MP3: Lily Allen, "LDN" Pint-sized Brit Lily Allen is my hero since she rocks sneakers as formalwear. Moreover, from the old-timey horns that start the song, to the breezy tempo -- incorporating hints of reggae and hip-hop -- "LDN" feels like a brilliant summer's day. Also has my favorite lines of the year: "There was a little old lady, who was walkin down the road / She was struggling with bags from Tesco / There were people from the city havin lunch in the park / I believe that it's called al fresco."
MP3: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Berlin" Baby 81 was a welcome return to form for the garage sleaze-gazers, after the acoustic-leaning, shaky Howl. Big, loud, grungy guitars; pop hooks; and dive-bar sass abounded. Like "Berlin," whose call-to-arms chorus -- "Suicide squeeze, yeah, what happened to the revolution?" -- and cool-as-ice attitude smoked.
MP3: Bloc Party, "I Still Remember" MP3: Bloc Party, "Secrets" Bloc Party's A Weekend in the City wasn't as big a disappointment as it felt on first listen. Ballad "I Still Remember" is a perfect dreamy Britpop single, while B-Side "Secrets" is an intense, danceable, Smiths-punk gem.
MP3: The Cinematics, "Sunday Sun" This Beck cover by these Scots has the majesty of Echo & the Bunnymen and the sweeping rock touches of Coldplay. Without the wussiness of the latter, and the dark shadows of the former.
-- Annie Zaleski