Golden Shoulders, "Mountains": The first track from the California collective's May 2009 release Get Reasonable. A very solid album, filled with a toe-tapping, down-home indie aesthetic. Fitting, then, that Golden Shoulders' most recent tour was completed without mics, amps, or any other electrical appliance whatsoever. You can practically hear the thwap of the gut-bucket.
Real Ones, "Every Dog Has His Day": It may seem sacrilegious, but I really do think the lead singer of this Norwegian band sounds strikingly similar to David Byrne. The similarity ends there, though -- and by the time the banjo and weirdly political lyrics kick in, I start to regret the comparison. Still, it's got a fun, Afro-pop vibe to it.
Dragon Turtle, "Island of Broken Glass": Complexly layered instrumentation; drifting, ambient melodies; vaguely intelligible lyrics. Early Grizzly Bear, anyone?
Karin Park, "Ashes" (and other tracks): Another Norwegian-based musician, but this one's of Swedish extraction. I have a soft spot for Karin Park because she plays a keytar; if you're a fan of Lykke Li or The Knife, you'll find your own reasons to like her.
Little Girls, "Growing": I find this song title/band name juxtaposition a little weird, especially since Little Girls is an all-male band -- but whatever. The lo-fi Canadian group sounds a lot like Joy Division, but with more atmosphere and (slightly) less malaise. [To download this and the following tracks, follow the link and click 'download' under the embedded player.]
Surfer Blood, "Swim": A bunch of plaid-clad Floridian boys, Surfer Blood were the golden children of CMJ 2009. They're equal parts surf-soundtrack and late-nineties alt-rock, and are all-around perfect for forgetting this miserable wintry hole we seem to have found ourselves in.