A Muscle” samples some tropical synths by way of Spectral Display.
3. The Naked and Famous – “Young Blood”
Like a riper Passion Pit, this Auckland five piece wields big beats and resplendent dreamscapes with similar precision and gusto. But their sound also seems less forced, with both the higher octave and teen angst-inspired lyrics capably voiced by 23-year-old Alisa Xayalith. If summer could be summed up in one song, it would be this one.
4. Guards – “Trophy Queen (ft. Caroline Polachek)”
Guards, the alter ego of one Richie Follin, certainly has some friends in high places. His polished shine-pop may have been enough to sway Chairlift chanteuse Polachek to layer her voice over his, but we’re thinking his sister’s pet project, Cults, might also have had something to do with it.
5. Ra Ra Riot – “Boy”
The orchestral pop outfit Ra Ra Riot have clearly honed and perfected the meticulous arrangements that inextricably string you along. There’s a sonic trifecta that comes to fruition in this cut from The Orchard with Miles crooning over Lawn’s bow and Santos’s axe.
6. Rai Knight – “New New”
Much like her Motor City contemporary, Alex Winston, Rai Knight is another 20-something spectacle to behold. Seriously, she works with a chord progression that’s a little “Black & Blue” and Gwen Stefani-esque hooks that will linger in your ears for weeks to come.
7. Psychic Stunts – “Wind Up the Sound”
Psychic Stunts have a devilish synth-pop charm that combines the best elements of the Dandy Warhols and R.E.M. Singing, “There is something within us that continues to dry out our thirsty tongues,” the Swedish duo go on to pour a tall glass of lemonade that sates our every thirst buds.
8. Samuel – “Find Your Love (Drake Cover)”
Earlier this month, we featured his requisite “summer in the city” track, and now Samuel is back to cover his fellow first-name-only breakout, Drake. With the Knocks behind the wheel once more, this souled-out vehicle is filled with soothing vocals and funkified synths.
9. Jenny & Johnny – “Big Wave”
Outside of Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has made waves in her solo projects (and with the Watson Twins), but none of that even begins to prepare you for what’s to come. This time, Lewis teams up with boyfriend Johnathan Rice to give She & Him a good run for their money.
10. Kisses – “People Can Do the Most Amazing Things”
Princeton‘s Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson already won our hearts with their single “Bermuda” and its Balearic remix. In anticipation of their debut, The Heart of the Nightlife, they’ve graced us with yet another charming single, and we are absolutely smitten (with the ephemeral chorus and denouement, in particular).