Andrew Bird, "You Woke Me Up!"
A companion piece to Noble Beast, Useless Creatures is an all-instrumental exploration which allows Bird to indulge his more exploratory impulses. As always, everything Bird does is interesting, but this is not one of his more loveable records.
Victoria Monét, "Experience"
Victoria Monét is primarily known for her work with Ariana Grande, which means I know zip about most of her music. I'm very out of touch! But I picked up this album (Jaguar) after it showed up on a bunch of year-end lists, and it's very pleasant. I also enjoy the kind of electro-funk sounds on this track, I'll take those any day.
Halo of Flies, "Ballad of Extreme Hate"
Tom Hazelmyer will always be known primarily for being the guy who ran Amphetamine Reptile records, birthplace of Helmet, the Cows, Tar, Hammerhead, and a whole bunch of other great noise rock bands. His own band, Halo of Flies, put out a big pile of EPs, singles, comp appearances, and a bunch of miscellaneous tracks, which were collected on Music for Insect Minds. It's a big mess of a record, full of noise and punk, but it can be a fun blast.
Curtis Mayfield, "Eddie You Should Know Better"
One of the great soul records of all-time, Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack for Superfly had a second life due to heavy sampling by hip-hop artists. And it's a good thing they did, an album this good shouldn't be forgotten!