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essential tracks



Youth Without Youth

Metric, from the forthcoming Synthetica (Metric Music International); streaming at

To a sinister Gary Glitter beat, Emily Haines and sometimes a scary vocoder sing about disillusion, a decaying social state and playing double-Dutch with a hand grenade. And Metric wonders why mothers won't let their children near them on the playground.


Queen of California

John Mayer, from Queen of California; streaming at

Woodsy, southern-rocked and laidback. John Mayer, who adopts a Johnny Depp look on the liner art of his new disc, languorously and harmoniously name-checks Joni Mitchell and Neil Young on his jammy trip to the golden state.



The Walkmen, from the forthcoming Heaven (Fat Possum); streaming at

"It's not the singer," proclaims Hamilton Leithauser, "it's the song." A trebly crash of dry guitar jangling ushers in a summer-ready light rocker that opposes sad tunes – "I'm not your heartbreaker / some tender ballad player" – and bops like an indie Buddy Holly.



MS MR; streaming at

"Welcome to the inner workings of my mind – so dark and foul, I can't disguise." Slightly ethereal and certainly shadowy, a sombre track invokes a certain Lana Del Rey-ness. It comes from an inscrutable New York girl-guy duo who describe their thing as "Tumblr glitch pop." Got it?


A Brief History of John Baldessari

Narrated by Tom Waits; streaming at

He's the "godfather of conceptual art," apparently, and he is tall, has push pins and a sort-of signature beard. Intrigued? Tom Waits, commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, pronounces "Biennale" extraordinarily but otherwise deadpans his way through the possibly special life and times of a man who pledges not to make boring art.