Coheed & Cambria, "Island"
Prog rock is a bit of a weird category for me. There are times that I really want to listen to it, and then the reality is often disappointing. Songs far too often take a back seat to just demonstrating technical prowess. Still, sometimes you just want something over the top, and prog rock goofballs Coheed & Cambria aren't a bad choice. They spent more than a decade and seven albums making some big ol' conceptual rock opera thing that frankly never made any sense to me. This track is from their first album after all of that, The Color Before the Sun, which is honestly more of the same, but not weighed down by as many pretentious trappings. This song is actually a relatively straightforward rocker.
Belle & Sebastian, "Love on the March"
This song comes from one of the periodic Belle & Sebastian singles collections, The Third Eye Centre. As with most singles collections, it's a mixed bag, but Belle & Sebastian have always taken b-sides and in-between album releases pretty seriously, so there's plenty of good stuff here. It's not essential, but well worth your time if you're looking for more B&S.
Johnny Socko, "Sand Between My Toes"
Third-wave ska outfit Johnny Socko always tried to incorporate lots of other stuff into their music, with plenty of their songs not really having any ska in them at all. Sometimes it worked pretty well, as with this odd song.
Atmosphere, "One Of a Kind"
Underground hip-hop duo Atmosphere hail from Minneapolis, home to a small but interesting scene centered around the Rhymesayers label. This track comes from God Love Ugly, their second album, and the one that really started to get them some attention. When they're clicking, Slug's dense verses work so well with Ant's beats that it's a real pleasure. I actually think their best album is the following one, Seven's Travels.
Kno, "December 4th"
When Jay-Z's The Black Album came out, for whatever reason there immediately popped up a mini-industry of underground DJs doing remixes of the album. At least one (Danger Mouse's Gray Album, mashing the album up with the Beatles' White Album) became pretty famous. This comes from producer Kno's (CunninLynguists) take at the idea.