Pod Picks for March 27, 2014

March 26, 2014 

Check out the following tracks which we recommend for downloading or streaming to your iPod, iPad, iPhone or other personal media device.

“Hundreds of Ways” by Conor Oberst

For a second, it sounds like the classic Nashville twang, lap steel and all. Then, Oberst starts singing, and you remember this is the front man from the folk-rock project Bright Eyes. For his upcoming solo album, “Upside Down Mountain,” Oberst recruited the harmonies of the Swedish duo First Aid Kit. As the song chugs along, it transforms from simple movement to more of a world music symphony with a dozen moving parts. The music is a more complex Oberst, but the lyrics are still a man just trying to get by.

“I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” by The Hold Steady

For the band’s first album in four years, The Hold Steady comes out kicking. Singer/guitarist Craig Finn talks through verses about the dangers of an apocalyptic city, but he sings sympathetically through the chorus. In the past, the band went for an even poorer man’s Springsteen, like if Springsteen lived by the intersection of a subway and an airport, and had to play really loud to be heard over them. On the band’s sixth album “Teeth Dreams,” released this week, it leads off with this track that is covered in dirty rock shavings and drops into potholes of punk.

“I’m Going Down” by Vampire Weekend

Speaking of Springsteen, this is a cover of a Boss tune from “Born in the U.S.A.” Somehow, Vampire Weekend is able to put a quirky, authentic twist on this song while keeping it recognizable and Boss-like in the process. The single was recorded for the soundtrack of HBO’s “Girls.” The show seems to polarize people, but whether you love or hate it, you can’t deny there’s some good goddamn music happening on it. After last year’s, “Modern Vampires of the City,” this band is hitting its stride and capitalizing in all the right ways.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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