The Decemberists, "Billy Liar"
I think I still like Her Majesty, the Decemberists the best of their records. At least some of that is the halo effect of it being the first album of theirs that I picked up. I had skipped Castaways and Cutouts when it came out, but I was wandering in Sonic Boom records in Fremont (RIP) and was sufficiently charmed by the cover art to give this one a whirl. And from the moment I first heard that ship creaking, I was hooked. I think that probably Picaresque or The Crane Wife might be better, but whatever! This is my favorite!
Ornette Coleman, "Eventually"
I like this a lot, but when we talk about me not being qualified to talk about jazz (I'm not), this is VERY much what I'm talking about.
This song is only 1:06, but Madlib packs more ideas into it than any three normal full-length songs.
Loss of Self, "Twelve Minutes"
Loss of Self is one of those bands that took the sounds and patterns of black metal, and added some melodies and especially some chords from other types of music. Here, the chord progression is sort of post-rock or even almost just punk at times. It's an interesting contrast with those strangled vocals, and makes this record (Twelve Seconds) stand out among black metal.
Yo La Tengo, "Barnaby, Hardly Working"
When I started getting in to Yo La Tengo, Fakebook was a very controversial record among fans. It's a covers record, and it's a very quiet album that doesn't feature any of the noise freakouts that are on most of their albums. It makes them really sound like an alt-country band, and a lot of people back then seemed to think it was a put-on or boring. But the older I get, the more I appreciate this record. And it's nice that it's different! I can just go play "Mushroom Cloud of Hiss" if that's what I want to listen to.