- Sony MDR-ZX100
Miles Raymer, Reader music writer
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (XL) I liked most of the music on Vampire Weekend's first two albums, but their posh aura of privilege was too off-putting for me to self-identify as a fan. Their third strips away the prep-school precociousness and heavy-handed attempts to incorporate various world musics, replacing them with a much-needed subtlety, both in their sonic borrowing and in their literary references. I've listened to the album's best song, "Step," about 30 times this week.
Sony MDR-ZX100 headphones My current headphones of choice for mobile listening. They're lightweight and comfortable, and the ear cups swivel to fit your head (and to fit in your bag). More important, they're descended from the Sony Studio Monitor cans—the industry standard for recording studios—and they offer clear, punchy response with enough bass to do hip-hop and dance music right, minus the low-end overload of a Beats by Dre. Even more important, you can find them new online for as little as $15, so you don't have to worry too much about breaking or losing them.
Grimes's Tumblr Claire Boucher's posts on Tumblr—YouTube videos of 90s R&B songs, Game of Thrones GIFs, semi-embarrassing photos from her awkward postadolescent years—aren't much different from those of her nonfamous contemporaries, but interspersed throughout are smart and savvy mini essays chronicling the experience of a talented young artist trying to navigate a path to legitimate pop stardom on her own terms, and the myriad kinds of industry bullshit she encounters on the way.
Miles is curious what's in the rotation of …
- David Black
Ernest Wilkins, RedEye columnist and party promoter
The Y.N. Rich Kids What started as a Minneapolis after-school program giving kids a chance to rap if they got good grades has evolved into one of the best hip-hop crews in American history. Don't believe me? Go watch their new videos, "My Bike" and "Khaki Pants."
FIDLAR My neighbor Andrew put me onto these skater punks from LA recently, and I've been wilding out ever since. Not just to their music, but to their entire ethos. The band name is an acronym for "Fuck it, dog, life's a risk." How can you not appreciate that? They're here Thu 6/6 at Double Door. See you there?
Hennessy Youngman, CVS Bangers You think you've heard Paula Cole? Not until you've heard her surrounded by shit talking, shotgun blasts, and air horns you haven't. This mixtape is a dedication to all those poppy 90s jams you hear when you're hungover in CVS at 11 AM on a Saturday morning. It's amazing.
Ernest is curious what's in the rotation of …
- Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Ned Hepburn, editor of Death and Taxes and The Worst, freelance writer
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (Columbia) I don't want to pull the hyperbole card here, but this is one of the best albums I have ever heard. It's a difficult listen, but once you give in to the fact that this is meant to be taken as a whole, it's an OK Computer you can dance to. Awesome in every sense of the word.
She & Him, Volume 3 (Merge) Zooey Deschanel sings like she really means it here—a huge step forward for her music. The production and the vibe on this album totally come together, and she sounds (dare I say it) downright soulful. There's even a Blondie cover. Good lawd.
Glue Sniffin' Teen Trash! A friend sent me this mix he found of scuzzy punk and early hardcore from the 70s and 80s. All the usual suspects are here—GG Allin, the Ramones, the Saints—but then there are some insane lost punk classics, including the Avengers, Crime, and the Milkshakes. Google it and you can find it, and it's free too.