The Weeknd, "House of Balloons"
The Weeknd is the project of Canadian R&B singer Abel Tesfaye. His music revels in the sex talk that has dominated the genre in the post-Marvin Gaye era. What sets The Weeknd apart is not just that it samples Beach House or that the music sounds like The-Dream playing in some East London basement. It's the overt moodiness and irreverence that never ventures into the realm of self-parody that R.Kelly now lives in. Oh, and the fact that this will perfectly fit into your bedroom music repertoire.
Bill Callahan, "Apocalypse"
As much as I love singer-songwriters, I usually don't focus all that much on a song's lyrics, focusing on melody and instrumentation instead. There are a few exceptions though—singers whose voice and words stop me dead in my tracks and grab my attention. Bill Callahan is one of those singers. His baritone voice and the weightiness of each of his words could never be mere background music. If you're looking for an album that you'll think about even when you're not listening to it, buy this one.
Gang Gang Dance, "Eye Contact"
Quite simply, one of the top 5 New York bands of the past 10 years is coming out with a new album of material that they have been perfecting at sweaty live shows for the past three years. So, this album was obviously going to be great. But then you put it on and album opener "Glass Jar," and it's completely transcendent—the perfect distillation of the GGD aesthetic (ethno-futuristic Yoko jams). For our money, it's their greatest recorded moment.