Download: 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop PlayingDownload a free sampler of tunes hand-selected by our panel of public-radio hosts, including new music from Oil Boom, Damien Rice, Melody's Echo Chamber and Lost Midas.
"The Sneak Tip," by the Dallas-area garage-rock band Oil Boom, gives me an instant thrill. The group's new album Red Metal, produced by Ben Harper's former drummer Jordan Richardson, has an element of power pop — a bit of a shift from a sound that had mostly been about bluesy, scrappy rock 'n' roll. Ryan Taylor's excited pre-chorus stutter and plentiful "woah-woah-woahs" are bound to pull you in, so break out your air guitar and let your hair down. —Ryan LaCroix, KOSU's The Spy
Self-effacing Irishman Damien Rice is back at last with My Favourite Faded Fantasy — his third album and first in eight years. It's been too long since I've heard the exquisite beauty, emotion and intensity which drew me to Rice's debut, O. The string arrangements in "I Don't Want To Change You" sound sweet and satisfying, while the words are brilliantly simple. The purity of feeling remains strong in Rice's voice, which has helped inspire a passionate army of singer-songwriters. —Anne Litt, KCRW
Like a modern-day R&B boy band sent down from Mars, thestand4rd crafts a mix of futuristic and forward-thinking beats, shape-shifting personalities and booming, sensual voices. You'd never guess that these guys are as young as they are; one of them, Internet phenom Spooky Black, is just 16. The Minnesota group recently made its live debut to throngs of shrieking teens and tweens, and sold out most of its tour before its album was even uploaded online. Not bad for "just some kids with computers," as member Allan Kingdom describes them on thestand4rd's debut. —Andrea Swensson, The Current
Born in Boston and based in L.A., the producer and drummer Lost Midas (a.k.a. Jason Trikakis) grew up on varied influences, from J. Dilla and The Mahavishnu Orchestra all the way to 1980s-era new wave. On Off The Course, Lost Midas fuses funk, chillwave, dream-pop and off-kilter soul. "Head Games," its first single, finds Lost Midas drawing spiritual support from the likes of Ta-Ku, Neon Indian and Bibio while creating his own lane. Audris' vocals, set atop Lost Midas' intricate and irresistible drum patterns, help make for a wonderfully ethereal experience. —Chris Campbell, WDET's The Progressive Underground
It's tough when you have to remind folks that you're a band, not a man, but Frank Smith frontman Aaron Sinclair is no stranger to reinvention. Over the course of nine albums (and a move from Boston to Austin), folk and country touches have dominated his songwriting, but he sneaks in more jagged sounds with each release. Earlier this year, Frank Smith took up the simpler moniker A. Sinclair and embraced the change, opting to plant itself firmly in rock territory. Its debut album Pretty Girls opens with "Suit Up," which is all power chords and tightly coiled tension. —Art Levy, KUTX
Newfoundland's Amelia Curran is a songwriter's songwriter, so it's no surprise that the thought-provoking poetry of her song "Somebody Somewhere" recalls the work of Leonard Cohen. Plainly worded standout lines — "I have no mystery, I hold no key / I know 10,000 others like me" — make her message of struggle relatable. Curran wrote "Somebody Somewhere" as a response to widespread misunderstanding of depression, and the result achieves a proper mix of hope and compassion. —Cindy Howes,WKSU's Folk Alley
West Oakland rapper A.Mo has a style that's aggressive, but with a bouncy, almost airy cadence. "Who Cares" showcases his rough voice and sharp flow, as he delivers a convincing message to persevere even when it seems like your efforts are going unrecognized. "Who Cares" is enough to get you moving on a cold morning jog, as A.Mo's words of encouragement — "Level up baby, level up / Lose them haters and you'll find love" — are just what you need to hear as you round mile three. —DJ Brigidope, Youth Radio's All Day Play
Led by guitarist, singer and engineer Alicia Bognanno, the young Nashville band Bully thrashes around with the best of them, firing off pop-punk songs that burst with gravelly distortion and lacerating riffs. Yet with "Milkman," Bully's catchy hooks and Bognanno's sly lyrical turns head straight for the heart. Fast and fun, the song imagines a simpler life away from anxiety-inducing clutter and indecision. In the process, Bully rediscovers exuberance and love. —Mike Katzif, WNYC
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, 'Hiding In The Pale Walls'
On its second album, Totem, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake polishes its sound without losing its spirit. The Denver band's identity and overall tone — dark and brooding, earthy and organic — has remained consistent since it formed five years ago. Totem mixes hazy vocals and crisp production in songs like "Hiding In The Pale Walls," which builds to a shattering crescendo, propelled by a brutish beat. —Jessi Whitten, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir
French singer-songwriter Melody Prochet records sweet, psychedelic pop as Melody's Echo Chamber, whose magical 2012 debut has been begging for a follow-up. If "Shirim," the first single from her as-yet-untitled second album, is any indication, then we're in store for something special. I spin it on the radio and at parties every chance I get, and it never fails to sound like the feel-good hit of the fall. —David Pianka, WXPN