Free downloads: Weezer, Amos Lee, No Age; streams of Brian Wilson, The National
1. Weezer: "Memories"
The group that practically defined geek rock (nerds cranking distortion-doused amps) is back with yet another surf-pop summertime anthem. As the title implies, this tune hearkens back to the teenage years of front man Rivers Cuomo (pictured), but also applies to anyone who's grown up with the group from the early 1990s on.
2. Amos Lee: Daytrotter session
While not at the level of Dave Matthews, this guy with a guitar shouldn't be overlooked amongst the masses. With just as much James Taylor as Stevie Wonder mojo in his repertoire, this tasty troubadour (and Norah Jones labelmate) delicately balances folk and soul, plus plenty of vivid storytelling that makes this in studio EP a true treat for fans of unexpected fusions.
3. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: "40 Day Dream"
Alex Ebert, who also serves as lead of power pop act Ima Robot, has a hippie alter ego that he exposes while leading the tripped out Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. The group's ultra-eclectic, multi-instrumental mix falls somewhere between Arcade Fire and the Flaming Lips, with fantasy-filled lyrics in tow.
4. No Age: "Glitter"
Noisy indie rock with an underlying punk influence can either sound sloppy or sophisticated; No Age has embraced the latter. The group's swirling atmospheres come across as exciting and whimsical, akin to some sonic assault blasted from a cannon. Look for anticipation to reach a fever pitch with this track, a tease for the Sept. 28 album "Everything in Between."
5. The xx: "Basic Space" (Sampha Remix)
With an influence pool that suggests everything from gothic rockers The Cure to R&B stars Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, London's The xx have a whack at mixing two rarely merged genres. The even crazier aspect to "Basic Space" (Sampha Remix) is that all those elements wrap around shiny synth pop that mirrors former Elliott School mates Hot Chip.
6. The National: Interface session
When it comes to brooding alternative rock, Joy Division will always top the heap, though the countless sound-a-likes throughout the 2000s have thus far been met with mixed reviews. Not as experimental as Interpol, not as derivative as She Wants Revenge or commercially geared as The Killers, The National still have some growing to do. But there's still plenty to love about its retro revivalist mentality in this dark post-punk presentation.
7. New Collisions: "Dying Alone"
Boston's brand new band New Collisions savors the 1980s, so it's no surprise the group was discovered by another Bostonian (The Cars' Greg Hawkes) and has landed opening slots for both Blondie and The B-52's. Suggesting equal parts Debbie Harry and "Love Shack" lunacy, this super-fun debut may be brilliantly brainless, but it's the best new wave knock off this year.
8. Tiga: "Sex O'Clock"
If the title doesn't pique your interest, the beats contained inside certainly will within a single sweaty second. That's because the Canadian DJ/producer packs plenty of sultry synths, Atari-like pulsations and bustling bass rave-ups that follow in the tradition of fellow dance floor mainstays such as the Scissor Sisters and Felix da Housecat.
9. Dinosaur Feathers: HearYa Live session
This trio from Brooklyn has creeped up from the underground to score face time at SxSW, in Paste Magazine and even in the New York Times. Much of the appeal stems from the group's tropical pop renderings, quirky poetry and Talking Heads-ish stuttering done with much more ingenuity than current flavor-of-the-day Vampire Weekend.
10. Spinner Spotlight: Full CD Listening Party
Former Beach Boy Brian Wilson has earned kudos for touring "Pet Sounds" and putting the finishing touches on the previously unreleased project "Smile." And he's masterful when covering a pre-rock legend on "Reimagines Gershwin." With a full blessing from the estate, catch Wilson covering 12 tunes from George Gershwin, and complete a pair of unfinished Gershwin songs.