The Gaslight Anthem, “45”
After releasing four albums, receiving the sweaty embrace of their spiritual godfather Bruce Springsteen, and dropping about a million unabashed oh-whoa sing-along choruses, is Gaslight Anthem front man Brian Fallon not yet famous enough to warrant a parody Twitter account? People who like to make references to docks and switchblades and tattoos and convertibles and girls’ perfume and blue jeans and regret and difficult father-son relationships and the rain over New Jersey tonight, this is your big chance!
Maybach Music Group, “Bag of Money”
When the future scribes of the annals of pop culture look back at 2012, they will ask, “Where were you when the Rick Ross Maybach Music Group press conference event occurred? Were you on the premises of the grandiosity? Were you in the presence of the great man?” And we shall say, “Yeah, we were there. It was kind of boring.”
Kanye West feat. Pusha-T, Chief Keef, Jadakiss, and Big Sean, “I Don’t Like”
Chief Keef is having the best year ever. A few months ago he was just some kid with legal problems; now he’s got Kanye remixing his mixtape hits. He’s 16! This is nuts. (Alternate reading of this situation: Ever aware that hip-hop is a young man’s game, Kanye has now entered a phase of his career in which he’ll calculatedly latch on to anything declared “young” and “hip” by a secretive Youth Correspondent posse member). Two other things: Take a listen to the extended, isolated version of Pusha’s verse, as it is fire; also, [grimace] on that recorded-pre-injury Derrick Rose shout-out.
Meyhem Lauren feat. Action Bronson and Heems, “Special Effects”
“Meyhem Lauren, that’s my friend / I pay his bail, my ends got no ends / friends got no friends / I lend ya some Benz / my dentist is the best” — Heems, still the reigning champ of sounding like he’s barely trying and sounding rad at the same time.
Drake says he “ain't never told no lie / That's a thing I don’t do.” He doesn’t go on to explain why, but let’s go ahead and assume it all ties back to life lessons learned one balmy sixth-grade summer night, at the big dance with the sleep-away sister camp across the river, and the sweet betrayal by the first girl Drizzy ever loved.
Twin Shadow, “Five Seconds”
This new Twin Shadow song is a jam and everything, but I’m mostly now mesmerized by the driving-on-the-highway-at-night video loop. Also: Taking into consideration David Lynch’s Lost Highway, Save the Day's Can't Slow Down, and "Five Seconds," I’m beginning to think that driving-on-the-highway-at-night imagery is an unassailable mark of quality.
A new cut from Don’t Try, the latest EP from exuberant young punkers Fidlar — a.k.a. Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk, they claim, straight-faced — proudly upholds the band’s defining principle: Wake. Bake. Skate. Also, seriously, fuck it.
Justin Bieber, “Boyfriend”
Thought I was ready for "sexy Bieber." Turns out, I am not ready for "sexy Bieber." Can we hold off on this whole thing for, like, six months? Is that at all an option?
Hot Water Music, “Exister”
Eight years after their last release, Gainesville punk heroes Hot Water Music return with tunes, and even if they didn’t sound like they still had it — which, yeah, they still have it — this’d be a small, good thing. When bands get together not just to play big-money festival gigs, but to actually get in a studio and record new music well, it warms my heart.
Bruce Springsteen, “The Weight”
A bit belatedly, Bruce says RIP, Levon Helm.