Cursive, "Bad Sects"
Cursive followed up my favorite album of theirs with Happy Hollow, which probably isn't really a step back or anything, but I always think more highly of albums that are a breakout. Domestica is arresting, an unflinching look into divorce that can be downright haunting, but The Ugly Organ was a leap forward in the songs that causes it to really stick out in my head. At any rate, this is also a great record, I'm probably just an idiot.
Ed Hall, "Lungs"
Man, that opening riff is the sound of an itch you can't reach.
Nas, "Black President"
Every so often, I'll pick up a Nas record just to see what he's up to. Illmatic is, of course, one of the best rap records ever made, an unimpreachable classic. Alas, he's never come all that close to those heights again. That story is no different on 2008's untitled record. It's not that it's terrible, but it just doesn't really hang together. He's skilled on the mic, but there's just kind of not a spark here.
The Meters, "Liar"
The last of the essential Meters records, Fire on the Bayou found the band with their most expansive sound they'd yet had. That expansion of their sound really started with the previous album, and they got it cooking here. The sound on the next record would be striving too hard for the mainstream, and they kind of lost their way, but with this one they were still holding it down.
The Dead Milkmen, "Now Everybody's Me"
I'm sure kids these days have their equivalent of the Dead Milkmen, and they probably would sound as stupid to me as this band would have sounded to my parents. Which, let's be clear, must have been incredibly stupid.