Whatever preventative measures you take to avoid hearing loss, get ‘em ready, because we have a boisterous countdown this week. From Thee Oh Sees’ tight songwriting to Jack White’s vicious instrumental, this is a list loaded with frenzied rhythms and six-string warfare. Competitive rhymes from Drake and nostalgic hiss from Ricky Eat Acid are here for good measure, but that’s relatively easy listening.
10. Thee Oh Sees – “Drop”
It’s possible Thee Oh Sees have appeared on this countdown more than any other band, and that’s not just because they release a lot of songs. John Dwyer runs his label, Castle Face, and his various musical projects with businesslike efficiency, but never at the expense of his art (this is 100% DIY, a la Rough Trade and Merge). And he’s wise when it comes to choosing which album cuts to tease. Latest single “Drop” — the title cut from their forthcoming, pre-hiatus-recorded album — is tight, cheerful, and more song-oriented than the neurotic psychedelia of last year’s Floating Coffin. There are “oohs” and “ahhs” and Kinks-esque riffing, and those guitar solos after the verses are the kind of wild moments Thee Oh Sees are known for — sure to spark moshes and put the sweat on the floor. –Jon Hadusek
09. Ricky Eat Acid – “Can You See It’s Bloom”
Here in Chicago, we’re currently experiencing a dead spring. Even though the air is starting to feel warmer, our surroundings are still bare-boned and dead. Ricky Eat Acid’s “Can You See It’s Bloom” looks beyond those brittle characteristics and toward renewal. Its simple, two-note keystrokes bring tranquility, further developed with wind chimes and sporadic electronic manipulation. Sam Ray, the man behind the project, attempts to illustrate the gradual growth of the season’s greenery and beauty with every layer, and if taken seriously enough, you can feel it, too. The track is a part of Orchid Tapes’ newest compilation, Boring Ecstasy: The Bedroom Pop of Orchid Tapes, available here. –Sam Willett
08. Drake – “Draft Day”
“In this position that we’re in, it takes major sacrifice,” Drake told ESPN’s First Take last September when asked about buddy Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback jock-tastically depicted in this surprise song’s cover art. Arriving a month ahead of Manziel’s inevitable selection at the 2014 NFL Draft, however, the Lauryn Hill-sampling “Draft Day” is a victory lap, the rap equivalent of Johnny Football finger-wagging at an opposing cornerback after tossing Mike Evans another touchdown. “That boy singin’ on every song when he know he can spit,” Drizzy raps, impersonating a loyal fan; here, he primarily spits. There are a couple throwaway lines (under whose celestial jurisdiction is Drake our “darkest angel”?), but eventually he finds a zone: “I play like I’m on ‘roids, no Canseco, no Oakland A’s though, shout out the Bay though.” —Michael Madden