Pixies, "Nimrod's Son"
From their very first moment, the Pixies were already themselves. This song, from their debut EP Come on Pilgrim, already shows all the elements that people would come to love. What's even more impressive was that this was just from a demo they recorded themselves. They sent the demo to 4AD, and 4AD turned around and released it. This EP used to be sold on the same CD as Surfer Rosa, making that one of the best single discs in my entire collection.
One of the great what-ifs of rap is to ask what might have happened if the Fugees had stayed together and kept making albums. The Score is a classic, with its restlessness in pulling from not just rap but R&B and soul, and still stands up today as a great record. But that was it for the band, and while Lauryn Hill had another classic record in her, I still wonder what might have happened if they'd stayed together.
Portastatic is a side project of Mac McCaughan, intended as a way for him to release music that he felt didn't fit with Superchunk. Although, in practice, mostly Portastatic still sounds like Superchunk, only lower-fi. During the Superchunk hiatus, Portastatic became McCaughan's main band, and their records were even more Superchunk-y. So, the rule of thumb is basically, later is better for Portastatic.
Desaparecidos, "The Left is Right"
Unabashedly political punk rock from Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, etc). Being an Oberst band, there's plenty of pop sensibility here, and the album as a whole hangs together extremely well.
Jay-Z, "No Hook"
I'm never really sure what to think about Jay-Z. He intersperses great albums with so-so albums to such a frustrating degree. Here, we have a track from one of the good ones, probably the best of the post-retirement albums I've listened to (but I haven't heard 4:44 yet). Inspired by the movie, American Gangster is treading well-worn ground, but he sounds energized in a way that most of his post-Black Album stuff does not.
(NB: it looks like they're removing the actual track, so I put on a remix here, because I'm sure they wouldn't let me upload it.)