You can usually rely on this countdown for an ample portion of ear candy — music that’s both artfully rendered and suitable for a number of your nearest radio stations. But besides the Charli XCX track (or, then again, maybe not), this is a harder-hitting, more adventurous list than usual. Whether you want to start with a punk onslaught, an alt rap KO, or an eerie dose of “doom soul,” the next song probably won’t sound much like the last. In another overwhelmingly gloomy week on the national news, such surprises are particularly welcome.
10. Electric Wizard – “SadioWitch”
Between Sleep’s reunion, the remarkable new Pallbearer LP, and the return of Electric Wizard, it’s been a historic month for modern doom metal. The latter’s new single, “SadioWitch”, is a concise exercise in heaviness, spanning only four minutes (a blur compared to their Dopethrone days) without skimping on the riffage. Electric Wizard have patented a guitar tone that’s more percussive than melodic — the strings ostensibly downtuned as far as they’ll go without popping off the headstock — with these deep notes treated in sludgy, droning pedal effects. As one of the more streamlined and economic songs they’ve ever written, “SadioWitch” should satisfy both longtime Electric Wizard fans and those who’ve previously shied away from the band’s more adventurous arrangements. The band’s Time to Die is due September 29th via Spinefarm. –Jon Hadusek
9. Interpol – “Ancient Ways”
The forthcoming album from Interpol, El Pintor, promises to showcase a “reinvigorated” band. Judging by the latest singles, that’s exactly what we’re going to get on September 9th when the band releases the effort via Matador Records. “Ancient Ways” continues to highlight signs of life in a band previously stuck in alt rock territory. Here, the guitars take a huge, almost shoegaze-like quality as they almost drown Paul Banks’ monotone but still enthralling vocals. While it’s not as danceable as “All the Rage Back Home”, the song is both relentless and satisfying. –Josh Terry
8. Death from Above 1979 – “Government Trash”
It’s incendiary, brash, distorted, and the swift kick in the ass that rock music needs in 2014. Leaving the dance beats for the MSTRKRFT side project, the second single from the duo’s forthcoming The Physical World LP is a stripped-down affair in the same vein as late-’90s Local H. And with a message as powerful as its bass line, DFA are primed to mobilize a feverish fanbase with their sophomore full-length, out September 9th via Last Gang Records. –Derek Staples