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  1. “A Little Crazy,” Nicole Atkins
    Nicole returns to her Neptune City sound and throws in a little Brandi Carlisle, as though she needed the extra histrionics. And it sounds great! Knowing that Nicole herself probably hates it and blames her record company and audience for forcing her to do what she does best takes away a little of the pleasure, but only a little.
  2. “Wasted on Fidelity,” Cameron Avery
    Hunky-looking guy with a Richard Hawley-like croon waxes in a Bryan Ferry-like way about how great long-term relationships can be: “I gave myself to the sure thing/The simple and the bored things.” What emerges is a rock star fantasy of fidelity that’s mostly based on watching his girlfriend pick out underwear but “lacy-covered solace” is a terrific phrase.
  3. “Answer My Text,” PWR BTTM
    As a glance at post posts will reveal I am a sucker for these bratty, heart-on-their-sleeve emo guys, as well as for songwriters who trust the material of everyday life to convey the big emotions. Thus an entire song about waiting for a return text and a grim prognosis: “I guess your heart’s on silent mode tonight.” Paul Westerberg would be writing songs like this if he was still twenty years old.
  4. “Hungry Ghost,” Hurray For the Riff Raff
    Alynda Segarra, the woman behind Hurray For the Riff Raff, sings, “I’ve been a lonely girl/But I’m ready for the world.” It takes nerve for a young songwriter to revisit that familiar rock-and-roll rhyme of “girl” and “world”! And then she doubledowns with Jim Morrison quote and boast that her blood is “running wild.” “Hungry ghost” is all her own, though. Best use of synthesizers I’ve heard in a while.
  5. “Jackpot,” Nikki Lane
    A fun one! Goodness knows we all need that sometimes. Love the syncopated guitar, the Viva Las Vegas quote, the understated-but-bursting-with-excitement vocal. Cover photo scares me, but that’s only because I’ve been watching the first season of “True Detective.”