Here at AllMusic we like to stop every now and then and take stock of what's going on around us - to slow down the mad swirl of new releases that threatens to overwhelm us and pick out the tracks that we keep coming back to long after the reviews have been turned in and expense reports have been filed. As you can see below, this quarter was a particularly good one - full of flair and loaded with high-quality, long-lasting jams we'd love to share with you.
Get the editors' picks in blurb and video form below and subscribe to the playlist on Spotify - and keep the music playing by sharing your favorite new songs of the year so far (more on that at the end of this post).
Legs - "Two Colors"
The Oakland-based combo have a lot of Flying Nun and early Creation in their DNA, and this song from their upcoming LP on Loglady Records (Pass the Ringo, out 4/23) would fit in well on either label's roster. Featuring almost painfully dreamy female vocals, a haunting melody and some echo-y guitar chug, the song hits the sweet spot right between to melancholy to move and feeling like the sun is gonna shine soon.
Golden Grrrls - "Take Your Time"
Ignore the iffy name and try to get over your trepidation at yet another band mining for C86/Vaselines gold, because these Scottish kids get it right on this song and the self-titled debut album on Slumberland. Frisky, tuneful and ready to rumble, the song's sloppy intertwined vocals and heartfelt emotions, plus rambling guitar solo, give it the extra kick it needs to sound as good as anything Jesse Garon & the Desperados ever released. Well, almost.... - Tim Sendra
Wire - "Adore Your Island"
One of the few rockers on Wire's largely contemplative Change Becomes Us, "Adore Your Island" began its life as "The Spare One," a song captured on the odds 'n' sods compilation Turns & Strokes. Unlike most of the tracks the band revisited on Change Becomes Us, "Adore Your Island" actually rocks harder in its new incarnation: The arena-worthy riffs and keyboards on its verses come across like "Baba O'Riley" filtered through post-punk economy, while the choruses rattle with the vitality Wire has displayed since the Send days. Meanwhile, Colin Newman sings with a mix of serenity and fury that feels equally personal and cryptic, proving that Wire are just as intriguing as they were decades ago.
My Bloody Valentine - "Wonder 2"
Even if m b v often felt more comforting than inventive, the album's final track "Wonder 2" reassured fans that the My Bloody Valentine's envelope-pushing days weren't behind them. Its hurtling beat -- possibly a vestige of Kevin Shields' late '90s flirtation with jungle -- and vapor-trail sonics were more nimble than anything else on the album and even some of their most revered music, serving as a blast-off for what could be another exciting era for the band and its fans.
Alkaline Trio - "I Wanna Be A Warhol"
The lead-single off journeyman punk-pop stalwarts Alkaline Trio’s 2013 album, My Shame Is True, “I Wanna Be A Warhol” is a catchy, lustful slab of brightly colored melodicism. With a voyeuristic tone that finds lead-singer Matt Skiba comparing his own stalkery obsession with an emotionally screwed up relationship to Andy Warhol’s ironic pop art iconography, the song is both Alkaline Trio’s most infectious single to date and, as with Warhol’s own Factory aesthetic, a perfect blend of a mainstream commercialism and edgy artistic impulse.
Nails - "In Exodus"
As far as album openers go, no one has done it better this year than Nails, who open Abandon All Life with "In Exodus", a blunt instrument of a track that lets you know Nails aren't interested in half measures.
Inter Arma -"The Survival Fires"
Almost the opposite of the Nails track, Inter Arma take a more patient, less visceral approach with "The Survival Fires," a massive post-metal dirge that manages to bring a lot of heaviness to the table while still maintaining its spaciousness.
Portal - "Curtains"
Suffocating, savage, and menacing, Portal have created one of the most oppressively dense tracks released this year with "Curtains." Not content with merely surrounding the listener, this one wants to completely engulf you in a wave of such chaos that's just as likely to enervate as it is to invigorate.
Section 25 - "Colour Movement Sex & Violence"
Even if they spelled that first word wrong, Section 25's "Colour Movement Sex & Violence" is still a wonderful return from the post-punk band that's been through it all. Leader Larry Cassidy passed away in 2010 while his wife/band mate Jenny passed away in 2004, but now their daughter Bethany carries on and with amazing results. Check their comeback album Dark Light for more of this phoenix rising.
Trinidad James - "Female$ Welcomed"
I just quit cigarettes -- "But I didn't give up smokin'!" like Jake of the Blues Brothers said -- so the mention of Newports here bothers me more than any of the cuss words, and warning, most of them are directed at women. Still, it's an angry breakup number so give the Trinidadian dude a break, plus the hook is rock solid, "F life/Life ignorant!" is true talk, and that witch house breakdown towards the end is a real brain-melter.
Lulu James - "Closer"
The first two singles from this Tanzania-born, England-raised singer were among my 2012 favorites. This one, her debut for RCA, is on another level. Unlike "Rope Mirage" and "Be Safe," "Closer" is not a deep ballad, but it's just as dramatic -- sleek dancefloor electro-soul that is equally inviting and commanding. It sounds every bit modern while appealing to those who treasure early '80s François Kevorkian mixes, whether they were issued on Mute or Prelude. Once the video's effect wears off, check the spaced-out 12" mix.
Maggie Rose - "Better"
The second single from Maggie Rose's impressive debut album, Cut to Impress, "Better," written by Deanna Bryant, Dave Berg and Candy Cameron, is a beautiful, wise, resigned and resilient ballad that almost anyone can relate to, since everyone has wished at one time or another for better to hurry up and get here.
Rhye - "Open"
The debut of producers Robin Hannibal and Mike Milosh as Rhye is a gorgeously understated collection of spare but warm R&B-inspired pop that seemed to come from out of nowhere. The lead-off track "Open" is sultry, skeletal and remarkably catchy, sounding like the best Sade song from an alternate reality. - Fred Thomas
Purling Hiss - "Mercury Retrograde"
With their new album, Water on Mars, Philly rock trio Purling Hiss move from the dilapidated distorted scuzz of their early recordings into a more tuneful arena, channeling the best of mid 90's alt rock in the process. The album makes nods to Bleach-era Nirvana, Pavement, the Lemonheads and this single "Mercury Retrograde" matches Dinosaur Jr. guitar tones with a bumblingly hooky chorus.
Listen to our editors' picks in playlist form, and keep the music playing by sharing your favorite songs from 2013 so far. Spotify users can contribute by adding AllMusic Editors to your people list, and then sending your selections to our inbox. Not a Spotify user? Share your track picks on the AllMusic Facebook page or by tweeting @AllMusic.