St Lucia – Elevate
The 80s game is super strong here. Like, primo strong – just clocking all the good stuff. That rolling synth pattern, those huge toms, that monster bass-line groove (possibly the best part): everything works together to create a seamless drive through every moment of the track’s 5:08. Layer heaven. I mean, even just the drums and bass by the final chorus – MWAH! It’s a masterclass. I’m compelled to dance around the living room, spinning in rhythmic circles, arms above my long curly blonde hair, DIY studded denim jacket floating like a cape upon the sonic breeze. I’m doing it right now.

Everything Is Recorded – Close But Not Quite
Sample heaven. Intricate gems surround me. Sampha and Curtis Mayfield right up there in my ear. A vinyl-like scratch pushing into real claps (spoiler – it’s sandpaper!) There’s so much to love about this track because the track itself is basically a warm hug throughout. Watching the ‘making of’ on YouTube – you should search it up – was a great window into Richard Russell’s world. So much to unpack. The perfect way to take the greatness of an artist and augment it.

Dua Lipa – Levitating
It seems like every three years or so a pop track is released that just nails my ears to the wall. This one is currently atop the throne. The production is snappy AF. The melody won’t quit. The call-and-response between the vocals and ensemble in the pre-chorus is super pumpy. Instrumentation is awesome, mad tones abound. Perfect top-line writing. This is pop.

Squirrel Flower – So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings
This would easily make my Top 5 covers list, might even be number one. I’m a huge fan of a cover that makes you appreciate the original more. Squirrel Flower’s rendition of Caroline Polachek’s pop behemoth reveals some of the most wonderful melodic and lyric writing that’s somewhat disguised in the original’s faster tempo and production – at least after hearing the cover. It’s like a gift that keeps giving. I love the original, I love this cover, I love the original more, I love the cover more. If I was Polachek, Daniel Nigro or Teddy Geiger I’d have bought Ella Williams more than a few drinks by now. I’m sure they have.

Bon Iver – Naeem
I mean, I don’t really know if there’s a more emotionally evocative and transportational artist in the world right now that’s as effective at the task as Justin Vernon and crew. Maybe next year. If Bon Iver isn’t your bag then you might wanna make some time to sit down with his last couple of records. Or maybe you’re probably really into one particular thing. That’s cool. I guess the hamster wheel seems like a good place to be when you’re on it.