January Hit List: 10 Essential Downloads for Early ’09

As we dive head-first into ’09, we’re all about hope. No, the presidential inauguration won’t solve everything, but the right soundtrack might. The good news? We’re off to a pretty serious start (it’s two weeks into the new year, and we’ve already heard tracks that out-strip pretty much everything from ’08).

After the jump, new tunes, unreleased tracks, and free downloads by Animal Collective, David Byrne, M. Ward, Neko Case, Antony and the Johnsons, and many more.

1. Animal Collective – “My Girls” (from Merriweather Post Pavilion)
“My Girls” introduces an entirely new element into the avant-indie band Animal Collective’s repertoire: the bona-fide, clap-along cut.
[Download MP3] via The Cold Cut
2. Cut off Your Hands – “Happy As Can Be” (from You And I)
Already UK darlings, New Zealand-bred post-punkers Cut off Your Hands manage to simultaneously evoke the Smiths AND the Sounds.
[Download MP3] via Hyperbole
3. Fever Ray – “If I Had A Heart” (from Fever Ray)
The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson courts solo success, with a gothed-up single that fires deep into creepy, ambient-electornic atmospheres.
[Download MP3] via Welikeit.indie
4. Neko Case – “People Got a Lotta Nerve” (from Middle Cyclone)
Indie-country queen and New Pornographer Neko Case is  as virtuosic and adorable as ever in a pepped-up honky-tonker about maneater’s… and what they eat.
[Download MP3] via Anti-Gravity Bunny
5. Andrew Bird – “Fitz and Dizzyspells” (from Noble Beast)
Critical darling and never-cheesy rock-violin virtuosoo Andrew Bird returns with a quirky, hyperliterate Americana cut every bit as entrancing as it is odd.
[Download MP3] via Cream Team
6. M. Ward – “Jailbird” (from Hold Time)
Unassailable folkie M. Ward once again shoots for the sky, teasing his follow-up to new-Americana classic Post War with a breezy tune every bit that album’s equal.
[Download MP3] via Rollo and Grady
7. Antony and the Johnsons – “Another World” (from The Crying Light)
Veering (slightly) from the hopeless mope, Antony pines over soft orchestrals, not for death or final release, but for the supplication of this place and time.
[Download MP3] via AW Music
8. Beirut – “La LLorona” (from March of the Zapotec)
Forever entrenched in the sounds of Eastern Europe (and the skewed orchestrals of Neutral Milk Hotel), Beirut drops a horn-heavy stomper ahead of its new album.
[Download MP3] via 8/1
9. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Young Adult Friction” (from S/T)
Equal Parts Morrissey and Belle and Sebastian, Brooklyn-bred mopers the Pains of Being Pure fete a warm compress for wounded hearts.
[Download MP3] via Ca Va Cool
10. D. Byrne/Dirty Projectors – “Knotty Pine” (from Dark Was the Night)
Weirdo art-punks the  Dirty Projectors usher Talking Heads guru David Byrne into the freak folk age with a sing-along spazz-out for 4AD.
[Download MP3] via Brooklyn Vegan